Risk Management and the Weather

snowA meteorologist has one primary responsibility—to make sure that the general public is aware of potentially dangerous situations. The worst thing that could possibly happen in a meteorologist’s career is that a major storm hits an area and he/she predicted a less dangerous situation than what actually occurs. Think about it:

IF…

A storm is coming and a meteorologist claims it will be horrible and people should be prepared…

THEN…

A)     The storm will be as bad as predicted and everyone will have been forewarned.
OR
B)      The storm will not be as bad as predicted and the meteorologist will have been wrong, but it didn’t hurt anyone to be aware of the possible dangers and prepared.

However,
IF…

A storm is coming and a meteorologist claims that it is no cause for alarm…

THEN…

A)     The storm is as mild as predicted and the meteorologist was correct.
OR
B)      The storm is worse than predicted and, because of a lack of preparation, property and lives are lost. The meteorologist will be blamed for the casualties and his/her reputation and career will be in jeopardy.

Because of these possible scenarios, I believe that most forecasters choose to publicize the most dangerous of the likely outcomes. I understand that reasoning and do not find fault with it…I would do the same thing in that position.

The problem is that I find myself treating them like Chicken Little or the Boy Who Cried “Wolf.” I under-prepare for their predictions and will probably find myself on the wrong end of a snowstorm or nor’easter someday.

I’m not sure what the point of this is, so I would like to know your opinion:

  • Do you think that weather forecasters choose to err toward safety?
  • Do you prepare for storms as if meteorologists are exaggerating or do you take precautions based on their recommendations?
  • Do you feel that their warnings would be heeded more if they didn’t predict that every storm will be so bad?
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About Jeff Postlewaite

high school principal since '07, father since '04, teacher since '03, husband since '03, sound tech since '96, UVA fan since '92, gadget junkie since '89, Christian since '88, Giants fan since '84, golfer since '83, brother since '83, human since '81

Posted on January 21, 2014, in Society in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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