Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast?

UN climate forecasts are consistently high … consistently wrong … and used to drive policy

Guest essay by Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris

Dr. Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, summarized the problem the world faces with climate change policy:

“Would you bet your paycheck on the weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this country bet billions on global warming predictions that have even less foundation?”

Sowell is right to be skeptical. Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather much beyond 48 hours, as the degree of accuracy diminishes rapidly with every additional day. Yet the same weather agencies, often using the same computer models, since 1990 have said with almost absolute certainty that their 50- and 100-year forecasts are correct. They maintain this illusion today, even though all their long-term forecasts have been wrong.

Moreover, it’s not just your paycheck that you would be putting at risk. It’s reliable, affordable energy for everything you do, and for those you rely on for goods and services. It’s your living standards and future – and your children’s future.

It’s the health and wellbeing of every person in every modern, industrialized nation on earth – and of every person in poor developing countries who dreams of having living standards and opportunities approaching those we are blessed with.

The global warming deception worked because most people don’t know the difference between weather, climate and meteorology. This confusion arose partly because of the historical development of each.

Climate came first, with the word originating from the Greek word for inclination. The ancient Greeks realized that the climate of a region, and how it changed through the year, was primarily determined by the angle of the Sun’s rays. Beyond that, they used evidence from experience and historical patterns.

Aristotle’s student and philosophical successor Theophrastus (371–287 BC) wrote the book Meteorological Phenomena, sometimes called the Book of Signs. Theophrastus was not referring to astrological signs, but weather signs such as the red sky observation that is neatly summed up by the old, and generally correct, adage: “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.”

The Greeks developed short-term forecasts based on observations made over hundreds of years. This use of long-term signs to try and determine short-term weather pervades and guides all communities because of its impact on their food supply. This became more important when humans switched from hunter-gatherer to sedentary agricultural subsistence.

Some simple definitions are important for the public to understand.

Weather is the total of the atmospheric conditions at any given moment. It includes thousands of inputs from cosmic radiation from deep space, heating energy from the bottom of the oceans and everything in between.

Climate is the average weather conditions, and how they change, at a given location, over an extended period of time. While one can describe “daily climate,” obtained by averaging the 24-hourly readings or averaging the minimum and maximum readings in a 24-hour period, much longer periods are normally studied by climatologists. The choice of the beginning and end point of climate studies determines the overall trend. By “cherry picking” this time interval, you can demonstrate virtually any trend you want.

For example, the general temperature trend of the last 140 years was warming, but the trend of the last 1,000 years was cooling. That is why the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tried to rewrite the historical temperature record over the past millennium to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period. It finally had to restore the Warm Period, which existed across Europe and Asia, and is recorded in multiple Chinese texts from that era.

Similarly, you can study climates of various regions, although forecasting regional climate is fraught with uncertainties. Dr. Tim Palmer, leading climate modeler at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, summed the situation up well in a 2008 New Scientist magazine article:

“I don’t want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain.”

Meteorology is the study of the physics of the atmosphere and is the term people associate most with weather forecasting. Meteorologists maintain that their physics is correct. Then why are their forecasts so often wrong? The answer is inferred in mathematician and philosopher A.N. Whitehead’s comment that,

“There is no more common error than to assume that, because prolonged and accurate mathematical calculations have been made, the application of the result to some fact of nature is absolutely certain.”

The IPCC defends its long-term climate forecasts by maintaining that a weather forecast is different from a climate forecast. But climate is an average of the weather, andone cannot generate accurate results by averaging inaccurate ones.

Thus, starting in 1990, the IPCC stopped making forecasts – because they were never right. Instead they began publishing a range of “projections.” Yet, they too were hopelessly at odds with what actually happened in the real world. Worse, the news media, climate activists, politicians and regulators treat the “projections” as predictions, or forecasts, for purposes of stirring up public anxiety and trying to justify draconian anti-fossil fuel policies.

Indeed, these failed projections underlay the extreme, economically damaging, and completely unnecessary policy prescriptions that were presented earlier this month at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

So, the answer to Sowell’s question is clear. No country – certainly not successful, developed nations like the United States or Canada – should bet a nickel of taxpayers’ money on the UN’s failed global warming predictions.

