Posted by: Steve J | October 25, 2013

Does AccuWeather Respect the Process?

Or is this what people want?… (emphasis mine)

Though summerlike temperatures kicked off fall in some parts of the United States, winter — with its cold and snow — is quickly following. The season will get off to a slow start in the Northeast with only occasional shots of cold early on. The northern Plains and the Rockies, however, will be bitterly cold at times and buried in snow.

(From AccuWeather’s Winter Forecast article here.)

This is ridiculous when you consider just how difficult it can be to predict the weather months in advance.  Using definitive language like “this will happen…” seems like you’re setting yourself up for ridicule down the line.  Then again, maybe this is what people want.  I suppose a forecast that waffles or qualifies every statement lends itself to ridicule as well.

That said, I don’t know why it’s so hard to simply lay out one’s thoughts/arguments in defense of a forecast while acknowledging it’s a difficult task and not without risk of failure.  Confidence with humility – that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Anyway, here’s the graphic from AccuWeather for their Winter Forecast:

650x366_10071419_winter-2013-14-adc-hd

As you might suspect, the rest of the text is presented in a similar fashion to the opening paragraph quote above.  Of note here is the widespread cold and snow in the West, Northern Plains, and Great Lakes.  The graphic colors indicate a mild east coast, but the text notes that Winter may simply get a late start in this area:

Winter weather lovers will have to be patient this year, as the start of the season in the East certainly won’t pack a punch in terms of cold or snowfall. Winter will begin mildly, with a long duration of above-normal temperatures. One snow system and some chilly air could come at times during November, however.

Temperatures will fall in the latter part of the season, likely the beginning of January, allowing snow to fall along the I-95 corridor.

Philadelphia, which received only 8 inches of snow last year, will likely get higher amounts, but other areas from New York City to Boston should not expect to beat last year’s totals. Overall, however, winter sports enthusiasts have a shot at an average season.

Notice how they mention that “some chilly air could come at times during November.”  So, you know, if it gets chilly in November, they weren’t wrong even if their graphic says “Mild Start.”  They still seem to be forecasting an average Winter overall for the east, which makes that graphic a little misleading.  Otherwise, the rest of their text seems to align with the graphic.  How does this matchup with other forecasts?  We’ll take a look in the coming days/weeks.  (It is only October – although I saw snow here in Southwest PA this morning.)

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Responses

  1. Totally agree. It’s horrendous. Every word of their forecast is carefully thought out so they can make sure they are protected. In long range forecasts, especially for winter , which we all know is a roll of the dice, the most important thing to them is the bottom line. It’s a simple fact, weather sells. But, dry, boring weather does not. So in Mid Atlantic in northeast at the very least you will get ” Chances of big storms and blizzards” and most normal. “Cold and snowy winter”. Especially with Accuweather who gets about 85% of the revenue in MA and NE. Good post bro.


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