Executives from weather forecasting site the Weather Underground said that the site will try something that weather forecasters have never done before: show how often they were right.
That particular feature was supposed to have been part of the Wunderground redesign that launched this week, which added weather predictions from its crowdsourced data to its services. The site pulls weather data from over 13,000 sites in the United States, which are assessed through a quality-control algorithm to make sure their information is accurate, said Toby Skinner, the site’s director of marketing.
“We all know that weather forecasting is not an exact science,” Skinner said. One way to improve the accuracy is to cross-verify forecasts through the use of more data, and that’s where the additional weather stations come in.
Now, the site is relying more on its local weather reporting stations to provide more localized weather forecasts. Users and other interested parties can sign up on the site.
“We have more data points than any other source, so we have the best-equipped verification of any forecasting model,” Skinner said. Users can graphically view a map of the site’s weather stations using its Wundermap, which shows a number of them for any geographic region.
The additional points come in handy for a region like the San Francisco Bay Area, known for its multitude of microclimates, where the weather can drastically change, with a swing of as much as 20 to 30 degrees from inland areas to the foggy coast.
How important is accurate weather forecasting, really? In certain areas, users get upset about inaccuracies of even a few degrees, Skinner said.
That’s why in the next few weeks, Wunderground will list a figure showing how well the site predicted the weather for each individual weather station, based on the predicted high temperature for each station versus the actual daily high. Data will be collated for a two- to three-week period, Skinner said. “We think we’re creating a unique level of transparency,” he said.
“We’re currently running in beta, just showing the high temperature,” Skinner said. “But we’re currently looking at ways to improve. People want more information.”
Wunderground is also working on a complete reworking of its mobile apps for the iPhone, Android OS, and BlackBerry, Skinner added.