Monday, June 27, 2011

Forecast Range for Thursday: 89 to 100

Tuesday evening update
As of Tuesday evening, KSTP continues to forecast a whopping 100 degrees for the Twin Cities on Thursday. Tweets from Dave Dahl (though we still think it's the @KSTPWeather account handler doing the tweeting) seemed directed at skeptics:

Here were the forecast high temperatures for Thursday as of Tuesday mid-evening:

WCCO: 95
KSTP: 100
FOX: 94 ("heat index could easily reach 105")
KARE: 95 89
Accuweather: 92
NWS: 93
Strib (mid-day update): 88

Here's how the forecasters saw things as of Sunday night:



Fox Partial

Fox Partial


NWS Forecast (as of Monday morning, not Sunday night)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kvetching Time -- Busted Saturday Forecast

Sunday a.m. update
It's too early in the day to say whether we've got a double bust on our hands, but the unpredictable weather is even making nowcasts a challenge:

A nowcast from the NWS issued at 8:22 a.m. called for showers by noon; it never happened.
Saturday update
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows... and you don't need a Consumer Reports-type weather website to tell you that today's forecast was a busted one. Still, it's our job to point these things out.

The good news for Twin Cities forecasters: As far as we can tell, everybody blew today's forecast. Here are a few depictions from local weather presentations:

WCCO: "Nice Day" for Saturday

"Nice Day" for Saturday

Star Tribune Blog

MPR Weather Blog (using NWS graphics)

Honorable mention goes to KSTP's Patrick Hammer for calling a spade a spade:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Case of Dew Point Inflation?

There have been occasions this spring/summer where a few forecasters have rather casually tossed around 70-degree dewpoints, the levels at which most agree things feel pretty steamy and tropical. The skeptic in us thinks that exaggerated dew point temperatures are used to grab attention in the same way that exaggerated wind chill temperatures are used in the winter. Today seems to be one of those days.

This morning's blog from the Star Tribune states that today's (Saturday's) dew points will be in the tropical 70s per below:

However, dew point forecasts obtained from Weather Underground and sourced from the National Digital Forecast Database (NWS) predict dew points will go no higher than 65 today:

In the world of dew points, a dew point difference of five or more degrees from 65 to 70+ is significant. It's the difference between "rather muggy" and "really muggy/oppressive."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Twitter and Twin Cities Forecasters: Who Should You Follow?

Twitter and Weather
As social media, and in particular Twitter, become more and more the standard for the dissemination of weather information, we thought we’d devote a post to the tweeting activities of Twin Cities weather outlets and forecasters. We’ll include our philosophy on weather tweeting as well as an outlet-by-outlet assessment of the weathercasters with Twitter accounts.

The Need for a Single Voice
As it stands now, there’s a fair amount of inconsistency in the world of weather tweeting. For example, when breaking weather events develop, one can’t be sure whether it’s better to follow the generic station weather Twitter account (i.e., @WCCOWeather) or whether it’s preferable to follow one’s favorite weathercaster to receive updates. The generic Twitter weather accounts primarily just provide a single morning tweet on the day’s forecast; they’re essentially useless as a source for breaking weather. However, relying on a particular forecaster to provide timely tweets can be hit and miss, depending on whether the meteorologist is working at that time of day or is otherwise moved to tweet.

We think weather outlets (primarily the television entities) would be well served to dedicate a single Twitter account whose sole purpose would be to provide breaking weather information. Twitter account names could be clear for this purpose, something along the lines of Fox9BreakingWx or KSTPBreakingWx.

Just the Weather, Ma’am
We understand that the “social” in “social media” suggests a type of communication that’s informal, friendly and almost fun, but when it comes to weather information, we think the tweets should stick to weather. It’s our feeling that weathercasters are first and foremost providers of weather, and not celebrities whose vacations and daily doings we need to know about. Yes, we’re old school.

Just as importantly, too many nonweather-related tweets add up to wasted time, a commodity we all find to be in such short supply. Reading about the extreme garage sale, the trip to Israel, or one’s idle thoughts on Idol mean junk mail in the Twitter mailbox of a weather enthusiast.

Not surprisingly, it appears that television weathercasters are more apt to delve into the “social” side of things than authors of weather blogs whose tweets are almost exclusively weather related. For weathercasters interested in sharing their personality, we suggest the use of separate Twitter accounts for weather information and celebrity doings.

