Bogus winter storm “forecasts” spreading on social networks

Do not be alarmed. Despite what you might have read on Facebook or Twitter, no big winter storm is forecast to strike the Midwest or Northeast this weekend.

As WANE-TV meteorologist Greg Shoup writes in a his blog, “There are no significant weather patterns this weekend across the entire eastern United States.”

Apparently some attention-starved social network users are forwarding information about a winter storm that happened March 12 of 2014, but without the critical information that it was last year!

Greg correctly points out in his blog that we should not believe everything we read on social media sites. Even when weather information on Facebook and Twitter is current (versus a year old), much of it comes from amateur meteorologists who share worst-case scenarios based on the outputs of single numerical models of the atmosphere, hoping they can claim to be the first to advise the world of some major weather event.

I prefer to get my weather information directly from the National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS is completely taxpayer-funded. Unlike other sources of weather forecasts, the NWS does not crave attention, nor rely on advertising (which relies on viewership) to stay in business. In my experience, if the official NWS forecast does not mention a big weather event, it’s because there’s a good reason that NWS meteorologists lack confidence that the event will occur.

You’ll never see me write my own forecasts here on this blog, on Facebook or on Twitter, because I’m not a meteorologist. I share information from true professional meteorologists who I trust, mostly NWS employees and occasionally very credible broadcast meteorologists, like Shoup and his colleagues at WANE.

So, don’t believe everything you see on social networks and please, don’t share weather information with others unless you know and trust the source.

 

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