Satirical forecast (Empire News)

The same satire Web site that announced Betty White dyed (her hair) last week, now proclaims  epic snows will bury the U.S. this winter.

“Pretty much everyone will see snow like they never have in their lives,” says Edward F. Blankenbaker, Senior Administrator of Meteorologists, according to spoof-source Empire News. “Most younger people don’t even know what an actual blizzard looks like, but by the end of March, they will be seasoned survivalists.”

Just like many people on the internet didn’t “get” the Betty White hoax and shared it with all of their friends, the fake snow forecast has also gone viral.

“As of 9:00AM, the Empire News hoax has nearly 400,000 shares on Facebook despite the fact that the social media site added a giant “SATIRE” label to the article,” writes Dennis Mersereau at Gawker’s weather blog, The Vane.

For falling for this snow joke, Mersereau concludes “the stupidity of people is endless.”

I’m tempted to draw a gentler conclusion:  People aren’t stupid, but simply prone to be misled when they are bombarded by information, read hastily (often only reading headlines or scanning stories), and don’t “check out” the validity of sources.  (Also, some of the shares likely came from people who “got” the joke, and thought it was funny.)

In this “wild, wild, west” of weather information, read carefully and think twice about sharing forecasts unless they’re coming from a credible source which you have relied upon in the past.  Be especially skeptical of out of the ordinary forecasts for extreme temperatures, precipitation amounts, or storms more than a few days into the future.

Practically every week, different internet sources disseminate weather information which is unreliable, simply made-up, or both.  The only way to battle this is to keep coming back to trusted sources and get your network of family and friends to do the same.

Related:

Should you believe winter forecasts issued in August? Probably not.

Hurricane hype is here to stay; Forecasters must adapt