• 61°

Weather Wednesday: The weather app on your phone is unreliable

Have you ever canceled outdoor plans because of the weather app forecast on your phone?

It is very disappointing when the forecast for rain never materializes. We all want to have reliable weather forecasts so we can schedule activities.

Most people have no idea where the app comes from or if it’s even a real forecast. There are more than 8,000 apps for weather.

In many discussions with followers of Rowan County Weather, I’ve found they want to know why my forecast was so different from their app forecast. In some cases, I have even been blamed for their weather app being wrong.

Many of the apps are automated and have a single source of data from just one model. Accurate weather forecasts should be based on large amounts of data and many forecast models. No one model ever does a perfect job.

All my forecasts use data from numerous models, their ensembles, and local knowledge and experience.

Forecasting weather has become a very complex science.

Weather apps can be a great source for current conditions and also give you a general idea of what might happen. It’s a great place to start, but you should always seek professional expertise to make any decisions about your activities.

Let’s make some comparisons between app forecasts and my forecasts. Last weekend, I predicted a 50 percent chance of rain on Friday. A stock weather forecast predicted a 20 percent chance of rain. Rowan County ended up with more than an inch of rainfall in many areas Friday.

On Saturday, I predicted a 40 percent chance of rainfall, and the app predicted a 40 percent chance. The county airport recorded three-fourths of an inch in its gauge. Finally on Sunday, I predicted a 50 percent chance of rain and the app predicted a 10 percent chance. Heavy rain showers moved in on Sunday evening.

I was also contacted by a follower Friday who asked about the weather conditions for 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Her weather app was calling for rain chances during this time. She was having a pool party and wanted to know if she should cancel it.

I recommended that she go ahead with her plans for the pool party based on the data I had. The follower was able to have her pool party as planned. Showers and thunderstorms did not move in until the evening hours.

I’m never going to be right about the forecast 100 percent of the time. My goal is to be as credible as possible with few errors. Weather prediction is complex, and we can’t always predict the future.  Sometimes I have to change my forecasts to fit conditions as they develop. An app is updated only every six to 12 hours so it cannot be as accurate.

Apps are just tools that should always be used with caution. If you really have a question about the forecast, send me a message on Facebook and Twitter via the Rowan County Weather pages. Or email me at stevemonday@rowancountyweather.com. I may not be able to answer immediately, but I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Steve Monday is chief forecaster for Rowan County Weather.

Comments

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, local groups reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT