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EMS Annual Conference WMO Uncertianty Storm Naming

Up to date nformation on Considers public/private How to commicate it Is it needed?

the meeting in Dublin 2017 relationship

issue 41, volume 4 | free to all in the industry | Spring/Early Summer edition 2017

the magazine of the IABM

Issue 39

3-4 22-23
View from the Chair When your next door neighbour
Chairman of the Board Inge is a climate scientist
Niedek with her views. by Claire Martin

5-7 26-27
The US will be leaving the Do we really want to name
Paris Climate Accord Atlantic Storms?
Or is it just a fashion accessory?
WMO determines highest
death tolls
from tropical cyclones,
tornadoes, lightning and corporate members
hailstorms Thank you for the continuing
financial support from:
Natural catastrophe statistics
online ASK
the new Munich Re AMS
NatCatSERVICE analysis tool

EMS 2017
Latest information
up front
for weather broadcasters

Executive Council of the WMO John Teather
considers relationships
between the public and Inge Niedek
private sectors Gerald Fleming

The view from down under ADVISORS AND REASERCHERS
New Zealands topsy turvy Paul Gross
Panos Giannopoulos
Our Association would also like
18 - 19 to acknowledge the invaluable
The importance of help of all our contributors to this
communicating uncertainty in magazaine.
our weather forecasts
If you have an article or
By Paul Gross contribution, please contact the
editor at
14th International Weather
Forum (IWF) 2017 Media Copyright IABM 2017
Communicating on climate

2| UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

THE BOARD | Inge Niedek





Dear Colleagues, in the accuracy we are used vast networks of meltwater

today would not be possible streams and lakes across
Science is the background of without the highly complex Antarctica. (report in the
our work in media. Without forecasting models, being Washington Post) If this system
Science we would not be able constantly improved and will deliver increasing amounts
to talk about the weather in running on supercomputers. of water to already unstable
the near future, be it 3 days Climate-models are even more or delicate ice-shelfs, could
or even 14 with the necessary complex but enable us to guess further enhance their damage.
uncertainty-consideration. of what might happen with As temperatures will rise due
Especially in weather-prediction our climate in the future even to higher CO2-levels trapping
scientific advantages within the considering different input- more heat and warming the
last 50 years are enormous. scenarios. They are helping us oceans further, more meltwater
to a better understanding for will flow, resulting in higher sea-
Imagine all the super- instance what might happen levels may be even earlier than
computers and model- when Co2 will continue to rise, scientists had thought before.
forcasting or the regular use of or how much the sea-level to
Satellite-images from around expect, when Arctic-ice-melt Nobody knows for sure if and
the world enabling us to view to will continue due to Ocean- when this scenario will exactly
every location on the globe. Warming? show up in the future, but a
The potential of having changing-process has started
a world-view at cloud- For sure, nobody dares to think and will develop gradually.
distributions and different what would happen in case Therefore it will be necessary
weather-patterns is essential to of the failure of the Antarctic to closely monitor this process
our day-to-day work, helping glaciers and ice-shelfs, which during the coming years. But
us to identify severe storm- are holding back a massive this monitoring will require
systems and tracking them. ice-shield on land. According to some money, in order to fulfill
Some working in TV-Weather- NASA their failure would release its mission and in the end will
Forecasting might not even that ice to the ocean, pushing help to be better prepared for
realize these benefits. As we the sea-levels up to 13 feet the future. Without ambitious
take these benefits for granted higher (almost 4 meters)!!! science we would not be in this
it might be quite helpful to be stage.
reminded that huge scientific A University-team from
efforts are behind it. renowned Columbia University The advantages of science
(New York) and the University justify more than ever before
Other disciplines of science of Sheffield (South Yorkshire, any effort in supporting
the forecasting-process GB) only recently have found independent scientific research.

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine |3

The world-climate is changing; many projects have become not only since yesterday. This
people are confronted with insecure because of budget- is a challenge for weather-
the changes more or less, cuts. Looks a lot like chaos with broadcasters. Be prepared, keep
depending on the areas, where no foreseeable pathway and yourself up-to-date, fight for
they are living. But the overall objective reliable planning for independent science and take
signs are quite obvious and the future . care of the communication-
finally every country on Earth aspect.
will participate in climate Simply said, we cannot afford
change. to cancel science-budgets These are my final words for
which will allow us to finally the summer-edition of Up
Science might be controversial understand what is going Front, wishing you a wonderful
and it needs to be controversial, on around us and to predict summer, of course with enough
because it is not a one-way- what might be awaiting us interesting weather to report,
street, but instead multifaceted. in the future. Every weather- but hopefully not to severe.
Fake-News are conquering the broadcaster working in Media
world, Weather and Climate will have to deal with upcoming Inge Niedek, 24th May 2017
themes part of it, admittedly climate changes, causing
partially driven by massive also changes in the weather- Please see our note on the
political and economic interest patterns, and will be more than EMS-conference taking
and not by concern for the well- one time standing in the first place from the 4th to 8th of
being of the population. row for an explanation. So easy September in Dublin with the
to understand communication remarkable Theme: Serving
The United States are currently of complex issues will be Society with better Weather
following a strange way, required a big issue in science and Climate Information.

annual subscription fee which grants organisation that wish to support the
them full rights to elect the directors IABM and its aims. They are entitled
or serve on any committee that sets to free editorial space in UP FRONT,
the direction of the association. and can associate themselves with
Membership is 25 Euros per year. the IABM in their own advertising and
promotions. Membership is 500 Euros
The IABM is a voluntary organisation Special Membership - these are per year.
where everyone involved is unpaid members who are based in developing
and the funds are drawn solely from countries and specially approved The organisation needs to persuade
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which are in Euros which is the fairest industry magazine UP FRONT and members in order to have sufficient
and easiest payment currency, are: also pay a token annual subscription funds to keep it running.
fee which grants them full rights to
Full Membership - these members elect the directors or serve on any The obvious question is whats in
will receive the industry magazine committee that sets the direction it for me. Perhaps a reversal of the
UP FRONT and also pay an annual of the association. Membership is 1 question provides the answer what
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Society (AMS) would like to and academic sectors. Our community knows that
share its free monthly newsletter collaboration and information sharing are critical to
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Each edition includes news, To view the latest issue and to find out how to subscribe,
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community. AMS is committed to strengthening the

4| UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017


Foto: dpa According to an interview in the German Evening-

News with the Chief Economist of PIK (Potsdam
A projection of Trumps silhouette onto the side Institute for Climate Impact Research), Professor
of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin after Trumps Ottmar Edenhofer, future consequences for the
announcement that the US will exit from Paris climate may depend on local activities in the US,
climate accord on June 2nd 2017. supporting action against climate-change. Time has
come to show flag and accept the fact, that climate-
The message itself was quite clear, the second change is dangerous, but we have the means to limit
largest emitter of carbon dioxide, will leave the Paris climate-change, and we have techniques to do it at
climate accord of 2015, because of fears that the reasonable cost.
accord will hurt U.S. jobs and business. Of course
his decision has drawn worldwide reaction, some In a similar sense Paul Krugman, writing his
positive but most negative. comment titled Trumps spiteful decison,
(Herald Tribune, 4th of June 2017) quotes parts
Just to remember, the accord is voluntary and of his commentary. Amongst other arguments he is
doesnt carry penalties for those countries that says: We have almost all the technology we need,
fall short of emissions-cutting targets. But it has and can be quite confident of developing the rest.
been an exceptional voluntary global act to accept Obviously the transition to a low-emission-economy
together that climatechange is there and mankind sure would take time, but that would be OK as long
has the power to act against. The first almost global as the path was clear.
agreement achieved against climate change.
An often cited argument of people who dont believe
Leaders from all over the world and also from the in climate-change is that they are worried about
US have denounced Trumps decision, pledging to the uncertainty of climate projections. Here we
ramp-up their efforts to curb global warming instead. are again at Science - Krugman is making a clear
Even the Russian President Vladimir Putin joked statement: All long-term policy choices must be
that Trumps move made him a convenient scapegoat made in the face of an uncertain future. There is as
for any bad weather. The French Presidents call to much scientific consensus here youre ever likely to
#MakeOurPlanetGreat again went viral online, and see on any issue. In this case uncertainty arguably
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said its time to strengthens the case for action, because the costs of
look ahead saying that this decision wont stop all getting it wrong are asymmetric: Do too much, and
those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet. we have wasted some money, do too little, and we
We in Germany, Europe and the world will combine have doomed civilization
our forces more resolutely than ever to address and
successfully tackle challenges for humanity such as I will keep you posted .
climate change.
Inge Niedek, 4th of June 2017

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine |5

On the basis of science, not viewpoint, it is particularly you believe in climate change or
politics, meteorologists and troubling that the Presidents not, whether you work in coal or
leaders from the weather claims cast aside the extensively not, whether you voted for Trump
community largely united studied domestic and global or not, whether youre American
in denouncing the Trump economic, health, and ecological or not we are all living on the
administrations withdrawal from risks of inaction on climate same planet and share the same
the Paris climate agreement on change, he said. problem. There are solutions,
Thursday. some exciting, but now without, the Weather federal leadership its on all of us
The American Meteorological Channels website, transformed to get read up and start to put real
Societys executive director, its homepage into what was pressure on our elected officials.
Keith Seitter, called the decision perhaps the most highly visible
deeply troubling and said it protest. The president of The Additional voices in the
ignored so many components Weather Channel, David Clark, weather community across the
of the risk calculus that went into made this call to action on his political spectrum criticized the
the treaty in a statement issued Facebook page Thursday: Today announcement.
Friday morning. From a scientific was a blow for all of us, whether

6| UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

I frequently believe the liberal elite a professor of atmospheric A minority of meteorologists
consensus is wrong, hypocritical sciences at the University of expressing an opinion
and partisan, said Rich Sorkin, a Georgia and past president of questioned whether
moderate Republican and chief the American Meteorological participating in the accord
executive for Jupiter, a start-up Society. This is a sad day for the wouldve made any difference or
focused on risk from weather and worldthe Climate Accord is even supported withdrawal.
climate. However, on the issue about American lives, he tweeted.
of the Paris Agreement, President Use this moment not to sulk or If the goal of Paris agreement is
Trump is flat out wrong and lick wounds.use it to motivate to reduce extreme weather and
directly harming U.S. interests. you to engage and help preserve other negative impacts it is grossly
our home planet. Our kids depend inadequate, tweeted Roger Pielke
Paul Douglas, a meteorologist in on it Sr., a professor of atmospheric
Minneapolis who has operated science at Colorado State
several weather companies, The University Corporation University. Its really not about
worked in television, and is also for Atmospheric Research climate.
a Republican, responded to President Antonio Busalacchi
the news with a tweet storm. issued a diplomatic response. John Coleman, a prominent
We have freedoms, we have He refrained from specifically climate change doubter and one
rights, but what about personal criticizing the withdrawal but of the founders of the Weather
responsibility? Future generations said it creates new uncertainties Channel, tweeted that the
will judge us harshly, he tweeted. about the future of our climate. withdrawal was a major victory
Ive been tracking the symptoms He added: The work by U.S. on the road to Scienceville where
in our increasingly screwed-up researchers to understand and at last the fake science that carbon
weather for 20+ years. This isnt anticipate changes in our climate dioxide is major greenhouse gas
about polar bears this is about system and determine ways to will be defeated.
our kids. mitigate or adapt to the potential
impacts is now more vital than By Jason Samenow of the
Another tweet storm was ever. Washington Post
unleashed by Marshall Shepherd,


Report highlights need for early warnings and disaster risk reduction, published 18 May 2017

GENEVA 18 May 2017 (WMO) The World

Meteorological Organization has announced world Extreme weather causes serious destruction and major
records for the highest reported historical death loss of life. That is one of the reasons behind the WMOs
tolls from tropical cyclones, tornadoes, lightning efforts to improve early warnings of multiple hazards
and hailstorms. It marks the first time the official and impact-based forecasting, and to learn lessons
WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has gleaned from historical disasters to prevent future ones,
broadened its scope from temperature and weather said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. The
records to address the impacts of specific events. human aspect inherent in extreme events should never
be lost, he said.
The findings were announced just ahead of two
major conferences on improving multi-hazard early The in-depth investigation by a WMO committee
warning systems and strengthening disaster risk of experts covered documented mortality records
reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 22 to for five specific weather-related events. It did
26 May and organized by WMO and the UN Office on not, in this instance, address heat- or cold-waves,
Disaster Risk Reduction. drought and floods. It is hoped in the future to add

