— Chris Doyle (@ensembleator) December 9, 2016
I wonder how the media should change its reporting of volatile weather systems with hyper local effects? The biggest problem with the way storms hit our crinkly coast is that they can be radically different in effect in locations only a few Kms apart and the projections can change by the hour. And yet, mass media runs with the single regional forecast that is issued every six hours and people believe what they want, then getting frustrated with the quality of weather forecasting. We just want to be told what will happen.
Weather forecasting and monitoring is incredible now and we all have access to most of the raw data. But many people expect forecasters to get it right to a level of precision that is impossible at local scales and hardly anyone is prepared to to the work of slogging through the theory to understand what’s happening.
Was snow predicted for today? Yes. Is it happening? Yes. Are there areas in which it is creating treacherous conditions and therefore worthy of a regional warning? Yep. Is that true at your house?
If the answer to the last question is no it does not invalidate the accuracy or the role of meteorology. It might be an indictment of radio and newspapers who are never willing to explain the intricacies of complexity whether it is about economics, society, politics or weather.
Collectively we need to stop looking for simple answers and easy knowledge about complex system and get used to living with volatility, uncertainty and unpredictability because that is how the world actually works. It would help if we could all learn a little more about the complexities of the things that affect us and learn to use the raw data that shows what’s happening. I have a constant irritation that society in general is stuck because folks a) won’t do the leg work to understand complexity and b) expect those that do do the legwork to be the final arbiters of truth.
We are dangerously wanting to have our cake and eat it too.