Wishcasting

2016-04-02 17:36:18.000 – Tom Padham, Weather Observer/Meteorologist

 

As a scientist and overall weather enthusiast, I often find that I have conflicting interests when it comes to forecasting. The scientist in me says that given a set of weather parameters, a logical and rational solution arises for what the weather will do in a given time frame. Take our Model Output Statistics (MOS) for the summit station for example. Given the incoming starting (or initialization data) to the weather model (GFS in this example) and the numerous weather equations built into the model it’s able to provide concrete numbers for wind speed, precipitation, temperature, and many other weather variables. Keep in mind this is just one example of many different models meteorologists look at to help forecast, and if the models were 100% accurate all the time we would be able to just go completely off what they say (and I may be out of a job!).

GFS MOS for an upcoming stormModel Output Statistics (MOS) for the GFS Model over the next several days. WSP is sustained wind speeds in knots.
 

The other part of this argument is the human side of things. Often as humans we want to hype things up to be more exciting than they really are because it’s entertaining or we want to push the boundaries of what we know and experience. Here’s where the weather enthusiast in me sees the 82 knot winds from the GFS and then wonders “well it’s showing 82 but maybe it could actually be closer to 90 since the satellite looks pretty impressive”. Although the models certainly have their flaws and could be wrong in this instance, hoping for high winds or a big storm because you want to see it doesn’t make it any more likely to happen (this is something we refer to up here as “wishcasting”).

Visible Satellite of a developing storm over the Great LakesVisible satellite imagery showing the developing storm system over the Great Lakes which will be causing high winds across New England Sunday.
 

Taking all this into account, there is the potential for very high winds on the summit during the day tomorrow (04/03/2016). With the available model information I had this afternoon, I forecasted winds to gust as high as 125 mph. The weather enthusiast in me hopes I’m wrong, and we see winds that are even higher!

 

Tom Padham, Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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