Hurricane Harvey
In Hurricane Harvey's Case, a Failure to Comprehend, not Forecast
Anyone paying attention last week knew Harvey was set to unleash the full fury of Mother Nature on Texas. Forecasters predicted this historic event with incredible accuracy, and yet, the most tired story of all ("meteorologists get paid to be wrong") has been written about time and again [
The Human Element of a Weather Forecast
Being a meteorologist is a difficult job some days. Usually, it’s an academic problem: Trying to decide between two weather forecast models, gnashing your teeth over a couple degrees on a forecast, adding a chance of rain on a weekend day, etc. It’s what most people know meteorologists to do. We’re scientists who predict the future. We forecast weather, so we obviously consider different things rooted in science. Every so often though, you get pulled into an entirely different set of circumstan
Parts of Louisiana Devastated by Flooding; National Media Quiet
It's an election year, the Olympics are on, and crazy guys are climbing Trump Tower with suction cups attached to their hands and feet. With these and other "important" news stories (often told by animated GIF) taking up precious air time, you'll be hard-pressed to find significant news coverage of events that don't include shocking statements from political candidates or click-worthy media. Usually, however, weather is just the
Weather is a Tournament of Odds
Depending on where you get your weather information you really are getting different philosophies of the forecast process. I'm a probabilist – or, I believe in forecasting based on the probability of a weather event occurring. Regarding philosophies, some sources "rip-and-read" (a nice way of saying someone that copies other source forecasts), others look at model data but accept it at face value, and then there are those that dig deeply into the data and weigh the odds of what that data is tel
Without Warning: Moving from Twitter Anger to Action
NBC headline proclaiming tornado came "without warning" falls flat Last night I had the opportunity to talk to Dakota Smith and Tyler Jankoski on their Weather Junkies podcast . It was a fun experience, and the first time I've done anything like that in a long time. On the podcast, there was a well-timed question I felt I had an odd answer to. I was asked what I thought was the biggest problem involving social media and weather. The hip answer would
East Coast
The Glory Years for East Coast Snowstorms?
If you're keeping score at home (and of course we're not) it may seem like the northeast has been hit with more than their fair share of major winter storms in recent years. Going back to the year 2000, there are a number of major winter storms that come to mind for the east coast – but are the numbers disproportional to the over 150 years of record-keeping? How about compared to the number of top 20 storms we've seen in Denver since 2000? For Denver, we've seen two of our top 20 snowstorms on
Data and Knowledge, the Key to Changing Public 'Opinion'
I was ready to hit publish on one post with the aim of beginning work on another. I quickly realized that perhaps the two were connected, so here is the joint post. The first blog was to add some historical perspective on a recent article published by The Denver Post regarding El Niño. The second was a bit of a reactionary agreement piece to this article in Forbes [
"Today in Stupid El Niño Headlines"
Full credit for this post goes to Matt Lanza (@mattlanza ) as he has put all the blood, sweat, and (mostly) tears into gathering these "Stupid El Niño Headlines". All we've done is gone ahead and put them together, in one unfortunate giant list. What was a (sort of) forgivable poor practice by some has now taken the internet by storm when a NASA scientist called this year's El Niño a 'Godzilla El Niño' [
Why Denver's Official Weather Station Should be Moved
If there's one thing most can agree on, it's that the location of Denver's official weather station at Denver International Airport is a poor representation of the weather where Denverites actually live. At any given time DIA's temperature can easily be 5 - 10 degrees (or more) warmer or colder than downtown Denver . While the issue of placement of official weather stations is not unique to Denver [http://www.washingtonpos
What the Hurricane?
Animated GIF shows GFS day 9 forecast flop The moment we had been waiting for all summer finally arrived last week. The single model run to throw the social media world into a frenzy: the day 9 ‘dream’ hurricane from the GFS. It was amazingly viral for a landfall that was never to be. It was quite possibly the best non-storm setup we had seen in years, and, it was set to make landfall in New Orleans on the 9 year anniversary of Katrina. Of course, this was ridiculous and in the hours and days
America is Not Underwater, Literally
Let’s get a few things straight. Detroit, Baltimore, heck, even the entire northeast is not “America”. Throw in a few isolated locations in Arizona, maybe Seattle... still not America. The United States of America includes all 50 states, yes, even those west of the Mississippi. Titled “America Is Under Water, Literally ”, today’s post on the Slate [
The Online Weather World Should Take a Chill Pill, Before an Actual Disaster Strikes
Posted by @islivingston and @brendansweather Weather is big business. A roar of competing voices has been increasingly evident lately, and more is likely to come. It's an odd mix of commodity and potential disaster. The science -- while moving forward at a continual great speed [
Severe Weather
Spotter Re-school: Reporting Crucial Severe Weather Updates vs Getting Crucial RTs
One of the biggest tools the National Weather Service (NWS) relies on when issuing severe weather alerts is a network of trained spotters for visible ground truths of what a storm is doing beyond what's indicated on local radar. Spotters, trained by the NWS as part of their SKYWARN program established during the 1970s, can be an incredible asset during a severe weather event. The reliability of this asset, however, relies on spotters a) keeping fresh on their understanding
Dissecting the Fact from Fiction in our 'Coldest Winter Ever'
Why does a cold winter for the upper midwest and northeast automatically equate to a global phenomenon or historic event? Climate activists on both sides of the table are grabbing at exaggerated explanations, but how well-founded are their claims? For those of you who follow this blog, you know I don't use it as a platform on climate change. While of course I have my take on the whole thing, as everyone does, arguments from both sides of the debate can be equally irresponsible and inaccurate at
The Making of a Weather Forecast Headline
These days a lot of thought goes into social media messaging and news headlines, but maybe not enough. While the ultimate goal is often to generate clicks, at what point are we doing our audience a complete disservice by drawing them to our site with a wildly exaggerated message? Yesterday, The Denver Post Tweeted this headline, sending Twitter into a frenzy and making local meteorologists wonder what they'd missed. Fifteen inches was a long shot, with littl
The Polar Vortex Isn't What Twitter Says It Is
The term polar vortex has been thrown around all week to describe the bitter cold that has gripped much of the nation since last weekend. While trending highly in popularity , the term polar vortex is erroneous in how it has been used. The polar vortex lives near the North Pole region year round and isn't cold air, it is a low pressure area high in the atmosphere between 20-40,000 feet and higher. In the age of social media and "we'll do an