Weather forecasting or just plain guessing?

Each time one checks the “official” forecast by the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg/Roanoke, the forecast changes.

In most cases, what is forecast is wrong…or at best is a guess.

Is it possible to accurately predict the weather?

“Not in my lifetime,” says Art Lessard, who runs the National Weather Service’s office in Los Angeles.  “Not in my children’s lifetime.”

Lessard’s comments came after one of his veteran forecasters, Barry Satchwell, forecast a heavy downfall predicted to fall on Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Didn’t happen.  A trace of rain, about .42 of an inch, fell.  Heavier rainfalls occurred in other areas, but not in the area he predicted.

“I’m glad I’m not working tomorrow,” Satchell said after the missed forecast. “That way I won’t have to wipe pie off my face.”

We see missed forecasts routinely in and around Floyd County and other parts of Southwestern Virginia.

On Monday is this week, the forecast was warm and sunny in both the Roanoke and New River Valley metro areas, but a thunderstorm drenched Roanoke at 1:30 p.m., dropping several inches of rain in a short time.

On Tuesday, the changing forecasts called “scattered thunderstorms” late in the afternoon.  A little rain fell in Floyd but most of the county stayed dry.  Forecasts for Wednesday originally called for thunderstorms starting about 11 a.m., then 1 p.m. and changed again to 5 p.m. as this is written.

Chances for rain carries a percentage guess in the forecast.  Forecasts for rain in Floyd for Wednesday estimate a zero chance of rain until noon, then 15 percent through 5 p.m. when the chance jumps to 50 percent for a couple of hours, then 15-20 percent from 7 p.m. to well after midnight and into Thursday.

A forecast?  Not really.  At best, an educated guess.


© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse