How to Spot the Fake Forecast
It’s not easy to decipher our local weather into 140 characters.
But how can we make sure that the information we get is as accurate as possible?
Mobile apps and Social media have become an increasingly popular way to get weather information.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give us pictures, facts and hearsay from friends and family.
But is it the best place to get your weather info?
“When you see a post from an meteorologist, we filter the things, because we know there are things that we see that could excite people, but will likely not come true,” says Rob Kupec, KVRR Chief Meteorologist.
People look at weather information and want to share the good news, but when it gets shared, that’s when it could take a turn.
“You start off with good information, and then everyone adds a peg and it becomes different, and then by the time it gets to the 4th person on social media, it could be a completely different story,” explains Daryl Ritchison, Interim Director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network.
As qualified meteorologists, Ritchison and Kupec both say that some of the information, mainly graphics and pictures, could include bad information because it was taken at a different time and a different location than originally thought.
“I want to be the first one with information out and I truly don’t know how this tornado picture from 13 years ago ends up being spread around any part of the country, including our area,” Ritchison says.
Other weather information spread through social media include forecasts for over 2 weeks in advance on Facebook pages.
They include graphics of weather model outputs far in advance which could cause uncertainty among people viewing them firsthand.
“Some people see it as a valid forecast where it’s actually raw model data and there necessarily hasn’t been human interaction determining whether it’s a valid or reasonable forecast,” states Ryan Knutsvig, the Meteorologist-in-Charge at the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Grand Forks, N.D.
The American Meteorological Society says the best way to use social media is differentiate the forecast for today from the long–term.
They also say to be open for interpretation when seeing long–term forecasts because sometimes uncertainty in weather can be hard to communicate
But the most important thing is to use common sense because in the end, people who share weather info on social media are just trying to figure out if they need an umbrella.
“Because it’s only misinformation if you know it’s misinformation, if you think this is the truth, this is going to happen, they’re going to send it out as they’re trying to help other individuals too,” says Ritchison.