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Q&A: Hurricane forecasts, Jodi Arias' eyewear

After trying on someone’s glasses “just for fun,” Jodi Arias says she saw a need. She was recently found guilty of first-degree murder.

Associated Press

After trying on someone’s glasses “just for fun,” Jodi Arias says she saw a need. She was recently found guilty of first-degree murder.

Forecasts serve as reminders

Why is there so much media interest in the hurricane forecast? It means nothing because it is notoriously inaccurate. But even if correct, of what value is it to the average person in the hurricane-prone areas? And even more silly is the revision of the forecasts as the season progresses, based on the storms that already occurred, so the forecasters can claim that their predictions were "right on" at the end of the season.

As part of the media you're questioning, Ask the Times would suggest there are any number of reasons why hurricane predictions are important, even if they aren't always on the mark. Probably the best is public awareness. Most emergency management officials would agree that it is difficult to get the public to pay close attention — and to get prepared — well before a storm threatens.

Emergency official also know that people have short memories. No storm has hit the Tampa Bay area since 2005, and seven years of inactivity can lull people into nonchalance. And because this is Florida, there are new people moving in every day from areas that have no hurricanes.

Forecasts are a good hook to get people thinking about the hurricane season, precisely because the media make a big deal out of them. Even for those who long have lived in hurricane-prone areas, forecasts are important as an alarm clock, an annual reminder it's time to take care of details that can be done before a storm is 100 miles offshore. If you have a plan in place, all you have to do is follow it — you don't need to invent one at the last minute. Doing so greatly increases the chances of keeping you and your family safe.

And, Daniel Noah, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Ruskin, says forecasts also can help emergency managers. If they expect a busy season, they have time to ask their county boards for money for preseason preparation, such as cleaning out ditches to allow for greater water retention.

Finally, we have seen few, if any, forecasters who use in-season revisions as a tool to make their predictions appear more accurate. The real value of such revisions is that a forecast made in August is going to be more accurate than one made in May because it takes into account the current factors that influence the formation of hurricanes.

Arias' eye-opening discovery

Does Jodi Arias need contact lenses or prescription glasses, or are the glasses she wears simply a prop?

Arias said in testimony that she is nearsighted but didn't know it until 2010, when she tried on another person's glasses "just for fun." "I didn't even know you could see the world that way. Everything was sharp. So that's when I realized I need glasses," she said.

Arias was convicted May 8 of the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. On May 24, a mistrial was declared for the penalty phase. Jurors will try again starting July 18.

Q&A: Hurricane forecasts, Jodi Arias' eyewear 06/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 10:32am]
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