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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 07/30/2010

Weather with 'attitude' - that's the point (sort of)

By Dan Stillman

* Sweet today, semi-sweet tomorrow: Full Forecast | NatCast *

Our weather gang here was subject to a bit of criticism recently.

First, there were these two letters to the editor, published with the headline, "Too much opinion on the weather page." These were in response to Capital Weather Gang forecast information that appeared in the July 10 print edition weather page (back page of Metro section). Here's a sampling from one:

I realize that some weather is more conducive to good times than other, but it is a matter of opinion and attitude to state that the weather is "uncomfortable" and "cooler but not cool" and "sticky and not a truly pleasant day" ... I could see that it was damp and raining and would be humid, but there was no need for a litany of gloom and pessimism. ... A better take might be to report the facts, and, if there is room for personal commentary, perhaps something hopeful, such as mentioning that this is some much-needed rain and maybe we can stop running outside to check the tomato plants for a day or two.

And the other:

The July 10 forecast was ridiculous. We had lovely cool temperatures and much-needed rain, and the Weather Gang's forecast still managed to put a negative spin on it, calling it "still uncomfortable" and "not a truly pleasant day. Pretty sticky, instead. ... Can you just report the weather here, Weather Gang?

And that's not all...

tgt111, a commenter here on the blog (where we did, by the way, make it a point to repeatedly highlight the need for that "much-needed rain" earlier this month), took exception to a recent forecast post asking readers to contemplate which is the lesser a of two evils -- a drier heat with highs near and over 100, or a more humid heat with highs closer to the mid-90s:

these posts where CWG tries to make some sort of emotional statement about the weather are getting more tiresome than the weather itself

We did have at least one commenter, SWester2010, come to our defense on that one:

If you don't want commentary mixed in with the forecast, go to Weather.com. People read here because it has locally-focused discussions that are often infused with the realistic human dimension of coping with the weather.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. While our intent isn't for our forecasts to exude "attitude," per say, we do think there's a place online (as there's long been on TV) for communication of weather information by real people with real personalities.

That said, we're always interested in feedback on our product -- be it positive, negative or somewhere in between. So, fire away with a comment below...

By Dan Stillman  | July 30, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Capital Weather Gang, Media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Fantastic Friday & semi-sweet Saturday
Next: PM Update: Some payback for all the heat

Comments

Two things:

1. I'm glad those Debbie Downers weren't here for the Snowpocalypse/Snowmageddon/Snowverkill posts and comments. They would've tied themselves in knots.

2. Please keep doing what you're doing. I come here for the feel of personal contact and interest. If I want sterility, I'll go to Weather Underground.

Posted by: mensan98th | July 30, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

CWG, how dare you crow your happiness over today's low humidity!
Don't you understand that unless all posts are completely bleached of all human opinion & emotion someone is bound to take offense?

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | July 30, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I for one really enjoy reading the CWG site - exactly because there is a bit of commentary mixed in with the forecast. I'm not a huge fan of the climate change posts (not that they aren't of high quality, just that I don't think they fit in with the rest of the site), but other than that I wouldn't change a thing.

Posted by: robbo1 | July 30, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Haters gonna hate.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: semperfi99 | July 30, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I like the way you guys do things. If I want cut-and-dry stats, I can always just check my weatherbug widget.

Posted by: maralenenok | July 30, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Don't change fellas. This is the only place I go for a weather report, and for some laughs, and the occasional tip on beer festivals in our area.

Posted by: authorofpoetry | July 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Everyone has different tastes and different needs, but that said, I am a regular reader of CWG and I like it very much. I really appreciate the commentary, which gives me the finer point clarity of the current and predicted weather environment, and I often learn some very interesting facts about the weather and how it's forecasted as well. Personally, I think the writing is exceptional in that they take some very technical information and present it in a style that's casual without becoming unprofessional, and easy to understand without ever talking down to readers. I appreciate the "confidence scale" that's added to each prediction, and since I spend a lot of time at Nationals Park, the NatsCast is a Godsend. CWG is not my only source for weather--for quick updates and weather maps I just check my other favorites. Not sure why the critics weren't able to think that through to help themselves. So thank you, CWG, I love your column and appreciate all that you put into it.

