“Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows”

Thanks Bob Dylan! Why don’t we ask Siri then? The app struggled during Hurricane Florence.

Ask the App

Unfortunately, Siri was WAY off  while Hurricane Florence was impacting the Carolinas. On Friday, September 14th, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a category 1 hurricane. Florence had sustained winds of 90mph. Praedictix Meteorologist Tracey Anthony asked Siri if it would be windy in Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC.

Siri Says…

“Not much wind in the forecast  today in Wilmington, NC, Tracey.”
“No, I don’t think it’s going to be windy today in Myrtle Beach, SC.”

Hmm… Well, let me remind you that a 59mph wind gust was reported in North Myrtle Beach, SC. A 105mph wind gust was reported in Wilmington, NC! I think that would be considered windy!

Relying on Apps?

This is certainly a pretty dramatic example of an inaccurate weather forecast from a specific weather source/weather app. However, it just goes to show you how important the “Human Factor” is!

There is no question that we are heavily dependent on tablets and smartphones to stay connected. We scroll through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to constantly keep up with the Jones’. We are also trying to juggle our fantasy football roster and obtain extra lives in Candy Crush. It’s exhausting…

We are living in an on-demand world right now. Information comes how WE want it and when WE want it. Certainly, there are many benefits, but it can also be misleading and potentially threatening when certain information isn’t being vetted correctly. When a picture or story seems too wild to be true, do you believe it? Do you check more sources? How about Snopes? Interestingly, Snopes is run by a team of expert journalists that aim to debunk rumors and hoaxes through extensive fact checking. There’s the “Human Factor”!

The Human Factor

Now, how about your weather app(s)? Do you have a go to? Do you thumb through multiple different sources and try to come up with an educated guess? We are always wondering how weather will impact our lives. How about your wedding? Are you an armchair meteorologist? Do you post or share astronomical snowfall forecasts from a wacky weather model 5 days ahead ahead of a storm? Weather is a source of information that (at times) needs to be heavily vetted as well. Meteorologists are experts and the people that add value to your weather forecast, especially when your crap App hits the fan!

Above all, the best forecast is a mix of man and machine. Without machines, meteorologists wouldn’t be able to make the most accurate forecasts. Likewise, without meteorologists, machine wouldn’t be able make the most accurate forecasts either. Meteorologists know that out of the many different weather models available, there will be models that are completely out to lunch. Some may be closer to actuality and some may be right on. Therefore, it is the meteorologist that can narrow this uncertainty based on their knowledge and expertise.

Hurricane Florence Recap

Consequently, a little more than one week after Hurricane Florence made landfall as a category 1 storm with sustained winds of 90mph, many folks are still cleaning up and waiting for flood waters to recede. Florence roared ashore with some 105mph wind gusts in Wilmington, NC. Widespread heavy rain of 2ft to near 3ft+ fell across parts of North and South Carolina. NOAA’s NWS estimated nearly 8 TRILLION gallons of water fell across North Carolina! In South Carolina more than 2 TRILLION gallons of water fell. Many rivers across the Mid-Atlantic states and especially across the Carolinas remain at MODERATE to MAJOR Flood Stage (some even at RECORD Flood Stage). For this reason, river flooding will likely continue through the end of the month before any major improvements will be seen.

Remarkably, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center issued a forecast on Saturday, September 8th that was only 2 miles off target in the “cone of uncertainty”! Keep in mind that the 5-day error within the “cone” is 250 miles! Sure, timing and intensity was off that far in advance, but some of the extended forecast models were suggesting solutions as wide-ranging as the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast Coastline. It is compelling that NHC Meteorologists were able to sift through the all the noise and determine the most accurate forecast track based on their knowledge and expertise! Kudos!

People Add Value

Regardless of what kind of data or information you are working with, it is important to not always take it as face value. Have a critical thinking process and check your sources. Most importantly, leave it up to the experts and find out how they think or feel about the situation – it’s there job!

Above all, next time to your favorite weather app to find out whether or not little Billy’s baseball game will be impacted, make sure you’re using reliable sources. Double check with experts to make sure you won’t get caught off guard and put in a potentially life-threatening weather situation.

Here at Praedictix, we have a team of expert meteorologists that can add value to your company. If you’re in need of someone to wade through the meteorological noise and find solutions to your weather needs, we are here to help! Let’s talk…

Find out more at Praedictix.com

Meteorologist Todd Nelson, Praedictix

Praedictix Meteorologist Todd Nelson