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13 Things Your TV Weather Forecaster Won’t Tell You

Here's a prediction: You'll get more accurate insight from your five-day forecast with these secrets from local weather reporters.

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The Weather Channel on-camera meteorologist Paul Goodloe reports on severe weather in Sacramento, Calif
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The meteorologist is usually the highest-paid person on the broadcast

Weather is one of the top reasons why people watch local news. That’s probably why the stations with the best weather people usually have the best ratings.

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'Good Morning Britain' TV show, London, UK - 17 Apr 2018
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Looks do matter when it comes to TV weather

I’ve been told to trim my eyebrows and wear more makeup. (Yes, men and women both wear makeup on TV—lots of it!)

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The Weather Channel on-camera meteorologist Jim Cantore reports on Winter Storm Helena in Virginia Beach, Va. on
David B. Hollingsworth/Shutterstock

Bad weather is good for ratings—really good

When there’s a big storm coming, some TV stations will get three or four times as many people watching as normal. Our news directors love it.

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The Weather Channel's Jen Carfagno reports on Tropical Storm Hermine as the storm moves through Savannah, in Savannah, Ga
Perry Knotts/Shutterstock

The hurricane season forecasts that come out every year predicting the year’s storm activity are almost always wrong

Even I was surprised when I realized how inaccurate they are.

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USA. FLORIDA. MIAMI BEACH, SEPTEMBER 2017: City of Miami Beach prepare for a hurricane Irma. Florida. USA.

Once you’re under a severe weather “warning,” assume it’s going to happen

Unlike a “watch,” a National Weather Service warning means the dangerous weather likely already exists, and you should take action immediately.

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Focused businesswoman working at desk in creative office

There’s no legal definition of a meteorologist, so anybody can call him- or herself one and get away with it

Try to get your weather from someone certified by the American Meteorological Society—it just takes a quick Google search.

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'Daybreak' TV Programme, London, Britain - 13 Apr 2012
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We’re not very good at predicting summer showers and thunderstorms, because they’re so small

It can be sunny all day a mile away from you, but you get the rain. Learn these 5 weird facts about rain you never knew.

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Woman checking temperature and humidity in baby room
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The dew point—not the relative humidity—is the best measure of how humid it feels outside

When it’s raining, for example, you can have 100 percent humidity, but it may not feel sticky. Yet anytime the dew point is over 65 degrees, it will feel humid. And if it’s at 75, that means it’s very wet out there.

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'Good Morning Britain' TV show, London, UK - 03 May 2018
Ken McKay/Shutterstock

Summer forecasting is a breeze compared with winter reporting

The toughest question: Is it going to snow? Unlike warm-weather predictions, if I’m off by one degree in the winter, it can mean the difference between rain, snow, and sleet.

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The sun is in the clouds. Summer in Siberia
Matveychuk Anatoliy/Shutterstock

Partly sunny is actually more gray than partly cloudy

Here’s the scale from least to most sunny: cloudy, mostly cloudy or partly sunny, partly cloudy or mostly sunny, and then sunny or clear.

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take a shower, bubble

Don’t take a shower during a thunderstorm

You can get struck by lightning due to metal plumbing, which conducts electricity. Check out these six strange facts about lightning you never knew.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. delivers a surprise seven-day forecast at a Charlotte news station ahead of weekend NASCAR race in Martinsville to help launch Goodyear's new WeatherReady tire, in Charlotte, N.C

Our long-range forecasts aren’t very accurate

We’re quite good at one to three days out and decent five to seven days out.

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Winter storm grayson, storm, winter, snow, new england. The Weather Channel on-camera meteorologist Reynolds Wolf reports on severe weather in Plymouth, MA on
Michael Clarke/Shutterstock

Watch out for phrases like “Shocking forecasts to come” before commercial breaks

We use the hype to get your attention. Next, check out these old wive’s tales about weather that you can safely ignore.

Sources: Joe Murgo, chief meteorologist for WTAJ-TV in Altoona, Pa.; Chuck Gaidica, a meteorologist in Detroit, Mich.; David Bernard, chief meteorologist at CBS Miami/Fort Lauderdale; Chris Maier, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service; AJ Jain, an energy meteorologist who blogs about the weather industry at www.freshaj.com; and weathermen in Michigan and Los Angeles.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest