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John Wheeler: The 10-day forecast has its limits

Any forecast diminishes in precision and accuracy with each day further removed from the present.

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FARGO — A WDAY television viewer recently asked why we do not seem to be able to predict fog very many days in advance. The answer is that fog, in particular the ground fog that is common during fall, is caused by conditions that are rather subtle, and it tends to form here and not there in patches. Predicting fog on a Wednesday night for the weekend is virtually impossible.

We do a 10-day forecast on WDAY. We do this because weather apps have 10-day forecasts, and we have found our skill to be better than the automated model forecasts on most weather apps. That being said, any forecast, including ours, diminishes in precision and accuracy with each day further removed from the present. The last few days of a well-thought-out 10-day forecast can be useful for pointing out temperature trends and chances of precipitation, but not for the subtle details that make up the total weather experience for that day.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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