Things I want to punch in the face: Weathermen

December 7, 2010 · 44 comments

Evan is a fellow personal finance blogger over at My Journey to Millions.  He blogs about financial freedom, estate taxes and his personal finance situation.  You can also check out other random things that piss him off.  Make sure to Subscribe to his blog or Follow him on Twitter!

While there are some people who want to punch people who love babies, or even punch cute adorable innocent kittens, I have a real group of people that should be punched right in their cocky faces: Weathermen. When other men and women are telling us about important world events these “people” are gearing up to talk about the potential for a little precipitation.  I am sorry but my need for an umbrella should not be broadcast on the same show as news stories focusing on death, destruction, and even the recent financial apocalypse.

But even if we were to ignore weathermen’s lack of importance there are some core attributes of the ‘profession’ that anger me and thus they should be punched in the face.

No Accountability

During the day I work as a back office reference for a financial planning firm, want to know what happens if I tell someone the wrong tax information? I get reprimanded.  At night, I have a very small law practice, want to know what happens if I fail my client? I get sued for malpractice.  What happens if Ninja fails to prevent the next assassination of a world leader? He’d be locked away in Gitmo.

Now tell me what happens when Al “I can’t decide if I am fat” Roker gets the weather wrong? NOTHING. What happens if Jillian Reynolds tells me that it is going to be raining for the Falcon game (so I bet a ton of dough on them cause they are awesome) and it doesn’t rain? LITERALLY NOTHING.

The only thing that makes this lack of accountability worse is the very fact that people don’t seem to care! Despite being screwed over the day before, they still go back to listen to the weatherman’s ridiculous predictions.  Day in and day out.

They Act Like they Know Everything

According to Wikipedia Meteorology is

the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and short term forecasting (in contrast with climatology). Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries. Breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved in the latter half of the twentieth century, after the development of the computer.

While a weatherman is

A TV or radio presenter, communicating information from meteorologists

So these weathermen get up there in front of their green screen with their smug attitudes talking about what is going to happen, but how do they know? Because some smart guy with a lot of interdisciplinary degrees told them!  Most weathermen aren’t experts, nope, just flashy men or really hot women.

Inexplicably Vague Guesses

My final bone to pick is a simple one, and if you aren’t with me yet, then the following image should sway you…

Do you see Saturday? A 50% chance of rain should NEVER exist.  Let met get this straight – This weekend it MIGHT or MIGHT NOT rain?  Ummm isn’t that true EVERY day? This is insanity!

Ninja’s comments: Preach it brotha! Nothing is more frustrating than a weather report that calls for warm blue skies, but a look out the window shows the reality of gray clouds and heavy rains. I can’t believe these weather-folks can earn a six or seven figure income just for throwing out some random predictions about what MIGHT happen. I call shenanigans!

1 First Gen American

I can imagine that it’s extremely frustrating for people who depend on the weatherman for their livelihood like painters and such. Well, you can always do what grandma used to do..look up at the skis, check out what the birds are doing and make a prediction that way.

2 Evan

I bet Grandma had a better batting average than “Sam Champion” who is NO champion my friend

3 Mo D.

Hubby would be with you 100% on this one, Ninja! Our local news station posts the weather (it seems) every 10 minutes, and we get a lot of the same wishy-washy info, too. To add insult to injury, their “meteorologist” is also in charge of our local CFL cheerleading squad… and has quite the snobby attitude when you run into her at the gym or Starbucks.

4 Evan

Well it is then your responsibility to put her in her place! Its the freaking CFL.

5 Al

I also wanna punch finance bloggers who predict things about the market in fiscal 2011.

6 Evan

HA! I promise I don’t do any predicting on my site

7 Tom

Very funny, but I thought that I might point out one thing:
“A 50% chance of rain should NEVER exist.”
I think the % is more geographical, meaning: “50% of the area we are forecasting for will get rain.”

