Long-range Obama forecast: flip a coin

Categories: Media
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State of confusion.

In it's continuing effort to fill pages with nonsensical items about the Democratic National Convention, the Rocky Mountain News published "Obama Speech Forecast Still a Little Foggy," in which National Weather Service forecaster Mike Baker confirmed that Barack Obama's August 28 Invesco Field at Mile High acceptance speech is still too far in the future for prognosticators to accurately predict what the weather will be like for the event. "It would be pure speculation once we get beyond five or six days," he said, adding, "Anyone can flip a coin."

True enough -- and Denver TV stations do so routinely.

Each night, Channel 7 offers seven-day forecasts like this one. As for Channel 4, it has long stuck by the five-day model illustrated here -- but during a recent program, main weather seer Ed Greene trotted out a "And Four Days More" graphic that pushed the forecast a full nine days into the future.

As Baker suggests, forecasters are doing little more than guessing at the outside edges of this range -- and even within it, their predictions are far less than reliable. A 2002 Message column tracked the accuracy of the five major Denver TV stations for a month, judging their forecasts accurate if both the predicted high and low temperatures were within five degrees of the final total, plus or minus -- and their performances were extremely mediocre three-to-five days out. Channel 4 did the best, scoring positive marks 36 percent of the time, while Channel 31 finished dead last, with a humiliating 11 percent.

So what's the weather going to be like on August 28. Even without any training or technical equipment whatsoever, your guess is literally as good as theirs. -- Michael Roberts


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