29 January 2014

An Open Thank You to Meteorologists

I wanted to take an opportunity to share with you an excellent blog post written by Marshall Shepherd.  Marshall is the director of the Program in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia, and the sitting president of the American Meteorological Society.  The blog post specifically addresses the very accurate forecasts made for the winter storm that affected Atlanta (and the rest of the southern states) yesterday... but the public perception that it was a surprise.

The problem of "it came out of nowhere" or "we didn't think it would be this bad" is not unique to winter weather of course... we observe the same responses from the public during/after tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, you name it.  Recently, virtually every major weather-related disaster has been amazingly well-forecast.  That's a huge accomplishment for numerical models and for our National Weather Service.

However, while an accurate forecast does not prevent the event from happening, it does allow people to prepare as much as possible for the event.

In the case of an ice/snow storm, the ice and snow will still come, and can still knock out power and make roads slick, but the public's job is to obey the warnings and prepare for power losses and to avoid traveling unless it's an absolute emergency.  In the case of a tornado, the correct response would be to immediately seek the best shelter you can get to.  For a hurricane, it could be to evacuate the area completely before the storm arrives (or if you stay put, be prepared to be self-sustaining for at least several days).

With that introduction, here is Marshall's post:

An Open Thank You to Meteorologists in Atlanta

13 January 2014