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Phil’s weekly column: I don’t ever want 100% accurate forecasts

Weather technology continues to improve globally as better weather satellites are launched, newer, faster, data crunching computers are built and we learn more and more about how the weather operates – yet I hope we never reach a point of having 100% accurate forecasts.

Skeptics will say it’s because I’d be out of a job – that’s possible, but I never went into weather forecasting to make money, I went into it because it’s in my blood and something I have an immense passion for. 

Don’t get me wrong – I’d love forecasts to be even more accurate.  We are continually investing into making our forecasts more and more accurate.  But I’d never want that three figure percentage of accuracy – 100%.  But why not?  What’s stopping me from ever wanting 100% perfection?  Well, I have a fairly simple analogy.

Most of us would like to live to a good old age.  Many of us take medications that help us live longer and fight disease and other illnesses.  We all know that eating better, drinking and smoking less, and exercising more, will all increase our chances of living longer.

I’m sure if a pill was produced that could guarantee you an extra 10 years of life most would try it, if proven safe.

But polls all over the world have shown that while many of us want to live longer, we wouldn’t want to know the date that we were going to die.  That just sucks the fun right out of life.

Life is all about the journey – not the destination (at least for me).  

Predicting the weather is similar.   Weather is an exciting, changeable, influential and necessary part of our lives.

Would businesses like 100% accurate forecasts?  Yes – it would save millions of dollars a year in lost profit from say fog, floods, droughts etc.

But can you imagine never being surprised anymore by the weather?  How dull. 

Some of my most memorable weather moments have come from out of the blue – an impressive thunderstorm, a beautiful random waterspout, a giant hailstorm, a fire red sunset, a surprise torrential downpour.

Our lives are becoming increasingly organised – my iPhone links to my Facebook page and sends me daily updates on who is having a birthday…this includes people who I haven’t spoken to in 20 years or more.  We have MySky, smartphones, social media, dozens of TV channels, the internet, rush hour traffic, work, the farms, the crops, our children, school, assignments, homework, studies, building businesses, travel……..I don’t know about you but the magical nature of our ever changing weather is the one place that can throw a curve ball in our lives and force us to change plans.

Force us to sit inside with the kids, or go to the beach with them.  Perhaps it makes us garden or gives us a ‘day off’ from doing the laundry.  Nothing like a really wet day to use as an excuse to cancel some of those things you honestly didn’t feel like doing.

Now imagine if we could forecast 100% perfectly – every week would be mapped out perfectly.  We could be extra efficient – no down time at all.  We’d pack every clothes drying, lawn mowing, fence painting, boat sailing, weed pulling, DIY moment of lives into those 7 days. 

We’d be efficient, yes, but at the expense of having some colour and change  in our very busy lives….and like they say – change is as good as a rest.

– Column by Philip Duncan, follow him on Twitter:


Sue on 21/07/2012 8:35am

Right on Phil – you are so very right. May mother nature forever maintain her mystique, unpredictability and awesome unexpected spectacles and may science/humanity never cross the threshold to a place of knowing exactly what she is doing before she does it.

It is such a shame in so many ways that we look to technology often these days to see what is coming and where that will position us on this earth rather than just looking out the window as all is revealed to us and enjoying the moment and the wonder of it all – as you say – Life is all about the journey – not the destination.

Bret on 24/08/2013 6:35pm

Inspiring story there. What occurгed after?

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Zelda Wynn on 20/07/2012 9:16pm

Caught up in the evolution of man, I have enjoyed your admissions WeatherWatch!
I am sure mother nature will ensure that weather can never be 100% accurate. she will keep us mere mortals on our toes enjoying the changes of season and cursing extreme events that are served up sometimes.
The down time, I suspect, will continue to be a big problem.

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