The Governor of New York Owes an Apology to a Bunch of Meteorologists
November 24, 2014 3:20 PM   Subscribe

The Governor of New York Owes an Apology to a Bunch of Meteorologists Governor Cuomo’s attempt to scapegoat the National Weather Service for an inaccurate forecast in advance is not only completely in error–the NWS did an outstanding job–but is a disservice to the public and to the hard-working staff of this federal agency.
posted by Nevin (38 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
He's already backed off (3 hrs ago).

One little tip I would give those who are interested in getting a bit more in-depth look at the forecast: Google: "forecast discussion" and the name of your state. There, you will see the text of what the forecasters are mulling over as they make their forecasts. Each NWS office in your state will be posting there (3 or 4 times a day). IF you see terms you don't know, google them. You'll find your understanding of meteorology and forecasting grow and see what direction trends are moving (getting more accurate as the forecast time gets shorter).
posted by spock at 3:28 PM on November 24, 2014 [31 favorites]


Well said. The NWS did great work here, as it generally does, while Cuomo didn't do squat.
posted by zachlipton at 3:31 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Andrew Cuomo: Always taking the high road.

Thank God the Green party usually runs someone, I'd hate to be forced to vote for the Republican.
posted by tyllwin at 3:44 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


If anyone felt kicked in the teeth when I struck their mouth with my foot, that was not my intention.
posted by thelonius at 3:44 PM on November 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


Hahahahah I adore the NWS, the Buffalo office especially (for doing stuff like this cute table) and I was never in love with Cuomo,* especially now after what he did with the WFP this election, so this little foofaraw is just delightful for me. I think I may have said this in another thread but hoo boy cannot wait to see him run for president and get destroyed in the primaries.
*(I am cat heart eyes emoji for Mark Poloncarz though)
posted by troika at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a great point spock. The forecast discussion is my favorite source for weather information that goes beyond the current temperature. The reason I like it is because the forecasters actually provide an indication of their reasoning and confidence rather than just giving a prediction. It's helpful to know things like "there's a lot of fog off the cost. I think it will move in around 4pm, causing temperatures to drop, but moderate confidence in that." rather than just "it will be cold starting at 4."

And there was that time the Anchorage one spelled out PLEASE PAY US during the government shut down.
posted by zachlipton at 3:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Christ what a Cuomo.
posted by blucevalo at 3:54 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


IF you see terms you don't know, google them.

The ever-helpful NWS makes this even easier, the forecast discussions include a glossary on/off toggle. It's all kinds of wonderful. Here's DC's current forecast with the glossary on. Super convenient when you want to know exactly how isolated that gust will be.
posted by troika at 3:58 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


News services need to start refusing to print these non-apologies, or at least call them out for what they are.
An apology doesn't include the words "if" or "intention", and doesn't mention how anyone may have interpreted or reacted to what was done or said. It owns up, admits fault, and asks forgiveness. Nothing else.

Cuomo is a weasel.
posted by rocket88 at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


Cuomo is an embarrassment.

As far as I can tell, he intends to spend every minute of the next four years grandstanding in the service of a dead-on-arrival presidential run, rather than actually running the state of New York or helping its residents.

Fuck that guy.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2014 [14 favorites]


He's already backed off (3 hrs ago).

Even as non-apologies go, that's pretty pathetic. He flat out lied about not having an accurate forecast.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know there are some guys when you watch them work you just don't like them for some reason. Cuomo is that guy for me, I liked his dad (but maybe I was too young to see if he had the same personality)

New York deserves a better Democrat (or Green Party member!!!!)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:10 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Troika, it's the WFP's own fault for nominating Cuomo over Teachout. No tears shed here, and maybe the Greens will do better with column 4 than Working Families did.

(BTW, for those keeping score at home, that's two left-leaning fusion parties Cuomo has ruined, versus one he created and will likely let wither. He also left the liberal party hanging in '02 when he dropped out of the race after losing the Dem primary.)

Slightly more on topic, the NWS is awesome, deserves all the funding, and will be responsible for various bouts of panic and relief as I track this Nor'easter over the next 48 hours...
posted by thecaddy at 4:19 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I voted against this guy in the primary this year; I voted against him in the general election; I look forward to voting against hm again in the future. All this guy does campaign, I'm still waiting for him to govern.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:29 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Regarding weather understanding (since we presumably have some weather fans reading this thread), once you start to understand what you are looking at (or FOR), this is an amazing site: twisterdata.com. Although, as its name suggests, it was built by stormchasers (for stormchasers) it is a useful look at the weather models: short (18 hrs RAP), medium (3-1/2 days out, NAM), and long range (17 days out, GFS). (See the tabs at the top middle). The models are automatically updated at different intervals (RAP, hourly; NAM every three hours; GFS, every 6 hours). As you might expect, all the models become less reliable the farther out you look, but you can look for trends within a particular parameter by using the "RUN" dropdown menu at the upper right. You can see if the precipitation "bullseye" is trending towards you or away from you, for just one small example.

