Skip to main content

As you'll probably remember from earlier this week, I posted a diary proclaiming a viral social media story about a massive, paralyzing, historic winter storm to be a hoax designed to drive page clicks and ad revenue to a certain website.

I've been going back and forth on whether or not I want to address this with another diary that could open me up to more harassment and threats, but I decided to address it rather than ignore it. You all have followed my weather posts for the last four years here at DailyKos, and during that time I've built up a certain amount of trust with most of you. I feel I owe you an explanation and ask for your understanding and future trust.

1. Oops. My bad.

I was wrong to outright, categorically deny the chance for a major winter storm. I should know better than to fall victim to the dangers of absolutes, especially with such a large audience reading and watching. Though I did mention that there would be snow, ice, and thunderstorms this weekend, I downplayed it so much that it came across as a flat-out denial of any sort of storm. I am sorry. My bad.

2. About that hoax...

That being said, the "hoax" forecast in question really was a hoax at the time.

Last weekend when the hoax in question went online and started spreading through social media like wildfire, there really was no credible indication that a major storm was going to hit. It was just too far out.

The hoax forecast in question was similar to this graphic I drew up:

That's not a forecast. That's throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks. That's how these amateur pot-stirrers operate. They highlight an absurdly large area as "at risk" for bad weather, and if it happens, they're lauded as experts, but if it fails, they delete all evidence of their claims.

I'm not the only person to recognize this. In a Mediaite article titled "Share This Viral Hoax About the Weather or You’re Going to Die," the author absolutely nails the kind of game these folks play:

These sites have big followings, a professional meteorologist, who asked to speak anonymously, told me. “Whenever they get it wrong they just delete the older posts. Whenever they get it right they discredit the local meteorologists for hiding the truth, or telling people too late.”

In other words, we’re dealing with sort of weather equivalent of InfoWars here.

“These sites like talking about storms weeks ahead of time, to the point where, as a TV meteorologist, we would not put that on the air. It’s so far away, and the accuracy level is low.”

Sites like these don’t have to worry about accuracy, he said. “If they get it wrong, they say ‘Well, we were just trying to warn you, weather changes.’”


This sort of storm-hysteria peddling can have actual negative consequences. Most often these types of sites are putting out worst case scenario predictions. And, as we know from everything else on the internet, hyperbole is what takes hold. “Sometimes warning people can create more trouble if you warn unnecessarily than when you actually have a better idea,” the meteorologist told me.

WTOP out of Washington DC also reported on the trend:
"The downside of social media is that everybody can play meteorologist," Ricketts says. "It makes our job that much more difficult."

She adds that there are more and more wanna-be weather people and faux weather sites posting erroneous forecasts. The goal is usually self-promotion.

"It's very irresponsible ... they'll put information out there just to get page likes," Ricketts says. "There's so much misinformation with social media and we fight that not only in the weather department, but in the news department as well."

The faux forecasters diminish the credibility of genuine weather forecasters by neglecting the inherent uncertainties in official forecasts and dramatizing worst-case scenarios to get attention, Ricketts explains.

There is often a lack of accountability.

"They push out one depiction of one model run. Everybody starts sharing that. If it doesn't happen, then those amateur meteorologists can just blame it on the model, or if it does happen, they're the smartest forecaster in the world," Ricketts says.

3. So...what's gonna happen?

It's still a fluid storm with lots of uncertainties, but it looks like there will be a widespread area of 5-9 inches of snow from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean. It's going to be a pain in the ass and everything will probably close down for a day or two, but for most people that's hardly paralyzing. That's not even the most snow in one storm any of you have seen this year. I stand by my claim that it won't be some historic, paralyzing monster it was played up to be 7 days ago.

The latest models are trending towards northern Virginia, DC, Baltimore, and Philly for the highest snow totals right now, but the models are waffling around a lot. It's going to be one of those storms where we have much agreement on what will happen until it happens.

Here's the latest snowfall forecast from the National Weather Service that extends through Monday evening.

Here's the latest ice accumulation forecast from the NWS for the same time period. The ice in this storm is actually going to be the big issue. The worst of the ice storm looks like it'll occur from Arkansas up through West Virginia. It doesn't matter who you are or where you live -- ice (from freezing rain or sleet) is impossible to walk or drive on.

4. Wait. Did you catch that?

Look back at the Mediaite quote. This part, specifically:

These sites have big followings, a professional meteorologist, who asked to speak anonymously, told me.
A meteorologist had to speak anonymously. That's sort of strange, right? Not really. Not in this situation.

As I mentioned at the top of the diary (and the other day), my diary got me a shitload of harassment and threats for daring to take certain folks to task. I've been threatened to take down and retract the diary or else I've been threatened with "libel."

I absolutely, categorically refuse to apologize for what I said about that man and his website(s) in my diary. I stand by every word of it and I will not take down my previous article. Unlike others, I don't erase my past I'm wrong.

