Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Attack of the Numbers: Early Returns on the Cold Wave Forecasts

Snowfall on Thursday afternoon.
(Very) early returns on the analysis of forecaster efforts to predict the coming cold wave are somewhat interesting. The progressive analysis shows the high temperatures for a future date as they are predicted for several days in advance. If that doesn't make sense, check the analysis and it might make more sense. Two things that jump out at me: 1) Paul Douglas's forecast numbers are consistently to the extreme and change considerably with each day, and 2) WCCO, Fox and the National Weather Service have been the most consistent from day to day. After the cold wave comes and goes, we'll do a grading of weathercasters' ability to predict temperatures up to seven days in advance.


  1. That is exactly my observation of Paul Douglas: Predict extreme weather for 4-5 days, generate web hits/viewers, then backtrack either just before the storm or wait until afterward and blame the models....

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Certainly, that's what the data suggests.

  4. I've been wondering that myself about the Star Tribune forecasts - that "15 day forecast" is a disaster - it is all over the place, with dramatic fluctuations from day to day, and often in the extreme ranges. It is usually vastly different from's 10 day forecast.
    Unfortunately all of the forcasts have subzero cold most of the coming week except for Monday.
    Mostly I have to admit I am just angry at the weather/climate here and not really at the forecasters... I always feel cheated living here in the winter - you really don't have to go very far to see warmer temperatures - 4-6 hours south (Des Moines or Kansas City) or 6 hours west (Western SD, Rapid City) and it is so dramatically warmer - my mind can't seem to understand how or why this is - it is like the cold just plants itself over Minnesota when you look at the National temperature maps - it was 46 in Rapid City and 34 in KC today - a whopping 18 here. How frustrating.
    And the snow - gosh, I wouldn't care if I ever saw another snowflake in my life... I heard someone say we've something like 34 of the last 40-some days with snow and the endless gray skies this winter when the days are short/dark to begin with are enough to cause even the happiest person to feel depressed.
    OK, sorry to be a downer, but I am really down on this winter.