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 Weather forecasting - it's a nonsense really, innit?

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Alan B'Stard
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:24 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm off to visit Bruges (Belgium) on Sunday. So I check on the weather forecast. 3 different weather websites produce 3 different weather forecasts. Apparently it'll either be sunny, a bit wet, or a lot wet. One of those 3 will obviously be correct. Unless it snows, obviously.

How is it that different forecasters can be so different in their forecats? Don't they all have access to the same meterolgical data? Surely the barometric pressure readings are the same whomever takes the reading? Windspeeds are the same, and so on. So if the data is the same, how come they get the forecasts so different? Or is weather forecasting all still in the realm of the palmist and fortune teller?

Does anyone use a weather forecasting website that is generally accurate?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:47 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

i life in holland and use http://www.buienradar.nl/ to see if it gonna rain, you can also see Belgium

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I know little to nothing about meteorologists outside the United States, but I can say for certain that the field of meteorology and weather prediction routinely gets a bad rap. The atmosphere is a chaotic system, and if those who bemoan forecasters actually understood the complexity of the atmosphere they would sing a far different tune.

I could speak further on the subject, but suffice to say that we would need data for every cubed millimeter of the atmosphere and far more computing power to even think about having a "perfect forecast." The job's difficult, folks. Give your meteorologists a break. Wink

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:02 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^ I don't agree. The meteorologists from today are only staring at computerscreens and hardly come outside. How can you make a weather forecast if you never look what's happening outside. Yesterday there was a so called weather alarm because of heavy thunderstorms. I could see by looking at the sky and other signs in nature there wouldn't be "heavy" thunderstorms. If those so called weather specialists just take an effort to go outside and look for themselfes what is happening they could do a lot better. I know a lot about weather forecasting by looking at the sky and other signs in nature. This knowledge is passed on from father to son for many generations and is more reliable then staring to computer screens

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Also, it's Belgium. Predicting the weather in this tiny country is impossible. The temperatures a quite well predicted, but nobody ever knows whether there will be rain or not.

I looked what they are predicting at the local tv station, and they say it's going to be very sunny. Bring an umbrella.

PS: Bruges is just a huge museum. Come visit Ghent. At least that city is still alive. Is it obvious where I am from? Laughing

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BluthBanana
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:48 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

the vampire wrote:
I know a lot about weather forecasting by looking at the sky and other signs in nature. This knowledge is passed on from father to son for many generations and is more reliable then staring to computer screens


I respect your opinion, but let's just say I've been studying meteorology for the last nine years and while you can get some information from looking at the sky you can get a lot more by looking at radar, satellite, upper-air charts, etc. Not to mention the fact that looking at the sky won't help you understand what may happen three days in the future.

As I said before, I understand where these perceptions about meteorologists come from, but the atmosphere is such a complex, chaotic system that it is truly amazing how far we've advanced in our understanding of it.

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Alan B'Stard
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:11 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

So are we saying that weather forecasting is akin to witchcraft? Nothing better than an educated guess?

I just don't get how different meteorlogists looking at the same data can arrive at such wildly differing opinions. Either it's a science - in which case I expect measurable repeatability - or it's guesswork, in which case I'd like to see the TV weather girls dressed up like Gypsy Rose Lee, staring into a crystal ball and reading Tarot cards.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:00 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Alan B'Stard wrote:
So are we saying that weather forecasting is akin to witchcraft? Nothing better than an educated guess?


I am saying exactly the opposite. In fact, it is insulting to compare weather forecasting to witchcraft.

Alan B'Stard wrote:
I just don't get how different meteorlogists looking at the same data can arrive at such wildly differing opinions. Either it's a science - in which case I expect measurable repeatability - or it's guesswork...


I can't speak for the quality of the meteorologists in your area. Meteorology is a science. There is no debate. There is continually measurable repeatability. I see it every day. That is why in the United States we can identify areas favorable for severe weather with astonishing accuracy.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:24 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't know about the rest of the world, but where I live, the weather forecasts are quite accurate. The only time the meteorologists are at a bit of a loss is when there's a cut-off low - as one of our TV weather men called them, "Darned passive-aggressive cut-off lows."

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:05 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

One of the first sites I open every day is the rain radar chart.

Whenever I see something large and blue over the Channel I know I will be soaking wet two hours later Laughing

The rain radar chart and a barometre (actually a mountaineerĀ“s one) usually are precisely enough for me.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 12:54 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I believe Paul Harvey called meteoroligists Weather Guessers. I am sure that it is a difficult job, and people seem to want to know what the weather will be like in their specific location. Cannot be done. Honest weather <strike>foreshadowing</strike> forecasting gives a range, not a precise number... IMO.

