AMS Conference Day Two
Thursday turned into a very long day, so I wasn’t able to get an update online last night. The first session of Day Three is just a few minutes away, so here’s a quick re-cap of some of the things we covered on Thursday:
- The day started out with a discussion about making sure terminology matches up when describing tropical systems by Lori Drake of the Hurricane Roadmap Project. Everyone got a kick out of this quote she delivered from a national broadcast: “This is a large hurricane, but it is not big as hurricanes go.” What in the world does that mean? Honestly, we are all guilty of saying things that really don’t make much sense when it is only heard or read and not seen. I always say that English is a hard language; there are so many nuances that have to be conveyed with tone and body language that we really need to choose our words more carefully. She also brought out a statistic that I never knew but had observed: Atlantic hurricanes are (on average) about 40% smaller than Pacific storms. So, when we compare storms, we need to be sure that we’re comparing apples to apples so to speak!
- Daniel Pisut from the NOAA Visualization Laboratory gave us a ton of resources to use on air that are in high-definition, and let’s be honest, for weather nerds like me, it’s just really, really cool. You can see them too at www.nnvl.noaa.gov.
- Todd Hutchinson from WSI (a graphics/weather data vendor that we are working with now) gave us some great perspective on “convective allowing” models. These are models like the RPM (Rapid Precision Mesoscale) that you will be seeing on WHNT News 19 in coming weeks. The RPM has a very fine grid: 4 kilometers. That allows it to see very small-scale features and forecast thunderstorms better, but it’s still not perfect because there are so many features smaller than 4 km that affect thunderstorm development and decay.
- Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel from WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC showed us some great uses of ensemble model data, and he also gave me some great ideas to map and describe the chance of rain a little better. We will get to work on some of his ideas when I get back, and hopefully we will have them implemented soon!
- Greg Carbin from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman spoke about the numbers of tornadoes in 2012, and answered too important questions: are tornadoes occurring earlier and are there more tornadoes when Winter is warm? The answer to both question is “NO.” Statistics show that an unusually warm Winter does NOT indicate a significant tornado season. There is about a 15% variance on tornado occurrence from year to year based on temperature, but a single variable like “warm Winter” does not mean tornadoes will be more numerous or stronger. He also says tornadoes are not occurring earlier in the year based on the data since 1982.
- Kelly Bacon of McMaster University in Canada brought a new topic to the table in the afternoon: MISSA – Media Induced Severe Storm Anxiety. She had some good points, but the biggest thing I took away from it was to make sure we are being totally honest with you about a threat for severe weather. Here’s the promise I have made and will continue to make: we will not tell you severe weather is coming to hype you up to get ratings. That is dishonest and immoral; if we say it’s coming and it doesn’t, it’s because we missed the forecast. Forecasts are never going to be perfect, but rest assured we are doing our best to describe the real potential to you when storms are expected. If you have any feedback for me on that, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on social media (see below).
- There was a great discussion on social media; I’ll save that for another post!