I've struggled with whether or not to post the threats I got, but since they're causing a bit of consternation with people (and accusations that I'm lying), I thought I would go ahead and show you what I've been dealing with. I'd like to make it clear that these aren't, as far as I know, from Kevin himself but rather they're from someone close to him.

If you don't want to get FUCKED UP I suggest you NEVER defame Kevin's character again. If you ever fucking release an article in attempts to hurt him I will fuck you up worse than you can imagine and your life will NEVER be the same you fucking clock sucker.
I swear to God you will regret the fucking day you fucked with [redacted]. YOU FUCKING HEAR ME ASSHOLE!?
You don't know what the fuck Kevin does and I suggest you NEVER try and defame him again because i'll make sure you'll never feed your family ever again
Try and test me you fucking asshole
I'm posting these to make a point.

For the most part, I was wrong about the weather and I was wrong for downplaying the potential severity of this storm when it wasn't yet clear. I apologize for that and I own it. I ask for your trust and forgiveness when it comes to my future weather posts here at DailyKos and elsewhere.

The storm itself is not the first time I am wrong, and I'm sure it will not be the last time.

But there is no amount Facebook likes or page hits or followers that can substitute one's integrity and character.

You either have it or you don't.

I hope I've done what I can to show you that I do.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

skybluewater, Pat K California, Max Wyvern, Alumbrados, Angie in WA State, JWC, Sylv, DeminNewJ, KeithH, dwellscho, JR, PLS, northsylvania, LeislerNYC, Trix, filkertom, jexter, Brainwrap, lanshark, grollen, mwm341, Timaeus, AaronInSanDiego, Liberal Thinking, left of center, Gooserock, Pandora, Powered Grace, NYmom, PeterHug, greenbird, sphealey, Emerson, TheGreatLeapForward, Shockwave, wu ming, Minnesota Deb, LynChi, Pescadero Bill, Wintermute, chuco35, Jay C, brendan1963, lysias, Charles CurtisStanley, Stein, mslat27, akeitz, eeff, rubyr, Duncan Idaho, mzinformed, elfling, red moon dog, MarkInSanFran, jancw, Doctor Who, raines, missLotus, susans, cskendrick, Athenian, BlackSheep1, Wee Mama, mbayrob, whenwego, teresahill, KMc, mole333, scamp, pedrito, CanisMaximus, ivote2004, Ignacio Magaloni, Clues, limae, jennifree2bme, bwren, mollyd, PeteZerria, VA Gal, Cedwyn, antirove, high uintas, hopeful, aitchdee, wader, lulusbackintown, Texknight, PresentMoment, asterlil, SneakySnu, RLF, tomephil, ksuwildkat, tidalwave1, edrie, scorpiorising, Moody Loner, emmasnacker, ranger995, leevank, MA Liberal, brainwave, westyny, Evolution, texasmom, Steven Payne, defluxion10, Catte Nappe, Kristin in WA, lcrp, riverlover, bwintx, Diana in NoVa, zerelda, Sembtex, side pocket, KayCeSF, jcrit, xxdr zombiexx, oortdust, Gowrie Gal, rogue5, sb, sachristan, la motocycliste, historys mysteries, radarlady, escapee, Tinfoil Hat, UncleCharlie, caul, JanetT in MD, CTPatriot, wesmorgan1, stlawrence, vgranucci, Alice Venturi, Omir the Storyteller, triciawyse, citizenx, terrypinder, MT Spaces, snacksandpop, EJP in Maine, Claybow, Byrnt, cfk, Sun Tzu, where4art, GreyHawk, ladybug53, science geek, Overseas, lotlizard, Ice Blue, Little Lulu, blue jersey mom, kaliope, PinHole, spunhard, rofodem, petestern, Blu Gal in DE, mph2005, turnover, Floja Roja, FindingMyVoice, coolbreeze, Eileen B, Rogneid, peacestpete, JanL, Ekaterin, littlewren, blue speck, kathny, noweasels, xaxnar, begone, berko, Nowhere Man, Born in NOLA, kishik, martini, Knucklehead, BachFan, Orinoco, rsmscsi, golem, myboo, vigilant meerkat, edwardssl, Ky DEM, tonyahky, HoundDog, bastrop, Yellow Canary, cookseytalbott, seefleur, Dvalkure, technomage, smokeymonkey, The Wizard, arlene, fou, Alexandra Lynch, StrayCat, philipmerrill, twigg, Ooooh, Rosaura, Crashing Vor, real world chick, novapsyche, happy camper, ER