Poor, struggling, developing countries are even more strongly advised to ignore UN predictions and energy policy prescriptions – unless they want to be mired in poverty and misery for another century.

Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba. Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

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December 1, 2017 2:33 am

I’ve been betting my paycheck on my geological & geophysical “forecasts” since 1981.

But I work in the private sector… Government and academic scientists are mostly exempt from real world accountability.


Reply to  David Middleton
December 1, 2017 7:28 am

There is a pretty good list of people who comment here on WUWT that I find myself wishing I could hang out with, either for their wit, their knowledge, or their general outlook on life. …cough…cough… Looks like you’re on the list: https://youtu.be/1NIBxJgUolw?t=8s


But…I have to ask…what, precisely, does a geological forecast look like anyway? “Yes…we going to see this high ridge line here gradually erode away into the river basin, causing higher water levels which will tend to push the flood plain further out. Stay tuned as this develops over the next 5 to 6 million years. If you do have to go out, we urge you to take your galoshes. Now, back to Geradine for an update on our radio communications with the Sagitarius Galaxy…”


Reply to  ripshin
December 1, 2017 7:50 am

A geological “forecast” would include maps of the objective horizons, cross-sections and seismic profiles demonstrating the geological and geophysical justifications for drilling the prospect. It would include estimates of the volume of oil and/or gas that each objective might yield, predicted formation tops and other geological information required to safely and successfully drill the well.

Reply to  ripshin
December 1, 2017 10:51 am

Got it. Totally makes sense. (And I trust you understood I was just joking…)

In the same vein as your forecasts, in order to predict certain behaviors under varying conditions, our engineers have to model many things, such as reactor fluid dynamics. These numerical approximations are rarely able to be empirically tested, and are thus subject to intense scrutiny by the regulator, as well as limited in the allowable scope of application. (Meaning, we can’t just claim broad justifications based on models. Only relatively narrow conclusions are justified.)

This is so opposite of what I observe in the GCMs and their use. Not only are the base physics (forcings and feedbacks and etc) up for debate, but the sheer number of included parameters is eye opening. Parameterization is necessary. I get that. Of course it is. But it inevitably reduces the applicability of results to a narrow range. For these model runs, at the very least it would limit the length of time of the “projection” that you should consider using.

All I can think is that it must be nice not having to actually produce defensible results…that’s a luxury few of us have…


Reply to  David Middleton
December 1, 2017 8:09 am

Team of responsible geologists better get it right, if a US$ 0.5 billion is an initial investment required to start mining operating facility on the edge of the Arctic circle.

Reply to  vukcevic
December 1, 2017 10:53 am

Ugh! Just look at nasty “Big Oil” destroying the pristine-ness of nature in pursuit of their filthy lucre…


Reply to  vukcevic
December 1, 2017 4:03 pm


It’s ice, and largely barren. The planet has been without it for 80% of it’s existence. The sooner it melts the better. Tragically, it’s not.

Reply to  vukcevic
December 1, 2017 4:07 pm


Or did I miss a #sarc you didn’t include?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  vukcevic
December 2, 2017 4:31 am

Or did I miss a #sarc you didn’t include?

HA, there are a few of us ole ferts that don’t have to forewarned or told, ….. each and every time, …… that posted commentary is intended to be ……… funny, satirical, condescending, degrading, criticizing, etc.

A picture is “worth a thousand words” of explanation, ya know.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  David Middleton
December 1, 2017 8:12 am

And the forecasts you use have to carry the burden of performance. If they didn’t work they would be junked in favor other models. The IPPC and it’s followers (not all I realize as many good scientists have participated) make prognostications they never have to stand behind, many of which can’t be tested till the oracles of disaster have long retired. When the short term predictions/projections/fabrications are proven wrong they simple pretend they said something else or the spirits intervened to change the course.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
December 1, 2017 2:01 pm

“The IPPC and it’s followers (not all I realize as many good scientists have participated) …”

Of course they have, and that’s the “hook” of the con, it seems to me.

“Without a careful explanation about what it means, this drive for consensus can leave the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism. Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies …”

From (2010) – ‘Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?’
Mike Hulme and Martin Mahony School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia Norwich NR4 7TJ

It was just the modelers . .

