Thursday, July 11, 2013

Or not

So how did things look Wednesday morning in Winston-Salem, tropical-storm-wise?

Tropical Storm Chantal barreled into the eastern Caribbean on Tuesday, threatening torrential rains and dangerous waves.

As of 8 p.m. ET, Chantal was about 220 miles (360 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm was headed west-northwest at 26 mph.


Meaning ...

A projection map shows Chantal brushing Puerto Rico and slamming into the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Wednesday.

Which, if you look at the projection track with the CNN version of the story* (no, I don't know why the Journal is crediting it to "Fox8/WGHP"), gets you up to Saturday -- maybe east of south Florida -- with some nonspecified degree of confidence. It says nothing about what might impact what "next week," and there's a reason for that.

East Coast operative "GovernmentFlack," who submitted this item for discussion, noted that there was nothing in the story to support the hed. He's right. It's a tropical storm, and it might decide to do a lot of things between now and "next week." A very basic rule about dealing with that sort of risk is that it's helpful to provide probability estimates but really, really stupid to offer random guesses. The flip side of "might" headlines is always "then again, might not."

* News flash for America's Most Trusted News Source: Barreling "into" the Caribbean is not the same thing as barreling "through" the Caribbean.

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