I read someplace that official weather forecasts—the ones used by pilots and others who really need to know what the weather’s gonna be—only extend four hours into the future. Beyond that, the information just isn’t reliable enough for purposes of aviation. If that’s true, it’s no wonder that complaining about bad forecasting is so popular you’d think people were making money at it.
The guy or lady on TV is usually trying to predict the weather up to a week in advance. Not because she can do such a thing, but because she’s afraid you’ll switch the channel if she doesn’t. And Joe Armchair won’t hesitate to tell you that she’s not very good at it.
Or is she? Nobody’s bothered to check, have they?
Nobody but OmniNerd, that is:
My plan was to record the weather forecasts of some of the most popular Internet weather sites as well as actual temperatures and then to analyze the data to determine each site’s accuracy. I would then be able to draw supported conclusions to apply to future use of Internet weather forecasts (if any).
What follows is an analysis that certainly looks nerdly enough to carry some validity. Here’s a snippet from his conclusion:
In seeking high temperature forecasts, it looked best to use IntelliCast or The Weather Channel in the long term, but there wasn’t a clear leader in the short to mid term. BBC seemed unreliable in all cases, as well as MSN in the long term. The Weather Network, CNN and Unisys all had blemishes (3, 4 and 0 days in advance, respectively), but were generally in with the pack.
In seeking low temperature forecasts, IntelliCast and The Weather Channel were again the choice in the long term, joined by Unisys in the short term. BBC was still a dud in anything but the very short term, and MSN performed horribly in nearly all cases, as well as Accuweather in the long term.
Accuweather was the clear leader in anything greater than 10 days in advance, being the only site providing a weather forecast.
So, to sum up, you’ll take the forecast and like it, because brother, it’s all you’ve got for now.