From what I understand, Computer models are used with historical data and trends. I have found that moving from the middle of a continent to the edge of the continent, the weather guessing is much less accurate.

I think that has to do with data collection deficits and the volitility of the ocean's influences. Don't mind me though, I am a "denier". Laughing

Some one told me that the Earth's atmosphere is both a closed and open system...

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:34 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I am a professional weather forecaster (and off and on baiter, just getting back into the mix now). Believe me, I've been doing this for many years and we are not always particularly popular with the public...

Weather forecasts are based on complex numerical models which have not yet been perfected. (and they probably never will be, especially 2 or more days into the future). The atmosphere is simply too vast, and there is insufficient data collection to properly complete the equations in the models. Governments are not going to spend the money required to collect the needed data.

The models show us "clues" about what weather conditions to expect in the future, and making a good forecast depends on correct pattern recognition of the data, knowledge of which models handle certain weather situations poorly, experience, a correct analysis of current weather conditions, and knowledge of local effects/microclimates. Yes that does include "looking up at the sky" and whatnot, but that is only a small part of forecasting.

Because forecasts are created in this way, you can take three seperate meteorologists all looking at the same data, and each one may or may not come up with a different forecast. Human error, laziness, over-reliance on the computer and simple incompetence will all contribute to a bad forecast.

Often times, larger weather companies won't even have a human looking at the data, and the forecast you see is garbage because it is straight from the computer model. It's a lot cheaper for these companies to just run the computer instead of having a knowledgeable forecaster conduct quality-control....

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

When visiting Bruges (why bother, go to Antwerp instead - same rule applies): bring an umbrella with you, it won't rain. Don't ring an umbrella with you, it WILL rain.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Nothing to see in Antwerp, I sure hope you aren't living there wokabo Razz

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 12:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I seem to remember some years ago there was a one month competition in the East Midlands (UK) between professional and amature Weather Forecasters. They gained points for accuracy on several aspects of each day's weather conditions. .... cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed etc.

One of the Region's Universities entered, and predicated that each day's weather would be exactly the same as the preceding day.

They won hands down !

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:53 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I grew up in Michigan - which is surrounded by big lakes and has an - um - interesting weather pattern. As we used to say to visitors, "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes. It'll change."

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:16 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^ That sounds like Melbourne as well. Rain, sun, wind and snow, and after lunch it repeats.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:13 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@Titania...yeah!! someone who understands the phase "lake effect snow"

You mighy be from Michigan if:
you have worn a winter coat with shorts
you have worn sunscreen under a raincoat

That being said, around here we just 'go with the flow' and hope for the best, I carry an umbrella, sweatshirt and shorts in the car trunk.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:28 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Weather forecasters don't seem to be able to get past the next two days, but they can say what it's going to be like in 100 years time?
Weather forecasts based on sunspot activity seem to be more accurate than traditional ones though. But none of them are 100% correct, I blame it on the weather!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:22 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:52 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Bruges weather was fantastic, dry, sunny, warm. Tuesday morning was a bit grey with some slight drizzle, but as we were visiting Tyne Cot war cemetary it seemed appropriate, somehow.

Loved Bruges, by the way, would go back there tomorrow. Or once I've saved me pennies up again, to be more ccurate - it is one expensive place to visit!

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^True. We know how to milk our tourists Laughing. I once read a touristic folder of Ghent, and of the 'must-see bars' listed I only recognized one. I knew the place because it was way too expensive. Plus, there are far more interesting places to visit, but they are hidden quite well. I'm assuming that Bruges is no difference in this.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ By the miracle of the internet I was able to find the less-touristy places to visit. The selection of beers in the pub ( 't Bruges Beertje) we found was astonishing. But even so, a glass of beer was 3 Euro. A 3-course dinner was 30 Euro, plus drinks. It was very nice beer, and very nice food, but even so...

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:00 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Going back to the original topic, at work, we have access to the very latest MET office data - normally all false.

Even when flying for fun, I see that the predicted spot winds are totally inaccurate.

The only reliable tool is the WX radar - even at that, it only gives limited information.

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Alan B'Stard
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

So have we decided then that meteorology is actually a science, with repeatable measurable results, most of which are wrong?

Sounds about right.

Edited for typos

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Last edited by Alan B'Stard on Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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