Areas Not Covered in Weather Forecasts

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by wfaa

wfaa.com

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Q: I have an observation to make regarding weather forecasts, and it is important to say, this is not unique to WFAA. Your staff forecasts to the "viewing area," seemingly oblivious to the population centers of Fort Worth and Dallas. If there is a chance for rain in counties surrounding Dallas and Tarrant, then a percent chance of rain is placed in the forecast even though the population of those surrounding counties is much less than some neighborhoods in Fort Worth or Dallas. So if the only chance for rain is in Van Zandt and Henderson counties, that chance becomes the Fort Worth and Dallas forecast. As a news organization, there should be some concern that broadcasting such a forecast is misleading at best. Broadcasting is to an area but WFAA is located in Dallas, the population and commercial center of the area. Weather affects everybody. But is not “viewing areas” that watch the weather, it is people and business? The most people live and work in Dallas and Fort Worth not in Canton or Athens. Why should a forecast be compromised to the many from a few? It is important to remember that forecasting is news. If the chance for rain is not in Fort Worth or Dallas, doesn’t put a percent chance in the forecast, it’s that simple and truthful. Thank you for your consideration.
 
A: We checked in with Steve McCauley, and asked him to read your email and respond. He wrote: “I'm not quite sure I understand.  It has been my policy during my years at WFAA to not include a percent chance of rain in the official forecast unless it includes at least one of the 4 main counties of the Metroplex: Denton, Collin, Tarrant, and Dallas. This past weekend is a good example.  The eastern half of our viewing area is expecting showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday, and I made a detailed map highlighting those areas with a 20%, 40%, and 60% chance of rain.  Since none of these areas included the Metroplex, there was no percent chance listed on my forecast pages, and there were no percentages given on the day Tuesday of the 7-day outlook. You may refer to any of the newscasts from this past weekend to see that the percent chance of rain is altogether absent for Tuesday even though I stressed that areas to our immediate east would nevertheless see storms. This has been my standard procedure for my 12 years here at WFAA and during my 10 years in Amarillo.  I do not include the percentage in my official forecast pages unless the principal cities - Denton, McKinney, Fort Worth, or Dallas - are included in that chance for measurable rainfall.  If the only rainfall expected in the viewing area is in the outlying regions, I will certainly make a detailed map showing that, but it will not be placed as a percentage on my forecast pages. The viewer may be confusing "coverage" with "chance" of rain; I often make references to how much coverage we get across all of our viewing area, but again, when forecasting, if the chance of rain does not include DFW, then you will see no percentages on the forecast pages. Hope this clears up any confusion.”

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