Monday, November 18, 2013

Crying Wolf? I Think Not: Severe Weather Definitions

It never fails.

During and after each and every severe weather event, there are a few people that selfishly say "Where are the storms? You all said we'd have severe weather. All we're getting is wind and some rain. You weather people never get it right!" Nothing gets me more fired up more than idiotic comments like this. Tell this to the families who lost loved ones in this house in Nashville, Illinois.

My blood pressure is climbing just writing this......errrrrr!

I have written many times about how our perceptions and preconceived notions tend to govern our thoughts especially when events occur that seem to support and reinforce our biased notions. I try to tell these individuals that severe weather forecasts are approximations. That's why tornado watches are as large as a state not a city. 

People will think the way they want to think regardless of how much data you present them to the contrary.  How often have our biases surfaced during election years (economic issues), in our day-to-day lives perhaps when we interact with others?  See my posts about cognitive biases and  cognitive dissonance relating it to weather HERE and HERE. Note the parts in red print if you want the Cliffs Notes version.

Anyway, maybe these basic severe weather definitions will clarify some of these misconceptions and perceptions about severe weather. Bottom line is this: When the Storm Prediction Center has a region in a MODERATE to HIGH RISK for severe weather, bad things will happen. This is not something to be taken lightly.


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