Archive for April 7th, 2011

07
Apr
11

We don’t believe you, Dr. Gray…

This morning, before I went off to work, the local news folks were talking about the infamous Dr. William Gray, who has spent years now making outlandishly incorrect predictions about the activity level of the Atlantic hurricane season. This year, he’s predicting 16 named storms which — based on his previous track record — means we’re likely to get exactly 16 storms, or maybe 12, or three, or 97, because seriously, these guys are never even remotely correct.

Every year, we get the announcement: “HIGHER THAN ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON PREDICTED” is the most popular statement. The local news media loves this, because it then allows them to get on the television and radio and tell us to rush out to the stores, hoard food, buy generators and shotgun shells and wait for the apocalypse.

What happens next? Usually, nothing. Because you see, even on those rare occasions that the predicted number of storms is even vaguely close to the actual number, that prediction doesn’t say anything about whether or not those storms will touch any inhabited piece of land, because there’s no way to bloody tell ahead of time. There are sometimes dozens of hurricanes a year that nobody remembers, because they build up their intensity, thrive, sputter, and die out there in the vast reaches of the ocean and never touch land!

The stupidest part of the pre-season hurricane predictions, though, is the fact that these predictions can be “revised” midway through the season. It is not at all unusual for Dr. Gray to release a press release in April saying, “Yep. 20 storms. That’s what we’re getting,” then coming back in August to announce, “We’re revising our original prediction, now I think there’s only gonna be six storms this yea — OH, SNAP! LOOK AT THAT! RIGHT AGAIN, DR. ME!”

I paraphrase, of course.

Nothing else in the world works this way. I cannot go down to the dog track, put a bet on Santa’s Little Helper, and then run back to the window during the final lap and say, “No, wait! Now I think Ovarian Cyst is gonna win it all!” and expect them to give me any money.

So, Dr. Gray and the National Weather Service and everybody else, please, STOP making pre-season predictions. It’s pointless. We here on the Gulf Coast know that hurricanes happen and know that there’s always a chance one could come our way, and it doesn’t matter for squat whether you predict 1 or 187 named storms. Wasting energy on pre-season predictions is nothing but Chicken Little Fearmongering, and god knows we’ve got enough to be afraid of in this world. (Snooki wrote a book, for God’s sake…)

Just save your energy and let us know when a storm is actually coming our way, okay?

Thanks.




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