No one is perfect, but no profession gets a rap for being consistently wrong like weathermen. If they don’t predict the weather perfectly when your plans rely on it, things tend to get a bit hairy. However, you should consider the following before condemning your meteorologist for saying there would be sunny skies while there’s a storm raging overhead.
- Meteorology is not an exact science – While science is known for its equations and ability to sort out fact from fiction, meteorology relies on something that’s a bit less cut and dry. Equations are used for predicting the weather, but that prediction relies upon data collected over years of observing past weather patterns.
- It is based on past events – The future is not always predictable when based solely on the events of the past. The weathermen take the facts at hand for how storms have shifted in the past and uses data collected through examination of past weather events to see if they can say what a current or future storm may do under similar circumstances. The past isn’t always an indicator of future events though, regardless of what people say about history repeating itself.
- They are human – Perhaps the most important thing to remember is weathermen, like everyone else, are only human. They’re not infallible, and their predictions are based upon estimation as much as actual evidence.
- Computer programs vary – Just like two designers of an app for your smart phone may have the same idea but execute them differently, so may two designers of a meteorological program that is used by your weatherman and the weathermen from other stations. That’s why the two people reporting on the same weather may have two very different ideas of what is to come for your area.
- Weather can be unpredictable – Even when you look out the window and see dark clouds, you cannot honestly say that you are 100% certain that it will rain. Clouds clear up, storms dissipate, winds shift and it does rain on clear days.
- Requirements for a degree in meteorology vary – There is no defined curriculum set for meteorologists to study in order to graduate. Like many career paths, different universities have different ideas of what creates the best graduate in that field. What one school may consider an expert in meteorology another school may find inadequate to graduate without further study.
- No one can accurately predict the future – Putting the concept of palm readers and psychics aside, no one can accurately predict the future. Chances are, no magical element will ever be discovered or created that will accurately tell you what the weather will be like a week from now. Keep in mind, the predictions that go further than one day are educated guesswork, and they may change as patterns develop or evolve.
- Weathermen cover a large area – Most often, a meteorologist will give predictions for a large area, and not all locations in that area will have the same weather. Predicting weather for a county is very tricky business. Chances are your particular area will have slightly different weather than a town on the other side of your viewing area.
- Too many platforms – With the accessibility of information these days, it’s easy to get tied to too many information platforms. One website might predict one thing, while another is showing a drastically different opinion. Even using social media sites is inaccurate; you could be 10 miles away from a friend who’s watching the snow fall, while you’re experiencing different weather.
- Taking the average doesn’t always work – Averaging information will result in an educated estimate of what the actual outcome will be, which is why the thermometer on your porch may read a bit differently from the predicted high for the day. Taking the average temperature on the same date over five years might give you an idea of what the temperature will be on a particular day, but it could be five or more degrees off in either direction. The difference between 40 and 45 might not seem significant, but the difference between 30 and 35 can be the difference between snow and rain.
- No legal definition of meteorologist – There is no legal definition of a meteorologist, so almost anyone can call themselves by such a title in order to share weather predictions on the evening news. As a result, the weatherman servicing your particular area may have a bit less education or training than you’d expect.
- Small storms are hard to pick out of a clear sky – Those small storms that seem to crop up out of the middle of nowhere are fairly difficult to track. The larger storms are the ones that show up on a radar, and are usually the ones that make it to your weekly forecast reports. So, that random shower in the middle of your sunny day should not be blamed by your weatherman. He couldn’t have told you about it anyway.
There’s a good chance that you’re under the misapprehension that your weatherman is wrong more often than he’s right, simply because it’s human nature to remember the times when unexpected weather foiled your plans rather than the days on end when a forecast is spot on. If you’re truly convinced that your meteorologist is rarely right, try to pay closer attention to his predictions and track the number of egregious errors he makes. There’s a good chance that you’ll discover he’s not wrong quite as often as you assume.