Forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) are taking criticism for predicting a heavier storm than occurred this past weekend [“Experts faced with 3 possible storm paths,” Page One, Oct. 17]. In response, local and state government emergency-operations centers mobilized, as did print and broadcast media.
Though the storm damage in most places was nowhere near as drastic as was projected, citizens should be thankful forecasters were not timid in suggesting that the probability of a major storm was great. Emergency managers rely upon the expertise of meteorologists to provide advance notice of hazardous weather events — early notice is necessary to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
Scientists, once reluctant to even provide an educated guess, are willing to err on the side of providing advance warning. The alternative is for responders and the public to be caught flat-footed with potentially disastrous results for the community.
It takes courage to go out on a professional limb in order to protect the public. We should be grateful to them. I am glad the storm was less damaging than it could have been; the Weather Service is too. The public they serve should be grateful to the service and should be willing to heed, not take lightly, future warnings.
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