Weather Forecasting vs. Climate Forecasting; The Imbalance

I just read a great post by Professor Cliff Mass up at the University of Washington.  By the way, sorry, but Oregon and Oregon State have no meteorology programs, that’s why I was a Husky.  Anyway, I digress.  Cliff has written a post about the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 that was just introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

I sure won’t rehash the entire posting, since Cliff did such a great job.  His main point is the amount of resources (both computer power and $$$) dedicated to climate research is far higher than that for operational (daily/weekly) forecasts.  Yet we know the USA could use more accurate forecast models, observations etc…

An example:


That’s computing power for various climate modeling and research projects vs. computing power (on the far right) for the day-to-day operational weather forecasting models.  Stunning isn’t it?

Here’s the link to his post:

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

53 Responses to Weather Forecasting vs. Climate Forecasting; The Imbalance

  1. Speaking of which, can we PLEASE have a blog entry tonight, Mark? It’s been five days since we’ve had an entry that has anything to do with current weather events – and the shift toward warm/hot on the models the past 48 hours is at least worthy of a short post. It’s turning into a warm July!

  2. Josh "The Snowman" From Everett, WA says:

    I was in the romance section at the bookstore and I saw a picture of Fabio. Well, I thought it was Fabio. It was actually Mark Nelsen.

    True story.

  3. Anybody up for a month like this!!?

    102 °F 84 °F 71 °F
    Mean Temperature 80 °F 66 °F 54 °F
    Min Temperature 61 °F 47 °F 35 °F

    Even the rainfall was a tad bit above average but nothing as special as the temp swings and the many cold nights.

    It must have been amazing going from 90s to low 40s at night a few mornings later as often as it did.

    I bet there was almost NO onshore push.

  4. schmit44 says:

    7/12/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:96 at ALKALI FLAT(2495 ft)
    Low: 63 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft) & ALKALI FLAT(2495 ft) & GRANTS PASS(1126 ft)

    High:53 at Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 30 at DIMLKE (4726 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 47 degrees
    Horse Ridge (US (79/32 ) (4160 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.05″ at BROOKINGS(79ft)

  5. pappoose in scappoose says:


  6. ocpaul says:

    Great post . Short term forecasting is based on evidence. It clearly deserves greater funding. And long range climate forecasting seems to be based on consensus.

  7. runrain says:

    In the 80’s for the next 7 days straight. Sweet! Think I’ll take a pic of that 7 day and hang on the wall in January.

  8. Garron near Washington Square says:

    A warmer week ahead. Unless this trend busts, like the last one, we’ll be heading into the 90’s by the middle of next week. Enjoy the last night in the 40’s for a while…

  9. A great hike up on Silver Star the other day!

  10. runrain says:

    Interesting that there were no morning clouds today or yesterday with this onshore flow.

  11. schmit44 says:

    7/11/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:94 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)
    Low: 75 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)

    High:55 at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160 ft)
    Low: 37 at MCKENZIE (4800 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 43 degrees
    EW2055 Prairie C (87/44 ) (3547 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.04″ at Reese(1034ft)
    0.03″ at BULLY CREEK RESE(2500ft)
    0.03″ at MORGAN MOUNTAIN(4200ft)

  12. schmit44 says:

    7/10/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:104 at DW9659 Richland(2379 ft) & Weatherby Rest A(2390 ft) & LAKE OWHEE AND O(2400 ft)
    Low: 75 at Arlington(449 ft) & LITTLE MCCOY CRE(5080 ft)

    High:55 at NERRS MET SITE A(10 ft) & Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 35 at CRAZYMAN FLAT (6100 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 49 degrees
    Lakeview, Lake C (90/41 ) (4734 ft )
    CRANE PRAIRIE (87/38) (5500 ft)

  13. Chilly, windy 58° out currently. Nature’s A/C at it’s best.

  14. BoringOregon says:

    Huge storm out break going on in the east coast right now.

  15. i always thought the Farmers Amanac was what everyone used for long term forecasting….