Doc, middleagedhousewife, onionjim, SingerInTheChoir, Dyana, Unknown Quantity, doingbusinessas, MrJersey, blueoregon, NancyWH, crystal eyes, nhox42, dochackenbush, Temmoku, sea note, Aaa T Tudeattack, Sapere aude, bear83, bluicebank, Polacolor, bvljac, Cronesense, Habitat Vic, Oxyrhopus, ninkasi23, Van Buren, Wino, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, jeanette0605, HeartlandLiberal, Jimdotz, terabytes, certainot, sfbob, bnasley, buckshot face, second gen, SeaTurtle, millwood, gchaucer2, Wreck Smurfy, Got a Grip, skod, janatallow, dizzydean, South Park Democrat, vet, Empower Ink, gizmo59, rmonroe, jwinIL14, MKinTN, CroneWit, jack 1966, also mom of 5, kingneil, poligirl, mamamedusa, Sixty Something, Youffraita, Tchrldy, rugbymom, dadadata, bythesea, skohayes, Sharon Wraight, alasmoses, lavorare, monkeybrainpolitics, Lujane, TomFromNJ, tofumagoo, Cassandra Waites, hwmnbn, triplepoint, TokenLiberal, mofembot, Kathy S, Taget, Gemina13, glendaw271, elpacifico66, mattc129, Parthenia, Uncle Bob, Al Fondy, JamieG from Md, Quilldriver, rodentrancher, billybam, sydneyluv, WearyIdealist, toom, watercarrier4diogenes, Diogenes2008, shortgirl, SolarMom, maxcat06, JBL55, Marnie1, Louisiana 1976, Bule Betawi, Ran3dy, J M F, bleuet, txvoodoo, ceebee7, jarbyus, AntonBursch, Pariah Dog, cantelow, zephyr108, Carol in San Antonio, CanyonWren, LeftOfYou, janmtairy, WakeUpNeo, Hopeful Monster, Remediator, lookit, glitterlust, bfitzinAR, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, Munchkn, stevenwag, moviemeister76, sfarkash, Lava20, astral66, davespicer, Nannyberry, Larsstephens, Lefty Ladig, cassandraX, Railfan, Just Bob, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, henlesloop, confitesprit, p gorden lippy, flitedocnm, NJpeach, serendipityisabitch, drainflake77, Susan Grigsby, leftywright, kjoftherock, secret38b, michelewln, biggiefries, klompendanser, Crabby Abbey, tubacat, mookins, Polly Syllabic, Man from Wasichustan, JoanMar, batchick, ItsSimpleSimon, bradams, AJ in Camden, Yasuragi, sharonsz, BlueFranco, ericlewis0, cocinero, Oh Mary Oh, Dems in 08, nosleep4u, fiercefilms, FrankSpoke, stevenaxelrod, whatever66, cany, slice, upaithric, Onomastic, annieli, yellow cosmic seed, kerflooey, MidwestTreeHugger, Bluefin, annominous, I love OCD, Dretutz, ozsea1, pb3550, implicate order, cv lurking gf, asterkitty, lexalou, OhioNatureMom, kevin k, deeproots, Teiresias70, KelleyRN2, Ebby, molunkusmol, cama2008, mrsgoo, Kokomo for Obama, Lorikeet, cyberpuggy, IllanoyGal, ShowMeMoBlue, dle2GA, PrescottPatriot, Hoghead99, Wheever, muddy boots, EverGrateful, RfrancisR, blw, 1718bill, sofa turf, MRA NY, worldlotus, wintergreen8694, enhydra lutris, whaddaya, sound of progress, poliwrangler, diffrntdrummr, Andrew F Cockburn, Joe Jackson, smirking, Mets102, Vatexia, Hayate Yagami, Oilwellian, jolux, SteelerGrrl, joanbrooker, Rashaverak, annecros, No one gets out alive, deltadoc, jacey, ridemybike, Liberal Granny, anodnhajo, cwsmoke, IndieGuy, ahumbleopinion, Trevin, Susan G in MN, joanil, 2thanks, CA ridebalanced, Lorinda Pike, chicagobleu, carolanne, belinda ridgewood, TBug, geojumper, BusyinCA, Murphoney, pittie70, doroma, cuphalffull, OllieGarkey, wxorknot, oldpotsmuggler, etherealfire, Doofenshmirtz, raina, Glen The Plumber, Robynhood too, Portlaw, Most Awesome Nana, BobTheHappyDinosaur, allensl, Lily O Lady, Panacea Paola, jusjtim35, onceasgt, koosah, simple serf, TheMeansAreTheEnd, SanFernandoValleyMom, bogieshadow, Witgren, broths, Steve in the Library, weck, 3rock, Joy of Fishes, HedwigKos, entrelac, Aunt Pat, Ree Zen, Auntie Anne, RiveroftheWest, howabout, northerntier, Icicle68, GreenMother, Smoh, the oklahoma kid, Hey338Too, Prairie Post, tampaedski, jplanner, SC Lib, Knockbally, northcountry21st, sfsteach, The Marti, RUNDOWN, hamjudo, eagleray, Kaylin, pierre9045, jbsoul, patbahn, trkingmomoe, Gurnt, kkkkate, Skyye, ginimck, Caittus, BMScott

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site