Weather Forecasts

Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future.

– Niels Bohr and/or Yogi Berra

I’m not one of those people who hate weather forecasters. If the forecast was sunny and 27c and it turns out as party cloudy and 25c, I think that the forecast was accurate. However, I did learn about a few differences between land forecasts for a city and marine forecasts.

For a week before I got to the Brooks peninsula, the forecast for the Brooks peninsula was Gales 30-40 knots northwest. Every day, all day, for a week. The forecast was the same the day that I sailed around Brooks peninsula. I was motoring in 3 knots from the south and sunny skies, 2 miles off of the Brooks Peninsula, when I had a few insights:

  • Marine forecasts have a lot more detail than land forecasts. A land forecast provides high and low temperatures, a cloud cover description, and a percent chance of percipitation. The marine forecast provides a range of wind speeds, gust speeds, wind direction, visibility and cloud cover for morning, afternoon, evening and overnight. Simply by making more predictions, the marine forecast will average more mistakes.
  • Marine forecasts cover wide areas, which invariably have micro-weather regions that aren’t following the main regional forecasts.
  • The marine forecast focuses on the worst weather. It was blowing gales 35 knots at Solander island that day I described above when the wind disappeared (no, I was not in the lee/wind shaddow). But it never toped 20 knots anywhere else. The forecast has a bias to report the worst, which is probably a good thing.

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