If you have ever lived in a community that depends on nice weather and tourists to survive you no doubt understand the affect a poor forecast can have on local businesses. Even the threat of rain can decimate a local economy for the weekend. The impact is even more real in parts of the country where tourism is seasonal and local businesses are counting on each weekend to bring in the money that will help them last the entire year.
While rain in the forecast can mean the difference between sinking and swimming for some business owners, the people who put out the forecast love it. Think about how the weather is presented on your local news channel. Most of the time they won’t even tell you the forecast outright. You’ll get little glimpses of it here and there. A teaser at the beginning of the news show and then you may have to wait till the end to get an actual forecast. That is because weather is big business for them. It helps increase the number of viewers watching the news and in turn increase revenues for the station.
That is why the weather forecast is always pessimistic. People don’t watch the weather if it’s going to be sunny all week, but if it is going to be inclement then that is another store. If there is a 5% chance of rain 7 days off in the forecast then that is played up. When a big system is coming it suddenly becomes “The Storm of the Century of the Week”. Their primary goal is to get you to watch the news/weather. It is not to responsibly or accurately report the weather.
It also means that when there is a real weather emergency that people don’t take it seriously. It’s the classic case of the boy who cried wolf. People become used to the idea of big storms happening all the time and then they see very little damage around then. As a result when a serious storm does come around they don’t evacuate or take precautions. This happened during Hurricane Katrina, people did not feel they needed to move to higher ground because they had heard it all before.
Millions of dollars are lost each year in local economies because of poor weather forecasting and greedy news stations. There is nothing worse than not seeing your restaurant filled simply because the weatherman up-played the small chance of rain that day and as a result the tourists never came. It is a shame that news outlets and meteorologists aren’t more ethical, especially in these days where the economy can use any help it can get. Not to mention the human costs that can occur.