Weather forecasting

Friday 12 December 2008

Living in New England, and working far from home, predicting winter weather is very important. It really sucks to have an hour commute home turn into a three-hour drive because of a snow storm. At Tabblo, we used to have a weather fanatic who would give us detailed forecasts and help us avoid the bad days. Without him, we have to do our own predictions, and we’re still learning the ropes. We almost got into a freezing rain situation yesterday which luckily didn’t materialize.

If you think has detailed reports, you need to take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes. The National Weather Service has incredibly detailed hour-by-hour charts for your zip code. Navigating is a bit rough though: enter your zip code in the box on the left, you get to a page about the area. Near the bottom right is an Hourly Weather Graph link. You should get to a page that looks like this one for Marlborough MA.

It was this graph that convinced me yesterday that although it was going to be close, the rain wouldn’t actually freeze, and it didn’t, it was an uneventful drive home. Thanks federal tax dollars!

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Good thing Rick Santorum was not able to force the National Weather Service to shut down their web site and stop issuing forecasts! I love their site as well, though it lacks the rollicking fun of the Forecast Discussions feed from the National Hurricane Center. :-)

An article on Rick Santorum's NWS position:

One of my favorite Hurricane Center Forecast Discussions of all time, describing the "in-house discussion" of whether the re-intensification of the low into which Ivan had disintegrated deserved to get the name "Ivan" back:
While you are on the road, you can call AWOS stations, for the ones that have phone numbers. For example, I call 512.859.3430 here to get Georgetown AWOS. It takes readings every 5 minutes, and is one of the datapoints often used in modeling.

If you are in Boston, you could call 617-567-5762 for KBOS ASOS, for example.
I did get an IM from Antonio asking for a prediction. I told him it would be close, just like any good weatherman.
NOAA navigation tip: get to your local page faster:

Punch in followed by your zipcode into your browser's address bar. You'll be redirected to the weather page for that zipcode.

For example, for Marlborough's weather:
I can't live without Wunderground. Weather Underground has more aggregated data than any other weather site I've seen.,%20ma&wuSelect=WEATHER is for the Marlborough, MA area.

Also, though not the same, I look forward to more visualization via tools like and other clever integrations.

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