NOAA: It Could be Hot This Summer
If you think the above headline is vague, you're onto something. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) recently released its updated 90-day summer outlook and it tells us... not much of anything and what little it does is confusing.
It includes a map (shown to the right) that colors the metro area in an inferno-like orange shade, but it turns out this means there's just about a 37% (or somewhere between 33-39% as indicated by the light orange shade; the darker orange shade indicates a 40%+ chance of above average temperatures) chance it will be hotter than average this summer. That doesn't impress me, because on the flip side it means there's a 63% (or 60-67%) the summer will be something other than hot.
What the outlook is really trying to communicate, but does not do so effectively, is that it is slightly more likely that it will be hot than either of the two other alternatives: average or cooler than average. A better way to convey this would simply be to give the probability for each possibility (in different regions of the country) instead of drawing up a map with difficult to understand contour values that require a long technical explanation . The following presentation would be more clear:
Chance it will be hotter than average: 37%
Chance it will be near average: 33%
Chance it will be cooler than average: 30%
This information could also be effectively presented in a bar chart or pie-chart.
On the plus side, NOAA's CPC does clearly state in its discussion: "Above normal temperatures are expected ... in the Northeast based on nearly all tools." But you've got to wade through a lot of text to find this clear statement.
Next week, we'll release our own summer outlook. I promise it will be more transparent, direct, and meaningful than NOAA's.
Posted by: ah | May 20, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse
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