Monday, January 26, 2015

The Weather Forecast

Yesterday, where I live, it was supposed to be 65 degrees and sunny. They’ve been saying it was coming for a week or better. Great January weather, right? And I, for one, was looking forward to it. Well, turns out the high was only 47 and we saw not one ray of sunshine. Conditions were mostly foggy with a bit of drizzle.

Why is it that weather forecasters never suffer any ill effects for being wrong? This is a fairly well-paid profession yet, they are notoriously wrong in their predictions. It’s a pattern. I think half the time their brain is in a fog. But, somehow, they keep their job.

I can only imagine if I turned in a similar performance at my job as a truck driver. I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be around after a single day. I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, I’m pretty sure most people would be fired if they came anywhere close to the abysmal track record of meteorologists. Most bosses do not appreciate incompetence—especially when it’s on-going.

These days meteorology has moved away from the old weather vanes and anemometers to some rather expensive and sophisticated technology; Doppler radar, satellite imaging, weather balloons with sensors, forecasting software with weather models, not to mention theses guys go to college to study weather patterns and the climate. Despite the advancements, accuracy rates are no better than they were fifty years ago. Really!

In the sixties, weather forecasters held an aggregate average of approximately 70 percent. Some days were better than others, obviously, as were some forecasters in any given time. But the average for them all was roughly 70 percent.

Today’s meteorologists like to claim they are far better at predicting the weather and that they are continually advancing. I think that’s just to justify the millions of dollars spent on equipment—meteorologist’s toys. One guy I looked up, while researching for this post, maintains he has a 95 percent accuracy. But if you look, you’ll discover this includes next day and even same day forecasts! Well, even I could do pretty well by glancing out the window—probably get close to 100 percent accuracy, I’m thinking. But a true forecast, as in, not waiting until the weather is happening or about to happen, is still averaging about 70 percent.

I looked up the statistics on weather forecasts for my area and found that the average from the top ten forecasting services, which includes, The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, and the National Weather Service, was 65.31 percent for the last month and 65.86 percent for the last year. So much for the meteorologist’s claims of improvement.

In school, I had teacher who pointed out that if you predict the exact same weather for tomorrow as was experienced today and you’ll have a 70 percent accuracy. No college, no study of weather patterns, and no equipment. And you’ll do just as well as the weatherman—at least over a period of time. So again, why do these guys keep their job?

Incidentally, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, long ridiculed by many, including meteorologists, has about an 65 percent accuracy rating—and that’s a running total all the way back to when they started, in 1792! Some years, they were as low as 52 percent but other years it’s been as high as 80. Seems to me that meteorologists could save a lot of time and money by just buying a subscription to the Old Farmer’s Almanac!

Oh, and what did the Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast for this week where I live? Mild temperatures (39 degrees) and a little rain. Not perfect, but definitely better than the weatherman!

Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook and paperback on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel Books, and Smashwords, or at Amazon Profile - Bruce A. Borders also serves as the Vice-President of Rave Reviews Book Club.


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