Why Can’t National Media Get A Weather Story Right?

April 19, 2016

WARNING!  MARK RANT AHEAD!

It drives me nuts.  Why do the national media (the news networks) make up weather forecasts AFTER a major event?  It happened again today with the Houston flooding.  I ran across this in a news script in two of our shows (now corrected):

Capture2

Waaaa??? was my first reaction.  I vaguely remember seeing something from some weather site way back late last week mentioning some flooding likely in Texas during the upcoming weekend.  So I just checked the Houston National Weather Service Facebook page.  Wow, after all of 30 seconds of work I found this posting from SATURDAY MORNING:

HoustonNWSSaturdayAM

Sounds like if you live in that area there could be some flooding coming up for later Sunday or Monday?  Hmmm,  then another posting SUNDAY MORNING:

HoustonNWSSundayAM

Quite a bit more detail.  At this point it appears the main action is forecast to hit Houston and areas to the west and north.  That’s EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED WITHIN 18-24 HOURS OF THIS POSTING!

Folks, this has happened several times in the past year.  Remember the cruise ship (Anthem of the Seas) that sailed straight into the hurricane force winds earlier this year?  The company claimed, and then some media repeated that claim without checking, that the storm was unexpected.  It took  meteorologists speaking out to clue in the media that the company was wrong and either knew about the storm or failed to check the path vs. storm.

Back on February 2nd there was a tornado outbreak in the south.  Apparently one network began coverage with “WITHOUT WARNING”.  Ummm, the SPC had forecast the outbreak ahead of time and many warnings were issued ahead of the storms.

How does this happen?  How do reputable news organizations fail to check important facts and go on the air with an unsubstantiated claim?  Good question!  I don’t know.  It sure wouldn’t happen with other facts, but for some reason media seems to “wing it” with the weather information.  All a reporter has to do is check with their local National Weather Service office, or in the case of local tv stations, ask the weather anchor sitting on the other side of the office.  It’s not that hard.

We are very fortunate here at FOX12 that the news producers and reporters regularly call the weather folks to see if “that script looks okay” or “is there anything else I can add” or “I don’t want to get something wrong”.  I love working with the people here.  We DO get those national scripts that have mistakes like tonight, but we can often correct those in-house quickly.  So no complaints about my coworkers.

Now you might be wondering why Mark has his panties in a wad?  I care because time after time the implication is that “those forecasters were fooled again!”.  That’s annoying, because most big weather events are pretty well forecast compared to 23 years ago when I started.

Alright, I feel better now…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen