Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Magic 8 Ball's predictions for winter weather.

Three-month outlook temperature map from NOAA.
Magic 8 Ball Prediction Tool
The ridiculous changes in temperatures (30 deg F to 70 deg F to 20 deg F to 50 deg F???) and the uncertainties in weather forecasts made me slightly cranxious yesterday. I checked the NOAA Climate Center page and the three-month outlook is confusing for Western PA: both the temperature and precipitation maps show that there are equal chances for above, normal, and below average temperatures and precipitation from December through January.

These model uncertainties made me think of the results one might expect from using a magic 8 ball to make weather predictions, so in this article I report the results from my testing of the magic 8 ball's ability to predict weather and answer tough questions.


The first component of testing a predictive model is to evaluate the ability for the model to predict known events.

So, question 1: Will it be cold enough to make snow this weekend?
Answer: "My reply is no."


Good job, 8 ball, as this is the weekend weather forecast:



Moving forward with additional, more difficult questions, I wondered if there was some issue that the jet stream has with winter weather in the United States, especially after learning about how the unseasonally warm temperatures are due to the jet stream pulling warmer temperatures north.

Question 2: Is the jet stream purposefully trying to stress out winter lovers?
Answer: "As I see it, yes."

Hm.

So, some additional important questions for the 8 ball...
Q3: Will the extreme temperature flip flop ever stop?
Answer: "As I see it yes."

Cool.

Q4: Are you just as accurate as our detailed climate prediction models?
Answer: "Outlook good."

May  need to discuss this result with some climate scientists and statisticians.

Finally, the most important question:
Q5: Will there be enough snow to snowboard this winter?
Answer: "Yes definitely."



Phew.

Joking aside, I'm interested in learning more from the climate scientists...what do all of these strange weather patterns mean in regards to the longer-term climate outlook? In the meantime, I'm focusing on training in whatever form possible to be ready for the snow, once it finally arrives for good.

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