This is an excerpt from my book “How to Find a Good Weather Forecast” :
How did it all start…this notion that weather forecasters get it wrong all the time? It’s not true. So how did so many people come to believe it? We tend to form these types of misconceptions as a mass consciousness. Are all car salesmen dishonest? No. Are all lawyers crooked ambulance chasers? No. Do all politicians just tell you what you want to hear to get elected? Maybe...but probably not. The fact is that the forecast is right MOST of the time. It’s true that some forecasters are better than others, but in general, it’s usually on track. For a next day forecast, the hit percentage for an average forecaster is about 90%. The further it goes out, the lower the percentage. Once you get to seven or ten days it’s down to an educated guess. The science is evolving very quickly and it will only get better. Eventually there will come a time, in the distant future, when we will forecast the weather almost perfectly. It will rain at 3:06 pm and stop at 3:42 pm. It’s a long way off, but we’re moving in the right direction!
So, how did it start? I don’t think it “started” anywhere. I believe it’s a simple case of selective memory. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re home watching the 11:00 news on a Monday night. The weathercaster on Channel 9 says “It’s going to be a beautiful day on Tuesday...mostly sunny with highs in the 70s.” You get up and go to work the next morning and it’s clear. You head out for lunch and it’s sunny and mild with temperatures in the 70s. How many times on a day like that have you stopped and thought to yourself “Hey...that weather person on Channel 9 was right!” Hardly ever, I’m sure.
Let’s change the picture a little. What if you walked out on that same Tuesday and it was raining and cold? I guarantee the thought would pop into your head that the weather forecast was wrong. And, that memory would stick there for a long time. No matter how many times in the next month the forecast was on, it would be that one incorrect day that would save into your memory bank. Why? The easiest way to remember things is by repetition. You would think that the 9 times out of ten would be the memories that stuck. Instead, it’s the other way around.