WATERCOOLER: When storms loom, should we know the risks?
A SUPERCELL storm might be about to buffet huge swathes of the Queensland coastline, or it might be largely confined to a teacup.
That's the nature of weather, but amid the panic buying, battening down the hatches, the widespread use of "likely" and the fact that none of us know what a "trough" is, it's hard to know where to turn.
Jeff Higgins of Higgins Storm Chasing is responsible for the excitement this week, three days before these "supercell" storms were predicted to hit.
His magenta and orange map suggested there was an extreme risk of flash flooding, lightning, hail and potentially destructive winds could hit anywhere between Byron Bay in New South Wales to Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
His forecasts were collected by Queensland media and off it went. The threat of hugely dangerous weather across parts of the state was enormous news - helped in part by its release on a public holiday.
On Thursday, Mr Higgins said supercells were possible and severe storms were likely this week.
Since then there have been claims of fear-mongering, of the media sensationalising the weather forecasts.
Do you pay attention to storm warnings?
This poll ended on 29 February 2016.
I do, but I don't trust forecasts that come out more than 24 hours in advance
Not until I see the weather change. Then I might park the car undercover
Only if I see a hail warning
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mr Higgins has done no such thing. He has a service to promote, but he is not concrete in his forecasts. He warns you of the risks and it's up to you if you decide to react.
Compare that today with the Bureau of Meteorology.
On the BOM website there are no storm warnings. No obvious mention of supercells this morning. A general thunderstorm warning put online just before 1pm Queensland time for south-west Queensland.
The BOM is also predicting that from Rockhampton to the Darling Downs and the Gold Coast are likely to cop "severe thunderstorms with locally heavy rain, damaging wind gusts and large hail" via its Twitter account.
This is not a failure of the BOM. Its role is to act as a warning system to the entire state.
The meteorologists may know days in advance that storms could be a risk, but they must temper their warnings because of the power their warnings have.
Holidays and events are cancelled, weddings postponed and milk and bread disappears from supermarket shelves.
The BOM early warnings are now lining up with what Mr Higgins said earlier in the week, even as his forecasts were criticised by some as scaremongering.
I'm looking out the window at the moment on the Sunshine Coast - one of the key areas now under threat from a potentially violent storm - and all I'm seeing is blue sky.
I suspect that will change within a few hours.
But if it doesn't, the question will remain: Is being forewarned really being forearmed? Or would it be better to only know what's coming when it's time for me to act?
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT POTENTIAL STORMS IN ADVANCE?
IS IT BETTER TO KNOW ONLY ONCE THEY ARE DEVELOPING?
Let us know in the comments below