December 1, 2017 2:59 am

We know we have all the components, we just can’t seem to get it to work.


(No idea of this link will work)

Reply to  HotScot
December 1, 2017 3:28 pm

It does – fine.


Reply to  Auto
December 1, 2017 3:50 pm



Tom Halla
December 1, 2017 3:10 am

My rough standard for when a “science” is established enough to be useful is what could be called an “engineering standard”. Are the models derived from the “science” useful in predicting outcomes?
Long-term climate modeling appears to be as bad as sociology, being able do describe things but useless in making predictions. Texas and California were “predicted” to be both in long term droughts.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 1, 2017 6:47 am

Never trust a scientist. Not even Newton or Einstein: ALL past geniuses also believed in utter crap, and sometime even with clever reasoning (but alas wrong or insufficient data)
Only trust a theory that translate into technology making real working stuff. OGM are proof that genetic theory is solid enough. Atomic bomb and nuclear reactors are proof E=mc². etc.
Where are the proofs of AGW theory?
Warming occurs ? Well, it has 50% chance to occur just by chance, that is not proof enough.
GHG are used to prevent heat loss in insulating devices? No they are not. Their higher convection conductivity beats their radiative opaqueness, resulting in higher loss / smaller insulation. Void (perfectly transparent!) is the choice isolator when possible. Argon, a non GHG, is often used in glazing. GHG are not used.
GHG explains Venus and Mars temperature relative to Earth’s ? No they don’t. Lapse rate and thickness of atmosphere do.
And “climate scientists” are not even geniuses.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
December 1, 2017 4:58 pm

I have always trusted the wheather models because I believed that they had efficacy, until I was sailing accross the atlantic, I had a lot of spare time and investigated the wheather models. I have studied wheather and forcastinig, as in wheather for mariners. I supsequently found out that the wheather modelers were very happy when their models prediceted low preasure air masses following different paths rather than always ending up in the same place. Not following the right path but following different paths. This according to the modelers gave them confidence. My belief is that it is only because we are able to establish initial conditions to a far greater degree of accuracy that our forecasts are more accurate. Climate models dont even try to establish initial conditions, even though they have fabricated the data that establishes the initial conditions to a tenth of a degree…ha ha ha or hpa or whatever they like

December 1, 2017 3:45 am

“I don’t want to undermine the IPCC”. Why not, when they are consistently wrong? Actually he doesn’t want to undermine the IPCC because his livelihood depends on keeping the IPCC fra@ud going.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 1, 2017 6:51 am

I read it as “It is not my goal and purpose to undermine the IPCC, but the fact is, my sound reasoning DO undermine its results”

Patrick MJD
December 1, 2017 4:01 am

Given the record of weather forecasts being almost *totally* wrong 48% of the time, I would go with a flip of the coin (An international decision maker).

Reply to  Patrick MJD
December 1, 2017 7:13 am

I would do better than that – I would gladly make the bet that all climate forecasters make: “I think it is going to be warmer than predicted tomorrow, but it MIGHT be cooler, due to natural variability. And if there’s no change at all, well its a tie and all bets are off.”

HA! Can’t Lose!!!

Reply to  Patrick MJD
December 1, 2017 7:44 am

On a coiln flipped by a warmist (or Al Gore, IPCC et al), I’d bet that heads the people are warming the planet, or tails that people are warming the planet.

Reply to  Patrick JC
December 1, 2017 12:24 pm

heads – “people are warming the planet” (i win)
tails – “the planet is warming because of people” (you lose)

Reply to  Patrick JC
December 1, 2017 3:30 pm

Beat me to it.
Agree! Hugely.


F. Leghorn
Reply to  Patrick MJD
December 1, 2017 2:59 pm

A 50% chance of rain means there are 2 meteorologists and one thinks it will rain.

December 1, 2017 4:36 am

I wouldn’t bet on today’s forecast right now……

December 1, 2017 4:41 am

I used to watch the weather radar a lot. It was amazing to see rain storms hit the town ten miles west of us and then die before they got to our town. It happened a lot.

The weather forecasts for the two towns were the same but it seemed like the other town got rain a lot more often than we did. On the other hand, in terms of total rain, the other town didn’t actually get much more, only a couple of percent.