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine |7

more event impacts to the Archive of Weather and
Climate Extremes. This is maintained by the WMO Overall mortality can also decrease as a result of
Commission for Climatology which documents continuous improvement in related forecasting and
details of records for heat, cold, wind speed, rainfall warning infrastructure. For example, the MeteoAlarm
and other events. system in Europe is a web-based service designed to
The committees findings were as follows: provide real-time warning for people travelling in
Highest mortality associated with a Europe of severe weather.
tropical cyclone: an estimated 300,000 people killed
Yet even with these improvements, mortality from
directly as result of the passage of a tropical cyclone
through Bangladesh (at time of incident, East weather-related events will continue. In order to put
Pakistan) of 12-13 November, 1970; potential future weather-related catastrophes into
accurate historical context, it is useful to have knowledge
Highest mortality associated with of baseline changes in weather-related mortality as
a tornado: an estimated 1,300 people killed by the monitored over the last one hundred and fifty years of
26April 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj official international weather records, said the WMO
district, Bangladesh; committee.

Highest mortality (indirect strike) The diverse international 19-member panel consisted
associated with lightning: 469 people killed in a of climatologists and meteorologists, as well as a
lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on 2 physician and a weather historian. It only considered
November 1994; mortality extremes after 1873, the formation date
of the WMOs predecessor, the Interrnational
Highest mortality directly associated Meteorological Organization, in order to ensure the
with a single lightning flash: 21 people killed by a quality of the available meteorological data, even
single stroke of lightning in a hut in Manica Tribal though events with high mortality rates occurred
Trust Lands in Zimbabwe (at the time of incident, before that date. The panel undertook to obtain direct
Rhodesia) on 23 December 1975; documentation of each event and establish the best
specific death toll associated with each event.
Highest mortality associated with
a hailstorm: a severe hailstorm occurring near The panel chose carefully selected events in order
Moradabad, India, on 30 April, 1888, which killed to establish procedures and guidelines for potential
246 people with hailstones as large as goose eggs and future evaluations of other events such as heat-waves
oranges and cricket balls. or floods.

One aspect of the ongoing discussion and exploration These events highlight the deadly tragedies associated
of climate change is the increased mortality threat of with different types of weather. Detailed knowledge
climate change on the planets human population. As of these historical extremes confirms our continuing
world population continues to grow along with change responsibilities to not only forecast and monitor weather
in global climate, a greater portion of humanity is and climate but to utilize that information to save lives
threatened by a multitude of climate and weather around the world so disasters of these types are lessened
phenomena, the expert committee wrote in an article or even eliminated in the future, said Randall Cerveny,
published in the online edition of the American WMO Rapporteur on Climate and Weather Extremes.
Meteorological Societys journal, Weather, Climate As always with WMO weather extremes evaluations,
and Society. future reassessments may be undertaken if there is
any new evidence.
However, vulnerability is a function of both the
risk of an event and the adaptation or resilience to Validation of these new world mortality extremes
the event. For example, heatwave-related mortality provides solid documentation for many of these deadly
tends to decrease as air conditioning becomes more events that have not been rigorously compiled in the
widespread. Similarly, lightning casualties decrease past; reinforcement to the knowledge that certain
when munitions storage facilities install lightning types of weather can be very deadly, and base values
rods and athletic programs establish lightning safety for comparsion of potential future weather-related
protocols, the experts wrote. tragedies, said Thomas Peterson, president of the

8| UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

WMO Commission for Climatology. WMO is lightning safe, leaving entire families, classrooms, and
strengthening collaboration with UN partners to workers constantly vulnerable. In particular, schools
help improve knowledge on the humanitarian and and homes tend to be mud-brick with thatch or sheet
environmental impact of extreme weather and climate metal roofs held down by rocks.
events and has started factoring this information into
its reports on the state of the climate. Deadliest hailstorm:
The hailstorm occurring near Moradabad, India,
DETAILS OF THE EXTREME EVENTS on 30 April, 1888, is said to have killed as many as
Deadliest tropical cyclone: 246 people with hailstones as large as goose eggs
The claimant for highest mortality associated with and oranges and cricket balls. An eye witness report
a tropical cyclone occurred in Bangladesh (at time from a meteorologist said house roofs fell in, doors
of incident, East Pakistan) on 12-13 November, 1970. and windows broke, and verandas were blown away.
This notorious tropical cyclone is sometimes referred Men caught in the open and without shelter were
to as the Great Bhola Cyclone with an estimated simply pounded to death by the hail. Fourteen bodies
300,000 (low end) to 500,000 (high end) storm-related were found in the race-course. More than one marriage
fatalities (mostly the result of a large storm surge party were caught by the storm near the banks of the
overwhelming the islands and tidal flats along the river, and were annihilated. The police report that 1,600
shores of the Bay of Bengal). As with any disaster of head of cattle, sheep, and goats were killed, wrote John
this magnitude, exaggerated death tolls are frequently Eliot, who was to become the first director-general of
common and official values difficult to obtain, but the the India Meteorological Department.
committee agreed that the low-end estimate was more
accurately documented.

Deadliest tornado:
The tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district,
Bangladesh, occurred on 26 April 1989, destroying
two towns and leaving about 80,000 people homeless.
This violent storm, with a track of about a mile wide,
injured over 12,000 and purportedly killed a large
number of people. The committee concluded that a
death toll of 1,300 individuals was the most reliable

Indirect lightning strike:

Very severe thunderstorms over Dronka, Egypt, on
2 November 1994 caused much damage and flash
flooding. A flash of lightning ignited three oil storage
tanks each holding about 5,000 tons of aircraft or
diesel fuel. These tanks were located on a railway
line that subsequently collapsed as floodwaters built
up behind it. The fuel caught fire from the lightning
strike and the floodwaters swept the blazing fuel into
the village. An official document from the Egyptian
Ministry of Health and said that hospitals in the
region had received 469bodies.

