I Am The Establishment

An editorial comment.

In this winter of incredible discontent thus far, Eastern US weather weenies have become, quite simply, insufferable. I’ve seen name calling, rage, anger, and a serious dose of voodoo weather forecasting. Because the forecast continues to verify warm, despite some prophetic claims of cold coming, the army of ticked off weather weenies grows angrier and more vocal toward professionals in the field on Twitter. Ten years ago, it used to be weather forums, and although there would be ridiculous forecasts and posts from the weather weenie community, there was at least some decorum most of the time. I’ve grown a bit disheartened by the personal direct attacks at those in the meteorology community. Some of these attacks come from budding meteorologists.

Most of those in the weather enthusiast/weenie community are awesome people. But the vocal minority have gotten loud. And I will say: This isn’t limited to the weenies of the East. There are professionals in our field that also engage in this sort of deplorable behavior. I’m not going to admonish anyone specific or stand over here yelling “play nice!” But it would be nice if everyone could play nice and take it easy on one another. Calling someone a name won’t make it snow any more in your backyard. Taunting the weenie community won’t make them realize the snow deficit isn’t ending in the near future. So everyone should step back and chill.

But it got me thinking. Why is the hate so evident and vocal this year? I have a theory. We (collectively the degreed meteorologists or professional meteorologists employed in the private sector, NWS, or media) are “The Establishment.” What’s been a key component of the 2016 presidential campaign? A revolt against The Establishment. We generally go by the book and play by the rules. We fraternize with one another. We’re friendly. We’re employed or between jobs. Most of us have degrees and went through the calculus, dynamics, etc. We believe in meteorology first above modelology. Our forecasts are considered “official.” Most users of our forecasts have no problem with this. Some may seek another opinion here or there, but for the most part, they trust us.

But then you have a subset within the field of voices who have gone their own way and charted their own course. Many of them haven’t done the hardcore math or have degrees in a field even remotely related to meteorology. But many of them have tirelessly studied it as a hobby. Many of them are exceptionally talented weather forecasters and do an extremely good job feasting on the weather niche that exists in social media. The majority are well-intentioned, smart people, and a handful are better at forecasting and sniffing out patterns than some of the best in the field. Yet, a few are full-on weenies that think they use meteorology to make one plus one somehow equal three. These false prophets are the ones that the most vocal and vile of the weenies turn to in times of misery…grasping for hope in a hopeless pattern. To these weenies, we are The Establishment and the false prophets are the grassroots voices of hope. I believe they feel some of the false prophets are marginalized and kicked aside by those of us in The Establishment, and they feel a need to defend their people…similar to how some anti-establishment candidates are supported in politics. Thus, you see a revolt.

I don’t know what it means ultimately. This problem won’t go away, and it’s not something we should completely ignore as a meteorology community. I think better understanding and tolerance all around is needed. But I think if you frame your approach to this divide within the weather enthusiast community as thinking you’re just part of The Establishment, you may be able to devise a different approach to dealing with it. It’s just food for thought.