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Weather talk: Words matter

Sometimes, the challenge of forecasting the weather can be easier than communicating that forecast. Weather forecasts are often imprecise by design. We just don't know exactly what the weather will be. When I expect an upcoming day to have signif...

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Sometimes, the challenge of forecasting the weather can be easier than communicating that forecast. Weather forecasts are often imprecise by design. We just don’t know exactly what the weather will be. When I expect an upcoming day to have significant wind, I will forecast the wind in a range of miles per hour. But I must also choose between saying “breezy,” “windy,” or “very windy.” The selection of the modifying word is based on how windy it has been lately, whether or not other elements such as blowing dust, blowing snow, or wind chill will make the wind more noticeable, and also how confident I am in my own forecast that day. It might also just be a meaningless choice of words. This ambiguity often leads people to look for hidden details that are not intended at all.  If I said, “breezy” yesterday and, “windy” today, then I expect today to be windier. But if I said, “breezy” last week and, “windy” today, it might just be my choice of words.   

 

Related Topics: JOHN WHEELERFORECASTING
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