30
Oct
13

Hurricane season a total washout :)

First of all, this is GOOD news!
I don’t know anyone, outside of those in the weather world, who actually want or enjoy tropical storms.
Because I read and listen to all weather related topics so much, I heard all the dire predictions for this current hurricane season, back in May-June. I remember my first thoughts being, “You pretend to know more than you do, folks”, and “Why do I get the feeling after hearing/seeing the forecasters, that they come off like they root for this to happen?” As a Meteorologist, those would be bad attitudes towards our profession. I would guess many lay-people out there felt the same feelings when you heard it, also.

In any case, IN SPITE of dire forecasts, it is turning out to be (with 30 days to go) one of the quietest tropical seasons on record. Even as recently as August, when the “experts” were given a chance to “reshape” their forecasts, they stuck by their guns. Guess what? Isn’t happening.

I would simply state that, the science is simply not as far along as some would have you believe. A 5 day forecast can be highly accurate. A 7 day forecast is worthwhile, when done by a trustworthy expert. Once you get beyond 10 days, you HAVE to withdraw into “trends”, and “above/below norm” projections. The Farmer’s Almanac is only correct on random days because if you pool enough days together, you are bound to randomly hit on SOME of them. Even if I called for sunny days for the next 365 days, I would be guaranteed to hit at least a 3rd of them, correct? But would you consider that a “SKILL”? Of course not!

In the same way, once beyond 10 days, it has to be regarded as a “trend”.
Yes, there are large-scale issues that you can analyze and incorporate into projections, but there are far, far too many micro things going on, impossible to keep constant track of, the combination of which, produce error, over time. It’s the butterfly effect. The INITIAL error can be tiny, but over days, weeks, the error grows, to the point where entire unanticipated weather patterns develop (or don’t develop) because of it. So, while the error MAY NOT show up on my 7 day forecast, if I projected out to, say, 30 days, I guarantee you, my own errors would produce a random-chance forecast, where I am only right by day 15 or 20 because of the randomness effect.

Bottom line? We know some things. But we don’t even know what we still don’t know! And there’s way more unknown out there than known yet. That makes for poor forecasting and “over-promise/under-deliver” forecasts.

And it is also worth stating that most Meteorologists come in with biases, just as you do about topics you care about. These unfortunate biases often interfere with their skill set. I have met many a Meteorologist who will FIND ways to rationalize much more snow than is coming, or far more severe weather than should be expected. The best Meteorologist is the one in the room who goes into his/her day with no preconceived ideas of what will happen and no rooting interest in one type of weather…over another. That is who I try to be, every day, for you.

By the way, I will have my “Winter Weather Outlook” coming your way November 6th, at 11PM. In it, I will give you my thoughts on the timeliness or tardiness of the start to Winter, how much snow (roughly) we may see across all of CNY, and how temps may compare to average. I’ve been fortunate. 2011-12 turned out spot on, and 2012-13 did as well. (I’m feeling a tad bit nervous because we both know, eventually, I’ll miss!)

I will turn you to an article that just came out on the “disappointing” Hurricane season. Look for the ways in which the experts don’t own up to their mistakes, and make excuses. They weren’t making excuses in August, when they were still so sure!

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2013/10/25/309212.htm

Experts stymied!

Experts stymied!

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