Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today's Lousy Wichita Forecast

After getting one tweet, one text message and a couple of emails about today's lousy forecast for Wichita, I thought it might be worth a quick comment.

Two days ago, we were forecasting sunny and 79° for today.  Right now, it is overcast and 62° (Wichita is at the tip of the arrow), so we'll fall short of the original forecast high temperature. What went wrong?

Thursday, when the forecast was made, we thought the weather system would move more quickly than it did. The edge of the clouds is roughly 100 miles to our west. 100 miles ÷ 50 hours (number of hours since forecast was made) = 2 mph. An error of 2 mph in the low pressure system's movement caused the problem.

Not for a minute do I discount the problems this causes. The outdoor Art Fair going on in Wichita. The Walnut Valley Music Festival also going on in Winfield. "Ordinary" bad weather can cause significant inconvenience and economic issues, especially when it is not well forecast.

Meteorology has done a tremendous job over the last 10-20 years improving the quality of storm warnings (blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes) and eliminating the once common wind shear airliner crashes. But, given finite resources, saving lives in major storms is where the money and intellectual capital has gone.

We've spent relatively little on the forecast busts caused by 2 mph errors in the movement of low pressure systems.

Since I do not believe the data indicates the catastrophic global warming hypothesis is correct, we are spending too much money on global warming and too little on day-to-day weather forecasting where we would get very fast returns on our investment [we are also spending far too little attempting to forecast short-term climate, a necessary step to accurate long-term climate forecasts, but I digress]. In order to improve this type of forecast, something approaching the effort we have put into storm warnings would have to be made. Right now, I don't see that occurring.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with what you say here. And I think improvement of the day to day forecasting is the number one way that you will get people to take more seriously the storm warnings and quit with the, "the only job where you can be wrong 50% of the time..." stuff.


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