The art of weather forecasting

Some may think it’s one of those jobs which anyone might turn their hand to, but the difficulties of weather forecasting are hugely underrated.

After all, there aren’t many jobs where you’re expected to predict the future. Economists are also required to make forecasts, but at least they have some control over the system they are foretelling. When it comes to weather, meteorologists have no such influence.

The best weather forecasting is a mixture of science, geography, and experience.

Forecasts in retrospect: A history of Numerical Weather Prediction

As weather forecasters, here at MetService we spend a lot of our time poring through data: data from weather stations, data from satellites and radar, from weather balloons and also webcams. This information is all useful for understanding what the weather is doing right now – but how do we know what might happen in the future? Understanding the current weather helps us understand what might come next, but information from numerical weather models also plays a very important part.

Albany Tornado, Tuesday 3 May 2011

Few weather events are as dramatic, dangerous or challenging to predict as tornadoes.

About the tornado of Tuesday 3 May 2011

On the afternoon of Tuesday 3 May 2011, a line of showers moved southwards across Northland. Ahead of this line the winds were moderate northeasterlies; behind it, they were moderate northwesterlies. Along the line, the winds converged - that is, pushed against each other. Below is a portion of a working chart for 3:00pm Tuesday 3 May 2011, drawn by one of the Severe Weather Forecasters.