Weather Whys

Accurate forecasting?

We see the long-range forecast is out from the “Farmer’s Almanac” and it predicts a very cold winter for most of the country. How accurate is long-range forecasting?

It depends on exactly what you mean by “long range,” says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University.

“On forecasts within the next 24 hours, forecasts are usually very accurate,” he says. “Forecasts made between 1-3 days are usually pretty good. But beyond seven days or so, the accuracy rate tends to slip because factors that make up a forecast tend to change. So the shorter the time period, the more accurate the forecast.

“It’s interesting to note that ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac,’ now in its 223rd year and one of the oldest publications in the country, makes up its weather forecasts about a year in advance,” McRoberts says, “and it claims to have an 80-percent accuracy rate. It uses a ‘secret’ method of weather forecasting that it’s used for over 200 years that includes sun spots, ocean currents and many other factors.”



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