Popular Science

Weather forecasts aren't perfect, but they're getting there

A new report says we're getting better at taking the Earth's temperature.
A forecast for road conditions in the continental United States

A forecast for road conditions in the continental United States

Global Weather Corporation

The atmosphere that blankets our planet contains around 5,600 trillion tons of air. It can blast the ground below with lightning, torrential rain, heat waves, and tornadoes, or caress it with a light breeze or dusting of snowflakes. As the past few days have reminded us, it’s no small feat to make predictions about what this vast, seething mass of wind and water will do.

But our forecasting prowess—at least when it comes to predicting how hot the coming days will be—has been making impressive strides. High-temperature predictions have improved significantly over the past 12 years, according to a new report from ForecastWatch, a Columbus, Ohio-based company that assesses the accuracy of weather forecasts. In fact, our ability to pin down the next day’s high temperature has improved by almost a degree Fahrenheit, says founder Eric Floehr.

That might not sound like much of an upgrade. But there’s a lot riding on weather forecasts, and a relatively small boost in accuracy can make a big difference when a country . And as weather forecasts become ever more sophisticated, you may come to realize that they've infiltrated other realms of technology to innocuously improve more typical days as well.

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