What Time Will The Derecho Be Here?

Be aware of the potential for severe weather on Wednesday, but does it really mean a repeat performance of last year's impacts?

This is my personal Blog, and does not represent the opinion of anyone else nor the station, and is not a news story. 

There's quite a buzz going on right now in the weather community due to some expected strong to severe weather tomorrow.  It started earlier this week when the storm prediction center and other commercial weather forecast companies recognized the ingredients for severe weather were coming together mid-week.

Some TV stations employ meteorologists who prefer to do their own analysis of the data, and others subscribe to commercial vendors.  Some just repeat what they are told and others try to color the forecast with their experience.  Nobody is right 100% of the time.

That being said, we started getting phone calls from people in the region who had seen ANOTHER TV station making comments that a derecho was possible on Wednesday.  Immediately, they were calling to see if we were calling for one, and if not, when one WOULD arrive. (Note the emphasis on certainity.)

The problem is that last year's strong wind event was somewhat unexpected, despite adequate watches and warnings issued in advance. It rolled through the region more than 700 miles, stripping trees, snapping power-lines and upsetting the rhythm of life over a widespread area.  Since the term derecho is not commonly used, it erupted in the media reports as a great, unique Spanish term for a sustained straight line wind storm that rolls through a region.

That term is now locally associated with the heat, discomfort and recovery period immediately after last year's event.  So when viewers hear that term dropped into the conversation, they react emotionally to the discomfort and loss of last year's event.

The problem is that we are faced with a balancing act. How to inform and alert the public verses not panicking the populace.  There will always be a certain percentage of the people who do NOT get the message, and another portion who will always over-react.  But it has been complicated by people grabbing images and graphics from commercial vendors and posting them on Facebook and social media, where they stay and can mis-inform for days  after the time they have been generated.

So, we have amateurs who with the best of intentions, are repeating and exagerating these messages to their friends.

And the buzz has begun.

By all means, stay alert to the weather, especially when the risk of severe weather is elevated.  But do not assume that every or any storm will produce such damage.

If you don't already have a severe weather alert radio, invest in one.  And if you can monitor the internet, media and social media, do so as long as the power grid is up.  But don't believe everything that people say on  social media.  They mean well, but they spin the information according to what they'd like to believe.

We'll all get through this together.  As we should.

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