European Forecasting Model Out-predicts American Meteorologists

Why do the Europeans out=predict American meteorologists.
Why do the Europeans out-predict American meteorologists? Photo credit: StrahilDimitrov/iStock/Thinkstock

If you’ve been out on the East End for a long time, you begin to think of the hurricane season in terms of baseball. Both seasons comes to a climax at about the same time. So it makes sense.

You, as a resident, are up at the plate waiting for the pitcher to wind up and throw one of his big fastballs or curves or screwballs. Long Island itself is a sort of bat, sticking out into the Atlantic in bunt position from the perspective of hurricanes coming up the coast.

And so, we watch the weathermen, either on TV or on our cellphones. The pitcher is winding up, the hurricane already barreling in, a great angry orange swirl of storm clouds spinning at 110 miles an hour coming up through the British Virgin Islands heading for more islands and then, well, we will have to wait and see.

We all compare notes. We do know, that unlike baseball, we have no ability to swat the hurricane away. It was just a matter of whether it is over the plate (eastern Long Island) or not.

“Saw on TV it’s over the Bahamas. But it’s stopped there, just bashing everything.”

“I saw a line showing it’s coming straight up along the coast to New York City.”

“I’d heard it’s going to be just like Sandy. There’s a rainstorm coming down from the north. A low pressure moving in from the Midwest. It’s the same perfect storm.”

Like Sandy, all hell would break loose.

This was on Wednesday. People were in the hardware stores and food stores, getting bottled water, candles, matches, flashlight batteries, wind up radios, masking tape for the windows, canned food, firewood. Cars were lined up at the gas stations. The authorities told us to be ready to evacuate. Now the hurricane was moving again, but it was northeast and out to sea. But now it was veering back toward the coast.

Was God throwing a screwball? What?

I had heard the same thing about the perfect storm. But then, I’d heard another weatherman say the delay would result in it being too late for the convergence of the perfect storm. And as a matter of fact, it would just go out to sea and we would get not much of anything except a few gusts of wind and some rain. On the other hand, forces would cause it to push the ocean in at us at high tides. The shoreline would be experiencing high tides, and possible floods.

Where was this information coming from? Was there a second weather forecasting service? The one our tax money supports is called the Global Forecast System (GFS). That was the only one I knew.

Turns out that there is a second forecasting service, based in Europe, and as it is quite capable of forecasting on our side of the pond, it has taken to doing so. And time after time, it is correct and the GFS here is way off.

In 2013, the Americans predicted a huge snowstorm for the East Coast, while the Europeans had said there would not be. There wasn’t one. In 2012, the Europeans were predicting that Sandy would turn into a perfect storm for New York City—become just a gale but a gale of the century—while the Americans were still predicting a hurricane speedball that would pass over the area. And just this last winter, the Americans predicted a terrible blizzard and the Europeans said there wouldn’t be one. We were wrong again.

Indeed, this writer has frequently made fun of the GFS and its inaccurate predictions. Every June, they predict either a quiet hurricane season or a hurricane season filled with sturm und drang. And every year I report on what they say, and say believe the opposite, and I am right.

I don’t know the answers to this problem. A New York Times report says there are serious underlying data problems. It’s way short of what Europe is doing.

And the New York Yankees spent $150 million on Oshiro Tanaka. And he’s not working out so hot either.

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