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Professor warns media as hurricane forecast is revised

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Hurricane Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, hits northeast Mexico on June 30. Photo: NOAA

Mérida, Yucatán — With hurricane season upon us, and with forecasters delivering more startling news, one meteorologist has a message to the media: Do your job well.

Dr. Faustino Omar Garcia Concepción, from the Department of Physics of the University Center of Exact Sciences and Engineering (CUCEI) of the University of Guadalajara, said that the media should not sensationalize, but rather communicate plainly.

The professor spoke Friday in the Manuel Cepeda Peraza auditorium of the Autonomous University of Yucatán.

He also pointed out that while Yucatán is prone to hurricanes, it does not run the risk of other regions, where there is flooding from overflowing rivers.

According to the speaker, for more than 20 years a problem persists in the country’s media: sensationalism and misleading or confusing language.

“We have to talk to the population in a sixth-grade language level,” he said.

To avoid false alarms, García Concepción said that great care must be taken with the language used when reporting, using simple graphics with clear colors and letters. Those who disseminate the information should have a minimum knowledge of meteorology, he said.

The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project team recently updated its storm forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The update anticipates 14 named storms, three more than previously predicted, and slightly higher than an average year.

But explanations of the “El Niño” effect and “anomalous warming in the tropical Atlantic” are confounding to many readers.

No matter how many hurricanes are in the forecast, the public has to be prepared for the season, he said.

With information from Diario de Yucatán

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