Why You Don’t Trust the Weatherman

Raise your hand if you thought it would rain on Sunday.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it didn’t rain, but c’mon: I planned my weekend around a washout. You can put your hand down now.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t trust the weatherman on TV — he’s wrong half the time, anyway.”

Half the time is a little harsh, but it’s pretty clear people think weather forecasts on TV are inaccurate. Why? It’s complicated.

Part of the trouble are long range forecasts. Anything beyond two days is notoriously dicey — but that doesn’t stop local TV from showing 5-day or 7-day forecasts. Tell people on Wednesday that it will rain on Saturday and they’ll hold you to it. People don’t care that weather patterns are variable, they care that you said it would rain.

The other problem is marketing. For years, local TV has made promises about the weather. They call their lead meteorologist the most accurate, reliable, knowledgeable, and experienced guy in the area. That’s what’s known in the business as “hype.” What they don’t tell you is that it’s sort of a crapshoot.

But what are you going to do, write copy like this:

Joe Blow! He’s relatively accurate when it comes to forecasting your weather.
You can always trust him to do his best with the information available.
And if you’re making big plans for the weekend, count on Joe to tell you what he thinks might happen — unless the weather does something completely unexpected!
Joe Blow! Somewhat reliable up to about 24 hours away…

That would be hilarious. And truthful.

5 thoughts on “Why You Don’t Trust the Weatherman

  1. Well you know my view on promoting the weather… Push the personality. That’s all they really have to differentiate from the other 4 weather teams looking at more or less the exact same data.

  2. Getting it wrong is one thing, but they NEVER admit
    it the next day. Have you ever heard one of them say
    ” Man, that weekend forecast I gave you Friday really
    sucked” ?

  3. One of the New Haven guys did apologize profusely about two weeks ago. But I forget whether he said it was going to snow a lot and it didn’t, or not snow much and it did. So I guess it wasn’t that big a deal.

    And it’s not like they know going into it that they are just gonna lie like a rug, like an Amtrak timetable writer or something.

  4. The weather truth ?


    C’mon Rob, you and I both know that, much like the minefield of, “Do I look fat in this ?”, people will seek out the weather forecaster that gives them the answer they want to hear… which may not always to the most accurate.

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