8 Evan

Tom,

Isn’t that the exact same thing? i.e. It might rain in this area?

9 SS4BC

No, it is actually very different. There is a 100% “chance” or rain happening, but only 50% of the area we are covering will get rain.

This is the difference between saying “50% of you will get raises” and “there is a 50% chance that everyone will get a raise”. It isn’t the same thing at all.

10 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I love weathermen.

When I check the weather, if I like what I’m seeing, I’ll be happy. If I don’t like what I’m seeing, I’ll just assume he is wrong. Win-Win!

11 Evan

I didn’t take into account the head in the sand view of those evil bastards!

12 Kristen

I totally get your frustration, totally agree that a weatherman is a BS job, but disagree with your vague guesses point. I think saying there is a 50% chance of rain is way more informative than saying might or might not rain. Knowing there’s a 1 in 2 chance of the occurrence of rain says so much more than “might.” One last note in defense of their predictions, keep in mind the geographical area (ah Tom beat me too that point). Maybe you weren’t rained on, but it poured on the other side of town, for half of the people a 50% prediction was wrong, but for half it was right.

Side note: Do you feel as passionately when sports experts incorrectly predict the outcome of a game? There are a lot of them I’d like to punch.

13 Evan

Hmmmm I never really thought about the sports experts, but I think you may be on to something. They never call each other out! If Strahan (on NFL Fox Sunday) goes 4 for 16 he should be made fun of, but never is! I think you may have gotten my blood pressure up

14 SP

I found that ever since I moved to L.A., the weather forecasts are much much more accurate than in the midwest. But how hard is that? Just predict “70 and sunny!” every day and you’ll be right most of the time!

15 momninja

I think I did my children a disservice, I should have encouraged all of them to be weather people, seriously, you could go to work every day FAIL at your job and still get to come back the next day and GET PAID! What was I thinking….accountability is totally overrated.

16 Evan

I am pretty pumped to get a comment from MomNinja!

Don’t be too hard on yourself, The Ninja can probably save the world as a special agent better than he can get up in front of America (or a smaller market) and pretend that he actually knows whats going on with “them clouds up there”

17 Diana

I live in Vancouver, Canada and our weather people have MA’s in Science and weather prediction is serious stuff. They have the credentials and it shows. Vancouver is a very “green” city and many people have vegetable and flower gardens (like me) whether they live in apartments or houses or are actual farmers. Gardeners need to know what the weather will be like in the future and I guess our TV people get that. Once in a while, we have storms, too and then people really rely on the weather forecasters. They obviously have TV personalities and are attractive enough for TV but they are smart too. Traffic people on the news….that’s who I want to punch in the face. If you’re driving how can traffic reporting on TV help?

18 Evan

Diana,

I am not too sure if you are right a 30 second search found you have this cutie with no weather experience before 2001:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamara_Taggart

19 DianaC

Evan, I watch Mark Madryga on Global – the most watched TV news in our area. Sorry, I don’t know anything about Tamara’s qualifications as I don’t watch her.

20 DianaC

I do stand corrected, Evan. I shouldn’t have assumed they all had the qualifications of Mark.

21 Lesley

I live near Vancouver and while I don’t watch the news or weather, I have to say that Tamara Taggart is very likeable so she may not have the skills or experience but she does pull in the viewers.

Coincidently, it was just announced today that she is advancing from her position as weathercaster and taking over the six o’clock news.

http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/154598–replacement-tv-anchors-named

22 Oldfangled

Well, you have to give them a little grace. They are, after all, trying to predict the actions of GOD.

23 Evan

Depending on your view of God, if you think he is all knowing and all powerful (i.e. he knows and controls all future events) everyone trying to predict ANYTHING is trying to predict the actions/thoughts/wishes/wants of God.

24 Jason

So…should I go to church to find out what the weather will be? I mean, priests do speak to God, right?

25 Evan

While you are there ask them who will win the Superbowl….

