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The problem with 'social media-rologists': Why it's important to not believe every weather map you see on social media

A model depicting a single-digit deep freeze in Texas is gaining attention. And you should ignore it.

DALLAS —

Death, taxes, bogus weather information on social media

These are the only certain things in life! On Tuesday, a model image of the coldest air since the deep freeze of last February was making its rounds on social media. And here's what WFAA meteorologists had to say about it.

Beware of what you share on social media. The image making its rounds on Twitter is ridiculous. I’ve been asked about...

Posted by Jesse Hawila on Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Why this is a problem

This is not a new thing. Everyone with access to the internet has access to model images like the one above. But not everyone knows how to interpret the data correctly. The image shared was a model depiction of temperatures 16 days after it was processed. The accuracy of such a map is essentially 0%. 

Many of these so-called "social media-rologists" will only share worst case scenario images to gain followers, spread fear and increase their online engagement. 

Take a look for yourself

This particular model has a new set of data every six hours. WFAA gathered the five runs directly after the one that showed 7-degrees on Jan. 27. It's the same model... showing the same exact time frame. 

Take a look:

Credit: WFAA
Credit: WFAA
Credit: WFAA
Credit: WFAA
Credit: WFAA
Credit: WFAA

See a difference? From 7° to 20° to 58° to 40° etc. So, which one do you believe? 

The answer is NONE OF THEM. Models are not forecasts. They are nothing more than guides. Our job as meteorologists is to keep track of trends, analyze the data appropriately and  insert a bit of reality to the forecast. And being realistic and having historical perspective on weather is extremely important. 

Last year, North Texas saw one of the longest freezes on record. And the temperatures dropped well into the single digits. 

Before that, the last time D-FW recorded single digit temperatures was 25 years ago. 

This graphic from the NWS in Kansas City describes PERFECTLY why model solutions are not trustworthy. 

Credit: NWS Kansas City
Credit: WFAA