Hur­ri­cane fore­cast co­nun­drum

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE ED­I­TOR, Sir: 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 CVMTV. 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. LLOYD B. SMITH­

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