Monday, January 16, 2023

"Daily Mail" Story About NOAA's Long Range Outlook Bust

If an organization is going to make long range forecasts ( > 15 days), then it is fair to criticize them if the forecasts do not work out. The Daily Mail published an article this afternoon criticizing NWS/NOAA's winter forecast which forecasted drier than normal conditions for California. The forecasts are below. I added the arrow on the drought forecast. 

Obviously, this was a lousy forecast. 

The forecasts are intended to 'help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods.' 

The wholly inaccurate forecasts have now been slammed by individuals and organizations reliant upon the information. 

One official with the Public Policy Institute of California's Water Policy Center said the forecasts are unhelpful for groups that have to monitor things like water supply. 

'You have no idea come Dec. 1 what your winter is going to look like because our seasonal forecasts are so bad,' said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow with the organization.  'They are just not reliable enough to make definitive water supply decisions,' Mount said. 

Another water official agreed, calling the forecasts unreliable. 

'We plan to be able to manage anything that comes our way,' said Willie Whittlesey, general manager for the Yuba Water Agency, in an interview with the Washington Post

Meteorologist Drew Tuma posts the rapidly filling 
reservoirs in California. 
Rather than seriously addressing this issue, NOAA gave one of its predictably lame responses.

'The hardworking forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center produce timely and accurate seasonal outlooks and short-term forecasts year-round,' said Michael Farrar, Ph.D., director of the N[ational Center for Environmental Prediction].

There was nothing "accurate" about this forecast as it pertained to California. 

If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I do not routinely post forecasts ≥ 15 days and virtually never beyond 30 days. Why? None of those forecasts has any consistent skill. As far as I can determine, there has been no real progress in long range forecasting in the last 20 years. 

NOAA, more and more, is losing its way when it comes to meteorology. Not only were the winter forecasts for California wrong, the forecasts and some of the warnings for this past Thursday's killer tornadoes left something to be desired. Its tornado warnings are clearly less accurate than they were a dozen years ago. The organization hasn't had a director with a background in weather in 50 years! NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce (certainly not a scientific organization), so NOAA has very little accountability. 

I certainly do not have all of the answers which is why I have proposed a National Disaster Review Board modeled that would review situations like these in much the same way the highly successful National Transportation Safety Board reviews aviation and surface transportation accidents and incidents. 

Otherwise, I don't see a way out of this increasing mess in meteorology.

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