  16. gidrons says:

    Here’s my top 5 reasons to like hot weather. Feel free to add your own.

    5. I might finally get some tomatoes to turn red
    4. Slightly higher chances of thunderstorms, at least over the mountains
    3. Another excuse to have beer and barbecues, mostly beer
    2. String bikinis are back in style
    1. Watching Jesse anguish over the heat

  17. runrain says:

    Today is the 100 year anniversary of the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth in Death Valley when the temperature reached 134°.
    It’s also the 100 year anniversary of the Federal Reserve, if anybody cares other than Ben Bernanke 🙂

    • WX NINJA says:

      Ah yes, the good ole FED. It’s not a government agency, not a bank and has no reserves yet is name the Federal Reserve….false advertising anyone? At least the weather is nice though…

  18. schmit44 says:

    7/9/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:104 at MEDFORD PORT #2(1858 ft) & Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft) & EW1140 Umatilla(364 ft) & Celilo, East of(225 ft)
    Low: 68 at JUNIPR(359 ft) & EW0062 Dundee(971 ft)

    High:54 at Newport(30 ft) & NERRS MET SITE A(10 ft)
    Low: 37 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft ) & DIMLKE (4726 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 54 degrees
    CW5507 Camp Sher (97/43 ) (3020 ft )
    FOSTER FLAT (95/41) (5000 ft)

  19. Jesse-Stevenson says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s absurd they would throw so much money into the climate models (which have been woefully wrong, to date, for the most part) and leave our daily weather forecasts struggling to catch up with the rest of the world.

  20. paulbeugene says:

    Successful climate modeling brings economic benefit to this country as it enhances ability to properly allocate resources/capital.
    Short term forecasting saves lives/reduces weather related morbidity and mortality. Successful forecast of Katrina equals 107.5 billion dollars damage and a few idiots losing their lives instead of 108 billion dollars damage and 1833 lives lost.

    Saving lives looks good but does not buy your Senator’s vote. Best example of misallocated funds is our health care system. I practice medicine but make a pittance compared to big pharma and the CEOs (still make a good living so don’t think I am complaining)

    • runrain says:

      Good points, Paul. You just KNOW big bucks are going to rule the day in the end in just about all things. What’s the saying: Money isn’t everything but it’s way ahead of whatever is in second!

  21. karlbonner1982 says:

    I would LOVE better computer precision with short-range weather forecasting, especially on days like this when we have trouble discerning the exact amount of marine influence.

    I noticed that practically everyone was between 2 and 7 degrees warmer than predicted due to there being virtually no onshore flow. Not exactly a heat wave, but maybe a “fake heat” day?

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Very similar to a week ago Sunday when we jumped to 97 unexpectedly, flow went just about flat this morning for a few hours too.

    • karlbonner1982 says:

      Some years we seem to get a lot of these semi-hot days in the Willamette Valley. No really hot airmass overhead or east wind, just solid sunshine all day without any seepage of marine air over the coastal passes.

      I think 2004 or 2005 had a whole bunch of days in the upper 80s / low 90s in Eugene. That kind of consistent sunshine and warmth is the defining feature of a Mediterranean-type summer!

    • Jesse-Stevenson says:

      Yeah, it’s too bad we don’t live in a Mediterranean Climate Karl. I guess you’ll have to keep playing make-believe until then. 😉

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Yeah too bad he doesn’t live in that white trash climate you experience Jesse! 🙂

    • High Desert Mat says:

      +1 for Mark. Keep going guys. I love the Mark Jesse saga.

    • Jesse-Stevenson says:

      This is coming from the guy who lives in Corbett? 😉 Nice try Mark.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Good point…well played

    • Jesse-Stevenson says:


    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      But the gorge IS hip!

    • Jesse-Stevenson says:

      In that case Mark and I are both hip. I’ll take that over white trash.

  22. Agreed with his post. The tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning now are obviously a more immediate danger than anything 100 years from now.

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