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Trusting the Forecast
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Culminating Project
trusting the forecast project

Forecasting and Data Collection:
By forecasting on a regular basis, you'll experience the difficulty involved in making a forecast under changing weather conditions. You'll be able to investigate the accuracy of your forecasts through comparison with actual observations.

Part I: Choose a City
The first step is to choose a city to forecast for which to forecast. Be certain you are able to access current weather data for this city to compare with your forecasts.

Part II: Make a Forecast
Make a forecast of temperature and precipitation for each of the next two days for the city you have chosen. An example forecast has been given below.

Example Forecast
Forecast Date and Time:
Forecasted Day 1 Temperature:
Forecasted Day 1 Precipitation:
Forecasted Day 2 Temperature:
Forecasted Day 2 Precipitation:
Monday 11/25/96 10:00 AM
Tuesday Temperature: 56
Tuesday Precipitation: Yes/Rain
Wednesday Temperature: 60
Wednesday Precipitation: No

If your class meets at 10AM on Monday, then forecast the temperature and precipitation for 10AM Tuesday and 10AM Wednesday. When forecasting precipitation, indicate whether or not precipitation will occur and if it does, indicate what type.

Here are some helpful hints for making your forecast:
- Look at the current weather conditions. Look for any significant weather features that could influence the weather in your area. (low pressure centers, warm fronts, cold fronts).

- Access an image from 12 hours ago and see how quickly these features have moved during this time period. Using the trends method, estimate when these features might enter the forecast area.

- Look at the temperatures and weather conditions upstream (in the direction from which the wind is blowing) of the forecast area. This weather is heading your way.

- More advanced forecasters make use of forecast models. These models take the current observations, process this data through mathematical equations that simulate the behavior of the atmosphere, and then predict future conditions of the atmosphere. These models can be very accurate and are used as a valuable forecasting tool by many meteorologists. This data is accessible from the following list of resources.

Part III: Gathering Observational Data
Each day record the current surface observations for your city (as you did in the Start Up Activity). Use the Weather Visualizer ( CoVis version or public version) to access current surface data. Record the values for temperature, dew point temperature, winds, cloud cover and what type of precipitation was occurring (if any). In addition, write a paragraph summarizing the current weather conditions, including any information about fronts or cyclones that may be influencing the weather experienced by your city.

Part IV: Compare Observations with Forecast:
Compare the actual observations with your forecast and consider the following questions: How accurate was your forecast? Where were the largest inaccuracies? Why do you think the inaccuracy occurred?

Part V: Scaffolding Activities
Address areas of weakness by completing one of the following scaffolding activities that you feel will best improve your forecasting ability. The purpose of these activities is to teach you new skills on how to forecast in certain situations. Approximately 90 minutes of class time is needed to complete an activity.

Part VI: Make Another Forecast:
Make another forecast as you did in Parts I through V. Try and incorporate what you learned in your scaffolding activity into this forecast. Depending upon how much time you have, complete this cycle a couple times to give yourself a chance to forecast in different weather conditions, learn new skills and be able to analyze where your best forecasting ability lies. Forecasting is a difficult business, and even a meteorologist whose been forecasting all his/her life, will once in a while totally blow a forecast. So don't get frustrated.

wx resources
Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

analyzing results