26 Jason

I used to direct newscast and just want to share my opinion. A lot of weatherman actually HATE the 7 day forecast. After day 4 they have to make educated guests. The station I worked at forced them to do 7 day forecasts because the other stations did it and they were not happy about it. Also, you should note that a weatherman and a meteorologist are two separate people, but they can do the same job. You can become a weatherman (or woman) after only completing a one year course. A meteorologist, on the other hand, has a degree and have chosen to work as an on-air personality. You don’t even know the amount of people that call these guys at 3am in the weather department before a 5am show and complain about the weather or to say they “think” there was an earthquake. Also, if you hate seeing the weather every few minutes, take the complaint to the station executives. They decide when these guys go on. They really hate going on over and over again, especially when there is a snow storm or something on its way because they want to sit and make sure they giving up to the minute updates.

tl;dr Give them a break, bro.

27 Evan

Not sure if you are the same Jason as below and I answered him first, but it is not like I am going to actually punch anyone in the face just like Ninja is not really going to punch kittens in the face.

28 Jenna

I totally agree with this! Our weatherman does a report card style on how well he did on the previous week. Does he ever get punished for failing? Nope…

29 Jason

How should we punish them? Just humiliate them on TV? This post is just dumb. Seriously. You’re complaining that weatherman have no accountability and at the same time saying they are getting their information from “real” meteorologists. So, wouldn’t that make you hate meteorologists? If you hate a subject so passionately, but fail to make a real argument about why you hate it, you might want to re-think it.

30 Ninja

Jason, I think Evan’s frustration comes from the lack of accountability within the profession. I mean do we really need someone telling us what the weather will be if their predictions aren’t accurate? The rant is directed towards weathemen beacause their PRIMARY role is to tell the public about the weather. Meteorologists, however do much more than just provide forecasts. It could be argued that the weatherman position is just a silly time filler for news broadcasts.

31 Jason

Just to get this straight one more time, most weathermen/women are actually meteorologists. Also, like you said, they are giving us predictions. That means they may or may not be right. They are trying their best to predict something in hopes that it can help you prepare for the day ahead. They are doing nothing different than what weather.com is doing. They are just going on air and saying it. Should we complain about how weather.com can’t properly predict the weather as well? Evan’s argument doesn’t stand. If he said he hated how they had to dress up in a costume and have some gimmick when they gave their forecast, then I would be behind him 100%. The fact he wants to “punch them in the face” because they are trying their best to predict fast changing weather patterns in an effort to help us figure out if we should bring an umbrella or wear a t-shirt is ridiculous. Also, just to be clear, I mean no disrespect to Ninja, Wife Ninja (who I think posted and deleted) or Evan. I just want to set the facts straight on who really is the one getting it wrong.

32 momninja

Jason, just to point out something – The Blog title was Things “I” want to punch in the face…so Evan can’t be wrong since he is the I. You are welcome to write why you would want to punch in the face people who want to punch weatherman in the face. Evan was just pointing out how silly some off the forecasts are and it’s more than fine if you feel they are done under duress. In Seattle they can’t tell me it is going to snow while I am standing in front yard building a snowman so it truly is frustrating for many people. Keep reading the blog and commenting I love a good conversation!

33 Evan

You can disagree Jason! Its cool. We all don’t have to get annoyed by the same things. Weathermen don’t really have the universal hatred like consumer debt.

The crux of my inner annoyance is clearly the lack of accountability. If I had to venture a guess (and it is just a guess) the meterologist behind the scenes probably does have some accountability. If they told Louis Badalement (http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2010/09/02/louis-badalament-the-awful-weatherman-got-a-tosh0-web-redemption) the wrong information night in and night out they would probably get fired…but just because the weather person is giving it to use then they don’t get fired!

Maybe this analogy would help – You ask me if something is legal in an area of law I wasn’t trained in. I check with my partner who says “yeah its cool” so I then give you that information. You go to jail and are now living with a large man with even larger hands, named Bubba…wouldn’t you still sue ME for malpractice.

