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Understanding the forecasting process by meteorologists to avoid anxiety, misinformation this hurricane season

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Posted at 4:26 PM, Jun 09, 2021

Well, It's that time of year again.. Where you'll often see posts like this floating around on Facebook or some other social media platform-- showing the potential of a major hurricane threatening an area a week or in some cases two weeks down the line.

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Social "Mediarologists"

However, that can lead to unnecessary confusion and anxiety, especially for those areas that were hit so hard just a year ago.

"They see these computer models with these chaotic forecasts and these large hurricanes, which are very common this time of year in the modeling world, but they see that and they feel it necessary to post it—in a lot of cases in good faith to try to warn people, but it's the likelihood of it actually happening— is much lower," says Donald Jones of the National Weather Service (NWS) in Lake Charles.

That’s where understanding computer modeling and forecasting techniques becomes important and realizing that forecast confidence decreases rapidly with time.

"When you get out in the beyond five day time frame, you're talking more general pattern recognition than you are specific forecasts.

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Understanding the forecasting process

It’s not until we get into within about five days or so that we can really begin to pinpoint, not just tropical systems, but any kind of weather event that we are expected to experience across the area," explains Jones.

The take home message? Make sure to get trusted weather information from reputable sources like the NWS and your local meteorologists here at KATC.

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Know your source

"It's very important to have a reliable source of information coming from someone who understands not just the potential risks involved, but also the likelihood of something happening versus not happening. And that's only going to happen over professional, reputable organizations and websites," says Jones.

Of course, you can find all of our tropical weather discussions and forecasts all season long right here at katc.com.

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