Direct lightning strike:

The highest death toll resulting directly from the
effects of the lightning itself was determined to be
a lightning flash that killed 21 people in a hut in
Manica Tribal Trust Lands in eastern Rhodesia [now
Zimbabwe] on 23 December 1975. Nearly 90% of
sub-Saharan buildings, especially homes, are not

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine |9


Since 1974, Munich Re has The peril classification of loss of perils and the geographical
been systematically recording events is closely in line with the distribution. The loss estimation
natural disaster events and loss internationally standardized IRDR process follows a systematic
data from around the world. DATA peril classification1 and concept and every single
This unique natural disaster covers all perils from geophysical, loss value can be processed
archive developed into one of meteorological, hydrological by a standardized currency
the worlds most comprehensive and climatological events. The conversion, inflation adjustment
databases on natural catastrophe database entries begin with and loss data normalization.
losses NatCatSERVICE. the historic eruption of Mount This is especially used for the
Vesuvius in AD 79 and contains comparability of historical
It is one of the most round about 40,000 data entries loss values over the time and
internationally recognized up to now. Currently about together with the assigned World
sources of information for the 1,000 events are added each Bank income groups2 build the
evaluation and analysis of year. The data deemed suitable basis for a catastrophe severity
natural disasters. This unique for systematic and analytical classification of each country
archive provides comprehensive, evaluation on a worldwide scale schematic.
reliable and professional is available from 1980 onwards.
data on insured, economic Since 1994 the annual loss
and human losses caused by The NatCatSERVICE database data and significant loss event
any kind of natural peril. The systematically stores event information have been published
database forms the basis for a information like type of peril, in Munich Re Topics Geo annual
wide range of tools and services event period, event description, reviews. Now in addition, this
applied in risk assessment and direct economic and insured unique source of information
risk management that not only loss estimation and the number is available online as a do-it-
concern the insurance and of fatalities. Each single event yourself analyses tool.
finance industry, but also the is geocoded. A rigorous data
research communities, political sourcing and data mining forms 1 IRDR DATA Peril Classification
decision makers and interested the backbone of the database. and Hazard Glossary (2014), :
members of the civil society. Over 200 sources are used
regularly, depending on the kind wp-content/uploads/2014/04/
10 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017
IRDR_DATA-Project-Report-No.-1. years can be selected. In terms of earthquake, convective storm,
pdf. geographical coverage, there is a tropical cyclone, winter storm/
choice between the global view winter damage, flood/flash
2 World and analyses for each continent. flood or heatwave/wildfire and a
bank Income groups: https:// specific region or country. The tool also provides the
knowledgebase/articles/906519- option of creating hazard- Country profiles: filter
world-bank-country-and- specific evaluations. These analyses by income groups
lending-groups include analyses of convective (according to the World Bank),
storms, winter storms, tropical P&C insurance penetration or
Here is the link to start the cyclones and earthquakes, both fatality rate index.
online tool: http://natcatservice. worldwide and for individual Area Products: countries. There are also data
on aspects such as insurance In the Products panel five
What does the new penetration in different different views are available
NatCatSERVICE analysis tool countries. The results can be number of events graphs, loss
offer: stored as a PDF. Results from the diagrams, tables, percentage
analyses can be shared directly distributions and maps.
The NatCatSERVICE online tool on social networks.
offers a variety of different Period/Year: The time
options for individual analysis, The structure of the user period is specified in the toolbar
allowing users to filter interface and elements of the at the bottom. Options range
information in respect to the tool is: from an individual year to any
specific interest. In developing Area Select: preferred period. The maximum
the tool, special emphasis was range for all events goes from
placed on ensuring flexibility, In the Select panel are three 1980 until the last complete
ease of use and speed. The different views available calendar year.
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assessments, including maps, country profiles Share function: The
charts and tables, provides a Events: select one or results can be stored as a PDF
clearly structured layout. High more peril families and one or and shared on social networks.
quality data is available from more continents
1980 up to now, but shorter Focus analyses: select one Additional information:
periods, down to individual hazard-specific information, e.g. Download PDFs are available

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 11

for the user manual, legal notice Direct access to NATHAN More information under www.
and the methodology of the data Light for pure hazard analyses.

12 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

As the September date for weather broadcasters. Communication will kick off
the EMS Annual Meeting this session, to be followed by
in Dublin fast approaches, An innovation this year is that 6 other talks on a variety of
the Programme and Science each Programme Stream will relevant themes. John Teather
Committee of the EMS met in have one Plenary Lecture of the IABM will speak on Bus
Dublin on June 1st to review associated with it. The opening Stop Language, and all who
the abstracts submitted and to day, Monday, will hear plenary heard Johns talk in Trieste will
make final decisions as to the lectures from the Director of look forward to another lively
organisation of the sessions. Met ireann and the Secretary presentation. Claire Martin will
General of the WMO. On Tuesday speak on how Good Science
This year a record number of Ms Florence Rabier, the Director Communication is an Art.
abstracts have been submitted General of ECMWF will provide
for consideration, with a total of a plenary lecture for the OSA Felicity Liggins of the UKMO will
831 abstracts finally accepted. stream. On the following day, talk about Science Engagement
Of these just two-thirds, or 557, Wednesday 6th, it will be the in Unusual Locations, dealing
are for oral presentations, while turn of Dr Keith Seitter, Executive with the outreach programme
the remaining third are for Director of the AMS, to provide in the UK, while Hans Olav
poster presentations. EMS 2017 the plenary for the ES stream. On Hygen will describe the Wheel
promises to be a bumper year. Thursday morning the meeting of Fortune concept which was
will hear from Dr Olivier Boucher, developed in Norway to help the
The Sessions at EMS have been from the French research council, public to understand the effects
divided into three Programme to deliver a plenary related to the of Climate Change on Norwegian
Streams. Understanding Weather UP topics. All of these plenaries weather. Alex Young of NASAs
and Climate Processes (UP) will take place at 9am, with Goddard Space Flight Centre will
deals with the fundamentals the multiple strands of parallel ruminate on the fundamentals
of atmospheric processes. sessions then commencing at of science communication, while
Operational Systems and 09.30. Sophie Power of University
Applications (OSA) deals with College Cork will explore the
the many aspects of operational So what will be the focus for use of visualisation techniques
meteorology, from observing weather broadcasters? The to engage the public on climate
and modelling through to Session ES2.2, focused on change.
applications. Engagement with Science Communications,
Society (ES) looks at the services will he held on Monday On Tuesday Sept 5th, the
that flow from meteorology, and afternoon, September 4th. Dr 5th annual workshop
it is in this stream that much of Pdraig Murphy who leads Communications Workshop for
the content of specific interest to the M.Sc. course in Science NMHSs, organised by Michael

