With spring here in fact, if not spirit, it's time for Philadelphia Weather to wrap up the inaugural Rate the TV Weatherpeople contest.
Tom Thunstrom called his little experiment the 2005-2006 Forecast Challenge, actually, but same difference. He measured two sorts of accuracy - when a storm would start and how much snow would fall. There wasn't that much to work with, he concedes: 19.4 inches of snow hit the Delaware Valley officially, thanks mostly to the Feb. 11th and 12th event - I love that word. Official means measured at Philadelphia International Airport.
Ok, drum roll, please.
In last place, our weather partner, NBC10. Thunstrom used a measure where the most points meant the most misses. NBC10 had 28. It never recovered from missing the timing of the Monday Night Football snowfall.
Next worst? Philadelphia Weather itself. He gets points for holding himself to his forecasts. 18 points.
Action News comes in third place with 17 points - most of them for sensing just how much snow would fall.
Second place? CBS3. They racked up 14 points. They knew when the storms would start.
And the winner, Fox29 with 7 points, a balance of calling the time and the amount.
Philadelphia Weather calls Fox29 the only TV outlet in Philadelphia to correctly forecast accumulations and timing of February's 12-incher.
Thunstrom, as we've written before, is a hobbyist - a nonprofit-organization manager who was bitten by the weather bug at age 10 in Minnesota, when a tornado roared over his house. Differential equations and calculus knocked him out of professional meteorology in college. In July, the upper Montgomery County man launched the blog that allows full expression of his inner weather weenie. He writes:
In analyzing the first year of the Philadelphia Weather Forecast Challenge, I saw a few things that worked really well and a few things that I may adjust. I like the idea of comparing the media outlets against each other. Considering the claims you see on TV saying one channel is better than the other, there was not a grading system that compares the weight of their work. Since snowfall is something that impacts us more directly than say, being off by 3 degrees on a forecasted high, comparing their snowfall forecasts is one measure of seeing just how accurate a forecasting outlet (TV or government) really is. I would tend to argue that many of us do not care if a forecasted high of 75 is 3 degrees too high or low but do care if no snow was forecasted and 6" shows up on one's front door.
Would love to hear from any of the weather professionals at the stations. Is this contest fair? Write in, folks.