4/28/2009

Those unreliable hurricane forecasts

The WSJ has this:

Some forecasters update their predictions once the season has begun. And those forecasts do well. But none of the major forecasts that come out before June has improved significantly on a simple prediction scheme that calls for the same number of named storms and hurricanes as the average of the five prior years. And some do much worse.

Forecasters often are open about their failings. Philip Klotzbach, who works on the Colorado State University forecast, and others post analyses of their accuracy, which is more than, say, political pundits do. And they say it's good scientific practice to publish their work in progress.

But why publish press releases and even, in some cases, hold press conferences? "Part of the reason we even do our press conference and release our data is, well, everyone else is," Mr. Watson says. He adds that research funders generally encourage the publicizing of the fruits of their grant money: "From a funding and research standpoint, you've almost got to release it," Mr. Watson says. "It's part of that game." . . . .

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