In terms of total rainfall, the weather office can probably claim to be accurate. My wife’s flowers appreciate that. If the question is whether to organize a ball game this afternoon, I don’t trust them.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  commieBob
December 1, 2017 12:07 pm

Years ago, in the USA, weather reports were prepared at many more places and local radio and print news disseminated the results. As the smaller outposts closed, the size of the areas became larger and the forecasts more general and less useful. Knowledge once in the heads of longtime locals was lost.
Look at this map of County Warning Areas.
These are large diverse geographical regions. The central one, Pendleton, has elevations from 9,400 feet to under 100 feet. Getting a computer to make good forecasts for these diverse locations is not easy. The Seattle office has to deal with Mt. Rainier. Portland has to deal with Mt. Hood. Special reports are needed because of the recreational activities of these places.
One irritation for us is that the link to local radar goes to Seattle (closer but on the west side of the Cascades) and not to Pendleton, the office providing our forecast.

December 1, 2017 4:57 am

There are many comparisons of the predictions of the weather for seasons and crop growing seasons as predicted by the NWS and the several “Farmers Almanac.” neither of them better than fifty percent.

Reply to  usurbrain
December 1, 2017 7:59 am
December 1, 2017 4:57 am

More input from the space weather observations could improve short term forecasting; perhaps worth mentioning that the solar activity went down again during the past month. Sunspot cycle 24 number count for November 2017 in the old money (Wolf SSN) went down from 7.9 to 3.4 points while the new Svalgaard’s reconstructed number is down from 13.2 to 5.7, these are the lowest monthly numbers since August 2009.
SC24 is nearing what might be the start of a prolong minimum including possible late start of SC25, if so another Grand Minimum may well be on the cards during next decades.
Composite graph 1800-2017

Reply to  vukcevic
December 1, 2017 5:03 am

And has it affected global temps downward? no.

will it? no.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 6:55 am

“And has it affected global temps downward? no.”
How do you KNOW that? You don’t.
“will it? no.”
Are you ready to bet your paycheck on this? and, anyway, how would you know, again?

Pure Griff’s.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 7:38 am

Griff, why dont you nymshift and call yourself Sir Cockwomble Blatherskite?

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 7:45 am

“And has it affected global temps downward?”

yes it has, until the time the data was turned into ‘just what the climate doctor ordered’

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 8:28 am

How did you torture HadCrut4 to get that graph?

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 8:32 am

Ahh I have worked it out, the title says to 2016 but it isn’t you cherrypicked the 2012 peak.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 8:39 am

Griff, this is exactly why your side of the debate is losing as badly as it is. Until you folks stop playing games (and get off of whatever the hell your on), y’all are going to keep on losing badly. Is this what you want? to lose the debate o’er climate change? It’s gotten comical to the point where we skeptics can just kick back and watch you folks unwittingly screw yourselves from day to day. (and for us climate change junkies, it’s quite an entertaining albeit sickening show) So, man up, get off of whatever your on and begin a serious attempt at addressing this threat that you all call climate change. (until you do that, you’re simply doing skeptic’s work for them)…

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 8:42 am

Data is here
No need for torture, just simple winter temperature sum T(Y) = [ TdecY(x-1) + TjanYx + TfebYx ] /3

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 8:56 am

Nothing cherry picked, click on the graph to enlarge and you will see it ends in 2016
2016 winter = (Dec2015 = 1.433 + Jan2016 = 1.186 + Feb2016)/3 = 1.572)/3 = 1.397
data link is above, go and check it, and perhaps consider apologising.
Thanks for your comments, good bye.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 9:06 am

2016 winter = (Dec2015 = 1.433 + Jan2016 = 1.186 + Feb2016 = 1.572) = 4.191
/3 = 1.397

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 10:33 am

1.) Your formula is strange what exactly is it?
2.) Your file has data to 2017 why pull up at 2016?

You haven’t explained anything?

