The Ice Storm: The Real Truth
The recriminations, excuses, and explanations have been floating around in the media, blogs, Net, newspapers (see the articles in the Seattle Sunday Times for example) concerning the botched forecast of the recent ice storm. So----I think it’s time to tell the truth about the reason the forecast was botched.
What happened this last week was really no different to what happens all the time in forecasting the weather. All the forecasters, no matter if they are scientists, TV weather people, or anyone have to rely on computers for their forecasts. And, the computer generated forecasts are not accurate to the small spatial sales and the very accurate timing of events necessary for forecasting last week’s weather.
It is not uncommon for precipitation forecasted by the computer models to stay south of Seattle to actually reach all the way to Bellingham, or for timing of the precipitation to be off by several hours, or for the forecasted wind speed to be too low or high from the actual wind speed. This is the reality of the current computer models.
Most of the time no one notices these errors in the forecast as they make no real difference in our lives. Who really cares if the wind speed is a few miles an hour faster, or if it rains south of Olympia instead of south of Seattle? Last week these common everyday errors in the computer models turned out to be really important. That’s all.
One last comment. The computer models are the real heroes (or occasionally goats) in the forecasting game.