FAQ - Frequently Asked/Answered
Q - Why is your forecast different from ones I hear on the radio, see on TV or get on other internet providers.
A - In my early years of forecasting I was always so worried about what Environment Canada(EC) was forecasting. I'd see one likely forecast, and then have doubts as I noticed that EC's forecast. With experience I've learned not to doubt my own forecasts and I rarely check other public forecast sites. I quickly realized that almost every other pubic forecast out there is computer generated and then read aloud or posted on the web - without any human modification! Here's where I add value to the forecast; when I take the computer models and modify them to reflect the local trends and tendencies.
Q - When are Your Forecasts Updated?
A - The 36 hour forecasts are updated at least 4 times a day. In the winter months these updates occur at 4am, 10am, 4pm and 10pm; an hour later for each time during daylight savings. These are the times that my forecast model scripts move the forecast forward by one 6 hour block and update the forecast. If the forecast appears to be off or the computer forecast models are not performing well then I often over-ride the forecast to make it more accurate. There will be times that the forecast is updated 10 or more times in a single day - when active weather is firing.
Q - So your forecasts are computer generated like other large forecast agencies, and are not hands on?
A - The computer models provide the 'first guess' solution for the upcoming forecast. I then use my experience, intuition and observations to finesse the computer output to a more accurate forecast. The computer forecast models used are the same ones used by the biggest government and private forecast agencies in Canada the USA; my personal input takes this data and customizes it for local tendencies and trends.
Q - When are your discussions updated?
A - I usually try to update my discussions first thing every morning. There are times when I am busy and miss an update. During active weather I will often update the discussion every couple hours. During extreme dangerous weather I will often provide updates as they occur. If a discussion is older than 12 hours, from the time I write it, then it will be removed from the site.
Q - Why does the first day of your long range forecast say rain one day and then sun, for that same day, the next time it is updated?
A - The Long Range, 2 week outlook, is only updated once a day; by 7am each morning. Long range forecasting is more about timing then it is the details. The forecast model attempts to calculate when each weather system moves across the region. If that system slows down or appears to speed up, than what was determined earlier, then the forecast could change dramatically. Each update attempts to make the forecast more accurate - so when you notice these changes, hopefully each update is more accurate than the day before. Also, the closer a date is, for the long range forecast, the greater the chance it is accurate. When you look 14 days into the future - consider it an estimate. Then as that date gets closer, the forecast becomes more probable.
Q - I see now that you have forecast for communities that are pretty close together. How can they be much different from each other?
A - My forecast models run at a resolution of 12km. So every 12kmx12km grid has a different forecast. I use that to my advantage and pull the data out of those grids to make the site specific forecasts. You'd be surprised how different a forecast could be from Batchawana to the Sault and east to Thessalon. Often the direction of the wind and lake temperatures have more of an influence that the overall weather patterns. My forecast models do pick up these small scale features and generate more accurate predictions.
Q - Your forecast had 5cm of snow and I had 25cm - how can you be so wrong?!
A - The influence of the Great Lakes and resulting lake effect snow can really mess with the forecast models I use. Often the snow squall lines are so small that they don't show up on the models and if they do, they underestimate the intensity. You may have had 25cm but a fella 5 km down the road may have only had 2cm - that's the nature of these squalls. I usually try to indicate the risk of squalls, and possible amounts, in the discussion; especially if the models are struggling with it.