Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Hurricane forecast conundrum

Published:Thursday | October 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM


For some time now, I have become increasingly concerned about weather forecasts as presented by our meteorologists, particularly in the electronic media, namely, TVJ and CVM-TV. Based on my own experience, they have been wrong on numerous occasions. Indeed, a common joke among my colleagues and I is that whatever they say should be taken with a grain of salt or one should expect the opposite outcome.

This latest episode with respect to Hurricane Matthew has seriously put a dent in their credibility in the eyes of John Public. This is a most dangerous scenario as the next time around when the island is threatened by a hurricane, many Jamaicans may totally ignore their predictions.

I am not here putting full blame at the feet of our weather men and women, but perception can oftentimes become the reality. Against this background, I strongly recommend that a probe be launched into the Meteorological Office's modus operandi in order to ascertain if there are any flaws or grey areas as to how they go about gathering data and interpreting these to the public.

Forecasting the weather may not necessarily be the most exact science; however, citizens need to rely on their word, especially against the backdrop of climate change, which makes weather patterns very unpredictable. It should not be a case that one cannot tell for certainty whether or not the Met Office's predictions will hold true. This could be a matter of life and death.

The time has come, therefore, for the Met Office to launch a public-education campaign in order to shore up its credibility in the eyes of an increasingly cynical citizenry. The team at the Met Office appears to be a hard-working, dedicated set of professionals, but right now they are being viewed by many as a pack of jokers. They owe it to John Public and themselves to change that image.