Salisbury MD

Can we blame it on the butterfly?

butterfly effecyWeather forecast models are based on atmospheric data that is collected from all over the world.  Of course, we are only concerned about what will happen for us.  The most sophisticated computer systems can observe and record changes that occur in our atmosphere naturally, but can never account for the slightest changes created by a multitude of other things…like butterflies, for example.

butterfly definition

I believe some small and undetected changes were responsible for what many perceive to be a “missed” forecast during  yesterday’s snow event.

From a global perspective, however, calling it a “missed” forecast is really not the case.  The area of the earth is about 197 million square miles.  The area of Wicomico County is 400 square miles…a mere .000002% of the earth’s surface.

That means that if Wicomico County disappeared from the face of the earth we would not be missed.  99.999998% of the earth would still remain.

Yesterday”s storm system traveled a mere 75 miles farther north than was predicted.  As a result some of us. like me, were surprised.  However, in the grand scheme of things that was a pretty remarkable prediction!

A week ago yesterday’s storm system was in California.  Imagine tossing a paper airplane into the prevailing winds of the system and predicting where it would land in one week.  You’d probably be happy coming within 75 miles of its final destination.

I am not saying that you should be happy with the forecast.  I am only asking you to understand the immense difficulties in making a forecast for your county, your city, your neighborhood and as some of us would have it, our own backyards!  Think about it the next time you see a butterfly!  Small changes ultimately lead to big ones!

Yesterday I believe we were unaware of many small changes in our atmosphere that had such a drastic impact on the perceived accuracy of the weather forecast.

Next week’s weather system is currently a few thousand miles away from Delmarva.  I’ll trust our meteorologists to make their best use of science, mathematics, and technology to make a forecast that is as accurate as possible.  They’ll also update their projections periodically.  That’s why I rarely look beyond 3 days in an “official” forecast.

Right now I have a pretty good idea of what I think the weather will be like this week.  OOOPS!  I just sneezed three times in a row.  I’ll have to change my forecast again!  I guess each of us is a butterfly in our own right.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: