Why Are Weather Warnings These Days Increasingly Apocalyptic and Increasingly Wrong?

Have you noticed how winter weather warnings are increasingly over-hyped lately? “This one is a killer, folks!” or “This will be the biggest storm of the season 12-18 inches of snow” are the usual headlines but it’s become a case of crying “Wolf!”. It’s almost as if weather forecasters are trying to outdo one another with ever more grandiose visions of snowmagedon. Why do they predict such dire outcomes when time and time again, what actually arrives is not a howling hurricane but a whimper.
Some might say, better safe than sorry but this completely ignores the massive and entirely unnecessary costs imposed by disruption to business and home life. Schools closing unnecessarily cause parents to have to miss work. Businesses and offices fear the liability that could accompany ignoring serious storm warnings so they announce one or two day closures. There are real costs associated with apocalyptic forecasts that don’t materialize.
Why do they do it? There is a vast political-bureaucratic disaster industry in America. FEMA is one of many agencies who collect federal and state funds based on their ‘disaster needs’ and ‘disaster readiness’. Announcers and forecasters are liable to fear repercussions from under warning but experience little or no consequence from over warning. People are just relieved that the horrors did not materialize. What is more, a materialistic culture sees prevention of possible loss of life as the highest value. Many would, if they could, limit non-official vehicles to a speed limit of 20mph which would save over 60% of the 30,000 annual vehicular deaths. Costs to business are largely invisible so mayors and others gain valuable airtime talking of their urgent desire to protect their voters from harm and of their many programs to prevent any hurt. This is just one more example of how a damaged culture works against its own health.

2 thoughts on “Why Are Weather Warnings These Days Increasingly Apocalyptic and Increasingly Wrong?”

  1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Dear Eric–
    Thank you for your outstanding additions. Yes, news media desperate for eyeballs. Your #2 is vitally important. Yes, the Climate Change industry. And your #3 is very true. Not only don’t they care but they also have very little understanding of how business works and why. I really appreciate you making these important points

  2. A few factors I think are involved (not an exhaustive list by any means) are:
    1) The news needs ratings, badly. Fewer and fewer people trust them and watch them, except during impending apocalypses.
    2) The “global cooling/warming/climate change/terror” religion is desperate to convince the entire world of the “truth” of their position. If there is an impending apocalypse, people may be more open to buying into it. “Snow in March! It’s ‘Climate Terror!'” Because it’s OBVIOUSLY NEVER snowed in March before ever in history until man started driving internal combustion engines.
    3) The generations currently coming up are not as familiar as the older generations were of how to be responsible with resources. They’re very “me” centered, and who cares if an airline loses millions of dollars? It doesn’t impact them personally; it’s an abstract.

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