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 13

Williams of the WMO, kicks off the hosts in Trieste, will look at
after lunch. Despite the title communication issues around
there are usually a number air pollution; among the other
of non-NMHS presenters and talks are a study of the website
contributors. Themes for the of the Greek Met Service and
workshop in 2017 include the Copernicus Climate Change
Weather-Ready, Climate-Smart Service, an EU initiative hosted by
and a session on From Social ECMWF.
Media to emerging Digital
Media. The workshop continues It is interesting that, given
on Wednesday morning with a the ever-increasing interest
session looking at uncertainty in in communications matters
forecasting across different time at the EMS, the session on
scales, and will then be joined Communication and Media
by Keith Seitter of the AMS to will take place in the largest of
look at Communicating Climate the rooms to be used for the
Change to the General Public a conference, with a capacity of
more onerous challenge in the US some 400 attendees.
than on the European side of the
Atlantic! So, out of the five days of the
conference, there will be at least
The afternoon of Wednesday Sept two-and-a-half days of content
5th will see the annual session that directly addresses the
on Communication and Media challenges of communication; a
organised as always by Tanja reflection of the greater realisation
Cegnar. With 12 presentations within the meteorological
slated for 2017, this session will community that effective
occupy much of Wednesday communication is not just a
afternoon. Among the roster of nice add-on but an essential
presenters are names familiar to element in our science. It is surely
the IABM such as Tanja herself, appropriate that in Dublin, a
Jay Trobec, Gerald Fleming, city known above all else for its
Haleh Kootval, Evelyn Cusack and writers, theatre and actors, that
Christian Konig. Also presenting the communication element in
are Dr Peter Hoeppe of Munich meteorology is coming to the fore.
Re, providing the perspective Registration for EMS 2017 is now
of the insurance industry. Dario open on the conference website at
Giaiotti from Fruili Venezia Giulia,

14 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

The World Meteorological national borders. and a founder-member of the
Organisation is a specialised WMO have been actively IABM, pointed out that the
agency within the United considering how best to arena of weather broadcasting
Nations system; thus the approach this disconnect for was one where the public and
Members of WMO are always some time, and there was a lively private sectors had co-existed
countries, and the primary discussion on the topic at the for decades, on the broadcast
task of the organisation is to annual meeting of the WMO company side as well as the
provide standards, regulation Executive Council, held in May meteorological service provider
and guidance for meteorology this year. side. If clarity could be achieved
worldwide. as to the respective roles of the
Where once the private public and private sectors in the
In reality, however the meteorological sector focused provision of weather services;
Permanent Representatives primarily on services, it is these roles to be complementary
of the Member countries with now moving into areas such in nature, then both sectors
WMO are almost inevitably as weather observation and could get on with doing what
the Directors of the National Numerical Weather Prediction each did best.
Meteorological and Hydrological modelling; areas which have
Services (NMHSs), and the been the exclusive preserve of Recalling that a previous WMO
organisation has tended to act NMHSs up to recently. Further, Congress had agreed on the
more as a club of NMHSs than the traditional private sector definition of what a national
as representatives of global meteorological companies, Public Weather Services
meteorology. such as Accuweather and Programme should encompass,
Meteogroup, have been joined he suggested that this definition
The difference between by new arrivals such as IBM should form a foundation for
these two positions was very and Panasonic; companies the public sector role, allowing
limited in the days when the with a history of technological the private sector clarity as
overwhelming majority of innovation, with vast resources at to its role. Of course the role
meteorological endeavour was their disposal. of government and broader
conducted within the confines definitions of public and private
of NMHSs. However the rapid While no-one seems to doubt sector spaces will vary from
growth of an active private that the NMHSs will continue country to country depending
sector in meteorology evident to have a key role to play on the political complexion
for many decades in the US and in global meteorology, the of governments, and is in
now more commonplace in definition of that role remains some countries (such as The
other parts of the world means undecided. Needless to say Netherlands) specifically laid
that a re-evaluation is needed as many of the smaller NMHSs, out in legislation. However the
to how the WMO engages with already struggling for adequate nature of meteorology suggests
the private sector. funding and with weak levels that an agreed global framework
of resources, are very wary of for the meteorological public
This is all the more crucial as private sector activities which and private sectors, established
private sector meteorological could threaten their very with a view both to support
companies can have a reach that existence. for science and sustainable
is trans-national, continental or services, would be of
event global in scale; something In a contribution to the considerable benefit to all.
that is clearly impossible for discussion Gerald Fleming,
NMHSs, whose mandate is, Chair of the Public Weather Gerald Fleming
by definition, focused within Services programme with WMO

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 15

New Zealands topsy turvy Summer
by Danial Corbett

New Zealand being situated in the middle of the ocean force for the Summer weather. These included local
and halfway between the tropics and the poles does sea surface temperatures and the phase of the SAM
expect more changeable weather than similar latitude (Southern Annular Mode). This is also known as the
continents but the Summer of 2016-17 seemed like an Antarctic Oscillation index. A quick look at the data
out of control fun fair roller coaster ride! The summer (see image below) showed that SAM was one of the
overall was slightly cooler than normal and particularly main sources of changability during the Summer. A bit
wet across southern and western regions of the country. like an active Spring that kept going into the middle of
In contrast it was drier than average for north-eastern the last month of Summer! The jet stream was far more
regions from Northland down to North Otago in the active than normal and no surprise given that a negative
South Island. Wellington, the capital, also narrowly phase of SAM, it lingered across New Zealand for most
missed a record low sunshine total for Summer, thanks of the Summer. Negative phases of SAM tend to bring
in part to a blocking ridge and a settled spell in the last more south to southwest winds across New Zealand and
ten days of February. changeable weather. (cloud and rain especially in the
west). In contrast a positive phase of SAM shifts the main
So what brought the topsy turvy nature to the Kiwi jet further south closer to the pole. Northerly winds as
Summer? The weak ENSO signal across the Pacific wells as warm and settled weather tends to predominate
meant it was local factors that became the main driving during these phases.

