World and Nation

Trust Me, I’m a Meteorologist

Trust Me, I’m a Meteorologist

Given all the sources of weather forecasts online and in the media these days, you might wonder, who should you trust: The Weather Channel, your favorite weather character on TV, or your friendly neighborhood staff meteorologist at The Tech? This is actually a much harder question to answer than by simply pointing a finger at myself and humbly saying, “I’m the best!” Perhaps a better question to ask is: how far out can you trust any weather forecast?

Take, for instance, the three most common variables the average person wants to know: the high temperature, the low temperature, and precipitation. The fact is that when it comes to 1-3 day forecasts of these three variables, all major weather forecast sources do a decent job and have a fairly equal probability of being within some error tolerance. Beyond this time frame, the numerical weather prediction models that form the backbone of weather forecasting lose their accuracy rapidly as initial errors grow and contaminate the numerical projection of the atmosphere’s state. Be wary of any forecast portending a near miss or direct hit by a big storm 5-7 days out. Beyond a week, there is essentially no skill compared to taking the average weather history for the date, so don’t fall in to the trap of using that 7–14 day forecast to plan your spring break getaway.

Extended Forecast

Tonight: Becoming cloudy. Low 34°F (1°C).

Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy and breezy with a sprinkle possible. High 47°F (8°C).

Tomorrow night: Clear. Low 28°F (-2°C).

Thursday: Sunny, then increasing clouds late. High 45°F (7°C).