Question of the Week: Luke wants to know… do you get nervous if you get the weather wrong?
Well, Luke, I must say that I love this question. The first time I really, really got the weather wrong was during my first TV job in Omaha, Nebraska. After a tough stretch of winter weather, I called for a day of sunshine with highs in the 70s. Unfortunately, we stayed overcast and only saw highs in the 40s. It was a truly awful prediction! But I wasn’t alone. Every other meteorologist made the same mistake. But I decided to apologize live on the air the next day. Viewers actually called the TV station to thank me for the apology!
While I was really wrong that time, I think most “wrong” forecasts comes down to perspective.
Remember that time it was supposed to rain, and it didn’t? Or have you ever heard this joke about a weather person… It must be nice to be wrong all the time and still keep your job.
Hmmm… if I say there’s a chance of rain tomorrow, and it doesn’t rain at your house but it rains five miles away… am I wrong?
As it turns out, weather forecasts are correct about 80 percent of the time overall. A forecast for just a 24 hour period is even better at 90 to 94 percent accurate.
All four meteorologists of Storm Team 3 eat, drink and breathe weather data. We try to look at every weather model that we can, and trust me… there’s a lot of data out there.
But in the end, Mother Nature always gets the final word.
Weather forecasting is predicting the future after all. Every forecast comes with a probability, or a level of uncertainty. But the science is getting better. About 25 years ago, hurricane predictions were off by an average of 350 miles. Today, the number is down to less than 100 miles. About 20 years ago, you only got a 3 minute heads up for a tornado warning. Today, the average time is up to 15 minutes.
So my perspective… we are right far more than we are wrong.