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20 percent chance of rain? Yeah, right.

2 years 3 months 1 week ago June 18, 2014 Jun 18, 2014 Wednesday, June 18 2014 June 18, 2014 10:21 AM in Weather
By: Meteorologist Robert Gauthreaux

You hear it all the time. "A 20% chance of rain," but what does that mean? More than likely what it means is that if you get wet, you get mad at me, but maybe you're getting mad for the wrong reasons.

On air, meteorologists try to explain that the rain percentage isn't an estimate of odds, but an estimate of how much of the viewing area will see rain in a given day. When we say a 20% chance of rain, it means that 20% of the viewing area will see rain today. A 50% chance of rain is not the equivalent of saying, "Well it might rain, but it might not," or flipping a coin. It means that 50% of the viewing area is forecasted see rain, whether it's a spritz or a torrential downpour.

People often complain about weather forecasting because it's not perfect. Most people understand that weather forecasting is full of immeasurable variables, but what about something as simple as your morning commute? Have you ever been late to work? Well perhaps your arrival forecast was wrong. Have you ever been surprised by your water bill or power bill? Well maybe your consumption forecast was wrong. What about the outcome of the big game? Maybe you expected your team to win or lose and the opposite happened. Your sports forecast was wrong.

With the capricious attitude of Mother Nature, forecasting the weather isn't always a walk in the park. Next time you watch your local weather broadcaster, you may realize that we may not be perfect, but more often than not, we are fairly accurate overall.


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