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Why Does Everyone Hate Meteorologists?

Updated on September 1, 2017
Chriswillman90 profile image

Krzysztof is a lifelong future tech junkie investigating the latest stories from companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon.

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Are Meteorologists Always Wrong?

As good as meteorologists have it financially, their levels of respect vary.

Meteorologists are prone to substantial public scrutiny with some people claiming that they are useless.

However meteorologists usually require a master's degree with some receiving doctorates, so they're no scrubs. With such a high quality education they outrank jobs of much lesser quality and there should be a level of respect generated over the years.

But there's something missing!

How can a scientist with years of education and experience by viewed by some as useless? It doesn't add up but perhaps there's a method to the madness.

One of the most common phrases I hear when people talk about weatherpersons are that it's one of the only professions where they get paid for being right 30 to 50 percent of the time.

I don't know if that phrase still applies but that's the general feeling geared towards this profession. This was exacerbated anytime a meteorologist got a forecast wrong with other phrases like "they're always wrong" or "why should we listen to them".

It was that general negativity directed at them that gave them a bad rap.

Source

TV Versus Off-Screen Meteorologist

Some of the criticisms geared toward meteorologist is due to their on screen persona. Though TV viewership of the weather is declining, it has still managed to create a stigma against weatherpersons of today. Why is that?

The on screen persona of a meteorologist is usually viewed as a person who seems unusually perky, who may be completely off-beat, is an oddball, and is often seen as eccentric. This persona along with previous misconceptions only furthers the public's negative notions against their career.

What people don't realize is that the weatherperson on TV is not an actual meteorologist.

The most notable meteorologists of "mets" are actually behind the scenes on their super computers analyzing weather data.

It's not that difficult learning how to read off the teleprompter and figure out where to point and stand with the green screen behind you. The real talent and skill is generating that all important winter weather forecast or seven day planner for your upcoming vacation.

The true persona of the meteorologist is very different from the cliched weather persona people often view today.

Source

Are Meteorologists True Scientists?

Meteorologists are serious scientists with years of experience and they have to be experts in weather analysis, super computer data, weather modeling, and on all various sorts of weather and climate related instruments. They are no different than your everyday researcher or scientist.

However people would prefer seeing the hyped up persona versus the opposite discuss a weather forecast. In fact we've seen dozens of funny videos involving those personas in some questionable circumstances.

Even better is during those circumstances the weatherperson tends to exaggerate and become over the top and that's something we'd rather see than the opposite.

Unfortunately being eccentric and silly does no favors for meteorologists. Although people might enjoy seeing that more, it only lessens the respect for the reals "mets" of the world.

Challenges in Weather Forecasting

Predicting the weather is no easy task because there's so many variables and data that needs to get deciphered.

Meteorologist may have all the tools at their disposal meteorologists, but they must still deal with the enormous task of putting everything together.

They know that issuing a wrong forecast could have deadly repercussions and intense public scrutiny. Just imagine the consequences if a meteorologist predicted a cloudy, snow free day that turned out to be a major snowstorm during rush hour.

Such a grave error could cause massive traffic jams, endangerment to the public, and even fatalities.

Given that reality it's very difficult for meteorologists to come up with the perfect forecast especially when lives are at stake. Sadly there's no such thing as a perfect forecast; some places will avoid disaster and others wont.

The sad thing is that even when meteorologists are correct, they'll still be at fault.

For example think of events like Hurricane Katrina or Harvey and the people who died. Meteorologists warned everybody of the deadly potential these hurricanes could unleash yet people stayed behind and got killed. I guarantee at least partial blame went towards meteorologists because people died.

There's no prize for a meteorologist when they get it right, but there's always a litany of criticism when they get it wrong.

You'll never hear someone say thank you to a weatherperson for accurately forecasting a flood to hit a particular location, but you'll hear people say they did a horrible job when their town gets hit the worst by that same flood because they were off by 10 miles.

It truly takes guts to predict the weather, but they'll never get the glory for getting it right.

Superstorm Sandy on October 30, 2012 after landfall
Superstorm Sandy on October 30, 2012 after landfall | Source

Weather Hype

If there's one thing a meteorologist knows, then it's that hype garners public interest.

These days meteorologists have expanded beyond the TV market to host their own websites, create personal forecasts, and monetize their information.

Meteorologists have learned to monopolize in this ever growing technological world along with the explosion of social media, which has generated mixed feelings.

On one hand the public can view professional weather models and instruments they would've never seen otherwise, but they're also exposed to weather hype.

Weather hype is an exaggeration of an upcoming pattern, forecast, or storm.

Hyping commonly occurs during the winter season when cold and snow become a significant topic of discussion. I think several meteorologists are guilty of hyping up their forecast, but a lot of that is due to their love and passion for the weather and climate.

The real crime is when meteorologists become biased and excessively hype every potential weather event even if they're proven wrong every time.

They don't do it because they're passionate but rather to get more viewers, more notoriety, and more paid subscribers.

Those kind of scientists deserve to be criticized and disrespected. It would be like a server who flaunts her body to get extra tips. A little bit of hype is okay from time to time but excessive hype just to gain viewers is reaching, with one exception...

During major tornado outbreaks or events like Superstorm Sandy, we need as much hype as possible to get people to respond. If meteorologists were nonchalant about deadly weather events, then local and regional officials would likely have the same attitude.

That attitude would trickle down further and affect their communities, which could then cause more injuries and deaths.

There's definitely a time and place for everything, and in extreme cases they can hype as much as they want.

The rise in accuracy and model data
The rise in accuracy and model data | Source

The Rise of AI in Weather Modeling

With constant improvements in technology, meteorologists should gain more respect from the public. The attention that climate change is receiving will also help them.

However there will still be plenty of misses until the data becomes so advanced that accuracy is nearly 100 percent.

Even with people looking at weather forecasts through their phones, tablets, and PCs they need to realize that their forecast was generated by dozens of highly skilled, professional meteorologists.

The weather will never go away because it drives our lives and has huge impacts on every function of society.

Yet it's still one of the most highly skilled but thankless professions because people refuse to let go of the cliches and stereotypes.

Eventually I believe people will give meteorologists the proper respect they deserve because what they do is very difficult and everything they do indirectly correlates to our lives.

Your Turn!

What's the biggest challenge for meteorologists?

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