Watch out for "fake weather" on social media, especially in the winter season

1 month 3 weeks 20 hours ago Thursday, December 05 2019 Dec 5, 2019 Thursday, December 05, 2019 8:03:00 PM CST December 05, 2019 in Weather
By: Matt Beckwith, KOMU 8 Meteorologist
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COLUMBIA - Most people spend hours each day on social media Liking, sharing and clicking on information, but there is also a lot of misinformation even in popular viral posts. The forecast is no exception to that statement.

Anyone with a computer can make a map and access model data, that combination has allowed people and model data to go viral, but computer models are just one of many tools that meteorologists use to make a forecast. Computer models have very low skill and accuracy several days out and sometimes they just don’t perform well leading up to an event. They can also change drastically from run to run meaning one model run may look completely different from another model run in a period of just a few hours.

Halloween 2019 makes for a great example of how social media can get out of hand. Social media posts went viral from random Facebook pages to major corporations. These posts showcased unrealistic and high snowfall totals for the entire Midwest. However, this wasn’t the forecast. The Live Doppler 8 First Alert Weather Team was forecasting a dusting to an inch of snow with limited impacts to roads and that’s exactly how the forecast played out.

Here are some general rules for social media posts always check the date a graphic or story was posted because sometimes old stories and graphics will get shared and cause confusion. Forecasted totals more than a few days out are ridiculous and are subject to major adjustments, that’s why the KOMU 8 Weather Team doesn’t talk about them. Most importantly if something seems crazy it usually is. Stay tuned to reliable sources like the Live Doppler 8 First Alert Weather Team and if you ever have questions about a forecast you’ve seen online you can always send us a message and ask if it’s reliable. 

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