You have seen weather reports on television and in newspapers.
There are several different methods that can be used to create a forecast. The method a forecaster chooses depends upon the experience of the forecaster, the amount of information available to the forecaster, the level of difficulty that the forecast situation presents, and the degree of accuracy or confidence needed in the forecast.
The first of these methods is the Persistence Method; the simplest way of producing a forecast. The persistence method assumes that the conditions at the time of the forecast will not change. The persistence method works well when weather patterns change very little and features on the weather maps move very slowly.
The trends method involves determining the speed and direction of movement for fronts, high and low pressure centers, and areas of clouds and precipitation. Using this information, the forecaster can predict where he or she expects those features to be at some future time. For example, if a storm system is 1000 miles west of your location and moving to the east at 250 miles per day, using the trends method you would predict it to arrive in your area in 4 days. Using the trends method to forecast only a few hours into the future is known as "Nowcasting" and this method is frequently used to forecast precipitation.
The Climatology Method is another simple way of producing a forecast. This method involves averaging weather statistics accumulated over many years to make the forecast.
The Analog Method is a slightly more complicated method of producing a forecast. It involves examining today's forecast scenario and remembering a day in the past when the weather scenario looked very similar (an analog). The forecaster would predict that the weather in this forecast will behave the same as it did in the past.
Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) uses the power of computers to make a forecast. Complex computer programs, also known as forecast models, run on supercomputers and provide predictions on many atmospheric variables such as temperature, pressure, wind, and rainfall. A forecaster examines how the features predicted by the computer will interact to produce the day's weather.
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