I have read a lot of facebook and twitter posts concerning over cautious storm forecasts. One post made fun of a weather forecaster talking about a “cone of uncertainty” in the storm track. Lets contrast the doom and gloom we get in the US with what some say happened with the Italian seismologist. According to the prosecutor (see link to Science) they failed to assess and communicate the risks. My question is: do we want to know that there is a real non-zero risk when we live on the edge of the cone of uncertainty? I think we want forecasters to tell us when there is a risk, and when we might want to prepare for a natural disaster. However, we want them to be certain, and that is just not possible. I don’t think any one would prosecute weather forecasters for minimizing the threat for folks on the edge of the cone of uncertainty, but we would be very angry when they were wrong. As it is, we are just annoyed (and not dead or homeless) when forecasters seem to overstate the risk and we over prepare.
October 28, 2012
Storm Over-reactions and Italian Earthquakes