Antarctic Oscillation index (source: noaa)

16 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

Notice how the positive phases of SAM were pretty non- not favour the Summer time highs to build across the
existent during the Southern Hemisphere Summer, with country. The warmer anomalies to the south and west
the exception of during February. The Summer anti- helped add some fuel to passing lows. Areas of low
cyclonic ridge axis would typically straddle the middle pressure also sat and deepened to the southeast of the
of New Zealand but during much of the first half of the country for much of the Summer. The position of the lows
Summer this axis stayed north of the country. The big to the southeast of the country meant a cool southwest
Australian highs were also very reluctant to build east wind flow was the typical flow for much of the season.
across New Zealand. This kept the country cooler than normal but also wetter
on the southern and western coasts. In contrast it was
The local sea surface temperature anomalies also did drier downwind on the northern and eastern coasts.

Sea surface temperature anomalies (source: noaa)

The last several weeks of February finally brought locations recorded rainfall rates in excess of 40-60mm/
some decent Summer weather for the country with a hour during the heavy downpours. 200-300mm of rain
big blocking high. This was interrupted in early March fell across the upper North Island with Whangamata
by what looked initially like a harmless cut-off low in (Coromandel) leading the way with 475mm falling over
the north Tasman Sea. This cut-off lingered and then a 6 day period. This figure is 112% of their typical rainfall
managed to generate a significant moisture feed from for the entire season of Autumn. All in just a few days!
the tropics (atmospheric river) which brought a weeks
worth of rainfall to northern parts of the country. Some Weather in New Zealand is never dull!

Daniel Corbett is a British broadcast meteorologist, who worked for the

Met Office and the BBC for many years until May 2011. He first joined the
Met Office and BBC Weather Centre in 1997, after beginning his career
in the United States. In May 2011, Corbett made his final BBC weather
report prior to taking up a new post in New Zealand with the MetService.
Corbett is particularly popular with television viewers because of his
enthusiastic weather presentations and his humorous slogans.

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 17


By Paul Gross
Meteorologist, WDIV-TV, Detroit, USA
On Tuesday, 14 March, a significant winter storm moved how much snow fell in a small city, but what fell in the
up the U.S. east coast. Between 30 and 60 cm of snow big cities. And the storms rain/snow line ended up
was forecasted by many meteorologists for the areas moving slightly west of where the models projected it
that were to receive the heaviest snow. As you can see would be. Even though the difference was very small
below on the snapshots from my channels in-house RPM only about twenty-four kilometresthat was enough
model, the transition between rain (yellow and orange) to dramatically change the amount of snow that the
and snow (blue) was going to be very close to major big cities received. For example, New York City was
cities, such as New York and Boston. The day before forecasted to receive 30 to 45 cm of snow, but only
the storm hit, it appeared that New York and Boston received 19.3 cm because the snow changed to a period
would receive mostly snow, with perhaps a small mix of heavy sleet which, obviously, significantly reduced
of precipitation. So, the forecasts for these cities talked
the amount of snow.
about record breaking snowfall amounts.
As you would expect, many people in the media had
The storm developed very similar to how the models very harsh criticism for meteorologists, even though the
projected, and it was a very extreme winter storm. storm forecast was almost perfect, and the areas that
Some cities well inland received 76 to 100 cm of snow! received the heaviest snow received incredible amounts.
However, what is reported in the national news is not Could we weather presenters have done anything ahead

of time to help reduce this unfair criticism? Yes. small changes in the zones location could drastically
change the weather. We have to educate our viewers,
We have to do a much better job of communicating and empower them with information to help them
uncertainty in our forecasts. You and I all know that, on anticipate the weather based upon what they are seeing.
many days, there is not much uncertainty in the forecast. For example, telling people near the transition zone that,
However, in situations like the storm I described above, if they see sleet or rain during the storm, they will receive
there is a lot of uncertainty to talk about, even if it appears much less snow than forecasted.
that the models seem to have a good forecast for the
storm. The transition between the rain and snow is an Another situation is when scattered showers or
area where there will be very significant changes in the thunderstorms are forecasted. Most people do not
weather that people receive. So, we must communicate, understand what this means, and all they hear from you
even as we show where this transition zone will be, that is that it is going to rain. We have to explain that scattered

18 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

precipitation means that not everybody will get it. I like approaching weather system, I am very honest with
to tell my viewers that if they held a handful of coins my viewers about this, and sometimes even show
and tossed them up in the air and let them hit the floor, the different models in the broadcast to explain how
each coin on the floor is a rain shower. I then explain uncertain the forecast is. I then tell them to watch the
that there is a lot of space in between the coinsthese next days broadcast, because things should become
are areas not getting a showerand explain that, even more certain by then.
though more people will remain dry and not receive a
shower, if they do get a shower it does not mean that the To sum up, broadcasting the weather is more than
forecast is wrongjust that they were one of the few to just telling our viewers what the weather is. They use
get a shower. the information we provide to make decisions, and
knowing the certainty or uncertainty in the forecast is
Finally, if the computer models disagree about an very important in their decision-making. I have earned

tremendous respect from my viewers over my long career here at my channel because of my honesty in explaining
uncertainty in my forecasts. Sometimes I am just telling them that I have high confidence, but other times, I am
explaining my lower confidence.