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 10:35 am

You graph ends up looking nothing like a normal HadCrut4 graph I was trying to work out why. There are a number of them that do automatically online versions.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 10:42 am

Ah it’s a 3 month average as some sort of half baked impulse filter .. yeah I remember why I hate soft science.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 10:55 am

What I was expecting is this for Northern Hemisphere.. it usually spikes and comes back down
Had me scratching my head what you did 🙂

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 11:34 am

It is very basic.
In NH winter is Dec, Jan & Feb.
If you are calculating winter temperature you add values for these 3 months and divide by 3 to get the average value for any individual year’s winter (of course Dec value is from the preceding year).
Plot shows one data point for each winter for years since 1851, if you click on the graph above you will see that it is updated with 2017 winter.
‘Woodfortrees’ is a graph of monthly and not annual data values, which is fine if the graph is covering all 12 months, but since seasons are 3 months long if you are plotting only one season’s data in order to avoid large gaps (where the rest of the year data would be) it is best to use average of its three months; imho any other method would be less appropriate.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 11:52 am

It never seems to enter you classical physics soft science peep types whether you are allowed to run averages on things. You are searching for signs of global warming you have 3 components in your signal (Conduction + Convection + Thernal)

This condition is generally true in thermal conduction (where it is guaranteed by Fourier’s law), but it is often only approximately true in conditions of convective heat transfer, where a number of physical processes make effective heat transfer coefficients somewhat dependent on temperature differences. Finally, in the case of heat transfer by thermal radiation, Newton’s law of cooling is not true.

The third component and the bit you are chasing doesn’t obey any sort of linear or nice shape law because it’s based on Quantum Mechanics.

As you can’t tell you people anything I leave it up to you try look at some thermal radiation examples and try and average them and see what happens. There is a good reason you can’t do what you are doing and why worldfortrees doesn’t.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 12:00 pm

imho any other method would be less appropriate.

Well you just proved you don’t understand thermal transfer and can’t even see what you are doing 🙂

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 12:32 pm

Judging by your comments above….ah, well, never mind.
On the other hand, perhaps you could construct a graph to demonstrate to the rest of us how the N. Hemisphere’s winter temperature has changed in the years gone by.
I’m looking forward to see this ‘thermal transfer’ factor effect.
Let’s see what you come up with.
I, and maybe few others here, will judge by results not empty words; or perhaps you may have a good excuse for not even going there.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 12:56 pm

Try google Newton’s law of cooling. The important part that gets lost with you … We are dealing with a radiative transfer (AKA global warming) and it is a Quantum Effect and isn’t linear or even a nice shape graph.

Finally, in the case of heat transfer by thermal radiation, Newton’s law of cooling is not true.

You might want to consider the stupidity of putting a 3 month mean on something like that, play with some weird shape graphs signals and try it.

You can never tell you guys anything but you have conduction + convection + radiative and your stupid average is messing them all together.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 1:03 pm

Working year to year is the correct way because you cycles allow for the non linearity and I imagine why worldfortrees and others do it that way.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 1:21 pm

So you can’t show to the readers of this blog if the winters are getting colder or warmer …..
… and for the rest of your comment more empty words, bla, bla, bla ….
At least, I put my true name to my comments and on the graphs, right or wrong.
However hiding behind some meaningless initials to dispense ‘ad hominem’ is permitted if one prefers to do so.

F. Leghorn
Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 3:49 pm

Griff on December 1, 2017 at 5:03 am
And has it affected global temps downward? no.
will it? no.

Well with a solid scientific statement like that you convinced me. Global warming must be real. We’re doomed if we don’t mortgage our children’s future and give it all to you smarter people. Thank you for caring for nothing but our welfare.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 4:22 pm


“And has it affected global temps downward? no.

will it? no.”

And has rising atmospheric CO2 affected temperatures? No

Will it? No.

Reply to  Griff
December 1, 2017 6:11 pm

@ vukcevic
So first you want to talk about things and I have to apologize because you are right. Then I show you what you are doing is stupid and creating it’s own artifact in the signal and why real Climate Scientists wouldn’t do that. Now all you can say is blah blah blah.

The graph is definitely showing warming and I don’t have an issue with that and never did. I was wondering how you got the artifact at the end and perhaps the penny has now dropped even for you. You don’t win science discussions by showing bad data perhaps stick to real Climate Scientists data.

Reply to  Griff
December 2, 2017 1:07 am

There you go again, ‘what you are doing is stupid’, bla, bla…..
Do the graph for the NH winter temperatures, put your name to it and come back, else it is just empty words.

