Beware of the social media storm this hurricane season

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - It's that time of year again: hurricane season is upon us.

Although technology has put up-to-the-minute storm tracking information at our fingertips, remember to be wary of the "storms" social media can cause.

As a meteorologist on the Gulf Coast, hurricane season is the time of year when I must be ready for anything and everything. It is the time of year when I keep a packed bag in the closet, ready for many sleepless nights in the 7Stormcenter. Most of all, it is the time of year when myself and other meteorologists have to accurately forecast big storms out over the Gulf and on social media sites.

Just like during the winter storm events earlier this year, social media sites can be great information highways, but they can also be a dangerous asset. Staying informed with the most up-to-date and accurate information is in the public's best interest so that they can make personal decisions to protect their lives and property. The key word in that statement is "accurate" and accuracy beyond three to five days in tropical terms is almost unattainable.

Let me fill you in on some weather wizard secrets to eliminate unwanted panic this hurricane season. I am sure you have seen spaghetti plots filled with model after model, creating varying tracks, being run four times a day, extended out between five to 16 days, and many times they are guessing at a storm center.

Numerous times this season, a model will suggest that a tropical system is headed for Louisiana. You will also likely see 10 or more model runs showing a very intense hurricane striking our coastline. The catch is that these models are extended predictions that try to look five to 16 days into the future.

It is when a random long-range model gets thrown on social media with no disclaimer that it creates unnecessary panic. Beyond five days, models will go from Brownsville, Texas, one day to New Orleans the next, eventually dissipating the storm altogether, and then there you are, losing sleep over one model run.

Meteorologists look for consistency with the various models and each daily version of the model not showing drastic changes in a forecast track. It is then we begin to monitor things closely.

As we start this hurricane season, the Stormteam will be on social media showing you those model runs, but instead of trying to cause a storm of our own, we will be keeping you informed on the potential storm at hand.

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