Weather forecasting is relatively easy in some parts of the world because changes are so limited or slow to form: deserts for example, where wind changes are the greatest variable. In other places, forecasting takes advantage of regularity: tropical rain forests for example, where predicting rain is like predicting daylight.
In the northern hemisphere we live in areas where weather patterns are highly variable, affected by both large-scale movements, such as El Nino, and frequently moving patterns, such as Colorado lows or chinooks. These are enhanced by system air flows which collide, shifting wind patterns, as well as local geographic factors such as the predominance of high or low terrain.
Highly inconstant conditions like precipitation and temperatures are catalysts for shaky weather forecasts.
Despite the technical improvements of satellite imagery and computer models, the accuracy of predicting oncoming weather, often even for the next 24 hours, remains surprisingly elusive. This is demonstrated frequently by differing forecasts for the same area from differing weather bureaus.
It seems the all-purpose declaration calling for sun, with cloudy periods, and a chance of rain (or snow, or hail, etc.) is often as valid as a much more detailed, scientific projection.
Using anecdotal evidence, one wonders if there are some weather-related axioms we can rely on. Perhaps these…
- One of the advantages of nighttime is that it hides bad weather events better
- The use of percentage probabilities lets a forecaster deflect measurements into lottery odds
- Simulation models are no more dependable per se because of 3D
- Radio and TV stations will not concurrently publicize identical forecasts
- Enjoying a treat such as popcorn may have to serve as the silver lining behind the dark cloud
- One person’s significant weather difficulty is someone else’s excuse to procrastinate
- Unless it’s computer generated, the voice relaying weather updates will editorialize even bad news in a cheery manner
- No matter how much forecasts prove accurate, there is always room to complain about timing
- If a baseball player can be in the hall of fame with a batting average of .300, then forecasters can be afforded some wiggle room for blame
- The ‘stretch goal’ of weather forecasting is to be as accurate as predicting weather in the past