Recently, there’s been a sort of revolution in the way meteorologists think about what they do and how they do it as it relates to the general public. Meteorologists can provide great forecasts and discussions explaining what we expect the weather to do, when we expect it, and why, but if our audience doesn’t understand how it pertains to them, what’s the point?
When you look up at the sky and see clouds, how do you see them? There’s a bit of psychology to that question, and I’ll get back to that in a minute. What I’m really considering here is how meteorologists quantify the clouds in the sky. There’s kind of a game to it.
Few weather events are as talked about or as legendary as tornadoes. Sure the smaller ones that do little damage quickly fade to memory (unless it was your property that was damaged), but the larger ones or the ones that hit highly populated areas, are talked about for years. Even with all of the storm reports available to the general public, there are still many myths about twisters that need to be debunked.
Like most meteorologists on social media, I have a tendency to be a little share-crazy when there’s a chance for severe weather. I’ll share forecast info, radar captures, photos, and outlook maps. Last week, I was asked what some of the icons on the SPC’s storm outlook maps mean. Here’s a basic overview...
The National Weather Service and the Storm Prediction Center are constantly coming up with new ways to describe the weather so that people get a better sense of whether they should just be aware or have a sense of urgency about the current and coming conditions. A few years ago, the SPC started using the phrase “Particularly Dangerous Situation” (PDS) in its wording with some tornado watches. Isn’t any tornado a particularly dangerous situation? What makes a PDS Watch different?
Everyone knows what it takes to make a shadow – a light source and something to block it. When we think of shadows, we usually picture our own on the ground or odd shadows in a dimly lit room. If you’re flying in an airplane in the daytime, you might look down and see the shadows that the clouds cast on the ground below them, but there’s a different kind of shadow you could see from the ground if you’re lucky.
My friends ask me pretty often whose forecast I trust most. I have friends who work at three television stations and the National Weather Service in Raleigh, so I am careful about how I answer. In fact, depending on the season, my answer may change.
When people learn that I’m a meteorologist and not working on television, they seem surprised. For most folks, the TV weathercasters are their only exposure to the world of meteorology. So, if you’re into the weather, you must be a broadcaster, right? Not at all...
Meteorologists tend to cringe at the old wives’ tales about the weather, but a few actually ring true. One of the more accurate ones is “red at night is sailors’ delight, but red in the morning means sailors take warning.” I’m happy to report that this one has its basis in science.
We’ve heard a lot about ozone in news headlines over the years and the dangers associated with it. If you only read the headlines, it can be a bit confusing. Ozone in surface level smog is bad, but a hole in the ozone layer isn’t good?