The value of weather forecasts and storm warnings isn’t limited to saving lives. They have a huge economic value.
Let’s begin with the extraordinary simultaneous hailstorms in San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Norman. Here is the forecast from this blog yesterday.
It correctly forecasts hail up to 4″ in diameter in Texas in the orange area and singles out the DFW Metroplex. Norman is in the yellow area. Compare the forecast to the actual hail streaks which are red lines, more or less horizontal (west to east).
Considering there is a nationwide shortage of auto glass plus the hassles of dealing with insurance and rental cars, if people had put their cars in garages and brought in lawn furniture, etc., considerable economic value would be gained. More on the hailstorms, here.
Here are the actual 48-hour rainfalls in the region.
The forecasts got more specific with time, which — if they chose to do so — allowed people and companies to pull property out of the flooded areas and reroute trucks and trains around the flooding.
The value of modern meteorology is not well understood by the public and policy makers.
A friend brought this to my attention this morning:
While this is small market television, the fact is that this meteorologist, whomever he or she may turn out to be, will be called upon to save lives should a major tornado or flash flood situation occur. Yet, I almost guarantee the news anchors will earn more money (I’ve never understood that).
Part of this is the fault of the science of meteorology — we are terrible at explaining our value. But, part of it is due to some of the opinion-setting large markets (I’m looking at you Los Angeles and New York) not taking weather seriously until quite recently.
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