Sunday, September 9, 2012

The NY Times' Odd Story of Improved Weather Predictions

The New York Times ran an odd story with the above headline Friday. I've read it several times and am not quite sure what to make of it. You can read the story here.

It is supposed to praise meteorologists as leaders of the predictive sciences and I would certainly agree.  For those new to the blog, I've written a book on that very subject. The author makes the cogent point that predictive economics, for example, completely failed to anticipate the 2008 financial meltdown. Meteorology generally does a much better job. The author does a good job explaining why meteorology is making progress and the smart mix of human and computer skills in forecasting storms and other major weather conditions.

But, the rest of the article reads like he doesn't quite believe what he is writing. I'll give two examples.

The article states that some study exists that says Kansas City meteorologists are wrong one third of the time when they forecast a 100% chance of rain, but doesn't link to the study. I'd be shocked if a credible study showed that to be the case.

The article calls recent Hurricane Isaac "unpredictable" yet this blog and many other forecasters had the path correct more than four days in advance. Just click here to confirm.

Oh well, I guess I should be thankful for any improvement in our much-maligned reputation. Maybe we should have buttons printed that proudly proclaim, "Not a Moron."

I'll have a second comment about this article later today in the context of yesterday's damaging NYC tornadoes.

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