The weatherman is telling me that a blizzard is coming to my house, about 25 miles north of Boston. He’s forecasting 2-3 feet of “thunder” snow and winds approaching hurricane force.
Weather forecasts have improved greatly since I was a kid (ancient history), so I have to expect a winter storm. We’ll see just how bad it turns out to be.
As good as the forecasts have been, they aren’t perfect by any means. As an example, if you were to go to an online weather web site like AccuWeather or www.Weather.com, and jot down the temperature they forecast for 24 hours from now, the chances are that that forecast will change hour by hour until the actual temperature is recorded. I’ve seen the actual instrument reading be 3-4 degrees above or below their forecasts from 24 hours earlier.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Weather forecasting is very difficult. And, for my purposes, they generally do a good enough job for 1-2 days ahead. As the forecast goes out to 5 days, the expected reliability goes way down. Longer than that and it’s only slightly better than using a Ouija Board.
Part of this comes from the reliability of the weather data that meteorologists use in making their forecasts. While we might assume that the instruments being used are state of the art and the individual stations as a whole are quality controlled for accuracy, the reality is that you shouldn’t assume.
Several years ago, Anthony Watts and an army of volunteers did an audit of the 1221 weather stations in the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN), comparing the physical stations to the official USHCN standards for siting stations. The results, as reported on www.SurfacStations.org show that less than 8% of the stations met the standard needed to guarantee an expected error of less than 1o Celsius. Fully 70% had an expected error of greater than 2o C. Now, this is close enough if all you want to know is how to dress for work the next couple of days.
Short term weather forecasts also are difficult because the weather is a chaotic system with many variables: wind speed & direction, both at ground level an aloft; size, location, an intensity of high & low pressure systems; humidity & cloudiness to name a few.
Meteorologists have gotten better at modeling (guessing) what is going to happen based on all the current data, but even if all the data is identical to what happened before (almost never happens), the result still could be different this time. An hour or two ahead, the models give excellent results; a day or two ahead, the models give adequate results, a week (or month) or two ahead and you’re just playing roulette.
A big problem is that a lot of so-called climatologists are trying to use this data to forecast what the temperature will be in 50 or 100 years! This is absolutely nuts!
The lack of reliability of the forecasts would not necessarily be a problem if the lack of reliability were acknowledged – but it isn’t. Instead, a large number of climatologists (a consensus?) has decided the result they desire ahead of time, and then they work backwards to get it. They’ve decided to raise an alarm over what people are doing, especially relating to use of fossil fuels and the CO2 it generates.
To get the desired results, the UN’s IPCC says researchers should look only at human activity, completely ignoring natural factors, such as ENSO, NAO, clouds, sunspots, etc which are known to affect climate. They ignore the historical record where it suits them, as in freezing of the Thames (they say there was no Little Ice Age) and vineyards in England & ancient settlements in Greenland (they say there was no Medieval Warm Period). They ignore the ice core data showing that the recent (10,000 years) climate has cycled between warmer than present to colder periods, indicating that the current temperatures are within natural variation.
And then there’s the continuous adjustments to the instrumental data records, always to make the past appear colder and the trend to look steeper. They ignore, or even reverse adjust for, the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI).
Most recently – for the last 18 years, depending on which instrumental record is being used – they change and give vague definitions for climate terms, while making nonsensical connections. They used to call it Global Warming, but now they call it Climate Change (or Climate Disruption or Extreme Weather). They talk about man-made climate change but intimate that all human influence is with CO2, ignoring land use and land cover changes among others.
It gets really weird when they start to say that warming causes cold weather. It’s very likely that the current storm just starting to hit the Northeast US will be blamed on Global Warming.
Most people will believe this nonsense, largely due to the Alarmists success in keeping opposing views out of the media and many scientific journals (remember ClimateGate?).
I guess I’ better get some rest now – I see the snow coming down and soon I’m going to have a lot of snow-blowing to do. Do you think the global warming from the CO2 coming out of my snow blower will help melt all the white stuff?