Charlotte’s Most Accurate Forecast; It’s Not Just Marketing for Us.

There are two things that I take very, very seriously in my job. #1 is severe weather coverage and always being there for my viewers, followers and fellow neighbors when the weather turns ugly. #2 is being the most accurate source for weather information in the Charlotte area. I want to focus on the #2 in this blog post.

5-23-2012 6-06-17 PM

I try to be very honest and straight forward with my audience. Which means I have to admit when I get the forecast wrong, which does happen and I hate it when it happens4. The art of forecasting the future is never an easy thing to do. While most people joke that the forecast is wrong more often than it is right. The facts just don’t bear it out…well at least in our case at WCNC. I take the accuracy of my forecast so seriously that I keep detailed excel spreadsheets of my accuracy for day1 through day 5 of my forecast. I do this because I’m my toughest critic and because when I do miss a forecast I want to know why. Usually the best learning process for a forecaster is busting a forecast and then figuring out why.

Last year my spread sheets ended up giving me a 94.6% accuracy rating for day 1 of my forecast and a 67.9% accuracy on day 5. All of which I consider very good but I’m always trying to get those numbers higher. For the average person they may think that grading myself is bias and unreliable. Which is a fair argument, but what about independent verification from a 3rd party? Well I have that too!

You all have heard many sources on TV, radio, print and maybe even social media tell you they are the most accurate source of weather information in Charlotte. Here’s the thing though they never tell you how or why they say that. The reason they don’t is most are just using slick promotions to claim that they are something they are not.(I won’t call it lying but you get the idea) Listen all forecasts aren’t created equal. While the quantity of weather information has exploded via smartphones apps, social media, TV and websites, The quality of that information isn’t necessarily keeping pace.

That’s were WeatherRate comes in. It’s an independent verification company that rates the accuracy of the forecast you see on TV. I am proud to say that this year and for 4 of the past 5 years The First Warn Storm Team has been the most accurate source of weather information in Charlotte. For once it’s not just me saying it or some trumped up promotions. It actually has some backing to it from a 3rd party.

You can view all the certified WeatherRate stations on their website by clicking this link. If you want the most accurate forecast in Charlotte I’m here for you.

Picture 3First Warn 2012 logo


Because people asked here is how WeatherRate calculates accuracy. Like golf the lower the score the better.

The WeatheRate scoring system is fairly straightforward. You are forecasting temperature, sky cover/precip, additional items (windy, dense fog, and/or severe thunderstorm) and snow accumulation for five forecast periods: Day 1, Day 1 Night, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. You are forecasting timing of precipitation for Day 1 only.

The best possible score is zero. The higher the score, the less accurate the forecasts.

Points are assigned to weather elements as follows:

Temperature: # Points = ABS(Forecast Temp – Observed Temp)/2.

Sky Cover/Precip, Additional, Snow Accumulation and Timing:

Sky Cover/Precip0 points5 points
Severe Thunderstorm04
Dense Fog02
Snow Accumulation04
Timing01.5 for each incorrect period

Each forecast period score is calculated by adding the points received for the period, and then multiplying that subtotal by a weighting factor:

Forecast PeriodWeighting Factor
Day 12x
Day 1 Night1.25x
Day 21x
Day 30.75x
Day 40.5x

Your weighted forecast period scores are then added and averaged. The result is your four-day score. You will have a four-day score for every day of the WeatheRating season. Your four-day scores are then averaged on a running basis. At the end of the WeatheRating season, your final score will be an average of all your four-day scores.

Sample Four-Day Average Calculation | Close and Return