Category Archives: Prediction

12/29: A Perfect Snow in NYC

By Andy Newman for The New York Times:

The ideal city snowstorm, meteorological Platonists say, blankets the landscape without burying it, beautifies but does not burden, transforms and cocoons without paralyzing or even particularly inconveniencing.

Such an event is expected to come our way on Saturday.

Flakes should begin falling around 11 a.m., as a low pressure system passes south and east of the metropolitan area, giving children plenty of time to finish a hearty breakfast.

The temperature will hover in the mid-30s – just cold enough for the snow to safely stick, but no colder. The breeze will be sufficient to make cheeks rosy, but will not slash at the skin or penetrate down the necks of parkas.

For the better part of the day, the snow will continue – gently, never blinding. By the time it ceases for good shortly before midnight, two to four inches will have fallen – just enough, perhaps, to permit sledding.

“Definitely snowfall that can be plowed,” said Dan Hoffman, a National Weather Service meteorologist, “but definitely not crippling by any means.”

At least that’s what they’re forecasting. Who knows what will really happen.

Happy Birthday Lewis Fry Richardson

Thanks to the Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of physicist and psychologist Lewis Fry Richardson, born in Northumberland, England (1881), who was the first to apply mathematical techniques to predict the weather accurately. During WWI, Richardson served as a driver for the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in France. During the intervals between transporting wounded soldiers from the front, he manually computed the changes in pressure and wind at two points. From this information, he wrote his 1922 book, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process. The problem with his theories was that it took him about three months to predict the weather for the next 24 hours. His system did not become practical until the advent of electronic computers after World War II.

Out Now: ‘The Weather Observer’s Handbook’

From the Cloud Appreciation Society:

We are very pleased to announce that ‘The Weather Observer’s Handbook’ by Stephen Burt is published today. The handbook provides a comprehensive, practical and independent guide to all aspects of making weather observations. It is ideal for both amateur observers looking for help in choosing their first weather instruments on a tight budget and for professional observers looking for a comprehensive and up-to-date guide.

The Cloud Appreciation Society gives info on the following discounts: You can buy it directly from Cambridge University Press at a 20% discount: In the UK, download the 20% discount flyer; in the US, vist and enter the discount code: E2BURT.

Big News Merger in the PWS World

After 17 years of aggregating data from Personal Weather Stations as an independent company, Weather Underground has been acquired by the Weather Channel.

Some  reactions…

“Whether  [The Weather Channel] will entirely replace its own forecasts with Weather Underground’s BestForecast is not immediately clear. The predicitions are often substantially different. Right now, for instance, is predicting that it will be 93 degrees in my part of New York on the Fourth of July, while Weather Underground says 99.”
“In an interview, David Kenny,  the chairman and chief executive of the Weather Channel Companies, praised the Weather Underground site for having a “hard-core audience” of passionate weather fans. Some of them, he admitted, have sour views of the Weather Channel, which they see as overly corporate and dependent on advertising.”

” This deal will put Weather Underground’s awesome technology to use on a much bigger stage, bringing better information to a large number of people…”

This just received in the SPWS inbox:

Dear SP Weather Station Flux Factory,

As an invaluable member of our Personal Weather Station (PWS) community, I wanted you to be the first to know that Weather Underground, Inc. has become part of The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC). Your weather station data will remain an integral part of our forecast modelling, and we expect that the combined forecast technologies of the two companies will enable us to provide even more accurate custom forecasts for your station. The service that we provide PWS owners on will remain unchanged for now, and will only be improved in the long term.

With the increased audience reach that our union with TWCC provides, we hope to considerably expand our PWS community to further enhance the quality of our weather forecasts. With extra resources at our disposal, we will also be able to provide a greater level of support for our community members.