Posted by: jdVA | July 30, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't get where people would have a problem with this other than when they just disagree with you. This is a weather blog, not just a news site weather page. If they want that, they should be going here instead: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/weather/index.html

The opinion stuff is the whole reason I actually check this site for weather (well, that plus the fact that you guys list your confidence in your forecast with it, which is nice).

Posted by: Zelmel | July 30, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

If you have a problem with a site on the internet, just do what I do, ignore the site. No1 is forcing any1 2 go 2 a particular site, don't like the content then stay away.
Will some1 please send some rain my way, only 2 rain showers in the last 57 days.

Posted by: VaTechBob | July 30, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'll join the CWG love-fest.

It's not like there isn't an abundance of weather forecasts elsewhere online. Pretty much every major news site, and a lot of others too, offer a 'local' page with weather forecast. I very rarely actually read the WaPo, online or otherwise. I come here almost exclusively to get my local weather info -- and that's because of how well the blog is written (and in spite of WaPo's obnoxious ads, which thankfully AdBlock deals with quite nicely!)

Posted by: mrwrinkle | July 30, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite parts of the Post. Fact is, I was thinking you could export that kind of weather wit and knowledge to other papers the Post is affiliated with. Every other paper just has canned weather.

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: curtmccormick | July 30, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Weather? I come here for mostly for dance schedules, snow sculptures and NW Spotsy drought updates. People may not realize it but the Shenandoah Valley can get 5 or 10 inches less rain than east of the Blue Ridge with larger deltas, so MNR is usually more fact than attitude.

Posted by: eric654 | July 30, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Dear CWG, I love your takes, comments, etc. on the weather--don't change a hair for me. You provide an accurate forecast and the opinions are what make the reading fun. I began reading you on line before you were connected with the Post and loved you all for what you were then and are still.

Posted by: Smparry | July 30, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Agreed -- I visit CWG to get the local take and 'attitude' (if that is what you call injecting human feelings into the weather forecast). If I want just the numbers, I'll go to NOAA. We love you CWG!!!

Posted by: kpostie | July 30, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

eric564: thanks for making me laugh with that comment. It's been amazing these past few years to watch this community grow, and hear from so many different personalities from around the area.

curtmccormick: not a bad idea...

Thanks for the love, folks! (And the constructive criticism)

Posted by: afreedma | July 30, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I am also a fan of the "confidence scale," it feels a bit less arbitrary to me than some random multiple-of-10 percent chance of whatever weather condition occurring. The personal touch also lends a bit more confidence than the cut and dry readout from other places like weather.com.

I can understand the complaints, but blogs are generally understood to be on a bit more personal level and contain opinions. As has been said, there are plenty of sources for raw reports without any commentary.

In other words, I think you guys are definitely doing a good job with the "weather blog" thing as is :)

Posted by: jaybee4 | July 30, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

To the haters: lighten up, Francis!

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | July 30, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

One thing that bothers me about all other weather sites is no one bothers to report humidity levels. Humidity makes an extreme difference around here-- yet it barely gets a mention. Temperatures alone do not tell the tale. CWG always mentions humidity-- it's the only place this information is available in the forecast.

I love the CWG. I love the emotion and subjective comments. No other site gives me what I get here. Why in the world would someone complain about that? They have tons of other options to choose from. Leave us alone.

Posted by: scienceteacher3 | July 30, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, all, for the feedback. We really appreciate it.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | July 30, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I mostly lurk on CWG but it's my absolute favorite blog and I've told all of my friends and family to read it for accurate, interesting DC weather forecasts and comments. So please keep it up!

Posted by: cassann981 | July 30, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"Much-needed" rain??? Come on now!!!

According to Doug Hill's digital channel [204 on Comcast], areas inside the Beltway are now "caught up" for the year, and Reagan National is actually 0.54" ABOVE normal for 2010! The Bombo take: Less tolerance with dance-travel-disrupting downpours and MNR whining in the coming weeks! There does still seem to be some drought to our southwest, but not here in the Metro area. There also seems to be a rain threat from Sunday onward and Weather Channel outlook maps show us with plenty of green over the Mid-Atlantic as August begins. And of course the Cape Verde season is just about to kick off in a few days, so watch those tropics.

