If you paid any attention to Tropical Storm Barry, you had to be ready for Armageddon.
NBC’s Al Roker provided some unsolicited advice to the people of New Orleans: If he lived there, he would “make plans now” to evacuate.
That was precisely the opposite advice provided by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell or Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Barry provides me with an opportunity to say why I think we should ignore most weather people. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which provides a lot of the data for weather people to analyze, estimates that long-term forecasts are roughly 50 to 90 percent right. The longer the forecast, the more inaccurate.
But the news mavens have a tendency to make matters seem worse than they are. In a great takedown of the Barry coverage, The Bayou Brief reported that “the only people who want us to panic seem to be those who think the main lesson of Hurricane Katrina was that the city should have evacuated more quickly.
“New Orleans, of course, did not flood in 2005 because it was hit by a hurricane. It flooded because the federal government’s levee protection system failed. The catastrophic flooding began after Katrina left.
“Both CBS and CNN have emphasized the possibility of Barry being a bigger rain event than Katrina. But rain didn’t cause the city to flood; levee failures did.” See https://www.bayoubrief.com/2019/07/12/national-news-coverage-of-tropical-storm-barry-is-its-own-disaster/
But there’s more. Many local weather people support action on climate change. A significant number of them wore a tie on air last year to call on people to support climate change. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2018/06/21/why-are-over-100-television-meteorologists-around-the-world-wearing-this-tie/
Remember what happened when anchor people wore an American flag after 9/11?
More important, if weather people have only 50 percent chance of getting a forecast right 10 days out, why should we believe them when the predictions about climate change are decades away?
I am headed this week to the Midwest where I expect it will be hot with a chance of a tornado. That’s what happens almost every July in South Dakota, and I’m not even a meteorologist. As one Midwestern sage put it: “You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”