The Politics of Weather Forecasts

Yesterday, the weather forecast for London, ON on April 2, 2010 was 28°C with a “Feels Like” of 38°C. I can’t remember the low, but was very shocked at these numbers given that it’s been hovering around 0-10°C the past few days.

Today, the forecast is 24°C with a low of 11°C.

This forecast may have been made more conservative in anticipation of complaints. If people make plans for excessively warm weather and then it turns out to be not that warm, then the weather forecasters would have some angry people to deal with.

In Hong Kong, raising various rainstorm or typhoon warnings is a highly political subject. Because some warnings mean life must go on as usual and some mean that you must stay home/indoors, the time that a signal is officially in effect affects whether people send their kids to school and whether they plan to go to work in the morning or after lunch, among other things. Raising a signal at certain times could cause serious traffic jams and make people late for work who must all suddenly leave at the same time, or it might mean that people are supposed to stay at work or school when they really want to get home. Balancing the real danger with convenience for the greatest number of people is tricky.

With this Friday, I wonder whether it will be freakishly warm, and they just went conservative with the forecast to avoid complaints that it really wasn’t that warm.


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