Posted by: mrpeatie | May 23, 2008

The Most Useless Forecast You’ll Read Today

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their 2008 Hurricane season forecast earlier this week. I really don’t know why they bother with these forecasts. With all our fancy technology, satellites, and VIPIR radars, the weather folks still can’t tell me if it is going to rain this afternoon or not. But that doesn’t prevent them from trying to forecast one of the most complicated and awesome forces of nature for the next 6 months.

They’ve made it even more confusing and useless this year. They give us their normal numbers, but add percentages to the likelihood of those numbers. Check it out:

The approaching 2008 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be above normal, with up to 16 named storms and up to five major hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday, citing climate conditions.

Ok that makes some sense if they just stopped their. But the forecast goes on to include:

The outlook issued by the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for “considerable activity,” with a 65 percent probability of an above-normal season, and an overall 90 percent chance the season will be normal or above, but there is also a 25% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season the agency said in a news release.

Wait, what? Why not just say there is a 100% chance this hurricane season will be either normal, above normal, or below normal in activity and call it a day. Seriously, why bother with these useless forecasts? They never get it right and they don’t really help anyone. Just continue to monitor the Atlantic basin and let us know when something develops.

One of the more annoying things about these forecasts is that they adjust them halfway through the season based on how the hurricane season is panning out so they don’t look so clueless. Last year the first half of the season was below normal in activity despite their predictions of an above normal season. They revised their forecast halfway through the season to be below normal.





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  2. […] hurricane peeps made their mostly useless predictions for the season a few weeks ago. Below is a really cool map of all the hurricanes that made landfall […]

  3. […] are Heating Up We are just over a month into the 2008 Hurricane Season and it has been a quiet one thus far, as it should be. There has been some recent activity in the […]

  4. […] hurricane season has gotten off to a quick start, so as predicted, Dr. Gray has revised his original […]

  5. You’re absolutely write about the lack of precision with a forecast so laden with probability schemes. It’s the same with the weather service’s summer forecast, which I wrote about here:

    I’m a meteorologist with over 20 years of experience–I say that it’s best to issue a forecast, not a list of possibilities; the audience understands that the forecast may not be right, but adding disclaimer after disclaimer ensures that it will be viewed as useless. At least if you take a stand, you have a chance of being right.

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