…if it was, everyone would be doing it.

We all know the world revolves around New York City, when in doubt, just ask them! That came to be when a massive blizzard hit the New England area and forecasters missed the mark by a few miles. That meant the 20-30 inches of snow fell across Long Island but spared NYC which got anywhere from 7-13″. It was quite the “much ado about nothing” scenario that the media and public opinion just hammered. This lead to many apologies from local weather forecasters. It even prompted the National Weather Service office in Kansas City to make the graphic I’m showing you here (click it to enlarge).

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Forecasting

As a forecaster, we really have the cards stacked against us. Other than the science limitations as shown in the graphic, there’s public perception. People depend on the forecast. They will plan their life around the carefully crafted words and they will want to know if it’s going to happen to them, in their town, at their home. If we get it wrong, we’ll be ridiculed, chastised, and made a proverbial joke of.

With this in mind, think of everything you want to know. For a 7 to 10 day period you want to know what the exact temperature will be at any given time of the day, the wind direction, the sky conditions, if precipitation is expected and what form is it in; ice, snow, or rain, and finally how much and when it starts and ends. The fact that we can get even half of all of that correct, that far out in advance, is incredible.  It’s when we get it right so often that the public forgets how hard it is to do so, and then they start to expect it. That’s when things can go south.

We’ll never be able to get every forecast 100% correct and we’ll never be able to accurately predict snowfall totals down to a 1/2″ of snow in your backyard. It’s just not possible. I don’t see it in my lifetime unless some drastically new discoveries are made in physics and we unlock all of the unknown atmospheric variables. Even then we’d need super computing power like never seen before. This article is starting to sound more like a science fiction novel at this point, so I’ll just leave it as this, enjoy the weather, no matter what the final outcome is and be sure to cut your local weather forecaster a break. Odds are they’re doing the best they can given the tools for the job.

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