Sometimes it happens on a quiet weather day, but more often it happens during big events, like impending tornadoes, hurricanes, and severe thunderstorms. I finish a complete forecast on television, and someone emails, calls or tweets and says, “I just saw you on TV. I heard your forecast, but I want to know what you REALLY think. Is this storm REALLY going to do what you said? Is this hurricane REALLY going to move away?”
I am not sure if it comes from the old thought process that all meteorologists lie (and are usually wrong). Maybe they think I only tell lies on television, but if they ask me one-on-one, I will tell the REAL truth.
Here’s the thing: what I say on TV is what I know. There is no hidden, secret forecast that I’m keeping only for my closest friends. If I say I believe it will rain between 3:00 and 6:00 in downtown Orlando, that is really what I think. I am not going to move that to 7:00 because you have an outdoor event planned at 3:00. Believe me, if I had the power to actually change the weather, I would be doing a totally different job. And making a lot more money!
Sometimes telling the REAL weather story is saying, “I don’t know.” Weather is fluid and constantly changing. The forecast is based in science, but it’s still a prediction. I don’t have a crystal ball. I’m not a fortune teller. Sometimes I get it wrong.
But being wrong isn’t the same thing as hiding a forecast on purpose. Sometimes with weather the best answer is, “I do not know.” But that is not what anyone wants to hear. I think people would rather hear a lie, even if it’s wrong, than an “I don’t know.”
News consultants have told me to never put a question mark on a weather graphic — and definitely not on a title. They say it makes me look uncertain. But I think being uncertain is ok… on occasion. Weather is an inexact science. It’s the kind of field that you must consistently and constantly roll with the punches.
I don’t believe that gives me a free pass to be wrong all the time. I also try to be straight with people. I hate a “hyped up” forecast as much as you do. My goal is to be as accurate as I can without tricking you into watching with an inflated or misleading “tease.”
What you see is what you get.
It’s REAL. The weather forecast you see on TV is the REAL story.
End of story.