Reply to  Griff
December 2, 2017 6:00 am

So that is your idea of a science argument .. I love you CAGW crowd, don’t give up your day jobs in the factory.

Reply to  Griff
December 2, 2017 12:36 pm

Now that’s funny.
Nothing wrong working in a factory, many products I directly contributed among others while made in a kind of a ‘factory’ are sold to over 150 countries.

Reply to  vukcevic
December 1, 2017 6:48 am

Until the recent El Nino, there was a slight downward trend in temperatures over the last 20 years.
As always, Griff ignores the data and relies on his favorite witch doctors.

Leo Smith
Reply to  MarkW
December 1, 2017 7:38 am

The Right deal with data. The Left deal with perception. It really is that simple.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  MarkW
December 1, 2017 10:14 am

“Until the recent El Nino..”
“As always, Griff ignores the data”


Reply to  MarkW
December 1, 2017 10:18 am

Nick, THIS Griff:

” Griff
December 1, 2017 at 5:03 am Edit

And has it affected global temps downward? no.

will it? no.”

Reply to  vukcevic
December 1, 2017 10:40 am

Now updated to show 2017 NH winter data (click on the graph above to see the update)

December 1, 2017 5:05 am

After a couple of hot days Adelaideans were warned to prepare for the worst deluge in 20 years coming our way and batten down the hatches. Didn’t happen and the rain that did fall was welcome for the garden as ‘Senior forecaster Tom Boeck said overnight falls were “at the lower end” of what the Bureau was expecting.’ Yeah right on Tom.
Our weather patterns move from West to East across the bottom of Australia so naturally Melbourne is next in line for the BoM’s warning-
Pretty unlikely to be a deluge given Adelaide’s fizzer but if it is naturally those under 25 (can 5 yr olds remember?) will think it’s unprecedented and proof of climate change. Well a couple of hot days in the high 30s Celsius back down to a max of 21 with a shower or two can feel that way to whippersnappers I guess.

December 1, 2017 5:07 am

The San Jose Mercury News reported June 30, 1989, that a “senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.”

Reply to  Tim
December 1, 2017 7:02 am

“could” is always right. I “could” draw a 6, even if the dice turned a 4.

December 1, 2017 5:15 am

Yeah booga booga Melbournites but there is a pic of 1972 flash flooding worth remembering kiddies-

December 1, 2017 5:31 am

Related to this topic is this article about science, also from the Hoover Institute, 11/29/17: https://www.hoover.org/research/scientifically-illiterate-america

December 1, 2017 5:55 am

Actually I can see the dilemma for weather forecasters reading between the lines of their continued warnings here. We are swinging from spring into summer and that means more unpredictable weather shifts but they have to hype it up for urbanites just in case the worst occurs and they get blamed for not warning everyone.

That’s because we mostly live in cossetted urban environments whereby anything that goes bump in the night, then someone’s to blame and somebody has to pay. Given that pervasive culture they naturally have to hype it up to cover their butts so that’s what we get, even when it seems obvious the weather isn’t that threatening after all. Consequently weather forecasting is naturally biased toward predicting catastrophe for their mainstream market.

Richard Patton
Reply to  observa
December 1, 2017 8:13 pm

It works the other way too. When I lived in Hawaii (I was a forecaster for the Navy at the time). When we (the Navy forecasters) knew it was going to rain nearly non-stop for the next three days, the NWS forecasters would say “partly cloudy, occasionally mostly cloudy with isolated rain showers.” If they told the truth the tourism industry would suffer. When *serious* weather like a hurricane (rare) threatened then their rain forecasts would be truthful.

Doug Huffman
December 1, 2017 5:56 am

The bet is the foundation of Bayesian Inference and its statistics. E. T. Jaynes recommended the subjective naive prior that maximizes the available entropy space – I dunno – rather than the authoritative lie.

Tom in Florida
December 1, 2017 6:01 am

Here on the southwest coast of Florida it will be 81F, sunny and dry as it was the last 3 or 4 days. It is predicted to be 81F, sunny and dry for the next 4-5 days. It’s a tough life this time of year.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
December 1, 2017 4:29 pm

Tom in Florida

Around London, England, it’s been about 5 degrees C for the past couple of days with some biting winds and a few light snow flurries. Oop North it’s been colder with lying snow.