As always, we thank you for being part of our PWS network, and greatly appreciate all of the data you share with us. You can read my latest blog post for more information about the sale of wunderground to TWCC.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jeff Masters
Director of Meteorology

weather forecasters threatened with jail time for bad predictions

Weather forecasters in South Africa could be forced to pay a heavy fine for getting predictions wrong – even up to a decade of imprisonment. They have been threatened with imprisonment and fines of up to R10,000 if they issue incorrect weather warnings without official permission. The proposed new law has been created to prevent panic and economic damage in the community caused by inaccurate predictions of extreme weather such as flash flooding, drought and gale force winds. The amendment has been made to South Africa’s Weather Service Bill so that anyone wishing to issue a severe weather warning first needs to get permission from the official national weather service.

From African Business Review. Topic first heard on NPR’s news quiz, ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ 21 Jan 2012

Come see our Water Barometer @ Flux Science Fair

Two Weekends: June 5-6/12-13, 12-6 PM

Science Fair @ Flux Factory
39-21 29th Street, Long Island City

by SP Weather Station in collaboration with Daniel Robie

The first barometer wasn’t invented to measure air pressure.  In the 17th century, columns of water were used to disprove the church’s position that a true vacuum was impossible.  What people found (eventually) is that water can only be raised about 33 feet from the ground with any suction pump.  Galileo’s protege Evangelista Torricelli realized that such a column could be used to measure changes in the air.  He also realized that a much denser fluid, such as mercury, registers those changes on a much smaller (more scientifically convenient) scale.

Who needs convenience? At Flux Factory for the first two weekends in June, SPWS and Dan Robie, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, York College, CUNY, are measuring pressure with a tube of water the height of Flux Factory, in homage to the barometer’s history.  Come find out if it works!

6 More Weeks of Winter Predicted

In lieu of functioning data uploads, SPWS is relying non-digital weather sensing technologies.

Punxsutawney Phil Video

Phil’s prediction was also made available this year via SMS, by texting “Groundhog” to 247365 by Groundhog Day.

Thanks to Liz for the suggestion.

“On Clouds” @ Observatory, Brooklyn / SPWS Lecture 10/21/09

On Clouds

Observatory, Brooklyn
543 Union Street (at Nevins)
Through November 15th
featuring a Guest Lecture by SPWS on 10/21, 8pm!

In the first exhibition at Observatory, Brooklyn, on view through November 15th, James Walsh presents photos and prints in conjunction with an evening program of projections, performances, poetry, and other events by various artists throughout the run of the show.

James’ thoughtfully installed work includes a series of letterpress prints based on John Ruskin’s journals, paired with photographs of details of cloud-painting taken from dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History.  In both, he considers how recording the clouds is an act of both ‘objective’ study and ‘subjective’ projection.

In conjunction with his show, James has invited a number of artists to reflect on this theme (in forms as varied and elusive as the clouds themselves!). In the gallery, Jen Bervin presents a spread from her book a non-breaking space. A series of evening events has included a reading by Joshua Beckman (we were invited to bring pillows; Joshua read texts by himself and others as we lay outstretched, eyes on the ceiling); a lecture by Klara Hobza (a tour through modern cloud classification, with lots of pictures, and a summary of current cloud-making practice); and a slideshow of work by Pauline Curnier Jardin and Catriona Shaw (with excerpts of their work-in-progress, a cloud-opera).

SPWS is happy to be participating:
October 21st, 8pm:

“Taxonomy of Taxonomy of Clouds,” an SPWS lecture in conjunction with:
a performative lecture by Madeline Djerejian + screenings of videos by Celeste Fichter, Birgit Rathsmann, James Walsh and Lisa Young / $5 suggested donation

“Weather Reports” in Philly Weekly!

Luke Strosnider, April 2009

Luke Strosnider, "April 2009"

SP Weather Station exhibition “Weather Reports” featured in the new issue of Philly Weekly!

Weather or Not:
A new exhibit at AHN/VHS focuses on meteorological data.

by Roberta Fallon of artblog

“If there’s angst or hysteria about global warming, it’s hidden in the group show “Weather Reports.” Instead of melting ice caps and imperiled polar bears, AHN/VHS’ quiet, small works show—which features drawings, prints, video and mixed media—focuses on the daily weather data recorded at Long Island City’s artist-run SP Weather Station….”

Read more!

Cosmic Rays May Forecast Weather!

Thanks to
and the March 1931 issue of Popular Science…