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News Literacy Week: A look at where your weather information comes from

Local meteorologists check doppler radar, run weather models, and discuss what's happening in the atmosphere
NWS Missoula
Jenn Kitsmiller
Jenn Kitsmiller
NWS Missoula
Posted at 8:49 AM, Jan 27, 2023

MISSOULA - The weather affects so much of our daily life in western Montana, what we wear, our mood, and what we do outside. But there are so many sources of weather information to navigate through today.

We visited the local National Weather Service (NWS) office in the spirit of News Literacy Week to provide some transparency on where local weather information comes from.

Jenn Kitsmiller
Local National Weather Service meteorologists like Jenn Kitsmiller take temperature, snowfall amounts, and other measurements four times a day.

Local meteorologists like Jenn Kitsmiller take temperature, snowfall amounts, and other measurements four times a day, "the overarching mission of the national weather service is protecting lives and property," Kitsmiller explained.

They also work inside, with two meteorologists on the clock, 24/7. Throughout their shift, the experts check doppler radar, run weather models, and discuss what's happening in the atmosphere.

"We try to as a group, figure out how we want to message things - what level of messaging are we going to do, is this something that we really need to sound alarms for," Kitsmiller shared. "It’s something we spend a lot of time doing, as far as figuring out what the impact periods really are and how we message that to the public to make it meaningful.”

Jenn Kitsmiller
National Weather Service meteorologist Jenn Kitsmiller recommends reviewing your sources to be weather literate and to help stop the spread of misinformation.

After the NWS meteorologists put together their forecast opinions, your KPAX weather team uses the NWS information to inform their own forecasts.

When talking about the relationship between KPAX and the NWS, Kitsmiller said she sees "it as a partnership and an amplification where we can lean on each and help get those especially impactful messages out."

By working as a team, weather forecasts can be more local and more accurate — even in an area like western Montana that can be difficult to forecast for.

NWS Missoula
The National Weather Service office in Missoula

“It’s so complex, we have such varied terrain here and each little valley to mountain can have huge differences on how the weather reacts," Kitsmiller described. "Even simple things like temperatures or winds — it’s just very complicated with how complex our terrain is here.”

So to be weather literate — or to help stop the spread of misinformation — Kitsmiller recommends reviewing your sources.

“To me, I would think if you can’t identify a source that you take it with a grain of salt or at least be cautious with how you use it," Kitsmiller said.

Even though we can't control the weather, we work with the NWS team to keep you and your family on our radar.