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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/15/2009

AccuWeather hypes weekend snow, why not us?

* Winter chill returning tomorrow: Full Forecast *

"Potential Eastern Snowstorm this Weekend" -- so said a story on the top of AccuWeather's Web site yesterday. The story began:

The southern Appalachians through the Northeast could be dealing with a snowstorm this weekend, as a storm moving out of the Gulf of Mexico meets up with just enough cold air to the north.

Presumably, AccuWeather decided to run this because it identified a pattern conducive to storm development this weekend. But I think the rationale also included drawing eyeballs to its Web site during what will otherwise be a lackluster weather week. Its decision to call attention to this low odds scenario demonstrates a difference in philosophy between AccuWeather and CWG.

I don't dispute that a storm could develop this weekend. There is a chance. I even mentioned the possibility in yesterday morning's forecast: "We'll also have to watch to see if any coastal storminess develops, but that's a low probability at this point." However, it was buried at the bottom of my forecast.

We don't headline low probability, low confidence events here. Instead, we usually wait until there appears to be at least a 25-30% snow threat of at least 1" or more (and usually, that's no sooner than 5 days before a potential event), then we'll begin coverage with a Snow Lover's Crystal Ball. Once the threat of accumulating snow exceeds 60% or so, then you'll see our coverage ramp up with more graphics, impact forecasts, bold headlines, etc.

If we did headline every snow opportunity regardless of likelihood, we would be featuring snow chances on our blog constantly throughout the winter and would lose all credibility. Even doing a Snow Lover's Crystal Ball every time there's a 30% chance of accumulating snow mathematically means our batting average is only going to be around 0.300. The reality is that, in winter, patterns often show promise for snow and models frequently simulate snow, yet we seldom actually get it.

AccuWeather surely appreciates this, but seldom hesitates from hyping low chance events anyways. The result is that many of the storms it touts never materialize. Maybe its research indicates its readers have short memories and that as long as it gets one right every once in a while, it will make up for prior misses. A baseball fan and weather enthusiast once told me AccuWeather is the Dave Kingman of weather -- it either strikeouts or hits a homerun.

Maybe some people would compare CWG to Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn. That's fine by me.

By  |  11:00 AM ET, 12/15/2009

Categories:  Winter Storms, Winter Storms

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