Social Media Hype About Winter Weather Is Coming

It was a bit chilly for our morning walk here in Georgia, so I pedaled away on my exercise bike in the basement. At that moment I was reminded that we are approaching the cold season in the United States. It also means your yearly dose of winter weather hype and misinformation on social media. Here are some things you should be prepared for.

In fact, meteorologist Chris Robbins wrote the perfect piece on the subject on his site a few years ago iWEATHERNET.COM Platform. Robbins, with whom I spoke prior to writing this essay, noted that the winter season brings with it the usual slew of 10-day “viral” snowstorm maps, wishes, and a general misunderstanding of winter weather forecasting. Weather model information is generally available to anyone, but I constantly tell my classes at the University of Georgia that posting a model graph doesn’t make you a good weather forecaster. It makes you a good copy-paste person. Understanding the nuances of atmosphere, models and communication strategies is crucial.

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences confirmed a tenet first established by legendary meteorologist and father of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz. The predictability of the weather is limited and is around 9 to 10 days, according to the study. A Penn State University press release included the following statement by the late Fuqing Zhang: “I think we will refine this answer in the future, but our study conclusively shows that there is a limit, although we still have significant leeway to extend the forecast.” improve before the limit is reached.” In other words, even with the perfect model and inputs, there are limits to predictions when trying to predict changes in the atmospheric fluid on a rotating planet. While meteorologists understand this, many people genuinely believe that answers to the following questions are possible in 10 days: “Will the hurricane fly along this very straight line toward City X?” or “Will it snow in the left corner of my backyard near the dog’s water bowl?” Today’s weather forecast is actually pretty good as long as you understand the limitations. I have explored this topic in a previous one forbes essay.

It is precisely for this reason that Chris Robbins wrote: “For example, we know that significant winter weather events are exceedingly rare in the Southeast in December…an exciting model forecast for heavy snowfall in Alabama or Georgia in 10 days of advance in mid-December is driven by the unfavorable snow climatology for that area.” tempered.” A good forecaster will consider and understand such factors, as Robbins continued, “Chances are that the model will tip over with future runs as it absorbs more and better data.” We live in an area of ​​“social media -Rologists” who yearn to be the “first” to tell you about the big blizzard. However, as the old saying goes, “Just because you see it on the internet doesn’t make it true.”

A 2022 study titled “The catastrophe of misinformation: a review of research on social media,‘ mentioned that number of retweets, early information, credibility of content, emotions and desire to inform their circles are motivations for retweeting information. Others have hypothesized that social media skills and being first feed psychological needs centered around ego and narcissism. Today, people try to attract “likes” and “shares,” often at the expense of meteorological credibility. Unfortunately, the average person may not be able to decipher what should be shared (or when) and this can have negative downstream implications. Such carelessness leads to misguided expectations and misconceptions about the effectiveness of weather forecasting.

Some other things to keep in mind this winter season are “high-end” bias, desires, and gathering static information. I define the “high-end” bias effect as people seeing a 3 to 6 inch snowfall forecast for their area and then criticizing the forecast because it is “only” 3 inches. I’ve noticed a tendency for people to focus on the high end of the range, just as people mistakenly focus on the centerline of the hurricane cone rather than the entire cone. For snow lovers, the desire for “high-end” is probably a reflection of wishful thinking. Secretly, I think people enjoy the sometimes irrational hoarding of bread.

Collecting static weather information is also problematic. People often see a forecast or their little app icon on a given day and assume that five days later that will be the absolute result. Sure, it’s a prediction, but they’re evolving. It’s important to watch the “Forecast” rather than just reacting to the one you saw five days ago. This trend is challenging for winter weather events here in the South and was recently proven to be true of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

my colleague Rick Smith is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service – Norman. He’s penned the perfect elixir for the upcoming winter weather social media virus below. I encourage everyone to study it carefully.

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