How Long-Range Weather Forecasts Are Made: Statistic vs. Physics?

There are two ways to forecast long-range weather: using statistics and physics. There is only one method that can consistently provide accurate results. Throughout this post, we will examine both methods and see which is most beneficial for businesses. 

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Basic Meteorology

describes the science of forecasting the weather based on physical laws. On TV, websites, and mobile apps, the average person hears and sees meteorological forecasts every day. Many people criticize meteorology for being inaccurate and reliant on guesswork. There is no denying that some criticisms of its accuracy are warranted, but there is also a lot of science involved. 

The calculations used in physics-based weather forecasting are complex, involving fluid dynamics and physics to predict the movements and patterns that dictate the weather. Using traditional models based on physics, scientists calculate the results using complicated formulas that have existed for centuries. It is analogous to trying to predict ripples in a body of water when one tries to understand meteorology. 

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Physics-Base Forecasts Have Problems

Models based on physics have a hard time being accurate. Consequently, when forecasts are inaccurate, there can be serious consequences. 

To understand Hurricane Sandy, you only have to look back at 2012. Despite that, the storm became much larger than forecasts, resulting in $70 billion in damages. There were also 100+ unexpected deaths. There is an issue with these physics models in that the rounding errors increase with every iteration. With each successive forecast, meteorologists have to contend with increasing errors. While hourly and daily forecasts are fairly accurate, the predictions start to fall apart when you move into a two-week timeframe.

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Most physics-based climate models change twice or four times daily, a challenge for physics-based meteorology. It's nearly impossible to hit a moving target when it comes to long-range meteorological forecasting. It's nearly impossible to hit a moving target when it comes to long-range meteorological forecasting. Forecasts also change constantly due to this. 

Business Weather Isn't Good

If you own a business, then how does this affect you? Actually, quite a bit.

Sales and weather have a strong correlation. The amount a product will sell can change dramatically depending on a small variation in temperature or rainfall. Weather forecasts are closely watched by businesses that understand this relationship. Predicting into the future gets better the further in advance they can go. 

It is here, however, that physics-based models can't hold up. Their predictive power drops after a week or so. When the weather is bad, most businesses are unable to adjust their operations effectively. For retailers, for example, 6-12 months are needed to plan inventory, pricing, markdowns, and logistics strategies.

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