Editorial: Weather forecasters do their best for accurate predictions

Feb. 11, 2014 @ 11:10 PM

Want an easy job? Be a meteorologist in San Diego.

If you want a challenge, come to East Tennessee.

It's always entertaining to witness the disdain for the TV and radio "weather people" during winters in the south.

Those doing the critiquing, who've often been glued to their TV, radio or smart phone for up-to-the-minute updates of the weather forecast, seem to love nothing more than complaining when the meteorologists get it wrong.

Weather forecasting is a tough job, as anyone in a field that involves prediction knows — just ask a Wall Street investor or professional gambler.

Meteorology is an inexact science, especially when it comes to forecasting more than a day or two in advance.

The National Weather Service, which issues the winter weather advisories we often hear about, is tasked by the federal government to "(provide) weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

Their sole purpose is to get it right — not to garner ratings or otherwise — and they still get it wrong on occasion.

The weather is unpredictable. A pattern that's held for days can quickly change, totally blowing out of the water earlier predictions.

Such was the case two weeks ago when things changed overnight and East Tennessee was caught with untreated roadways and inches and snowy precipitation.

Meteorologists — as defined by the American Meteorological Society as "having specialized education who uses scientific principles to explain, understand, observe or forecast the earth's atmospheric phenomena and/or how the atmosphere affects the earth and life on the planet" — are professionals that put a lot of study and effort into their work.

Local meteorologists have pride in what they do, and for good reason — it's important for the safety of their viewers and readers.

Cut them a break when their predictions are off target. In East Tennessee, it's a moving one.