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Monday, January 16, 2006

Forecast: Vague with possibility of the opposite occuring.

Weather forecasts are just a joke aren't they. At the moment in Auckland it is cloudy. It's not overcast - although that looks threatening - and they aren't rain clouds (yet), and it is sunny in patches, but it it is definitely cloudy and has been all day; it is also very windy/blustery. I gathered all this data from looking out of the back and front porches at various points today where I can see across to the Waitakere Ranges and back to the city.

National Radio's Metservice has been reporting all day that the weather here is "fine." Auckland, despite containing 29% of NZ's population isn't mentioned by name and is presumably lumped into all the other districts that are "fine." Westland and Fiordland on the other hand that contain less than 1% of NZ's population have detailed analysis of each of their district's weather. Radio Live (unsure of source data) reports that Auckland is similarly "fine" but notes that it is windy.

Now, I know for an absolute fact that it is cloudy and windy in Auckland, almost to the point of being overcast. It is not "fine." unless that just means "not raining". Sadly this is somewhat typical of weather reports let alone actual forecasting for future weather events which seems like 50/50 most of the time. What is the use of these forecasts when they are:-
1. Blatantly and consistently innacurate.
2. Focus on places where almost no-one lives at the expense of places where most people live.
3. Are vague in the extreme.

These three points are applicable to TV news weather as well to some degree and annoyingly their "tomorrow" forecast is only to 6pm the next day - and so there is no actual forecast for tommorrow evening and thus their assertions about tomorrow's afternoon have no context in which to be judged as we do not immediately know what is to follow.

The vagueness is beyond a joke. How many times have Metservice given the old "fine with showers" or "possibility of some scattered showers" sort of reports. It is meaningless. Make a call! What do they pay you people for? Are there going to be showers or not? We want to know whether it will rain or not - that is our primary concern. Everyone knows that it rains sometimes, but to stick that in almost every forecast is useless. And the only times they don't.... is that rain, dear?

There was a TV news item on these issues about a week or so ago where an independent forecaster was giving Metservice heaps - they need the criticism to help lift their game. They have some ground to make up.

UPDATE 5:38pm--------------------------

A poll on the TVNZ website has these results today (this is a coincidence BTW - I found this poll after posting):

How do you rate New Zealand's weather forecasting?
14% Excellent
48% Good
27% Poor
11% Very poor

Ignorant bastards, these people who respond to these internet polls. Maybe it's just that bearded McDavit guy from Metservice stacking the vote.


At 24/1/06 10:55 am, Blogger noizy said...

Make a call! What do they pay you people for?

Actually, the level of detail in the forecast is determined by how much National Radio are prepared to pay MetService for their services.

As it is, they don't pay very much (NatRad has been cost-cutting for the last few years now), so the forecasts are at the bottom end of the detail scale.

For more detailed forecasts, try some of the MetService pay services, or just watch the TV1 weather bulletins (which are far more detailed than NatRad's forecasts).


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