I hope you found this discussion helpful. Do not hesitate to e-mail me if you have any questions, or want to discuss
this further. My e-mail address is

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 19

(photos by Panos Giannopoulos)
Meteo Et Climat (French Met. Society) with the The final day a special conference has been
support of the World Meteorological Organization, prepared for the participants of the IWF2017 at the
the IPCC and the Italian Meteorological Society, University of Gastronomic Sciences at the Agenzia
organized during the 14th International Weather of Pollenzo(60 km from Turin), one of the presidia
Forum (IWF) 2017 (14th Forum International de of the international movement SLOW FOOD for the
la Mto et du Climat) a Media-Workshop for protection of food biodiversity, to highlight the link
weather presenters. The Workshop has been an between food and climate change.
opportunity to discuss communication strategies
at the international level. Gathering almost
100 participants from 50 countries (60 weather
presenters and 40 representatives of international,
European and Italian organizations), the objective
was to conduct an in-depth reflection on how to
communicate more effectively on climate change,
towards viewers but also policy-makers.

The Media-Workshop has been held in Italy

(Turin), (March 30April 1st) hosted by the Italian
Meteorological Society and its president Luca
Mercalli in the ancient and historic Collegio Carlo Luca Mercalli and Panos Giannopoulos
Alberto where there is a meteorological station with
more than a 150 years history.

The first day after a presentation on the Perception

of climate change has been dedicated to Discussion
Groups, where the participants (per groups) have
discussed 4 different topics: "Communicating
extreme weather events", "Global warming and
sea level rise", "Climate change and developing
countries", "International conferences and
agreements". At the end of the day, the rapporteurs
have presented to the audience a synthesis of the
discussions highlighting the main outcomes of the

The second day has been inaugurated by a video

greetings of Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC. The
full day featured presentations, roundtables
and an interactive workshop on topics such as
communication constraints on climate change in
the media, future climate projections and their
impacts on the cities and countries, the contribution
of the climate service Copernicus for the media,
attribution of extreme weather events to climate

20 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017


Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center

since the season of Isaac and superstorm Sandy in In 2016, Knabb guided the center during the most active
2012, is leaving just before the 2017 season cranks up season since 2012. There were 15 named storms and
to become an on-air hurricane expert at the Weather seven hurricanes, including Hermine and Matthew. No
Channel. Category 3 or higher hurricanes struck the U.S. during
his years in charge.
Knabb, the fourth director at the Miami-based agency
since Max Mayfield retired in 2007, plans to start his new Knabb was an innovative leader, said National Weather
job in Atlanta on May 15. Service Director Louis Uccellini. Under his watch, NHC
launched several new decision support tools to help
During Knabbs tenure he oversaw improvements in America prepare for and respond to hurricane threats,
forecasting and hazard alerts, including new storm- Uccellini said. He expanded relationships with emergency
surge watch and warning communications and managers and the media, and has been a respected U.S.
increased accuracy in mapping the track and intensity ambassador within the international weather community.
of hurricanes. We look forward to working with him as a champion for
building a weather-ready nation in his new role in the
I am moving on to a new and exciting opportunity that private weather industry.
will not only allow me to spend less time traveling and
more time at home with family, but extensive time in the Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the hurricane center
studio at The Weather Channel focusing on hurricane for 17 years, will serve as acting director for the season
and disaster safety communication that has become my that starts June 1 while a search is conducted for a
greatest passion, said Knabb, who worked at the channel permanent director. The center says it doesnt expect
from 2010 to 2012. freezes in federal hiring to affect its ability to name a new
director after this years hurricane season.
In my new job, I look forward to utilizing all of the
innovative products and warnings that we developed Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel tweeted: Beyond
at the National Hurricane Center during the past several excited to have @NHC Director back @weatherchannel as
years. I am as determined as ever to help prepare the nation our expert! His dedication to the science and protecting
in advance and to keep the public safe and resilient when lives is second to none!
the next hurricane strikes.

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 21

by Claire Martin
Sitting in my downtown office in Vancouver, Canada However, this article is not about him.
I have a birds eye view of the city. So too does my
neighbour Dr. Stewart Cohen, an eminent climatologist Im actually referring to Canada being a good climate
in the Climate Data and Analysis Section, Science and scientist neighbour to the USA.
Technology Branchof Environment and Climate Change
Canada. Hes an interesting chap, often sends me internet On Jan. 20, 2017 just a few short months ago- the
articles on the climate dialogue currently occurring in day Trump became president of the U.S., the White
Canada, and is consummately interested in having a House website's page on climate change disappeared.
voice in those discussions. Currently (March 2017) a search climate change on the
White House website reveals just one hit

When you open the link, the Deputy Press Secretary answered just one question on March 3, 2017 on climate change:

The New York Times story had been spurred on when the trump
entire faculty of MIT Program in Atmospheres, Oceans
and Climate wrote an open letter to President Trump With the disappearance of institutionalised science from
alluding to the importance of adhering to the objective the White House website, and the contentious stance
and goals the USA had agreed to at COP21 (The Paris that the new US administration is taking on climate data,
Agreement) Data Refuge jumped into action. Data Refuge http:// is a public project that is working to
mit-faculty-working-on-climate-write-to-president- safeguard, manage and distribute copies of climate and

22 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

environmental data for researchers. Prior to all this, in December 2016, students at the
University of Toronto met for a "Guerrilla Archiving"
A Vancouver Internet archiving company (Page Freezer project, where they spent hours capturing data from ) then offered its services the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and saving it
to help Data Refuge with its mission, to make sure there to San Francisco-based company The Internet Archive.
would be a copy of the company's vulnerable data The event was able to save 3,142 pages to the archive,
outside of the U.S. including 192 programs and data-sets that were
identified as vulnerable.

The University of Toronto is also one of the groups In terms of being a good neighbour, I guess we can say
behind Climate Mirror ( an Canada is helping to look out for scientists and science
online volunteer effort that allows anyone to help back information everywhere, supporting the community,
up climate data. and is there to provide back-up and a voice when you
need it.
Page Freezer has promised to scour government pages
on a weekly basis, looking for changes made to public Kinda like my next door neighbour Dr. Cohen - here in
institutionalised science reports, and archiving the my downtown office.