34 Executioner

I am admittedly not well-versed in the field of meteorology, but as far as I understand it, weather forecasting works thusly:

Many, many inputs are fed into a computer. These inputs include actual observations: real temperatures, wind speeds, barometric pressure measurements, etc from many many different geographical locations and points over time.

A forecasting program takes those inputs and runs predictive simulations of weather patters into the future. Because of the implications of chaos theory (look it up), identical inputs can have wildly different results if the same simulation is run over and over.

So when the forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of rain, that means that if the simulation was run 1000 times, roughly 500 of those times the simulation resulted in rain. But the other 500 simulations didn’t.

Weather forecasting programs evolve over time. I believe they are some of the most complex computer models ever written, but it may never be possible for them to predict accurately what the weather will do in the future due to the laws of random chance.

Think of it another way. If a weather person told you there is a 50% chance that a flip of a coin will land on heads, would you still react with disgust if it came up tails, and call for “accountability”?

35 Sara

You would REALLY hate the weathermen in San Diego, then, because they have to spend their time trying to convince us that a “cold front” is coming in just because it’s going to drop from 73 to 68 for a day or so. :P

36 Crystal @ BFS

I don’t actually look at forecasts, so I can’t feel your frustration, but I’m sorry you lost money betting on the Falcons.

When I looked at the photo, I didn’t think that 50% chance was funny, I thought it was weird they didn’t have a guess for the low temperature on Tuesday or chances at all for any other days than the weekend…

37 Evan

Good Eyes!

38 Jason

For some reason, I cannot reply to your comment Evan, so I will just leave this here and hope you see it. Firstly, I’m glad you didn’t take my comments as hatred towards you or anyone else. Secondly, I’m not to sure about your analogy. Something being legal or illegal doesn’t change (for the most part). The weather does. It changes all the time. Have you ever seen a hurricane’s path? It’s set to go in one direction and because of forces greater than me, it changes. Again they are trying to predict something almost unpredictable, just so you can try your best to prepare yourself with whatever is coming. This is one of the reason there are so many updates or weather sites are being refreshed. Things are changing. I cannot tell you the amount of time I have had a meteorologist ask me to stay late at the tv station because there was a good chance something was going to change and he wanted to update everyone live.

If the weather didn’t change as often as the law does, you bet your sweet booty I would sue. That’s not the case. I think the point that I am really just trying to get across is this, you need to take the forecasters predictions as….predictions. Also, Bubba seems like a nice guy.

39 Evan

Bubba is only nice at first and things then get weird. I get why you are defending Weathermen. There is always going to be a counter-argument when dealing with any group of people that tend to annoy (check out the comments on the kitten post).

I think you are making the law a little too black and white, but I think we are going to have to agree to disagree and allow me to have my “feelings” because that’s all this post was.

40 SS4BC

I’d like to see Evan predict the future with 50% accuracy.

41 MyMoneyMess

Another reason to punch weathermen in the face: Their delivery is the same no matter what is in the forecast! Prime example: Dallas Raines on ABC7 in LA. Though he isn’t the only offender in this category, he’s the worst.

Dallas: “Heat wave on the way! (pumps fist) details at 11!”

Dallas: “Looks like rain this weekend! (pumps fist) My detailed forecast is coming up!”

Dallas: “Sunny and mild for the next few days! (pumps fist)”

What’s with all the damn fist pumping? Look, not all weather is equal to all other weather. Even if you were the most accurate forecaster in history, you’d lose all credibility with me by delivering every single forecast with the same fake enthusiasm whether it’s rain, sun, heat or whatever.

42 Paul @ brokeforcollege

Vagueness and ambiguity are the only ways to seem right all the time. Its the same for people who write horoscopes, politicians, and most clergy. In weathermen’s defense, though, there is at lease an actual science backing them up, if not an exact one.

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