Tag Archives: Dr Robert J. Kuligowski

You Too Can Predict the Weather!


By T. V. Antony Raj

The north-eastern monsoon is now in Tamilnadu, and the weathermen are the first people to come to our minds.

Do you think the job of a weatherman is easy?

After listening to the recent weather forecasts on TV, some, like me, think that we, too, can predict the weather by simply tossing a coin.

Do you want to try?

Just toss a coin. If the head comes up, say,: “It’s going to rain in some parts of the country!” and if it is tail say, “It’s going to be cloudy … with intermittent rain.”

Easy isn’t it? 

Most of the time a weatherman’s coin stands on the edge without falling flat. That’s why predictions of a weatherman who appears on TV are ambiguous. He would utter statements like, “The woman might give birth to a boy or else to a girl,” and at times use an arrogant pose to imply that it’s raining because he said so.

Rainfall forecasts from satellite data represent an important source of information for monitoring and predicting the weather. However, Dr Robert J. Kuligowski, a Meteorologist at NOAA/NESDIS/STAR says:

Despite the detailed knowledge about precipitation including the complete hydrological cycle (evaporation, water vapour, convection, condensation, clouds, soil moisture, groundwater and the origin of rivers), predicting precipitation accurately is still one of the most difficult tasks in meteorology.

Owing to modern mathematical models and increasingly efficient computers, scientists seem to have a little more luck than they did a decade ago in forecasting weather patterns a month or more in advance. Yet meteorologists accept that their 30-day prediction is only just marginally more reliable than flipping a coin.




Journal references:

Kuligowski, R., & Barros, A. (1998). Localized Precipitation Forecasts from a Numerical Weather Prediction Model Using Artificial Neural Networks Weather and Forecasting, 13 (4), 1194-1204 DOI: 10.1175/1520-0434(1998)0132.0.CO;2