STL station apps come up short during snow storm

The local news stations are always encouraging us viewers to check the web or their apps for the latest weather forecast. Unfortunately, it is sometimes bad advice from Channels 2 (KTVI) and 4 (KMOV). Channel 5 (KSDK) seems to be much better at actually providing later information.

The absence of weather forecast updates at both Channels 2 and 4 is noticeable and was particularly obvious during the first big snow storm of the season Valentine Day weekend. A check of all three stations’ websites and apps around 6pm on February 14 found this:

– Channel 2 had not updated the printed forecast on its app or webpage since 7:37 in the morning making it more than 10 hours old. It writes of the arctic front which “arrives this morning.” By the evening, this is clearly outdated as it had long since passed through the area.

– Channel 4’s app noted the forecast was last updated “9 hours ago” while the web was tagged at 8:13 AM, nearly 10 hours old. Updating it would have changed the language to “temperatures fell into the low twenties in mid-afternoon…”

– Channel 5 was the only station to have recent updates. The app was updated at 4:49 pm while the web update was listed as 4:53 pm, making it a bit more than an hour old and by far the most recent analysis of the forecast. It is the only one to begin with the evening forecast-appropriate since it was already evening.

Channels 2 and 4 were asked via e-mail, “why you promote going to the web (or using the app) for the latest forecast – when, in fact, long periods of time go before updating, rendering the information on the web (or app) outdated?”

Channel 4’s director of digital solutions, Bryce Moore, responded, “Weather on our .com and mobile apps is updated automatically and on a continuous basis 24/7. These constant updates include current conditions, various radar and satellite images and text forecast elements. The KMOV mobile apps deliver updated weather information that is targeted to the user’s specific location when location services are enabled. In addition to the automated data, other forecast information is updated manually by the meteorologist who is on duty at the time.”

Pressed to answer the question more directly, Moore wrote back simply, “I am comfortable with the statement – the digital platforms are full of relevant data that is literally up to the minute … As illustrated by your screen grab (attached) … As promised in our promotional messages.”

Channel 2 news director Audrey Prywitch said in her e-mail response, “Our website and apps are constantly updated. The longest period of time the video forecast goes between updates is just a few hours. That forecast is updated when we have on-air weather forecasts. Specifically, it is updated at 5am, 11am, 5pm and 9pm weekdays. It is updated at 7am, 5pm and 9pm on the weekends.

“The information displayed on our weather page is from a feed from The Weather Company-WSI. They update this information in the morning and evening. Our meteorologists can override this forecast from WSI. This may be the discrepancy that you are seeing between the on-air and online forecasts and we are working to improve that.” She further clarified her statement indicating that if there is a forecast change, Channel 2 meteorologists can override the WSI material.

That makes sense however viewers don’t know that. It is encouraging they are at least working on a solution. But for now, based on several informal checks of the stations’ apps and websites, Channel 5 at appears to be the most conscientious when it comes to updating the printed forecast.

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