The Weather Menu — Forecasts to Suit Your Taste
November 13, 2016
Weather information and forecasts to suit your taste are available online 24 hours a day — but is the information always fresh? The quantity and quality of information will vary widely depending on the source used. I find that my preferred sources such as the National Weather Service or The Weather Channel website (which I now prefer to their cable TV channel) can be the equivalent of having a gourmet meal ready whenever I want it. It’s possible to choose anything from a vast weather menu, and frequent updates are made. But, as when eating at a great restaurant, it may be necessary to limit consumption due to time limitations — and the fact that one can only hold so much information!
Most forecast providers are only available on a limited basis. That can be like having a frozen dinner. It is ready quickly and inexpensively – but may not have been prepared very recently. Continuing with the food analogy, the “taste” of such a forecast may be a bit bland. That’s because forecasts heard on radio are often recorded just two or three times a day, then the meteorologist goes home or perhaps turns attention to one of dozens of other forecast locations. Some forecasts of this type may take on a fresher sound if the live announcer tags on the current temperature (or other local info) after the forecast.
Finally, televised weather outlets like the Weather Channel may run special feature programs or concentrate on severe weather happening in another part of the Nation. Such occasions can require waiting a long time even to see the local forecast. Using such a source for weather may be like going into the Super Wal-Mart to buy a gallon of milk, when the local Casey’s could be a quicker and more convenient alternative!
The Forecast Explained
Your local television weathercaster will explain the reasons for the forecast that’s upcoming, but that requires the user to watch or otherwise capture the program– or go find a replay using the station’s website or mobile app. On the NWS website, a discussion from the forecaster assigned to your area is always available (usually updated around 4AM and 4PM local time) and here’s where to find that.
These discussions explain in more or less clear (sometimes rather technical) terms the weather occurring presently. There is also explanation of what is expected in the near term forecast (next 24 hours) as well as the extended (out to 7 days) time frame. If there is an aspect of the weather which is NOT discussed (for example no mention of why the sky is filling with dark clouds), that can be a sign of weakness in the forecast. During Thanksgiving week, I’ll explain strategies which might be helpful when you’re suspicious of the forecast accuracy.