Monday April 18, 2016

Meteorologists 'gobsmacked' after AccuWeather's 90-day forecast

Meteorologists say that beyond 10-days, there is little predictive skills for forecasting the weather.

Meteorologists say that beyond 10-days, there is little predictive skills for forecasting the weather. (AccuWeather.com)

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If you're planning a trip this July, AccuWeather now has 90-day forecasts to help you plan what to pack three months in advance. But meteorologists are warning people to take the forecasts with a grain of salt.

"If you can't be accurate, what's the point of putting out the forecast?" - Alison Bridger, meteorologist

"We're gobsmacked about it," Alison Bridger, chair of San Jose State University's Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

"There's no obvious way that they can be doing this with any kind of accuracy. If you can't be accurate, what's the point of putting out the forecast?" Bridger asks. "I have no words to explain how bizzaro this feels."

AccuWeather is a private company that provides meteorological services to clients and offers free weather information on its website to the public.

AccuWeather president, Joel Myers, told NPR in an interview that their 90-day forecast will give people the best information to help them plan their lives.

Severe Weather Rockies

Snow sticks to a tulip in early spring (David Zalubowski/AP)

Bridger says current methods of forecasting allow a person to know the weather a week to ten days in advance but she admits she's not sure of AccuWeather's methods.

"It is possible AccuWeather has developed something new and we don't know about it yet. Until they tell us their procedures, we can't really know what they are doing," says Bridger.

Bridger maintains that until AccuWeather shares its methods, the public should understand that beyond broad generalizations (summer is hot and winter is cold), knowing a specific day's weather months in advance is impossible.

"You can want to know something but if the thing you want to know is unknowable, how does that help us?"