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Weather Talk: What is hype?

The weather system approaching our region Sunday, March 4, showed up in the medium-range weather models about a week ago. Because of the blocked-up weather pattern around the Northern Hemisphere, our WDAY weather team was able to predict with a high degree of certainty that it would affect our region.

We were careful to not "hype" the forecast by throwing out specific predictions too early, and we always indicated a range of outcomes from minor to major. However, it is likely that merely by talking about the storm for so many days, many of our listeners and viewers may have developed an impression that the storm was certain to be a big one.

Are we guilty of hype or is it the audience who has taken the uncertainty we expressed and did their own hyping? Would the audience rather we had not discussed the possibility of this storm until the forecast was more certain, or was it better to have offered unspecific knowledge of a likely storm?

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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