🌦️ Weather forecasts have become much more accurate

🌦️ Weather forecasts have become much more accurate

Four-day forecasts now have the same accuracy as one-day forecasts did 30 years ago.


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  • Weather forecasts have significantly improved over time.
  • Four-day forecasts now have the same accuracy as one-day forecasts did 30 years ago.
  • The improvements are due to better data, faster computers, and refined methods.

Weather forecasts have improved significantly

Although it may be hard to believe, weather forecasts have greatly improved in recent decades. The UK's Met Office can now provide four-day forecasts with the same accuracy as their one-day forecasts had 30 years ago, reports Our World In Data.

In the USA, predictions of hurricane paths have become much more accurate, with a reduction in the margin of error from between 200 and 400 nautical miles to around 50 nautical miles for 48-hour forecasts.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has also shown significant improvements, especially for longer forecasts. Today's three-day forecasts are about 97 percent accurate, and the accuracy continues to increase even for five-, seven-, and ten-day forecasts.

Why have weather forecasts become better?

The improvements can be attributed to several factors. First and foremost, the data has become better and more comprehensive, with more and improved satellite data as well as land-based measuring stations.
The computers running these weather models have become much faster, which allows modeling in ever smaller squares for higher resolution. Additionally, the methods for converting observations into model results have been refined.

Finally, the communication of the forecasts has improved significantly, from newspapers to real-time updates via the internet and smartphones.

Global inequalities persist

Despite great progress in weather forecasting around the world, significant inequalities remain. In low-income countries, a seven-day forecast can be less accurate than a one-day forecast in wealthier countries.

These differences are partly due to a lack of measuring instruments and a lower frequency of reporting. This gap is problematic, especially since 60 percent of the workforce in low-income countries is employed in agriculture, a sector that is highly dependent on weather information.

The future of weather forecasts

Improving weather forecasts, especially in low-income countries, is important for making countries more resilient to weather-related disasters.

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and drones, offer potential to bridge these gaps with faster and more cost-effective solutions.

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