Speaking of Wrong Forecasts

I was reading my Wall Street Journal while eating my baked potato and salsa at lunch and saw this headline:

Considering December isn’t even over, that is a rather remarkable headline, especially in view of the record precipitation in much of the Central U.S. the last 2-3 years and in the South in the last two years.  Wichita, St. Louis, New Orleans, and other cities are reporting record or near-record moisture.  The snow removal budgets were supposed to last the entire winter.  Why assume that the snows were going to deviate from this trend?

The thought occurred to me that it is conceivable that some are underestimating the amount of precipitation that might fall because they have been told, over and over, that “global warming” was going to cause less. 

July 23, 2006, Alan Berga of The Wichita Eagle reported that we would have more droughts in Kansas.  But it is water that may be Wichita’s more immediate concern, said Bob Buddemeier, a senior scientist in environmental science with the Kansas Geological Service. "More droughts in western Kansas have already complicated ongoing water shortages in that part of the state," Buddemeier said.  "That danger is more likely to reach Wichita. All in all, I wouldn’t care to be too incredibly optimistic about the future,” he said.

On July 29, 2006, Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press compared that summer’s heat wave to “the 1930’s Dust Bowl” and "the computer models show that soon, we'll get many more -- and hotter -- heat waves that will leave the old Dust Bowl records of the 1930s in the dust, said Ken Kunkel, director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Illinois State Water Survey.  Of course, the Dust Bowl was the driest period in meteorological records in the central U.S.

As reported below, the scare stories could not have been more wrong:  We are just finishing up the three wettest years in Wichita history. 

But, it is not just Kansas or even the United States. In 2000, the UK’s Independent wrote, However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".
"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

So, what is today’s paper saying in London?

(thank you, Anthony Watts)

Neither I, nor anyone else, knows what kind of weather the year 2010 will bring.  We have no consistent skill at forecasting the weather beyond about 5 days (and sometimes that if iffy) and zero skill beyond about ten days.  There is no skill -- none -- in forecasting the weather (or 'climate') years in advance.

If I were on a city council, I would be thinking about increasing those snow budgets.  Better to have a few dollars left over at the end of the year if a dry spell hits.


Popular posts from this blog

[1:10am Update] Tornado Forecast for Rest of the Night

First Tornado Watch of the Day Issued

Hilary's Forecast Path Shifts West; Updated 9:20am PDT