How reliable are those extended, seasonal forecasts? | KNKX

How reliable are those extended, seasonal forecasts?

May 31, 2019

It's going to be a beautiful several days, and we can expect lots of sunshine. But as we look toward what's expected in the next week or month, there is some uncertainty. In KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass' blog post this week, he talks about the reliability of extended forecasts. He says forecasting models are "quite good" out about a week. 

"Our skill starts fading out probably from a week to maybe 10 days and then it goes bad," Mass said. "That's in terms of weather forecasting, forecasting specific weather systems. But then we have other models that attempt to forecast seasonly."

He explains these seasonal forecasts go out weeks or months, but the skill of these is not very good. Even though the skill isn't there yet, there are people trying to make the forecasts much more dependable.

"I'm working on research in this area, other people are as well," he said. "And we're hopeful that over the next decade we'll gain some more useful skill from approximately two weeks to a month out."

Until that happens, Mass suggests you have a healthy dose of skepticism as you read or hear about expectations for the summer. That said, he explains, the models are calling for Seattle to have a "wetter than normal summer." 

To hear the full conversation, click on the "play" icon at the top of this post.

Weather with Cliff Mass airs at 9:02 a.m. Friday, right after BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KNKX environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences, a renowned Seattle weather prognosticator, and a popular weather blogger. You can also subscribe to podcasts of Weather with Cliff Mass shows, via iTunes or Google Play.