How to read weather forecasts?

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How often do you feel frustrated when weather forecast does not correspond the reality? You cancelled your plans for the weekends because it was predicted to rain cats and dogs but in fact the weather was perfect for going sailing? Not always we can trust what forecasters say and, what is more, blame them in inaccurate predictions. In most cases we are the ones who are responsible for reading weather forecasts incorrectly. Here are some tips how to understand weather forecast.

We often see 30% chance of precipitation and understand it as that the probability of rain is too low. In fact it only means that there is a 1 to 3 chance that your rain gauge get 0.1 inches of rain or more in that period. It does not explain how heavy or for how long it is expected.

  1. Five degree difference.

Maybe you will be surprised but meteorologists are unable to predict accurate temperature at all. The reason is that the temperature is measured several times a day in particular time. So the chance that is will stay at the same level is almost 0. Moreover, we would recommend you not to rely on the temperature in more than 3 day forecast. The farther you go the less accurate the temperature is.

  1. Radar

Obviously you have no idea what the radar image that we show means. When you see rain on the image does not mean that it is raining on the surface. Also, it has become popular to show rain falling as snow in a different color, but this is just an estimate and the dividing line may be off by 20 to 30 miles. You should know that these images are made with the help of special algorithms that use such data as surface temperatures, elevation, and in many cases upper level temperatures. Therefore, they can be easily fooled!

  1. Two week forecast

As you may have read in our previous article on the accuracy of long-range forecasts you should rely on predictions that show the weather no more than for 5-7 days. The atmosphere of our planet is so unpredictable that it is impossible to say which external factors will change tomorrow and how will it influence on weather in your region.

  1. Is a front coming?

Rain and cold front are not two interdependent factors. A cold front does not mean rain and vise versa – rain is not mandatory accompanied with cold front. A front is the leading edge of a colder or warmer airmass. Nothing more.

So we have summarized 5 most frequently difficulties when understanding weather forecast. Next time be ready to read it right and do not blame forecasters – they just read the data received and proceeded by computers!

Anyway WeatherAPI developers have been constantly working on improving weather APIs so you could fully rely on the forecast they generate in weather apps!


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