The Myth of Weather Forecasting
by Howard Melamed
|I remember reading a long time ago a little passage in a community newspaper that said: “Unfortunately, the Weather Forecasters annual picnic was cancelled due to unexpected weather”.
This to me was an absolute statement of the art of weather forecasting. We have come a long way since the dark ages and instead of relying upon the Farmer’s Almanac, we can rely on the Channel 7 weatherman, or the Weather Channel. At least for the most part. But don’t you get the feeling that many of the so called weather experts are not experts at all? When they are wrong it makes me wonder if they really know what they are doing or is it all guessing? From what I have researched, I am inclined to believe that guessing is part of what makes forecasting unpredictable. Especially when it comes to hurricanes and how many will occur in any given year.
Hurricane Forecasting Made Easy
They call him an ‘Expert’ and we are expected to rely on his predictions. The fact is, his predictions are not accurate enough for anyone to make any sort of decisions based on them. I checked to see how accurate Dr. Gray really is. Since 1992 he has been off on average by 46.6%. 1992 was the only year that he got it right.
So you say he isn’t so bad. Well if you were to predict 7 hurricanes in any season your prediction would as good as his. The fact is there is nothing spectacular about Gray’s prediction. He is not accountable to anyone, and no one holds him to what he predicts. In fact, they let him revise his forecast in mid season. Can you imagine betting on a horse, with the ability that you can revise your bet half way into the race? That is not fair!
We should care about what Dr. Gray is saying because based on his predictions, insurance rates could climb, public money is allocated for disaster relief. This year the professor made a statement that the project of hurricane predications is in trouble because his government money is running dry. It is about time. The predictions that he has given us so far are worthless and this whole program has been one waste of money. Ask yourself if you accept this boloney from any other scientist. I mean, can you imagine if your doctor was off the same percentages this guy gives? “The baby will be arriving in 9 months plus or minus 3.6 months. ”
So who is this guy ‘Gray’ and where in South Florida does he live? He doesn’t. In fact his home is in Colorado. His ‘team’ operates out of the Colorado State University. So far in the history of the world, no hurricane has ever hit Colorado. I mean, does the University of Miami predict snow fall in the mountains of Colorado? Who would take any such prediction seriously anyway. Same with Colorado predicting hurricanes. If he wanted to be involved in the Hurricane Forecasting business, then he should be right here with all of us on the front line.
Coralsprings.com is here in South Florida, right where the hurricane action is. Our prediction last year was as good as his (actually better. We predicted 7 and 4 came in. He predicted 8.)
Coralsprings.com hereby predicts that there will be 7 hurricanes in 2003. plus or minus 46%. Perhaps if I am as right as he is, I can also obtain the government grant money to continue the research into predicting hurricanes.
Here are some other pet peeves of mine regarding weather forecasters:
Chance of Rain
Partly Cloudy vs. Partly Sunny
I am sure there are other terms and pet peeves that you may have about weather forecasting. Perhaps forecasting the weather is best described by Father Sarducci of the famed early Saturday Night Live show where he would give the weather forecast for the next day as :
“Maybe ittsa gonna rain. Maybe itssa gonna snow. Dat depends on da weather”.
Research link: http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts
Any comments? email firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you slam a research scientist with a Ph.D. in a certain field, I simply suggest that you know more than him; from all of your mean-spirited commentary, what positive has resulted? The weather channel continues to report Dr. Gray’s predictions, NOT based on absolute hurricane amounts, but because HE was the first to be able to report AHEAD of time, whether or not the hurricane season would be active or inactive. Check his accuracy with total tropical storm numbers.. There is proven science behind Dr. Gray’s predictions.. You are just another rude-blowhard all too common to South Florida.. I wish YOU lived in Colorado! Sincerely, Kris Foster B.S. Meteorology, PSU-1996 (and Coral Springs resident).
Kris Thanks for your email.If it was simply a prediction between Active or Inactive Hurricane season then I would have no quarrel. Dr. Gray predicts the quantity of Hurricanes, and makes no disclaimer that he can be off in some years as much as 100%. I suggest that Hurricane prediction is impossible, and Dr. Gray lowers himself to the levels of Sooth Sayers by doing so. If you claim that there is proven science behind Dr. Grays’ predictions than tell me what other examples can you give that proven science is off on average 46% and we deem it to be acceptable as a prediction? I actually wouldn’t mind living in Colorado. It’s a nice place.