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Christmas, weather models and other caveats

Max Gonzalez, Wednesday December 18, 2013 - 15:44 EDT

Sometimes it is hard to write a weather story, especially when there is only one main story developing on the weather front and everyone is talking about it. If you have been isolated in a remote area for the past few days, suffice to say the lead up to Christmas is going to be a SCORCHER. Trust me, by this time next week we will be over the word HEAT.

Coincidentally, the year that is about to leave us will end as it started, very hot. And it will most likely end in the top 3-hottest calendar years on record, if not the hottest. We will, however, have to wait until month's end before knowing with certainty this year's placing in history.

Since the beginning of December, telephone lines haven't stopped ringing. Not for the annual wrap-up, but for the Christmas day forecast. Our models begin to produce a weather forecast 14 days in advance, but people fail to realise that these should only be treated as guidance.

Yes, forecasting so far ahead can be very tricky but I wouldn't say they are worth less than the paper they are written as they give us a good sense of trends in weather patterns and highlight possible extreme events.

Events, which in turn, can have significant effects on the average Australian. Having some sort of guidance two weeks in advance can therefore be important to mitigate health hazards, crop and cattle losses and even help the economy. As an example, the current heat spell was first highlighted over 10 days ago by meteorologists at Weatherzone.

Out in the real world, there are a bunch of models to choose from. Some perform better in different parts of the world and some are particularly good at picking up a specific weather parameter such as temperature or rainfall. Due to technological restrictions, these models are limited in what they can do but our confidence in these forecast models increases as the date gets closer.

I would like to end this segment by wishing you all a very merry Christmas: full of joy and happiness.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2013

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