Imagine for a moment your city is under a Winter Storm Warning; not that hard to imagine here in Oklahoma City the last two years. You tune into your favorite news station, News 9, and hear chief meteorologist Gary England forecast 6-12'' of snow for the Oklahoma City metro area. The following morning you wake up to 6.5'' of fresh snow on the ground; just within the bounds of the forecast snowfall amount.
By our meteorological standards, this would have been an accurate forecast. However, accuracy in this case may be in the eye of the beholder. This has been a reoccurring topic in some of the weather conferences I have attended in the past year or two – viewer perception of accuracy with regards to forecast snowfall totals.
Let me give you an example:
Station A forecasts 7'' of snow for Oklahoma City
Station B forecasts 6-12'' of snow for Oklahoma City
The actual, measured snowfall amount was 10.5''. Which station gave the more accurate forecast? Station A who was off by 3.5'', or station B whose lower bound was off by 4.5'' but upper bound was closet at only 1.5'' off?
Just what do you the viewer perceive when we forecast a lower and upper bound to snowfall amounts? Do you expect the actual snowfall to be closer to the lower bound, upper bound or somewhere in the middle? Would you prefer a forecast like Station A, or Station B?
These are the types of questions we battle each and every snowfall event – viewer perception of accuracy. Please leave your comments below, or on my Facebook page. Your input is greatly appreciated!