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Gingersnap
03-09-2009, 10:30 AM
Weather report percentages can vex viewers
Published: March 6, 2009 at 3:50 PMOrder reprints

SEATTLE, March 6 (UPI) -- Researchers say there can still be confusion over exactly what weather forecasters mean when they say there is a certain percent chance of rain.

A paper published in the February Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society concluded that when a percentage is used to describe the chance of precipitation, a sizable number of people see it as the percent of the local area that will get rain, or the percent of time in the day during which it will rain.

The findings were the result of three experiments carried out at the University of Washington using surveys issued to dozens of undergraduate students.

"If such deep-seated misunderstanding is evident among this college-educated sample in the rain-experienced Pacific Northwest, we can assume that it exists in similar or larger proportions among the general public," the paper said.

One recommendation was that media outlets revise the icons they use in their predictions to give viewers a better idea of how likely it will be that there will not be any rain or snow on a particular day.

The percentage, by the way, refers to the percent of days that experience precipitation when the expected weather conditions are in place.

What part of "chance of" do people not get? :confused:

UPI (http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/03/06/Weather_report_percentages_can_vex_viewers/UPI-17581236372609/)

PoliCon
03-09-2009, 11:57 AM
What part of "chance of" do people not get? :confused:

UPI (http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/03/06/Weather_report_percentages_can_vex_viewers/UPI-17581236372609/)

but you see - college grads now a days don't understand percentages - math no longer being taught in American public schools - so how are they going to understand that there is a 50% chance of rain?

FlaGator
03-09-2009, 12:28 PM
I've always been a little vague on this percentage thing myself. When the weather man says that their is a 50% chance of rain does that mean that it it will rain but in only rain in 50 percent of the forecast area thus the chance is based on where I am, or there is a 50 percent chance of rain period (it either will or won't rain in the forecast area? There are some other variations on this but what is the exact interpretation of percentage of the chance of rain. I have always understood it as the second option I listed.

linda22003
03-09-2009, 12:29 PM
I've always been a little vague on this percentage thing myself. When the weather man says that their is a 50% chance of rain does that mean that it it will rain but in only rain in 50 percent of the forecast area thus the chance is based on where I am, or there is a 50 percent chance of rain period (it either will or won't rain in the forecast area? There are some other variations on this but what is the exact interpretation of percentage of the chance of rain. I have always understood it as the second option I listed.

QED, Ginger. :)

There's a half and half chance of rain in the forecast area.

Gingersnap
03-09-2009, 12:38 PM
QED, Ginger. :)



If there is a 50% chance of rain for your area, it means that over the past however-many-long years that the forecasters have kept records, 50% of the time that weather conditions were nearly the same as they are today, it rained.

The forecast percentage has nothing to do with time or geographical area.

Shannon
03-09-2009, 12:40 PM
but you see - college grads now a days don't understand percentages - math no longer being taught in American public schools - so how are they going to understand that there is a 50% chance of rain?

I will never forget a Leno show when they were asking questions of recent college grads "on the street". One of the questions was "how many moons does Earth have?" Most of the people answered incorrectly. I was amused and horrified simultaneously.

FlaGator
03-09-2009, 12:41 PM
If there is a 50% chance of rain for your area, it means that over the past however-many-long years that the forecasters have kept records, 50% of the time that weather conditions were nearly the same as they are today, it rained.

The forecast percentage has nothing to do with time or geographical area.

Good, at least I was interpreting things correctly.

FlaGator
03-09-2009, 12:43 PM
I will never forget a Leno show when they were asking questions of recent college grads "on the street". One of the questions was "how many moons does Earth have?" Most of the people answered incorrectly. I was amused and horrified simultaneously.

One of the Leno on the street episodes, people knew who Joe Montana was but didn't know that Montana was a state :rolleyes:

noonwitch
03-09-2009, 01:08 PM
I will never forget a Leno show when they were asking questions of recent college grads "on the street". One of the questions was "how many moons does Earth have?" Most of the people answered incorrectly. I was amused and horrified simultaneously.


Those interviews always make me feel smart, but they frighten me because these people are out there driving, voting and teaching school. The ones who can't point to Canada on a map really frighten me.

linda22003
03-09-2009, 01:17 PM
There was an equally frightening - and hilarious - sketch on "the Man Show" several years ago, where they posed as people getting signatures to "end women's suffrage". They got lots of signatures; people seemed to hear "women" and "suffer", and not go beyond that. Idiots. Finally ONE person got it right, and got indignant.