Who’s Tweeting?
The following is a listing of the weather tweeters of the Twin Cities. Our list may not be complete; please let us know if there are others we may be missing. And, as always, we’d love to hear your opinion.

@MorningWXGuy (Mike Augustyniak). Prolific tweeter. Unfortunately, roughly half of those tweets are not weather related. If you’re looking to follow him for weather information, you’ll have to sift through a lot of extraneous stuff.
@WCCOShaffer. A basic, middle-of-the-road weather tweeter who seems responsive to followers’ questions and comments.
@WCCOWeather. Daily weather tweets that provide links to daily WCCO weather blogs or the weather page. Good, standard fare.

@Dave_Dahl. Given the sporadic rate of his tweets, you get the impression that KSTP is encouraging him to tweet, but he’s just not quite into it.
@PatHammer. Frequent tweeter of mostly weather information. Consistently provides weather expectations for Twins games.
@ChikageWindler. Yes, she’s in Indy now, but still a timely source for breaking Minnesota weather. Very social tweeter.
@KenBarlowWx. Past record (from previous job in California) suggests a regular, primarily weather-oriented tweeter. We anticipate an initial period of sentimental “it’s nice to be back in MN” tweets, but hopefully weather discussion will quickly prevail.
@KSTPWeather. Generally your basic straight “today’s weather” daily tweet. However, there are times when it’s used to retweet tweets from other KSTP staff, which feels overly promotional to us.

@Fox9MJurica. Marina Jurica. Average tweeter. Generally sticks to weather only.
@Ian_Leonard. A rather prolific tweeter with particularly frequent updates during severe weather. Sometimes on the edge of too many tweets that aren’t weather related.
@KeithMarler. For the most part, tweets are dutiful morning weather updates. Non-weather tweets are existent, but minimal.
@fox9weather. Inactive since March 28. Why?

@JonathanYuhas. Prolific tweeter. All are weather related with some relating to interesting weather beyond Minnesota. Good stuff.
@SvenSundgaard. Frequent tweeter with tweets both social and weather related. Tweets are a bit more personal/social/agenda-related than we’d like to see.
@kare11wx. The daily – weekdays only – source of singular “today’s weather” updates. Why is this account inactive on weekends when weather is arguably more important than weekdays?
@jerridsebesta. A fairly prolific tweeter, but too many tweets that have nothing to do with weather for our taste.

Star Tribune
@Pdouglasweather.  Excellent use of Twitter. Tweets are both regular and timely, combining reference to the Twin Cities most widely read weather blog and breaking weather information. Frequency of severe weather tweets are “just right.”

Minnesota Public Radio
@MPRWeather. Another excellent employer of Twitter. Tweets are exclusively weather related and come with appropriate frequency. A solid source of weather information for both the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

@iembot_mpx (through Iowa State) Other
@NovakWeather. A Rochester-based meteorologist and all-business tweeter who covers the Minneapolis-Rochester corridor. Provides a nice mix of scientific-speak tweets to weather enthusiasts and more basic updates for general interest followers.
@darylritchison -- WDAY Fargo, ND @Mitch_Keegan -- KEYC Mankato, MN

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Who Saw This Heat Coming? One Forecaster ... Sort Of

Last Wednesday night, we noted the various forecasts for the extended outlook (which took us to Monday thru Wednesday of the current week). We were gobsmacked to see the forecast of one station and one forecaster stand out. Per the Monday through Wednesday period detailed below, KSTP was predicting temperatures considerably above the others, particularly for the middle day (Tuesday).

WCCO: 85/85/80
KSTP: 88/92/94
FOX: 84/85/84
KARE: 84/--/--
NWS: 83/81/83 87/85/77 80/75/74
Strib: 79/76/75

We raised the seemingly odd prediction with a member of the KSTP meteorology staff, who confirmed the prediction with us last Thursday morning (below):

As everyone knows by now, the Twin Cities shattered a record, and KSTP's seemingly overly enthusiastic prediction of 92 for today (as of last Wednesday) turned out to off by double digits from the actual temperature.

