And the winner is…

KIRO TV7 is the winner of my Weather Forecast Rodeo, with two “most accurate” days and two “runner up” days. The Seattle Times is the runner up with two “winner” days.

Five days seemed like a nice range because it’s what all of the services purport to predict. However, I’d like to better quantify the quality of forecasts and will likely do another weather forecast rodeo in March.

Next time, I want to better standardize terminology for the weather condition. For example, the Seattle PI/KOMO TV4 lists their forecasts as “cloudy,” which I think is incredibly wimpy.
Other weather sources provide a scale — sunny, mostly sunny, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, overcast — which is a similar concept to the aviation weather forecasts using “clear”, “few”, “scattered”, “broken”, and “overcast” as an indicator of the percentage of cloud coverage. Hey, we love our clouds. To quote Steve Pool, “we average 226 cloudy days [..] and 81 partly cloudy days” a year.

Because I’m a math geek, I also want to come up with a formula that will assign a point value for the forecast precision. My thinking is there should be some enumeration for the types of weather conditions and points assigned to how far off they are. I would also like to have a bonus category for future prediction accuracy because, quite frankly, predicting weather five days in advance is pretty tricky.

Similarly, there should be some point “penalty” for radical changes in forecast. For example, going from “partly cloudy” to “snow” a couple of days later suggests the computer model may closely resemble a
Ouija Board

Finally, I’m going to inquire about National Weather Service forecasts as they’re very broad for a test like this.


5 thoughts on “And the winner is…”

  1. I’m ready for another one! Bring it on and March is an excellent choice of time. This has been fun watching the progress … now I’m watching the snow!

  2. I wonder where all of the news sources get their information and how they come up with their differing forecasts.

  3. > I wonder where all of the news sources get their information

    That’s a very good question. I’m going to write to them and hopefully they’ll answer.

    On an unrelated note, a few nights ago I was watching
    Secrets of the Dead: Tragedy at the Pole, which recounts Robert Scott’s attempt to be the first person to the south pole. Scott made it — after the Norwegian Amundsen — and his party perished on the way back. The researcher, Dr. Susan Soloman, noted Scott’s strong reliance on weather data by George Simpson.

    As it turned out, Simpson’s forecasts were remarkably accurate (within 3 degrees) … until the way back. One out of 10-15 years, the year of Scott’s expedition, the temperature drops to abnormally low levels.

    Simpson’s forecasts were based on frequent, manual measurements and building up a mathematical model. It’s remarkable how well he did with what he had. I would have hoped that 90 years later, with satellites, radar and remote measuring, we’d be able to improve upon that.


  4. The National Weather Service forcast is akin to a psychic prediction in it’s grandiose vagueness, dontcha think?

    Why don’t we combine the two like so:

    Sagittarius – It will rain or snow or be sunny or overcast today. You’ll see some people, and do some stuff.

  5. As promised, I have written KIRO to congratulate them on their victory. I will post any response.

    2807 Third Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98121

    Dear Mr. Wappler and Mr. Hammel,

    I wanted to congratulate the KIRO weather team on winning my

Comments are closed.