You would think with hurricanes that people would know what to do. Sadly, there is more confusion now-a-days about what to believe.

And I’ve been contacted a lot about it.

Over the last few weeks with Hurricane Harvey and now word on Hurricane Irma, I’ve received a few messages and in person questions about what to really know and trust about Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The amount of questions has been so numerous, that I have now switched my final senior research project on how clear hurricane warnings are in hopes that my research will improve warnings in the future.

In addition, I wanted to write a guide of things I use to help me sift through what to trust. You do not have to follow these guides and if you don’t like them, don’t use them.

 

#1 The older generation taught me to never believe everything you hear or read before the invention of the internet. So why believe everything now?

I’m sure many of you were told this in the past too. It seems that less and less people are using rules such as, “If everyone told you to jump off a bridge, would you?” and “Don’t believe anything you hear.” I believe that that old advice is still relevant.

Here’s the deal: with the invention of the internet, it opened up a wide channel of information. What I don’t think some people realize is with the internet YOU CAN POST ANYTHING. Especially in the United States. We live in a country that has freedom of speech. So, you can post whatever you want. I can go on to Wikipedia right now and say that clouds are made of monkeys. Do you believe that?  You shouldn’t. You know I am just making it up. So, why would you believe far fetched posts on the internet?

Why would people do that? They find it fun! Why does a kid back in the day prank call someone and tell them lies? Because they find your reaction funny. You are smart enough not to fall for a prank, so why fall for one on your computer screen right now.

JUST BECAUSE IT IS ON THE INTERNET DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE!

#2 Some things on the internet are correct. Here’s how to find a good source:

WHAT NOT TO TRUST:

Friends, Family and other people posts on social media. Here’s why:

So, there has to be truth out there right? Someone has to know what is going on? Yep, there is.

Think with me here. If you want to know to the definition of a word, where do you go? Do you go to Linda down the street and ask her for the definition of the word “persnickety?” Why would you do that? You would have to pick up your phone, call Linda, listen to her talk about all her cats and then finally get to ask her about the definition of the word? What if she’s wrong? You really want to go to someone who really may or may not know what they are talking about for information and treat it as good enough?

No! You just go and look it up in the dictionary. The dictionary is going to be right and have information for you.

So, if you go to look for information from the dictionary and not to Linda…why are you trusting Linda or some other person on Facebook or wherever else to tell you vital weather information?

Your weather app. Here’s why it is wrong:

But you may be tech savvy and go to your weather app. I hate to tell you this but your app on your phone is just a computer cranking out numbers. There isn’t anyone behind those numbers plugging it in for you. Some weather app companies do not hire real meteorologists to sit and plug in information for your particular location. Think of it this way. How many times have you put in an address in to your GPS on your phone and it takes you way out of your way to get there than the shorter way you found. Your GPS is just a computer cranking out numbers to find the right way for you and you know it has flaws. So why treat your weather app as a perfect source of information? It’s just a computer too.

In fact, I do not know a single meteorologist who uses a weather app for their information. We spent thousands of dollars to get a degree to forecast. Why would we throw our whole education away and be lazy and have a computer that we know is wrong tell us wrong information. That doesn’t make sense.

OKAY, WHO DO YOU TRUST?

A DEGREED meteorologist hired by a weather company or National Weather Service!

Think about it, when you are having a heart attack, you do not go to Linda (you’ve already heard about her cats once today) or WebMD to treat it. You go to the hospital where there are doctors who could save your life. You go to someone who has had lots of schooling, who has lost sleep over studying and who has put in the hours and has the experience to save your life. They’ve worked really hard, you know that and you feel confident to trust your life in their hands.

But I’m just a meteorologist… it’s not that drastic, right? First of all, I want you to think of your families. I want you to think about what it is like for your kids, your parents, your dog or cat or your significant other to be in danger. You would do anything to save them right? If I knew what was going to happen that could help them save their life, would you like me to tell you? Maybe just maybe I could help you save their lives. That’s what is going on with the Hurricane. Imagine if your family was in the danger right now. How would you feel about your weather information?

Here’s the kicker, NOT EVERYONE ON TV IS A METEOROLOGIST AND NOT EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET CAN REALLY TELL YOU ABOUT THE WEATHER.

There are some media outlets who do not employ real meteorologists. Think to your favorite weather person… sorry to say, they may not be a real one.

Back in the day, several media outlets did not employ real meteorologists. They hired reporters and people who were really REALLY good at being on TV to talk about the weather. Why? It was easier and some still believe they can go on the internet, copy off a website or weather model (just another computer that cranks out numbers) and put that on TV. But wouldn’t they get fired? Not if their bosses think it is ok too.

NOTE: IF THEY SAY THEY ARE A WEATHER ENTHUSIAST. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE A METEOROLOGIST!

Would you go to someone who says they are a medical enthusiast or an arm chair doctor for a heart attack? No! They do not know what they are talking about! They didn’t pay to go to school and didn’t study. Then why would you go to a weather enthusiast about severe weather information????

 

HERE’S WHAT I DO TO CHECK:

  • Find out the person’s name.
  • Find out where they work.
  • If on the media, go to the media outlets website
  • Go to the “our staff” or “meet our news team” or “about our station” or something to that effect. Most media outlets do this!
  • Find that person you are investigating
  • Read their biography.
  • You are looking for if they have a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology or Atmospheric Science (What some schools call a program that studies weather) Not a certificate. IMPORTANT: A CERTIFICATE IS NOT A DEGREE
  • IF NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: These people are the best of the best when it comes to forecasting weather information. They MUST have a degree in meteorology or atmospheric science and they go through years of training to properly warn people. This includes: a National Weather Service Office, the National Hurricane Center, the Weather Prediction Center, the SPC or any agency that has an NWS or NOAA seal on it.
  • IF RESEARCHER, PROFESSOR or DOCTOR: Go to the website of the place they say they work and look up their education. Do they have a degree? Is it a real place? Does the institution hire meteorologists or atmospheric scientists or climatologists?

THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO KNOW FOR SURE. DO YOUR RESEARCH. PEOPLE WHO WENT TO SCHOOL ARE GOING TO BRAG ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE. IF THEY SAY THEY ARE A METEOROLOGIST ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE, IT DOES NOT COUNT (YOU CAN PUT ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET REMEMBER). LOOK INTO THEIR BIOGRAPHY!

 

I really hope this helps clear up some confusion and you find this as a handy guide. Good luck!