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  1. #1
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    How are the Weather Forecasts in Your Area?

    Ever since moving to this less-populated area of far northern California, I've noticed that the weather forecasts are less accurate than they were in San Francisco. For example, for each of the last four days, the forecast (from the night before) was "rain." But each of these days were sunny or mostly sunny with not a drop of rain.

    This is inconvenient, since I sometimes skip a ride, expecting rain, only to see a sunny day.

    I wonder if (1) my area has more variable weather, (2) my area has fewer forecasting resources devoted to it, or (3), I'm just noticing the errors more.
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  2. #2
    Frame Catastrophizer mikewille's Avatar
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    Got any airports nearby? I think they get pretty accurate forecasts.

  3. #3
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    What is the source of your forecasts?
    TV, Weather.com, NOAA (http://www.weather.gov/)?
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Hit up Forecast Advisor and see who is the most accurate for your area. It seems to vary from area to area. My job lives and dies on the weather and FWIW in some places nobody gets it right. I can get a 90% chance of rain for my area and have sun all day, then get a 30% for the next day and have to break out the scuba gear and rescue boats. I work all over the country and it takes me a while to get the hang of the local patterns, but once I do I can usually beat out the pros...

    I think NOAA and many of the others do zone forecasts which hit up the general region but there are a lot more factors that can play into local spot forecasts.

    Aaron
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  5. #5
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    I like Weather Underground or weather.gov. It seems best to compare sources and form your own forecast based on your own observations. As you get more familiar with your locale you can get pretty good at forecasting, taking into account the official sources. The farther in to the future the forecast gets the less accurate it becomes. I seldom look past 48 hours. The worst source is the local TV weather wags. They sensationalize the weather for ratings and generally over react to potential bad weather.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I've found that the local news weather guy seems to be reading the exact same forecasts that are on weather.com.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Hell of a winter this is. It's snowing on our palm trees. But, it will be all gone by Noon, replaced by rain.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
    Hell of a winter this is. It's snowing on our palm trees. But, it will be all gone by Noon, replaced by rain.


    That was us about 3 weeks ago in a city that has an average snowfall of less than .1" One local airport inland didn't have any snow measuring devices, and ended up getting somewhere around 6"...unreal.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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  9. #9
    The Fat Guy In The Back Tundra_Man's Avatar
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    Around here our forcasts can be relied upon for about 1/2 an hour. After that, it's anyone's guess.
    '81 Panasonic Sport, '02 Giant Boulder SE, '08 Felt S32, '10 Diamondback Insight RS, '10 Windsor Clockwork

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  10. #10
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    The forecasts around here ( Calgary Alberta ) are notoriously unreliable. Part of the problem is that we are so close to the Rockies, a very small shift in wind direction gives a marked change in weather. The other is the cheapskate bureaucrats don't update the forecast from the raw data often enough.

    One morning i checked, and the forecast was for a chill, but dry day, not a word of any precipitation. Not 20 minutes later, riding into work, "What the hell is this white stuff!??" had an inch of snow before reaching work, and about 6 by home time.

  11. #11
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    definitely www.wunderground.com will give you forecasts, moving satellites, wind speed, gusts, lightening, % chances, etc.
    it is the easiest site to use for me. never wrong.

    I have ridden and gotten back in the driveway as it starts to rain. Timed todays ride well.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  12. #12
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    A some weather stations here will just say rain tomorrow without mentioning the percentage and most of us treat a 30% chance of rain as a very unlikely event.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post


    That was us about 3 weeks ago in a city that has an average snowfall of less than .1" One local airport inland didn't have any snow measuring devices, and ended up getting somewhere around 6"...unreal.

    Aaron
    No rides today. We're all house bound.. The snow is piled up about 5 inches at the base of our orange tree.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

  14. #14
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    lightening
    This is the only part of the forecast they get right. Happens every morning.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  15. #15
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    I never noticed that, TromboneAl, but you're right. They never miss on the lightening.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The forecasts around here are not bad ... they're in the ballpark. The reported current conditions, however, are not very accurate.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Timber_8's Avatar
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    Getting a weather forcast right is so boring it isn't worth noting. Get wrong though and all you hear is they never get it right.
    I live in New England & they don't get it wrong often but when they do nobody remembers how many time they get it right
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  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timber_8 View Post
    Getting a weather forcast right is so boring it isn't worth noting. Get wrong though and all you hear is they never get it right.
    I live in New England & they don't get it wrong often but when they do nobody remembers how many time they get it right
    Which is why I think weather forecasters should forecast the worst-case scenario. If they get it right ... well, people were warned. If they get it wrong, people are so happy they forget that the forecast was wrong.