Would I change it for Florida heat? Not a chance.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  HotScot
December 1, 2017 5:29 pm

And isn’t that the beauty of our World. Different climate zones with varied weather so each of us can choose to live in conditions that we find personally favorable. I have no desire to live in dry areas. I have no desire to live in any cold, especially damp cold. Paradise to me is warm and humid with sweet tropical breezes, warm waters with sandy beaches and plenty of lush vegetation.

December 1, 2017 6:19 am

Ryan Maue keeps track of the major model’s 5 day out success rate. The twitter link below has the latest for November (image on right). The GFS (US Model) as usual lags the group with a success rate of 88.2% for the prior 365 days. For 10 days out it has to be even worse.


Reply to  rbabcock
December 1, 2017 7:42 am

The UKMO is most often second to the EC model at T+144.


December 1, 2017 6:26 am

Piers Corbin took a lot of paychecks from the MET Office.

December 1, 2017 6:49 am

The 5 day forecasts today are about as accurate as the 3 day forecasts they made when I was a kid.

Curious George
December 1, 2017 7:12 am

We can’t forecast weather for 100 hours, but IPCC has climate forecasts for year 2100. How come? Weather forecasts are an initial value problem, a climate forecast is a boundary value problem. And .. where is the boundary? Stupidity knows no boundaries.

December 1, 2017 7:13 am

Seems to me weather forecast are always “worse case scenario”.
When they say shower, expect rain.
when they say rain, expect a few drop.
When they say “dangerous storm”, expect regular one.
In summer, when they say “heat wave”, expect moderately hotter weather than normal.

This way, they get lots fewer complains than when they when they announce regular stormy weather, and it turns out worse. Some even sue them in such case, while I never heard of suing because the weather was not as bad as they claimed (do you?)

December 1, 2017 7:18 am

The problem I have is that the “forecast” is repeated three or four times in every news bulletin, but the actual temperature gets reported once. People react to what is repeated at them – and they remember the forecast much more than the actual temperature and thus the overriding impression that “it is getting hotter” is based on the forecast not the actual temps.

Global average temps have been increasing – but no-one feels the global average – all they have is their local short term memory and this is driven more by the media than their direct experience.

December 1, 2017 7:29 am

I once read that the accuracy of weather predictions from weather.com were considered to be 80% today, 60% tomorrow, 40% the day after tomorrow and only 20% the day after that. The fifth day was down to 0%!

It was shortly after I read those startling figures that weather.com added a 5-Day forecast in addition to their 10-Day forecast (which actually displays 15 days, not 10, apparently another departure from reality).

December 1, 2017 7:32 am

Many years ago CNN Headline News had the perfect weather forecast. It was given showing a map of the US devoid of any weather symbols and went something like this…

“The weather across the country this weekend will be clear and sunny in some areas, and cloudy with a possibility of precipitation in other areas.”

December 1, 2017 7:52 am

When it comes to making 7 day forecasts l find the jet stream forecast is one of the most useful tools.
lt gives you the bare bones of what’s likely to happen rather then trying in put too much detail into it.
With weather models once you start getting 5 to 7 days out their forecasts are rather a mixed bag. So you can’t see the wood for the trees.
So when l make a 7 day forecast l just use the jet stream forecast and then use my skill and understanding to read what it suggests may happen. By using this simple method l can often outperform the 7 day forecast made by BBC weather.

Maxc Dupilka
December 1, 2017 9:28 am

“Meteorologists maintain that their physics is correct. ”
As an atmospheric scientist and forecast meteorologist I would say that we maintain the physics is correct to the degree that approximations allow. The complete equations of motion of the atmosphere are not solvable, or even fully known. There is no unique set of equations to describe the boundary layer motion. Therefore we make approximations and use parameterizations. Meteorologists realize the limitations of the models and our predictive skills. All forecasts are probabilities, given the initial conditions what is the most likely outcome. It may be that two outcomes are equally likely, but you have to pick one. Climatologists, for some reason, do not seem to realize the limitations of their models. I have worked with some and they are quite arrogant and often demeaning toward meteorologists.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Maxc Dupilka
December 1, 2017 11:02 am

Years ago I asked a NWS meteorologist a question regarding long range and short range rain forecast.
My understanding of what he said was that long range rain forecast, say, 10 days out, of a 40% change of rain should be understood as a 40% change of it raining anywhere in the forecast area.
A short range forecast (about 3 days out) of a 40% of rain means that it will rain in about 40% of the forecast area.
I don’t have his email anymore to check.
Is my understanding of what he said basically correct?
(Feel free to tell me I’m wrong, using whatever descriptive words you feel appropriate). I’m I don’t offend easily and I would like to know.

