Light rain falling, but can we trust those weather 'models'?

Feb 10, 2012

You can call it light rain or "the good rain" (after local author Tim Egan), but either way, it’s the signature of the great Northwest. And it's here through much of the weekend.

That's the forecast from KPLU expert and UW professor Cliff Mass.

You can hear the details in an extended version of the weekly radio interview. Mass also answers the following question posted, following the big snowstorm, on our weather questions page:

"Meteorologists frequently talk about what the computer models are indicating.  I'm curious -- who develops these models, and how are they revised when events like this week's storm point out their shortcomings? -- Glen Melin"

The bottom line: Forecasts are imperfect largely because we can't ever perfectly describe the current weather, he says – what you see right now out your window, in all its complexity. If you start with imperfect data, any extrapolation exaggerates those imperfections.

The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and repeats twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KPLU’s Health and Science reporter Keith Seinfeld. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and renowned Seattle weather prognosticator. You can also subscribe to a podcast of this and previous "Weather with Cliff Mass" shows.