Weatherboard watch shows that AccuWeather's Joe Bastardi will weigh in with his winter outlook next Tuesday the 3rd. There are also some good shots of mid-level Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds over Seattle on July 22nd. The cause: a very sharp wind shear aoa 4300 meters. Nothing on the local OCM radar the past few days per DCRTV.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | July 30, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, this is a weather BLOG. These haters need to get over it and find some nice radar map to mull over.

Not to mention, this forecast is almost always the most accurate!

Don't stop the commentary!

Posted by: wafflekat | July 30, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The whole point for me of the weather gang is the commentary from a local, historical, and cultural perspective. If I wanted the facts, I'd look at the national weather service. I'd go so far as to say that if you didn't offer your informed perspective I probably wouldn't read here. Like others above, I've told a lot of people about this blog because it is both local and human. Please keep up the great work so my friends don't criticize my blog suggestions. Thanks very much.

Posted by: easyenough | July 30, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I only appreciate "emotion" when I agree with it. CWG, be sure to consult me before stating any opinion. Ever.

Posted by: Sterlingva | July 30, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

One more vote for the weather with attitude!

Posted by: rosilandjordan | July 30, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Okay, if you want to put me in with the snow haters last year go ahead. I'm a tough Mommy, I can take it.

Had it been any other year I would have said "BRING IT ON" with the mind numbing snow forecasts. However, I was faced with a husband who had just broken his ankle (was on crutches, couldn't drive for almost 8 wks, and was out of work the first 2 wks), a 16 yr old who had JUST gotten her license (was bugging the daylights out of me to drive anywhere), and a 6 yr old who was constantly in/out of the Dr with ear infections. Add to that record breaking snow, as well as my own health issues and I was a WRECK. The CWG literally "saved my bacon" during that period with forecasts that were dead on (at least for me), and gave me level headed, sound info on which to make some tough decisions for my family and their well being. The last thing I needed was all that snow (and not a lot of help to shovel, get groceries, etc.). But I was well ahead of the game thanks to the decisions I made (courtesy of the CWG's info).

So, I'll echo the others -- keep doing what you're doing. Feed me the info as you know it, and let me know how much room for error you're putting in your forecast. I'll take it from there.

As for opinions, it's a BLOG. As long as we all 'agree to disagree' when needed with our opinions, it's all good in my book. The whole purpose of this blog is for DC area weather, and how it affects us. Right?!?!

Posted by: southbridgemom | July 30, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I love this page. It's actually #1 on my bookmarks, and that's not just because I really like the weather. I've told all of my friends about it, especially since CWG not only has the most consistently correct forecasts in the area, but you all are also witty and make weather more understandable for lamenspeople like me.

Posted by: twinscc | July 30, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

CWG Rocks. You're always the first thing I tell newbies to town about. Can't live in DC metro without ya.

Posted by: danta23 | July 30, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Areas OUTSIDE the beltway are still hurting for rain. Doug Hill usually reports data for DCA (as do most OCM's in DC, as that is the 'official' reporting station for DC). There is life outside the beltway. Amazing, but true.

It never hurt anyone to wish for rain once in a while. It doesn't always materialize for those who "whine" for it. TWC frequently tells viewers just because it shows a chance for precip on their maps, it doesn't mean that it will fall everywhere there's green on their maps.

I think it's time to agree to disagree in this case...

Posted by: southbridgemom | July 30, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

If they want to criticize something about the online paper it should be the lack of moderation of comments about political stories, the profusion of adds blowing up if you mouse over them or the straight news reporters injecting opinion into their stories.
You guys are great.

Posted by: grobinette | July 30, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Long live the CWG. Great site, forecasts, opinions, and attitude...

My only suggestion would be to consider having seven templates (one for each day of the week). Seems like you guys overlook changing the day in the forecast, i.e. "Tomorrow (Wednesday)" -- [wrong day] fairly often.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: spgass1 | July 30, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I love the CWG, here and on twitter. Sheesh, who says weather reporting can't be conversational and interesting. BTW, y'all are so interesting that I read more than just the projected temps and precipitation and, as a result, have learned some interesting things. Folks who want their local weather with a less friendly edge can go online to WTOP.

Posted by: bjk25 | August 1, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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