Why weather forecasters are wrong so much of the time

Posted by K R on

On Jan. 26, it seemed like the whole US northeast was abuzz with worry about the blizzard coming that evening. New York City imposed a temporary transportation ban, and its mayor, Bill de Blasio, warned that the storm could be the worst the city had ever seen. The results come Jan. 27? Royally underwhelming. Sure, there’s snow on the ground. Eight inches in the city, to be precise, with more accumulation further east on Long Island. But it’s not nearly the devastating dump that was portended. What gives? Extreme weather may seem easy enough to spot ahead of time, given how broad-reaching and devastating it can be, not to mention all the eager news coverage leading up to it. But just like milder weather, it’s actually very difficult to predict. For instance, on average, predicted high temperatures diverge from actual high temperatures by three degrees Fahrenheit, and predictions of hurricanes are off by an average of about 100 miles, according to the US National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center (via an article by Nate Silver for the New York Times Magazine). And, according to new research, there are other factors that throw off meteorologists’ models. More via Quartz.

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