Weather Prediction Accuracy.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Fearless Leader, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Location:
    Hoosiertown
    #1
    I have a question.

    I havent been on this earth as long as other people and would like their opinion.

    Have weather predictions gotten better? My local weather people just never gets it right. Just recently there was a prediction for about 5 inches of snow and hell to freeze over. Schools let out a few hours early, and all the roads were salted. Schools even announced they would be closed for the next day, and this was before anysnow had even fallen.

    We got a whopping .25 inches of snow. Just an example of how wrong they can get things. And its not just that incident, they have gotten a lot of things really wrong,

    They can get the temp right if its not more than a day, but after that I'd say they just make up numbers that look good.
     
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #2
    Weather forecasting has improved quite a bit over the last 20 years or so. The models are more sophisticated, and they've got more and better data to input into the models. Still, forecasting the weather is far from an exact science. The predictive models often disagree, which leaves it to the forecasters to decide which model is more likely to be correct. If you read the "discussion forecast" which each NWS office in the nation generates four times a day, you will see the meteorologists expressing their confidence levels with any given forecast -- something which never translates into what you see on TV. It always appears as if they "know" exactly what will happen a day or week from now, which often the forecasters admit they really don't.

    A lot depends on the type of weather they are trying to forecast. Some systems are quite predictable 7-10 days out, and others are virtually impossible to track a day ahead.
     
  3. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #3
    Generally speaking, the NOAA forecast is pretty good. And, you can take a look at the actual radar, so you can watch storms developing and moving. Each time I've been on a camping/climbing trip I've referred to the page before I leave and I've been happy with the information. I know at least whether to pack my rain gear or not.
     
  4. sowillo14 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    #4
    Ahh yes...THE WEATHERMAN! The only job where you can be wrong 90% of the time, and still get a paycheck.
     
  5. Hankster macrumors 68020

    Hankster

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #5
    A weather forecast is only as good as the technology we have. That's all a weather forecast is, an interpretation of what the technology is giving us.

    Basically, as our technology increases as will our weather forecasts.
     
  6. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #6
    Sometimes I think I can give a better weather report by looking out the window.

    I personally love the "30% chance of rain today" on the radio while I'm driving through a dangerous thunderstorm and can't see sh*t
     
  7. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #7
    What about the legions of technology columnists who get paid to do the exact same thing. How do you think Dvorak has stayed in business all these years?
     
  8. wakka092 macrumors 6502

    wakka092

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #8
    It was spot on tonight here in the Mid South. We had an extremley severe weather outbreak. In West Tennessee there was about a dozen or two tornadoes tonight. It has been awful here. Heck, in Memphis there were two tornadoes. It knocked the walls down at a mall and caved in a roof. In Jackson, TN at Union University two dorm rooms were damaged and trapped people inside.. And it'll be worse in the morning.. :(

    Anyways, mad props to the NWS.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #9
    I detect some confusion over the difference beween weather and weather forecasts.
     
  10. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #10
    Weather predictions are pretty good for the Bay Area most of the time. We honestly have very predictable weather (a system either comes in from the Northwest, or not at all :p) for the most part.

    The one thing our weather persons never seem to get right is the temperature. This is especially telling in the summer time (it will either be several degrees hotter than they thought, or several degrees cooler). Then again that's the summer and no one cares! :p
     
  11. foidulus macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    #11
    Just listen to a Lewis Black

    rant on the subject. All you need to know really.:p
     
  12. ziwi macrumors 65816

    ziwi

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    Right back where I started...
    #12
    All I know is that being a weatherman is the one job that you can be wrong 90% of the time and still retain your position - and well a paid position at that, being in the media as well.
     
  13. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #13
    um, someone already said that. and there are tons of similar jobs. look at any analyst.


    it can't be easy running all the conditions through a weather projection model and trying to determine which is the best given the known variables.
     
  14. blairwillis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    #14
    During the warmer months I run a boat-based adventure company. We do things like dolphin/nature tours, waterskiing, fishing, etc. Our business is entirely dependent on suitable weather.

    The weather "forecast" is almost useless to us. After over a decade of experience doing this, nothing beats the combination of:

    Real Life Observation
    Live Radar
    Local metrics (wind, barometer, temp, humidity, etc)
    Personal Experience

    Weather is a very "localized" phenomenon. A "forecast" tends to cover a very wide area, and is therefore a generalized look at possibilities.

    During our warm months here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, afternoon thunderstorms are par for the course. The forecast for 95% of the days in July and August says:

    "Hot, Humid, with a 30% chance of Thunderstorms" (30%,40%,50%,60%, it varies but whatever)

    Here on Hilton Head Island, it can be storming and nasty on one end of the island and clear and sunny at the other end. We can use up-to-the-minute radar (via our handy iPhones!) to see exactly what's in the area, and combine this with our trusty eyes to determine what to expect.

    Then there is the tried and true rule of thumb: If you see lighting, get off the water.

    So in my evaluation: Forecasting has improved slightly in the past 15 years, but forecasting tools have improved tremendously. We didn't have live radar feeds accessible on our iPhones back then, and other amazing tools at our disposal.
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #15
    It also not true that weather forecasters get it wrong 90% of the time. This may sound good, but it's really a completely meaningless statement.

    For instance, if a forecast predicts a 30% change of showers, and you get rained on, this does not mean the forecast was wrong. The definition of probability of precipitation (POP): "the likelihood, expressed as a percent, of a measurable precipitation event (1/100th of an inch) at a grid point during the indicated valid period."
     
  16. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #16
    well yeah. but people like their generalizations. i didn't have it in me to try and counter the argument. it tends to go in one ear and out the other
     

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