Still, being off by 11 degrees passes as a sterling forecast in comparison to the prognostications from other forecasts, one of which (the Star Tribune forecast) was off by 27 degrees. Here's how far off the Twin Cities (and national) forecasters were six days in advance of today's record heat:

WCCO: 18
KSTP: 11
FOX: 18
KARE: no prediction made beyond five days (a wise choice?)
NWS: 22 18 28
Strib: 27

While KSTP deserves credit for predicting a heat wave that nobody else was able to see in the extended outlook, KSTP also detailed in its blog a day or two ago that temperatures would remain above normal for at least 10 days. That, it certainly appears based on a now-universally predicted chill down, will not come to fruition. Ah, the weather, ever hard to predict.

High Dewpoints Exaggerated by Some Forecasters
In several cases, a few weathercasters overpredicted dew points. The Strib called for dew point temperatures to be in the 70s for both Monday and Tuesday. Neither happened, and in fact dew points actually spent some significant time in the 50s. Fox also suggested that dew points would get into the 70s on at least one occasion. From our perspective, this was really not an especially steamy scenario. Warm and uncomfortable to be sure, but not as sauna-like as it could have been or as some forecasters would have you believe.

A Picture For Your Grandchildren
As of late Tuesday afternoon, here's a graphic you'll hardly ever see. The Twin Cities boasted the hottest temperature in the country.

The smoky sunset that concluded the 103-degree day:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Considerable Variance in Degree of Thursday Cool Down

There seems to be considerable variance in the temperature forecasts this time of year. As of Monday night, while there's universal agreement on a big cool down coming during midweek, there's still a wide range of forecasts for the high temperature on Thursday. KSTP (Dave Dahl), who was the clear winner on the forecast for the current warm weather, continues to be forecast temperatures that are warmer than anyone else. Fox's Ian Leonard has the coolest forecast for Thursday with 65. With just two and a half days remaining until high temperatures are reached Thursday afternoon, here's what the local prognosticators were predicting:

WCCO: 69
KSTP: 75
Fox: 65
KARE: 71
NWS: 67 66
Accuweather: 72

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Seven Days Out, 20-Degree Disparity in Forecast Highs for Wed. June 8

Monday evening: The Monday temperature is now in the books with a high of 97. No forecasters were close to that temperature with their 5-day advance forecast.

(Read ahead to the second paragraph to see the latest updated temperature forecasts for the Monday-Wednesday period).

Watching KSTP's Dave Dahl forecast a considerable heat wave next week (punctuated by a forecast of a whopping 94 for next Wednesday) got us to thinking it was time to do another extended outlook temperature analysis, something we haven't done since forecasts of extreme cold back in January. As of late Wednesday evening, here was the amazing variance in forecast high temps for several days next week. (The high temperatures detailed below are for Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday.)

WCCO: 85/85/80
KSTP: 88/92/94
FOX: 84/85/84
KARE: 84/--/--
NWS: 83/81/83 87/85/77 80/75/74
Strib: 79/76/75

As of Saturday night, the forecast highs for the Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday period were as follows. Except for KSTP, which initially predicted considerably hotter M-Wed. temps than all others, virtually all weather outlets have upped their forecast high temperatures. At this point, is the outlier with temperatures for Wednesday considerably cooler than all others.

WCCO: 86/89/89
KSTP: 86/92/90
KARE: 89/90/87
NWS: 86/90/90 89/91/80 86/93/88
Strib: 88/91/85

Forecasters Foresee Friday Firecracker

On this first day of meteorological summer (June 1), mother nature seems poised to produce the hottest day of the year thus far on Friday. Here's the forecast high for the various weathercasters in the Twin Cities as of 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

WCCO: 89*
KSTP: 92
Fox: 91
KARE: 88
NWS: 90
Strib: 90 (mid-day update)

*On the 6 p.m. forecast, WCCO's Chris Shaffer chose to show the forecast temperatures estimated by "one of the models." The model, presumably the one that showed the hottest temperatures, depicted a temperature of 94 for the Twin Cities, but, Shaffer added, "I don't think it'll get that warm." Our question is simply this: Why show a model with a temperature that's a full five degrees greater than what you are forecasting? WCCO has done a similar thing with snowfall forecasts in the winter. It seemed irresponsible then and it seems irresponsible now.

Chris Shaffer provides a visual of one model's forecast high temperatures.

Enjoy the heat, as at least one major national weather provider is forecasting a cooler than normal summer. Here's Accuweather's forecast for summer temperatures: