For the past ten days or our local weather forecasts have been an ever-changing kaleidoscope of predictions, many of which proved to be noticeably inaccurate.
Part of the problem may, as some experts point out, be due to climate change. However, sensationalism in the field of weather forecasting is a growing trend.
The business of weather
Weather is becoming and ever more serious issue to contend with for our personal safety, health issues, property protection, etc. There is a steadily increasing supply of weather services, weather apps, weather bloggers, storm chasers meteorologists, and online weather “personalities.”
Chasing the perfect headline to drive traffic to their sites, has become a fact of life with many broadcast and online weather prognosticators. Alas, there is little oversight in this area and no consequences for being wrong.
in 2016 IBM bought The Weather Channel mobile app along with the digital assets of The Weather Company for $2 billion. This did not include The Weather Channel, the extremely profitable program seen on TV. In 2021 IBM’s weather servers were pinged 40 billion times a day by over 2.5 billion devices. That’s big business. In 2023, IBM announced plans to sell the properties for an undisclosed sum.
Oversight of the weather business
NOAA’s SciJinks says that a seven-day forecast can accurately predict the weather about 80 percent of the time and a five-day forecast can accurately predict the weather approximately 90 percent of the time. However, a 10-day—or longer—forecast is only right about half the time.
Current weather forecasting models are said to be proving inadequate in extreme event scenarios as climate change accelerates. There are now a few services that can provide insight into the accuracy of various weather prognosticators.
One such service is ForecastWatch, which collects weather forecasts from thousands of locations throughout the U.S. and around the world and verifies them against actual observations. This data adds to a ever-growing historical database that currently contains more than one billion weather forecasts. They provide analysis and data that meteorologists need to improve forecast quality and accuracy. Their most recently published report named Microsoft as the current most accurate service. For a look at their most recent comparison of weather prediction abilities, see Analysis of One- to Five-Day Forecasts January–June 2022
How to improve outcomes during extreme weather events
As this post is being written, the New Albany area is facing some extremely cold, wet and windy weather. The exact details of what to expect and when to expect it varies a bit from one weather service to another, but the overall picture is a serious matter.
Predictions from the NOAA National Weather Service, AccuWeather and the Microsoft service vary from one to three degrees daily, as to the highs and lows to be expected over the next few days. Generally though, the predictions are approximately: Saturday Sunny with high, 48 low 18-22; Sunday increasing clouds with high 28-32, low of 20; Monday, 2-4 inches snow with high of 25-27, low of 10-11; Tuesday, high 21-23, low 5-10. No matter the exact details, a miserable forecast for man and beast.
The best thing most people can do about the weather is to be prepared to protect themselves, their property, their pets, etc. for whatever may come. The advice to “prepare for the worst and be happy if it doesn’t come” is still a good idea.
Make plans that will protect your family, your property, your pets, and any neighborhood strays you can aid. Stockpile some food supplies that require minimal preparation. Make sure you have some extra drinking water on hand. To that end, NEmiss.news has collected some tips from several sources.
From NALGW Director Bill Mattox
Set your thermostat at 68° or lower if possible. Lowering the thermostat setting just one degree can result in a savings of up to 3 percent.
- If a power curtailment notice is issued postpone using electric appliances such as dishwashers, dryers and cooking equipment and turn off nonessential lights, appliances, electronics and other electrical equipment
- Make sure water hoses are disconnected from hydrants. Even the freeze-proof hydrants can freeze and bust with a hose connected.
- Good time to locate you water meter or outside cut-off valve. Make sure dirt has not covered the cut-off valve.
- Know the number to your electric/gas/water provider in case of emergency. For New Albany LGW all calls should be directed to 662-534-1041.
- Leave some faucets dripping (hot and cold). A steady stream is better than a drip. Better to use a little water than have frozen pipes. Best to use faucet furthest from hot water heater. Remember water sitting in pipes is what freezes.
- Keep cabinet doors open to expose pipes to heating.
- Cover your outside hydrants. Make sure pipes in attic are insulated.
- Keep an eye on pipes for a couple days after temperatures get above freezing. Pipes might not show leakage while frozen.
Cold Weather tips from TVA
- Prepare your house/property. Secure gas for generators and salt for walkways. Turn off water to outside faucets and cover them.
- Make sure you have adequate food and supplies to stay indoors for a few days.
- Do not leave animals outside during this time.
- Adjust your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower and bundle up in a cozy sweater, warm socks or a blanket. Set your water heater’s temperature at 120° F.
- Keep your garage door closed to buffer colder outdoor air from trickling into your home.
- Use exhaust fans sparingly to avoid pulling extra warm air out of your home.
- Open your curtains or blinds on south-facing windows during the day to allow natural sunlight to heat your home.
- If you haven’t already, add weather-stripping or caulk around leaky windows and doors. Block drafts with tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades.
- Replace your air filter and schedule routine maintenance regularly so your heating system runs safely and efficiently.
- Keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.
- Other safety reminders can be found at: ExtremeCold.pdf (weather.gov).
National Weather Service Tips
When you are outside, frostbite and hypothermia are possible so you need to protect yourself.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
- Wear a hat. Try to stay dry and out of the wind.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
Ice Safety Please visit this informative link https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html
To keep pipes from freezing on an outside wall:
- Let hot and cold water trickle or drip at night from a faucet.
- Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or near an outer wall.
- Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
- If you plan to be away:
- Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or
- drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).
If Pipes Freeze:
- Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst.
- NEVER try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. Use a hair dryer instead.
- Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- NEVER run generators indoors.
- Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- NEVER use a gas oven to heat your home.
- If your heat goes out, you can keep warm indoors by closing off rooms you do not need, dressing in layers of lightweight clothing, and wearing a cap.
Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and heaters:
- Always keep a screen around an open flame.
- NEVER use gasoline to start your fireplace.
- NEVER burn charcoal indoors.
- Do not close the fireplace damper when ashes are hot.
- Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters.
- Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Animal and Pet Safety:
- Bring pets inside
- Provide shelter and fresh water
- Keep salt away from paws
- Check you battery
- Check your fluids (coolant, wiper fluid, oil, etc)
- Check your tires
- Have jumper cables
- Pack a blanket