One other important point about using "real" weather resources like this: They use UTC/GMT time, so for Central Standard Time you have to subtract 6 hours (5 during Daylight Savings Time). So 0z ( z for zulu) would be midnight of whatever the next day would be, while for CST local it would 6 PM the night before. You get the hang of it pretty quickly as you use it. You need this info to know how far in the future you are looking when you are looking at a particular model parameter.
posted by spock at 4:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Andrew Cuomo: the Sith lord we've been looking for.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:37 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


weather.cod.edu is also good, but I dislike their new interface for model parameters. (See the "Weather Analysis Tools" menu item). They do have some neat links to automatic loops, however. Check out the "Quick Links" on the right side of this page, for example: http://weather.cod.edu/forecast/.
posted by spock at 4:38 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fuck Cuomo. NWS had this nailed. The fact that he didn't listen proves he's an idiot.
posted by eriko at 5:25 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Christ what a Cuomo.

Andrew may be a dictator, a moron, and a monkey, but Mario was a mensch. Pre-Clinton, pre-Obama, back when the Democrats still had balls.
posted by Lyme Drop at 5:35 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


"This is What Andrew Cuomo's 'Weather Detection System Will Look Like'"
"....the thing that stuck about his statements was that 'weather detection system.' The governor makes it sound like it's the be-all and end-all of weather observations, but it wouldn't have made a lick of difference in Buffalo last week."
posted by prinado at 5:46 PM on November 24, 2014


In a happier, less stupid parallel universe, meteorologists can cast Lightning Bolt once per day with impunity.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:47 PM on November 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


Cuomo is the poodle of real estate moguls.
posted by brujita at 5:49 PM on November 24, 2014


I also endorse Mario Cuomo, without reservation.
posted by mikelieman at 5:52 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


spock: "Each NWS office in your state will be posting there (3 or 4 times a day)."

I can follow my local NWS office on Facebook! And they post links to the forecast discussion whenever there's a watch or warning going on.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:05 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Twitter feeds for various local offices are also very good, like this one for the Boston area: https://twitter.com/nwsboston

They include forecast info, models, links to discussions, and other goodies -- and also backwards-looking information about recent weather events. And if you cast a wider net, you can see people tweeting stuff back at them like local observations and pictures. Heck, the following expanded feed shows them answering Tweets that people have used to ask about their own personal, neighborhood forecasts! https://twitter.com/NWSBoston/with_replies
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Don't like the weather, blame the weatherman. Douchetruck.

With any luck this could be this dipshit's Perry or Jindal moment, a monumentally stupid pratfall that leaves even his own supporters backing away in disgust.
posted by hangashore at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


He'd be better off blaming Cobra Commander.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:54 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed this article about accuracy in meteorology that was linked in the fpp. For years now I've called weather forecasts "the oracle" as a sort of mild ribbing at myself and everyone else for taking them so seriously... I may need to reconsider that now.
posted by polymath at 7:20 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the lookslikemaybe circa 1996? NWS Pittsburgh On Line Tour of the Office. Don't miss the Computer Room. It's fantastic. I hope it stays online forever.
posted by tss at 8:18 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stupid is as stupid does.
posted by dougzilla at 10:29 PM on November 24, 2014


NWS forecast discussions: I like wunderground.com's cleaned up version of the forecast discussion. They convert to upper and lower case and spell out some abbreviations. That's much easier to read. It's located at their "Scientific Forecaster Discussion" link at the bottom of the forecast pages. And their whole forecast page design is great, fast to load and readable.

