Back Story to Who I am as Well as Sunday’s Storm Forecasts

Estimated reading time:3 minutes, 30 seconds

        To begin with, I will introduce myself. Many of you already know who I am, however some do not. My name is Josh Adams. I have been into weather since age five or six, when I would watch the Weather Channel for hours a day. This was not exactly normal, but I loved seeing all of the different maps and of course I loved watching them forecast winter storms or severe weather when my area (Allentown, PA at the time), was going to be hit. That continued for several years until I was 11. This is when I first got on a computer, jumping right into learning about meteorology. I along with several other people four or five years older than me would talk about weather as a group nearly everyday. There was also a weather enthusiast in his 40s about, who knew quite a lot about meteorology. That eventually came to an end in 2013 after “a few things were found out,” to put it lightly. Either way, I learned lots about meteorology.

        In the fall of 2013, I joined a well known forecasting group in SCPA, “S&S Storm Chasing.” At that point they were still extremely small, and I helped them with many forecasts and made the majority of their graphics. I was with them for nearly two years, into 2015. Furthermore, once again throughout those two years I continued to study meteorology. In Fall 2015, I decided to move back to my small page “Northeast Weather Action,” and try to see where that could go. Of course during the way, I changed its named to “Pennsylvania Weather Action.” Now, I’m a junior in high school and am looking forward to hopefully study at Penn State in a few years, where of course my goal is to graduate with a degree in meteorology.

        Now let’s get into what happened with the forecasts leading up to yesterday’s severe storms. This is not an article where we explain the entire meteorological thought process, because the overwhelming majority of you guys, our followers, would not understand a single word. To sum it all up, originally models were indicating a relatively rare setup. This is why we were sounding the alarms early regarding the possibility of a significant severe thunderstorm event. The first map/key I admit was slightly too overboard. The key was not well enough thought out and was put together a while ago. It was also confused with the SPC. Even though in the Storm Prediction Center’s discussion they were stating the possibility of a significant severe weather event with supercell thunderstorms from four to five days out, which was practically what we were stating here. Why did we use a different key and our own maps instead of the SPC? I, myself, didn’t feel that the Storm Prediction Center’s key should be used nation-wide. Here’s what I did with the new key. Since we in Pennsylvania very, very rarely (once in a decade) see a threat higher than moderate from the SPC, I made the severe thunderstorm percentage from the SPC’s moderate category, the severe thunderstorm percentage of my key’s highest category. Also, think about this. If Pennsylvania was labeled under a moderate risk by the SPC, what would you think? Similarly in the winter when you hear that the area will see a moderate snowfall event, you think nothing big, nothing that you seriously need to prepare for. But in this case when the Storm Prediction Center issues a moderate risk, they are indicating that strong tornadoes, widespread damaging winds, and destructive hail larger than golf balls area are likely across the area. Does that sound like a moderate threat for us, not accustomed to even seeing weak tornadoes here in PA? Not at all. All of this is why I made the key customized for Pennsylvania. But in the end, people will always have problems with it, never understanding my reasoning. So for this reason I’m not going to use my key/maps anymore and I will just be posting the Storm Prediction Center. However, I’ll undoubtedly be sure to quote different sections of their discussions. If you read this from beginning to end, I appreciate it very much!

Hello, my name is Josh Adams. This year I am a junior in high school in South Central PA. I have had a passion for weather since I was five or six years old, watching the Weather Channel when the average kid my age was watching cartoons. At age 11, I discovered that there is a significant amount of weather info online from knowledgeable meteorologists to weather models and everything in between. I had the privilege to take part in a group that held informational weather discussions nearly everyday. I gained a significant amount of knowledge in several months back in 2012, constantly studying meteorology for hours each and just about every day. I created Northeast Weather Action in early 2013, just after the previous winter had ended. Things were pretty slow to start, however the winter of 2013-2014 greatly helped grow the page. Several of my forecasts verified nicely across the area. I met Chris during that winter in a facebook group, and we talked often about anticipated weather events. Just before the start of the 2014-2015 Winter, I added Chris to Northeast Weather Action (now Pennsylvania Weather Action), and once again we hit several key forecasts. Chris and I are looking forward to giving you the most up to date and reliable forecasts!

2 Comments

  1. Minh says:

    I appreciate your post and learning more about what your rationale and reasoning was behind your graphics and forecasts. While there were a decent amount of criticism for your use or different categories of severe weather on your graphics, I’m glad you took the time to acknowledge this. Instinctively, your changes to the categories made sense based on your own experiences with weather in Pennsylvania. And you’re not the only forecaster to tailor their forecasts based on their knowledge of local weather. However, the problem comes when a variety of media outlets convey the same information, or what should be the same information, in many different ways. Imagine if someone turned on the TV and saw the SPC outlook. Then they saw your page. Then they saw a different page. They become confused as to what or who to believe, and unfortunately, that can cause serious issues with public safety. There’s no doubt that you are passionate about meteorology and forecasting, and you are skilled at what you do. However, while you are at liberty to do as you choose, remember to listen to folks who have advice or suggestions, especially if they have the credentials to back up their suggestions. For anyone who bashed you or attacked you for doing what you’re doing, I apologize. Folks in the world of weather are passionate and can come across as overly critical, especially through their comments and posts on social media. But to those who genuinely reached out to you, we’re doing so because we care. We’re not trying to attack you but rather guide you in a direction that the whole weather enterprise is going. We have to start looking beyond forecasting and investigate how people use our information. Feel free to contact me whenever. I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Kem says:

    Hi Josh,

    I started following PA Weather Action during the Blizzard of 2016 when I saw one of your maps posted on a weather forum. I’ve enjoyed your snow prediction maps ever since because they are easier to read and usually ahead of whatever the local news has to offer.

    I live in Western PA where we didn’t get much storm action over the weekend (your forecast of “marginal risk” for the area was correct). But even here on the outskirts of the main event, the NOAA, Weather Underground, Accuweather, and local weather sources kept stressing for days that there was a significant risk of severe weather across the entire state on Sunday. I believe you made the right call, and didn’t think your maps were unreasonable given that every other weather service was also stressing the potential severity of that system.

    People are always going to complain. It’s impossible to please everyone. The trick is to not take their negativity personally. People spew negativity because they see you seriously pursuing a hobby/future career that you love, and it reminds them of their own inability to accomplish their own personal goals. So they attack your work because it makes them feel better about themselves. It is has nothing to do with you and your maps, and everything to do with their own personal self-loathing. Don’t let them drag you down to their level. If the haters don’t like your maps, then they can go create their own.

    If you find creating these weather maps to be personally fulfilling, then keep making them no matter what people say. Personally, I like them and hope they stay. But I’ll remain subscribed anyway if you decide to stop making them.

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