Max Dupilka
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 1, 2017 11:41 am

The concept of probability of precipitation is often misunderstood. A 40% chance of rain means that if you examined a large number of exactly the same weather patterns for one given point of concern, say a city, then 40% of those patterns would have produced rain at that point and 60% would not have. If you looked at a larger area, say a state, then maybe that weather pattern would have produced rain somewhere in the state 80% of the time, and the probability of rain for the somewhere in the state would then be 80%. So you need to clarify what extent of area is being forecast for. Usually forecasts are for cities and the immediate surroundings.

Max Dupilka
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 1, 2017 12:00 pm

To be more accurate I should have said a “large number of similar weather patterns” because we just do not have the fine detailed data and physics to say that two patterns are exactly the same in all aspects. That is why we use probabilities.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 1, 2017 12:08 pm

What you say is true and I would add that a person also needs to understand what happens at their particular location within the reporting area. For instance, my house is about 1 mile from the Gulf of Mexico. If a 60% chance of rain is forecast, for me it all depends on the wind direction. If coming off the Gulf, yes I will likely get some rain, if the wind is from the east then no I will most likely not get any rain due to the sea breeze that will stall those clouds just east of my location.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 1, 2017 12:11 pm

Thanks for the reply.
The forecast office is in Wilmington Ohio and they make individual forecast for surrounding cities such as Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati.
I was speaking of “local” forecast issued for those just one of those cities and what I understood to be the difference be a local long range and short range (3 days or less) precipitation forecast.
Again, I may have misunderstood his email.

Max Dupilka
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 1, 2017 12:22 pm

Short range and long range probabilities for the same point or area mean the same thing.

December 1, 2017 9:29 am

We need to stop using the “Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather much beyond 48 hours…” argument, because it is easily and quickly dismissed as being irrelevant. While I wouldn’t bet my paycheck on a 48 hour forecast, I would most certainly bet my paycheck, as well as those of Dr. Ball and Mr. Harris that 6 months from today, the average northern hemisphere temperatures will be warmer than they are now.

If you sufficiently understand the radiation budget with all of its sources, sinks, and the various feedback mechanisms, you can accurately predict general trends based on changes to any of these as well as variations in the inputs to the budget.

What the AGW folks HAVEN’T proved, however, is that they DO understand all of those things. Certainly, their long-term climate prediction models haven’t proven trustworthy — in fact, all of the climate models together have far less data to verify against than any single given NWP model. And pretty much all of the climate modelers will admit that they can’t sufficiently model all the physical processes involved (relying, instead on parameterization).

So sure, let’s continue to pound away on the known shortfalls of current climate models that have failed miserably to verify, but let’s drop the short-range forecast accuracy analogy. I think it hurts our position more than it helps.

Reply to  Mark
December 1, 2017 4:08 pm

I sort of agree, Mark, but think the “problem” has to do with the specifics involved . .

I would jump at the chance to bet a bundle straight across on every day’s forecast during the three hottest months of the year where I live, for instance (without even knowing in advance what the daily forecasts were going to be), if I could get away with “Sunny and Hot” . . I’d make a fortune.

But, if I had to specify the temperature within a couple degrees (as the “climate alarmists” have been effectively badgering us to do with regard to their long term “projections”), then things are not so simple.

I think the analogy can be used do good effect, if the wording reflects that specificity aspect . . AND the (certainly implied) claims that a few degrees of warming are going to be some sort of calamity on a global basis if they turn out to be correct “projections”, is highlighted as an operative aspect of the betting.

December 3, 2017 1:23 am

Victorian Premier explains why the overlords have to hype up extreme weather events like climastrologists do with CAGW nowadays-
It’s for our own good or something like that.

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