Tuesday, April 01, 2014

EDITORIAL >> When storms are forecast

It’s springtime and expect lots of rain today and tomorrow, or at least that’s what the local forecasters are saying.

Sure, it’s easy to make fun of weather forecasters. You probably think they’re wrong at least half the time. According to statistician Nate Silver, when TV meteorologists in Kansas City called for 100 percent chance of rain, they were wrong one-third of the time.

But weather is serious in Arkansas and when there are big storms headed our way, we turn to TV forecasters. KTHV-Channel 11 has a companion weather channel, and you don’t even need cable to see it. It’s called KTHV.2 and it’s right next to the regular channel, which you can watch with rabbit ears or any kind of antenna. It carries WeatherNation along with local forecasts.

KTHV.2 is better than the Weather Channel, and best of all, you can catch Tom Brannon, who was born in Jacksonville and grew up in Little Rock. He’s a real pro, like the rest of the KTHV team — they never shout unless a tornado is headed up your street.

Sure, Tom always looks like he just got out of bed, but that’s because he starts early and works all day. Plus his forecasts are accurate. Maybe they’re not always on the money when it comes to rain, but when it’s tornado weather, Brannon and his colleagues are on the money.

This is how much weather forecasting has improved in 25 years: Silver says the National Hurricane Center would miss the location of hurricanes by hundreds of miles three days before they hit. “Now the average miss is only about 100 miles,” Silver writes in his book, “The Signal and the Noise.” That lets people evacuate to higher ground.

Forecasters can tell you when it’s time to take cover before a tornado hits. People like Tom Brannon save lives. We can be sure of that.