  19. #19
    Senior Member leooooo's Avatar
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    Weather forecasts are mostly inaccurate.
    What's accurate is that weekdays when I work are sunny and weekends are rainy/snowy.
    Gonna be the same again this week

  20. #20
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Probably won't be cycling until at least the weekend . Roussillon was hit by the once in every 5 years snow storm..Because such storms are so rare, they don't have snow plows.. We received 30 cm of snow.. No rains are predicted to wash it all away and the high temps are only about 8 degrees C. The snow should be gone by Saturday according to the press. Guess those few days are not worth getting the trainer out.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

  21. #21
    Freddin' it
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    I was a USAF weather officer/meteorologist in the early 70s. We weren't all that good back then, and they aren't much better now. The big improvement has been the numeric (computer simulation) forecasts. A 24-hour forecast is a crap shoot in many places. What's much better than the past are the 5-7 day outlooks, because the simulations are good at projecting large-scale movement of systems. A short-term forecast is projecting small-scale movements, and those can be erratic.

    Weather patterns are just vortices in fluid flow. Watch a whirlpool: it's easier to see where it's going over all, but hard to tell if a whisp of it is going to pass through/over a certain nearby point in the next few seconds, or if a little mini-whirlpool (storm) will crop up somewhere in the overall flow. We can say that overall, yes, there will be mini-whirlpools cropping up within the overall whirlpool (storm system), but not exactly where (your town or 30 miles north).

    I'd guess the SF weather is more predictable because tomorrow's weather has moved in from offshore, where the (flat) sea has less effect on small scale perturbations in the air than, say, the Rockies. That also explains why the weather here in Kansas is more unpredictable than weather in Chicago. A storm's system's lower level nuances get lost in the artificial vortices/perturbations created by the Rockies, whereas by the time a system nears Chicago, it's been watched as it passes over fairly level ground for the last day or two.

    Interestingly, the data shows it's harder to get the min/max temps within 3 degrees than to determine if it's going to rain or not. A little patch of clouds drifting in during the afternoon can be the difference between a 95 and a 90 degree high. Clouds during the night can prevent temp drops of 10 degrees or more.

  22. #22
    Senior Member leooooo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akansaskid View Post
    I was a USAF weather officer/meteorologist in the early 70s. We weren't all that good back then, and they aren't much better now. The big improvement has been the numeric (computer simulation) forecasts. A 24-hour forecast is a crap shoot in many places. What's much better than the past are the 5-7 day outlooks, because the simulations are good at projecting large-scale movement of systems. A short-term forecast is projecting small-scale movements, and those can be erratic.

    Weather patterns are just vortices in fluid flow. Watch a whirlpool: it's easier to see where it's going over all, but hard to tell if a whisp of it is going to pass through/over a certain nearby point in the next few seconds, or if a little mini-whirlpool (storm) will crop up somewhere in the overall flow. We can say that overall, yes, there will be mini-whirlpools cropping up within the overall whirlpool (storm system), but not exactly where (your town or 30 miles north).

    I'd guess the SF weather is more predictable because tomorrow's weather has moved in from offshore, where the (flat) sea has less effect on small scale perturbations in the air than, say, the Rockies. That also explains why the weather here in Kansas is more unpredictable than weather in Chicago. A storm's system's lower level nuances get lost in the artificial vortices/perturbations created by the Rockies, whereas by the time a system nears Chicago, it's been watched as it passes over fairly level ground for the last day or two.

    Interestingly, the data shows it's harder to get the min/max temps within 3 degrees than to determine if it's going to rain or not. A little patch of clouds drifting in during the afternoon can be the difference between a 95 and a 90 degree high. Clouds during the night can prevent temp drops of 10 degrees or more.
    Interesting read

  23. #23
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    The reports at the start of the forecast where they tell you what todays weather was like is spot on.

    Forecast for a couple of days is not too bad but a couple of sundays ago every one was battening down the hatches for weather coming up from France and Spain that never arrived. Thank goodness as France sunk and Spain got washed away.

    Last summer was supposed to be a "B-B-Q" summer- it was if you had a covered one. This winter was supposed to be mild-- They got that wrong aswell. The met office over here has now announced that they will no longer be giving long range weather forecast's.
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