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 23

MARCH 17, 2017 - BOSTON, MA - scientific community, said Keith to share his experiences and provide
Seitter, AMS Executive Director. guidance where he could, as well
It is with great sadness that the Matt was deeply admired for his as doing all he could to provide
American Meteorological Society commitment to the AMS community. opportunities to engage young
announces the passing of AMS He was a leader and a friend, and we members of the community in AMS
President Matthew J. Parker, CCM, will all miss him tremendously. activities so that they would have the
who died in his sleep Wednesday best start possible for their career.
night. According to the AMS Constitution, In that spirit, the fund will provide
the current President-elect, Dr. Roger travel grants to AMS meetings.
Parker, 53, worked at Savannah River Wakimoto, assumes the authorities
National Laboratory in Aiken, South and responsibilities of president for Donations to the fund can be made
Carolina since 1989, most recently as the remainder of Parkers term. AMS by mail, phone, or online. Checks
Senior Fellow Meteorologist in the will provide updates as we have should be made out to AMS and sent
Atmospheric Technologies Group. them. to:
He was elected as AMS President- The Matthew J. Parker Fund
elect in November 2015, and The Matthew J. Parker Travel Fund American Meteorological Society
assumed the role of AMS President In honor and remembrance of 45 Beacon Street
during the Societys Annual Meeting AMS President Matthew J. Parker, Boston, MA 02108
in Seattle this past January. Parker the AMS Council and its Executive
was slated to oversee the Annual Committee have established The If you have any questions, or wish
Meeting in January 2018 in Austin. Matthew J. Parker Travel Fund. Matts to donate by phone, please contact
greatest enthusiasm was directed Stephanie Armstrong at 617-226-
This is an enormous loss not just toward students and early career 3906.
for the AMS family but for the entire professionals. He was always eager

24 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017

Or is it just a fashion accessory?
The job of the broadcast issuing preliminary warnings country, is that it adds drama and
meteorologist is to get across, alerting the viewers to the credibility to the warning.
to a mainly non scientific possibility of severe weather a
audience, the weather forecast few days hence and gave more We were told that storm Doris
in a timely and effective way. and more detail as the time went would bring damaging winds
They have to translate from the on and this system of yellow, across much of England and
scientific language used by the amber and red warnings has Wales with heavy snowfall over
professional meteorologists, been developed very effectively parts of Scotland, and this is
especially the computer experts, from those early beginnings. precisely what happened, but
into a language that ordinary folk should the weather presenters
will understand. In my opinion the most effective scare us with the effects of the
way of showing the likelihood storm or should they stick to
To impart this information of disruptive weather is by the meteorology? This has been
effectively they have to draw in shading the areas on the map a dilemma since 11 January
the listener and viewer in the first to show the low, medium and 1954 when the first BBC TV
sentence or two and to make high risk areas, much as NOAA weatherman appeared on the
them want to hear and see more. do when predicting the tracks UK television screen; I think that
of hurricanes. But is the new there is a half way house that
The late Ian McCaskill, from the system by the UK Met Office and should be considered.
BBC Weather Centre, was a past Met Eireann of naming deep
master at this and his opening Atlantic depressions which are I remember the other extreme
one liner made his audience likely to impact on our countries many years ago when we,
want to hear more about the necessary, or is it just a modern the weather forecasters, were
forecast. But how much should fashion accessory and a gimmick forbidden to mention flooding.
we tell our audience? Should we copied from the naming of The Met Office view at that time
just inform them about the basic hurricanes? was we forecast the rain coming
elements of the forecast trend out of the clouds but when it hits
over the coming hours or days I ask this because we seem the ground it is a Local Authority
or should we do much more and to have been inundated with problem not ours. Actually we
offer them advice when severe weather warnings this past got around it by talking about
weather threatens, and if that is winter especially with storm excess surface water on roads
the case what is the best way to Doris which caused so much and pavements!
go about it? havoc. The argument about
giving names to severe Atlantic It became clear to us at the BBC
Many years ago at the BBC storms that can bring untold Weather Centre in the 1990s
Weather Centre we started misery to great swathes of the that we needed to give more

Spring/Early Summer 2017 UP FRONT Ma g azine | 25

advice on heavy rain resulting most of the audience were not relationship with the relevant
in flooding and it was decided, able to make a judgement for authorities, as they do extremely
after long deliberations, that themselves. well with the Environment
when severe rain events were Agency on flooding when
forecast the forecasters at the So this poses a very difficult both forecasters give advice to
Environment Agency responsible problem for the presenter - too the broadcaster. This way only
for issuing flood warnings, little information could lead to relevant sensible warnings of
should literally sit with the tragedies whereas too much the effects of bad weather, duly
weather forecasters to discuss and they might be accused of considered by all the experts,
and issue flood warnings. This, behaving like nannies. Of course would be broadcast and it would
by giving out the telephone if the weather forecast is for reduce the number of off the cuff
numbers on air so that anyone exceptionally severe weather, remarks that sometimes happen.
likely to be affected by the which happens in our neck of
potential flooding, could ring the woods about once every After saying all of that I cannot
and talk to the flood emergency four years then due warnings see the modern fashion of
services and to this day it works and possible consequences must naming severe Atlantic storms
extremely well. But should this be given but to do this with the being dropped but I do hope
type of advice be extended to possibility of 6 to 8 named winter that the powers that be make
other severe weather events? storms every year will make sure they dont overplay it
people immune to the warnings. and turn the viewers off from
When we get high pressure watching what is now a very
sitting to the east of the UK in My view is that we should good, reliable and accurate
winter the resulting southeastery consider the effects of severe service.
winds bring increased pollution weather on the population
from Germany and France. This at large rather than just pure Bill Giles OBE (Former Senior
happened last January when the weather information but the Broadcast Meteorologist at the
pollution levels in the southeast Met Office must have a better BBC Weather Centre)
of England rose to quite
dangerous levels and combining
with freezing fog gave us the
dreaded smog. In this case
what is the role of the weather
presenter? Should they tell the
viewers if they have respiratory
problems not to go out which
might give healthy individuals a
reason for not going to work!

There is a very delicate balance

between just giving the forecast
and warning too much about
the effects it might have because
to offer too much information
(which could be wrong) could
be interpreted as assuming

26 | UP FRONT Ma g azine Spring/Early Summer 2017