Have you ever booked a round of golf based on a forecast that called for blue, cloudless skies, only to find yourself drenched by an unforeseen rainstorm before you reached the tee box on hole #7?
How about those sensationalist “12-inches-in-the-next-24-hours!” winter snow advisories that end up yielding nothing more than an inch or two of powder?
If you feel as if your favorite local Minnesota meteorologist’s forecast accuracy is often less than precise, well, that’s probably because it is.
Nate Silver and the folks over at FiveThirtyEight.com recently published an article analyzing historical National Weather Service data from 120 cities between 1994 and 2013 to find out how predictable daily weather is throughout the U.S.
Despite the massive amount of data utilized in the analysis, the question Silver’s study set out to answer, and basic methodology he uses, is pretty simple:
But where in the country is the weather truly the most unpredictable?
“We’re going to answer this question in a specific way, by comparing daily weather patterns against long-term averages. We’ll define the weather as being more unpredictable when it deviates more from these long-term trends.”
With all the evidence analyzed, it turns out, when compared to the rest of the U.S., it’s relatively difficult to predict the weather on any given day in Minnesota.
Here’s a list of the top ten major cities where Silver’s study determined the weather is the most unpredictable:
1. Kansas City, Missouri
2. Oklahoma City
6. St. Louis
7. Birmingham, Alabama
Minneapolis ranked as the #3 most unpredictable city among major metropolitan areas and #27 among all 120 cities rated in the study. Duluth is even more unpredictable than Minneapolis — our northern Minnesotan neighbors ranked #6 overall.
The cities with the most predictable weather in the U.S.? Honolulu, San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Fresno make up the top five locales where weather is relatively easy to forecast.
My personal conclusions from the study:
A. Meteorologists in Southern California and Hawaii are overpaid.
B. We, as Minnesotans, ought to be a bit more forgiving of our local weathermen and women when they miss the mark since, according to the hard data, our state’s weather can be very difficult to predict.
C. Regardless of the forecast, always pack a rain-proof jacket in your bag when golfing in Minnesota. Better to have and not need than need and not have.
Check out the full post at FiveThirtyEight.com for detailed study information and some brilliant and revealing data visualizations.
Photos via: Gina Paulucci — FiveThirtyEight.com