Sunday, January 31, 2010

To the Baltimore Sun:
High school students saw it coming too.


7:00 AM SUNDAY 1.31.2010  The forecast team hopes you enjoyed watching the I-40 Big Kahuna unfold as much as we were thrilled to predict it. Our good hard-working colleagues at the Baltimore Sun claim "forecasts didn't see this coming." They know full well that in addition to Accuweather.com, another forecast team saw it coming six days ago, as reported in the Sun: high school and college students on this site. Perhaps the viewing and reading public need to ask their media outlets the real question of the day...

Why have Maryland students* without formal meteorology training TWICE predicted a major  snow event in the Mid-Atlantic more accurately that many television and professional forecasters? If the fancy graphics, Doppler 10,000 and Storm Teams aren't delivering accuracy the public deserves, then why do TV stations spend money to maintain those products? Are these kids just whipper-snappers with a couple lucky breaks looking for attention?  The short answer: No. These students rigorously apply their skills and analytical techniques learned in Maryland schools. It's working. Perhaps the professionals need to do their homework and read this article from SmartMoney.com titled: "Ten things weather forecasters won't tell you." *Note: Forecast team members are not Mr. Foot's students from the BCPS Crossroads Center, that is the Climate Collaborative.

Many meteorologists, including those at the National Weather Service, and others such as Stacy Berman of CBS 19 in Charlottesville, VA ; Justin Berk of ABC2 News in Baltimore, MD and Tony Pann of WBAL 11 in Baltimore, MD, work hard day to produce forecasts which are grounded in scientific data and analysis. Does anyone thank them for the other 99% of spot-on calls throughout the year? Our team appreciates their diligence, as should you. Then there are TV personalities who casually try to "sell you" the weather. How many countless thousands of intelligent, well-read, hard-working taxpayers went to bed Friday night having bought the snake oil, expecting  a dusting to an inch. Note:  The excuse that computer models weren't showing anything is not an acceptable response to the public.

What did they receive? Slightly more than a dusting, Mr. Bass of Baltimore's CBS Channel 13 WJZ. Slightly more than "just this much" as shown in an index and thumb together hand gesture by another local forecaster. Gentlemen, the public deserves better; members of your TV audience are more satisfied obtaining their weather from high school students. Perhaps that is the way it should be. Unless the public sees changes to TV forecasting procedures for the next storm, my relatives in Crisfield, MD can cook up a nice dish of crow, with Old Bay seasoning, if necessary.

Think that's too hard-hitting? Wish to hold us accountable too? We welcome your perspective on this issue, for or against. Appropriately share your thoughts on our facebook page or in the comments below. If you desire to join our team and forecast for new zones, including the "Del-Mar" portions of the eastern shore, and the Virginia tidewater, please email Mr. Foot at footsforecast@gmail.com. May fortune favor the bold!

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