Five Inches or Not?

A righteous weather rant from Brad Panovich
National Weather Service

The hair salon franchise was abuzz yesterday about the five inches. I was in the chair, in mid-clip, when my clipper began talking about the weather and mentioned the snow forecast for Monday. Another customer was unaware of the forecast. “Yeah,” I offered. “They’re saying five inches.”

“Five inches?!”

I hate when I’m a conduit for bad information! It could be five inches, but it more likely will be far less, and some combination of snow, sleet, and then rain. The truth is what’s hardest for those of us accustomed to Doppler-based certitude to accept: Meteorologists aren’t quite sure.

All of which leads to one of the most entertaining moments I’ve ever seen from a local weather forecaster. Here’s Brad Panovich of WCNC on his Facebook page—Panovich has mastered the practice of disseminating weather information through social media—and Brad has had just about enough of this “five inches” nonsense.

The source of Panovich’s profound annoyance is an Observer story that initially carried the headline, “5 inches of snow predicted for Charlotte on Monday.” (The story has since been scaled back, with a new headline.) He takes pains not to fault the paper for writing about the weather—”God bless their hearts,” he says; ouch—but doesn’t try to hide his aggravation, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.


So you likely heard this rumor about 5" of snow on Monday. Let me give you the truth. #cltwx #rant

Posted by Brad Panovich Meteorologist on Thursday, February 11, 2016

One of social media’s benefits to professionals in any field is its usefulness as a bypass. When they want to get information to the public, they can do it directly rather than rely on gatekeepers that might screw up the message, á la the telephone game. That approach has its risks, too—sometimes the gatekeepers catch bad stuff—but instances like this remind us why it’s a good thing. (Now, if we actually do get five inches of snow Monday, we can revise the theory.)

Categories: The Buzz