The National Weather Service invited members of the local media to attend its annual Winter Media Workshop held Tuesday in their Sterling, Virginia office.
The topics included social media such as NWSchat and their move to Twitter (coming before the end of the year), the new Dual-Pol radar system, model ensembles for winter weather forecasting, a winter outlook, new weather advisory and watch terminology being tested, a Superstorm Sandy discussion, and a presentation on the Knickerbocker Snowstorm.
You may be able to pick out a few familiar faces in the photo above. Many of the local news stations attended (from not only D.C., but also Baltimore, Charlottesville, Winchester, Hagerstown, and Harrisonburg) in addition to our own Capital Weather Gang. Jason Samenow and I are in the middle, back row.
Some highlights from the workshop:
* NWS staff provided really useful information on what patterns to look for in forecasting a historic snowstorm
* The NWS winter outlook suggested snowfall and temperatures should be pretty close to normal
* Media attendees debated the most effective ways to present uncertain information while NWS staff listened. Does the public understand probabilities? Are words like “most likely” meaningful? Would such words be more useful accompanied by numeric percentages?
* NWS staff was questioned why it didn’t provide more information about the threat posed by Sandy beyond 48 hours in advance whereas the Philadelphia office offered detailed briefings. NWS responded that because there was uncertainty in the track and because locations further north appeared most likely to be hardest-hit, it deferred to the National Hurricane Center until local impacts became more clear.
The members of the media were appreciative to be included in the National Weather Services education and planning exercises and, in turn, the NWS representatives seemed happy to receive our feedback. It is a successful meeting held twice every year.
Jason Samenow contributed to this blog post