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ibstubro's avatar

How many days ahead do you check/trust the weather forecast?

Asked by ibstubro (11532 points ) January 7th, 2014

How many days ahead will you trust a weather forecast to help make plans during times of unsteady (Wind, rain, snow) weather?

Does it seem to you that weather forecasts are getting more or less reliable?

I don’t know if I getting older and more cynical, if the forecasts are getting so detailed that they shoot themselves in the foot, or if they actually are more unreliable, but I give them less and less weight all the time.

3 days, tops, I’ll give a forecast credence.

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24 Answers

mowens's avatar

I use the rock method. If I look outside and the rock is wet, it is raining. If it is white, it is snowing. 100% accurate.

gailcalled's avatar

I use the Milo method. At this time of year, I time the interval between him shooting out the door between my legs and begging to be let back in. Above 32˚ F

bolwerk's avatar

Depends what is being forecast. If a front is coming in, it’s probably pretty apt. Exact conditions three days out?

Anyway, I don’t really care. The last time I sorta cared I was planning a BBQ over the summer and I didn’t want rain.

KNOWITALL's avatar

You know people around here are obsessed with the weather. We look at persimmons, the animals and the farmer’s almanac before we believe a meteorologist…lol

28lorelei's avatar

It depends on what is being forecast, as bolwerk says, but it also depends on where you live. I’ve lived in a few different places, and I tend to find that coastal areas have much more unpredictable weather than landlocked ones.

zenvelo's avatar

3 days out is about it.

If I am travelling, the night before I fly somewhere I’ll check the five day forecast, and maybe the ten day too, but only to see if something freaky is coming up.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

About two days max.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I go with 3 days. I heard a weather expert say: “10 years ago we could predict the weather reasonably well 3 days in advance. Now, with satellites and our improved algorithms, we can predict weather patterns 72 hours in advance.”

ibstubro's avatar

@mowens & @gailcalled that’s great work if you can get it, but many of us have to have a least an idea of the next 24/48 hours weather.

I agree @bolwerk that they’re much better at predicting the unstoppable beasts than the fluctuations more than 3 days out.

@KNOWITALL that’s the rural advantage of discussing the weather rather than the latest car jacking or city council resolution limiting the ounces in a cup of pop. :)

@28lorelei I agree to a large extent, but the Mississippi River Valley causes a mean and unpredictable fluctuation in the N. American jet stream! And it’s changing rapidly.

I’m with you, @zenvelo & @LuckyGuy. I’ll give up to three days some credence, after that it’s just guestimation and entertainment. Something to marvel over (They got it right!) or snigger about (DOLTS!) after-the-fact. @ARE_you_kidding_me is just little bit more conservative. I mostly am concerned about the next 48, myself.

YARNLADY's avatar

Usually up to a week, if I’m just trying to choose what clothes to take with me. For exact weather, two or three days.

Coloma's avatar

Only when snow is being predicted. I occasionally look at the extended, 30 day forecast on one of the online weather sites like Accuweather.

CWOTUS's avatar

I grew up and have lived most of my life in New England. I don’t trust the morning weather forecast past noon. (And I don’t watch the early morning forecast, or I wouldn’t trust that after mid-morning.)

I don’t really pay a lot of attention to weather forecasts in general.

amujinx's avatar

I live by the Great Lakes, and it makes the weather pretty unpredictable. If it’s going to be mostly stable, I’ll trust to three days maybe. If it’s unstable, I go as low as two hours, and even then don’t trust it too much. For example, the overnight for tonight was 1–3 inches of snow an hour ago. Now they are saying 5–8 inches. It’s just a total crap shoot, especially since the banding here can make them right for one area and not even close for another.

Paradox25's avatar

My current maintenance job requires me to plow and remove snow with front end loaders and trucks, so I tend to pay attention to the weather so I’ll have an idea of when to come in early.

I’ve always been a weather buff, and the weather is a highly chaotic system. Weather is not unique though in the sense that with anything, longer range predictions, no matter how advanced a computer is, are going to be less accurate than short range predictions. We even see this phenomena with trying to predict the economy.

Generally the weather is rather easy to predict in my area, but the climate and time of year are major factors too in weather prediction accuracy. I remember the Blizzard of 93’ being predicted up to a week in advance. I also remember school being cancled, and not a single flake falling. Three days is a decent threshold for me too.

ibstubro's avatar

Today I left the house early afternoon, confident that tomorrow’s forecast was clear and warmer. Look again, late afternoon/early evening and tomorrow is colder with a chance of snow.

B/Grrrr.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I live in a valley between the mountains and a plateau. They never get the weather right here. It’s pretty easy to model and predict weather on the plains but apparently not here.

glacial's avatar

I check the 2-week forecast pretty regularly, and I watch how it changes on a daily basis – with that, I can usually feel pretty confident about making weather-dependent plans over at least a week. There aren’t usually big surprises.

ibstubro's avatar

Seems the weather in the US is fairly easy to predict except for the coasts, the Gulf, the Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes and the mountains?

Anyone want to weigh in on the Plains and tornado season??

mattbrowne's avatar

Three. A bit more when there are general predictions of a fundamental weather change, like polar air heading south.

ibstubro's avatar

Actually, when I think about it, when I still had to leave the house every morning at 5:30 am, I pretty much did as @glacial suggests.

When I saw the answer, I thought, “Whoa, pretty opptomistic, that!”, but it’s really the best way to guess how the weather’s trending and get a feel for who’s doing the best predicting for you area. You don’t plan more that a day or 3 on the basis of 2-week, but you get the bigger picture, too.

Smitha's avatar

1–2 days in advance.

flutherother's avatar

The weather here is very variable but the forecast manages to give a pretty good indication up to five days ahead. The three day forecast is even better and is reliable most of the time. Forecasts get the type of weather right whether there will be rain, gales or snow but the severity and the timings can be a bit out. Overall weather forecasting is excellent and has improved tremendously in my lifetime.

ibstubro's avatar

How much variation in the weather is there at your location in Dubai, @Smitha? I had imagined very little.

Lucky you, @flutherother. I’m in the Mississippi river valley and the jet stream keeps shifting so the forecasts are all over the board.

gailcalled's avatar

3 days works for me always. Because of the configuration of trees, fall line, sinuosity of drive, elevation of property on a hill, and direction of prevailing winds, I have a micro-nano-mini climate that is slightly more severe than the general local forecast. So I factor that in.

Often the most challenging part of bad weather for me is simply getting up and down my driveway and on to the public roads. I have ice on parts of my driveway well into spring.

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