For example, part of the long term Chicago forecast:
NWS:
...ESPECIALLY IN AREAS WITH LITTLE OR NO SNOW COVER WHICH SHOULD BE A LARGE PORTION OF THE CWA BY SATURDAY.COLD FRONT LOOKS TO MOVE THROUGH SAT NIGHT OR SUNDAY BRINGING COOLER WEATHER FOR A COUPLE DAYS BUT IN THE TRANSIENT RATHER ZONAL FLOW GFS AND ECMWF BOTH HINT AT ANOTHER HEALTHY WARM UP TOWARD MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK. PRECIP CHANCES THROUGH THE PERIOD LOOK LOW AND LARGELY INCONSEQUENTIAL IF ANYTHING DOES FALL.

wunderground:
...especially in areas with little or no snow cover which should be a large portion of the County Warning Area by Saturday. Cold front looks to move through Sat night or Sunday bringing cooler weather for a couple days but in the transient rather zonal flow GFS and European model (ecmwf) both hint at another healthy warm up toward middle of next week. Precipitation chances through the period look low and largely inconsequential if anything does fall.
posted by jjj606 at 5:12 AM on November 25, 2014


jjj606: "They convert to upper and lower case and spell out some abbreviations. "

Just because I thought it was interesting; they continue to use ALL CAPS because they send out to a huge variety of land, sea, and air stations, some in extremely remote locations, some with very old technology, and they need to be able to do it in terrible weather when communications may be down or partially down. The ALL CAPS uses something like 40 characters (26 letters, 10 numbers, and a handful of punctuation) so extremely low-tech, old-timey teletype machines can receive it, even on foreign ships.

They're testing mixed-case forecasts in some inland locations and taking user feedback right now. It'll be easier to read but I'll sorta miss the SERIOUS BUSINESS-NESS of the ALL CAPS FORECAST.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


For looking at the models I tend to just use:
http://mag.ncep.noaa.gov/model-guidance-model-area.php

and when I'm in a rush I glance at the NAMER GFS precip_p06 (North America, GFS model, precipitation in 6 hours) and the NAM model of the same. The precip_p12 of the GFS goes out 2+ weeks but that's generally fantasy land.

Anyone found a good ECMWF site? I can only find 24 hour increments which are difficult for my head to interpolate between, especially since the ECMWF is supposed to be the current best long range model.
posted by mrzz at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


polymath: "For years now I've called weather forecasts "the oracle" as a sort of mild ribbing at myself and everyone else for taking them so seriously"

I live in a tornado area and I can say, just in the past 20 years, the amazing increases in advance prediction of tornado-capable storms a day or two out, and the INCREDIBLE increases in time-of-warning for most tornadoes on the ground, has been amazing. When I was little, you basically got enough time to run to the basement shelter; now, we routinely get 5 to 20 minutes warning when a strong cell that's tornadic is moving through ... It used to be that you'd have to wait until the funnel started forming to know it was turning into a tornado, but now I mean basically as soon as a cloud thinks to itself "Hmmm, I might want to be a tornado," the NWS has alerted everyone in its path (and now that they can push alerts to your phone based on cell tower location ... amazing!).

(They also catch more "invisible" tornadoes now, since they use the doppler to see how the air is moving; sometimes, based on the sun, the rain, how much dust is in the air, etc., you can't SEE a funnel forming until it gets to the ground and starts picking shit up. Now we know it's there even if it's not yet visible.)

They also do such a good job educating the public about the tools they use; I can look with some confidence at a live doppler of a big storm in my area and tell if it's tornado-capable or not because the NWS (and my local meteorologists) have explained it so well.

I don't worry too much if they over-predict a snowstorm or get the temperature wrong ... they get tornadoes very, very right. And actually, they've been asking for local input in reviewing their warning procedures for storms, since they don't want to OVER-warn, especially with winter storms which are kinda chancy here; sometimes the landforms break them up and sometimes not. Would we, as the local citizenry, rather be warned too often or not warned enough that four inches of snow is coming?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:07 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


7 BIT ASCII FTW! LOWERCASE IS FOR WIMPS!
posted by mikelieman at 11:38 AM on November 25, 2014


Lowercase is included in 7 bit ASCII.
posted by aydeejones at 12:18 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find that anti - intellectual dislike of weather people is another bellwether (what) for the emergence of idiocracy. Most people don't even want to understand that a meteorologist is a scientifically trained individual with a huge always improving track record. In a microcosm the disdain of rubes against science is entirely wrapped up here. Every logical fallacy can be described in terms of rubes mocking weather peeps. Statistics and models? Not 100% perfect and my friend on Facebook said you said this why did you say that? Oh you didn't? Then why did I read that you did? Huh? *pokes meteorologist in chest*

I love that I can see weather radar on my phone. It changed the whole colorado summer for me. I was the dude on the boat on the lake who knew when the rain was coming in like a noble savage warrior going into battle except with the culmination of years of pencil neck geek genius technology in my hands.
posted by aydeejones at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fuck. I just realized that I'm "at an age" where my imperfect recollections mean more to me than factchecking.

Attn: GOP operatives. I'm ready to be recruited.
posted by mikelieman at 3:16 PM on November 25, 2014


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