Storm of the century? JK, LOL | Kind of Day

By Brian Soergel | Oct 20, 2016

Well, that was a dud.

Saturday’s “monster” storm came and went with barely a whimper. Just kidding, it seemed to say. If storms could talk.

I’m not one to wish a destructive storm on Edmonds. I spoke to a woman who, terrified after a tree fell on her home on Friday, packed up and fled over the mountains. She didn’t want to be there when another came crashing down.

But I do feel taken.

Last week’s Beacon ran a screaming headline on page 1: “Batten down the blue tarp: Monster storm is expected.” The story mentioned that meteorologist Cliff Mass said Saturday’s storm could be as strong as the deadly 1962 Columbus Day event. He later backtracked.

Too late.

The media hype (hello, me) kicked into overdrive: Stay inside. Stock up on water. Buy a generator.

We all fell for it.

Organizers canceled Saturday’s Halloween Howl and Arbor Day tree planting events in Edmonds.

Turns out Friday’s windstorm packed a bigger punch than Saturday’s.

Mass, predictably, backtracked big time on his website Sunday.

“As I will describe in a future blog, this was not a failure so much of the models, but of communication of uncertainty,” he wrote. “My profession has to stop providing the worst case or most probable weather evolution, but provide society with full probabilistic guidance. Yesterday was a good example of the failure mode when we do not.

“The media, such as the Seattle Times and several TV stations, were happy to hype up the storm because of all the interest in such events. Many events were unnecessarily canceled or postponed, some on Friday or Saturday morning when there was no chance of strong winds.”

Yes, Cliff Mass, it was overhyped. You were a big part of that hype.

How could we all have been so wrong?

Will anyone ever trust the weather “experts” again?

When the big storm does come, will we all ignore the predictions and suffer for it?

Weather guy Scott Sistek of KOMO: “There are a lot of people that were upset with the dire warnings that they didn't pan out. I get that. Meteorologists are also always concerned about the ‘cry wolf’ factor.

“We didn't get into this science field to get joy out of faking everyone out. It's really not fun. We take pride in our forecasts and trying to help people. With the tools that we have that have proven pretty darn accurate as a whole, it was presenting a very dangerous situation to the people we forecast for.”



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