The Application of a Simple Method for the Verification of Weather Forecasts and Seasonal Variations in Forecast Accuracy

Anthony R. Lupo Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, Missouri

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Patrick S. Market Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, Missouri

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Abstract

The evaluation of weather forecast accuracy has always been a difficult subject to address for many reasons. In this study, a simple semiobjective method is used to examine the accuracy of zone forecasts issued by the Weldon Spring (Saint Louis) National Weather Service (NWS) Office for mid-Missouri over a period of 416 days with the goal of demonstrating the utility of this method. Zone forecasts were chosen because these forecasts are typically what the public will receive either directly or indirectly from various media outlets. Not surprising, the evaluation method used here demonstrates that forecasts issued by the NWS and the Nested Grid Model (NGM) model output statistics (MOS) represent a considerable improvement over persistence or climatological baseline forecasts. NWS forecasts were slightly better than NGM MOS forecasts, especially when considering temperature and precipitation only. All forecasts showed distinct seasonal variability. The NWS winter-season forecasts were superior to those issued in the summer season, and this superiority was found to be a function of the precipitation forecast parameter. This technique might represent an easily understandable and concise method for providing weather forecast performance information to the general public in such a way that it would instill or reinforce public confidence in the accuracy of weather forecasts.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Anthony R. Lupo, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, 112 Gentry Hall, University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. Email: lupoa@missouri.edu

Abstract

The evaluation of weather forecast accuracy has always been a difficult subject to address for many reasons. In this study, a simple semiobjective method is used to examine the accuracy of zone forecasts issued by the Weldon Spring (Saint Louis) National Weather Service (NWS) Office for mid-Missouri over a period of 416 days with the goal of demonstrating the utility of this method. Zone forecasts were chosen because these forecasts are typically what the public will receive either directly or indirectly from various media outlets. Not surprising, the evaluation method used here demonstrates that forecasts issued by the NWS and the Nested Grid Model (NGM) model output statistics (MOS) represent a considerable improvement over persistence or climatological baseline forecasts. NWS forecasts were slightly better than NGM MOS forecasts, especially when considering temperature and precipitation only. All forecasts showed distinct seasonal variability. The NWS winter-season forecasts were superior to those issued in the summer season, and this superiority was found to be a function of the precipitation forecast parameter. This technique might represent an easily understandable and concise method for providing weather forecast performance information to the general public in such a way that it would instill or reinforce public confidence in the accuracy of weather forecasts.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Anthony R. Lupo, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, 112 Gentry Hall, University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. Email: lupoa@missouri.edu

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