Friday, January 20, 2017

Our Fake News

The Weather Station on the roof, looking innocent on Thursday
We woke up Wednesday morning after a blustery night of stormy weather. With our little weather station on the roof, we could keep track of all the statistics: the fastest wind speed; the amount of rain fallen; the barometric pressure highs and lows. It's become a morning ritual to look at our little gauge screen and watch the monthly totals and yearly records of everything. We are definitely data junkies. But Wednesday morning we noticed that the rain gauge was saying that we had gotten two inches of rain when other weather stations in the area were reporting less than a half inch. We thought about the differences and remembered that our little glass rain gauge that we had on our fence for the past year often recorded amounts far higher than the techno measuring stations here. (Unfortunately, our little glass gauge had just recently cracked and had been rendered unusable by the below freezing temps earlier in the month.) So we cautiously dismissed the anomaly.
We kept track of the pouring rain by both watching out the window and checking on this gauge. That's when we noticed that the numbers were getting very high very fast. We were adding inches by the hour while the other local weather stations were reporting much smaller amounts. Our weather station is linked to the website WeatherUnderground. So, anyone checking rainfall amounts in Arcata who came upon our little weather station statistics was being woefully misinformed. That's when we realized that we were actually generating Fake News. We were utterly embarrassed by it.
Here is a screen shot of our data on the WeatherUnderground site. Click on that and see what we were reporting. By 3:00 it had gone up past 5 inches of rain. Yikes. Everywhere else was reporting no more than an inch and a half.

We started researching how to clear this data and learned it is not an easy thing to do. We can't really get rid of one day's erroneous reporting without actually setting the whole thing back to zero. Roger disconnected the device from our router, so we could at least stop transmitting erroneous data. We got an email from Weather Underground. It said:

Oh No, your station below has stopped sending us data.

ID: KCAARCAT20
Station Name: The Bottoms
Station City: Arcata
We have not received any weather observations since Jan 18 6:27 PM. We want you back!
Well, Roger reconnected us on Thursday morning and the data so far has been fine and true. However, the monthly totals will be incorrect. We are considering how to adjust this. Maybe resetting on February 1st and giving up our first month of data. Not sure yet. Roger may climb back up on to the roof and check the station for any problems, once the weather permits such a thing.

We're just glad that we stopped transmitting Fake News. In this day and age of rampant internet BS, it was good to shut ours down and err on the side of silence.

PS-- We know this wasn't really fake news, it was unintentionally wrong. But we had a good laugh anyway.

20 comments:

  1. It makes as much sense as some of the real news.

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    1. John-- When I read that we are entering a post-fact era of news, it blows my mind.

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  2. Call it "wishful thinking news." You still have a drought to recover from.
    I'm pretty sure that if your station transmits data that is very different from nearby stations, WU will drop your station from the listing your local forecast page. CENSORSHIP! :-)

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    1. CCorax-- We lucky folks up in the northern part of the state have been declared out of the drought. Wheee! I was surprised that Weather Underground didn't censor our lyin' butts! LOL!

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  3. That's the best news I've had all day considering the other news today.

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  4. Susanne-- My heart is broken in a thousand pieces today. I didn't listen to his words, but I did learn that the Climate Change page at the White House was taken down right away. Here we go. Fake news rules!

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  5. I didn't know your were agents of Weather Underground. Impressive. Sure it isn't correct? I have a friend 4 miles away that I swear lives in a different ecosystem as or readings are so different.

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    1. Patti-- The difference between our rain totals and EVERYONE else's was too dramatic for any rational explanation. Not sure what was up with it, because today it is recording the totals quite accurately. Amazing though how just a mile or two can make so much difference in weather.

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  6. So glad you are part of the important reporting. And glad you got the problems fixed. Interesting, isn't it how all the nominees have sudden mind changes about global warming when they get questioned by the committees?

    Here in the mountains, your differences might not seem so strange. Rain may be several inches more only a mile away.

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    1. NCmountainwoman-- We love being part of the weather reporting community. I find it disheartening to live in a time where scientific facts are ignored in the interest of business and money. Very sad, and woefully shortsighted. I wish we still had our little glass rain gauge, just as an old-timey back up!

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  7. News in general is getting me down. It's time for journalists to step up. I've been an npr listener for decades and am now getting disgusted with the leading questions and leaving out select details (latest is the CIA mtg and Trump call out of Time reporter re: MLK bust). If I didn't know the rest of the story, I would think Trump was just picking on the reporter for no good reason). Don't know what to think anymore, do you? Kim in PA

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    1. Kim-- I absolutely agree, it is time for journalists to step up. There is a reason that the first amendment mentions the Freedom of the Press. It is that important. Yesterday's marches around the world denouncing Trump filled me with more hope than I've had in a very long time.

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  8. I am very confused about the U.S.A. news right now. It is so conflicted. As far as the weather, they never can predict it here anymore! Perhaps they need your help.

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    1. Nora-- I am also so confused about the USA. How did we get here to such a terrible place with such a psychopathic new president. It blows my mind. About the weather, this has been one of the wettest winters California has seen in years. Crazy in every way.

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  9. What an interesting weather station you have. We just have a very basic one that states the temperature humidity and barometric pressure.
    It has been a turbulent week in the world. Everyone I think will be affected by the event on Friday.

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    1. Cat Lover-- We love measuring rain and wind speeds, so we went ahead and bought this crazy weather station. It's fun to keep track of such stuff. It has been a turbulent week, but the Women's March on Saturday made me feel more hopeful. Protests on every continent on our planet! I love that so much.

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  10. I'm extremely disappointed with the news media in general and with TV news in particular. Either they don't know how to deal with people who are obviously pathological liars or they are afraid of losing access to them. In either case, they are failing as journalists.

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    1. Mark-- We stopped watching tv news when we moved to the north coast and gave up cable/satellite. It's too disheartening to see what passes for journalism these days. They are failing, and the cost is greater than they will ever understand.

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  11. It seems that fake news, is the "new" real news. On the internet, there is no way of stopping it. That was a great story about your "fake" news.

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    1. Pat-- When I read this post from only two weeks ago, life was SO much simpler then. Fake news is the new reality. Sigh.

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