Posts Tagged ‘weather’
Tags: bailout, banks, cartoon, corporations, crisis, Cyprus, gay, law, Supreme Court, unemployment, United States, weather
By a wide margin, 2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
the average temperature for the contiguous United States for 2012 was 55.3° Fahrenheit, which was 3.2° Fahrenheit above the twentieth-century average and 1.0° Fahrenheit above the previous record from 1998. The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, a record-warm spring, the second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn.
The map above shows where the 2012 temperatures were different from the 1981–2010 average. Shades of red indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit warmer than average, and shades of blue indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit cooler than average—the darker the color, the larger the difference from average temperature.
Tags: cartoon, healthcare, Obamacare, rich, Romney, Sandy, Wall Street, weather
Tags: cartoon, class, middle-class, poverty, Romney, taxes, United States, weather
An invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future. This map shows you the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US.
Tags: cartoon, election, foreign policy, housing, Obama, Romney, United States, voting, weather
Tags: economics, forecasting, modernism, uncertainty, weather
Nate Silver is my favorite statistician precisely because he understands the fundamental importance of uncertainty:
The Weather Service has struggled over the years with how much to let the public in on what it doesn’t exactly know. In April 1997, Grand Forks, N.D., was threatened by the flooding Red River, which bisects the city. Snowfall had been especially heavy in the Great Plains that winter, and the service, anticipating runoff as the snow melted, predicted that the Red would crest to 49 feet, close to the record. Because the levees in Grand Forks were built to handle a flood of 52 feet, a small miss in the forecast could prove catastrophic. The margin of error on the Weather Service’s forecast — based on how well its flood forecasts had done in the past — implied about a 35 percent chance of the levees’ being topped.
The waters, in fact, crested to 54 feet. It was well within the forecast’s margin of error, but enough to overcome the levees and spill more than two miles into the city. Cleanup costs ran into the billions of dollars, and more than 75 percent of the city’s homes were damaged or destroyed. Unlike a hurricane or an earthquake, the Grand Forks flood may have been preventable. The city’s flood walls could have been reinforced using sandbags. It might also have been possible to divert the overflow into depopulated areas. But the Weather Service had explicitly avoided communicating the uncertainty in its forecast to the public, emphasizing only the 49-foot prediction. The forecasters later told researchers that they were afraid the public might lose confidence in the forecast if they had conveyed any uncertainty.
Since then, the National Weather Service has come to recognize the importance of communicating the uncertainty in its forecasts as completely as possible. “Uncertainty is the fundamental component of weather prediction,” said Max Mayfield, an Air Force veteran who ran the National Hurricane Center when Katrina hit. “No forecast is complete without some description of that uncertainty.” Under Mayfield’s guidance, the National Hurricane Center began to pay much more attention to how it presents its forecasts. Instead of just showing a single track line for a hurricane’s predicted path, their charts prominently feature a cone of uncertainty, which many in the business call “the cone of chaos.”
Silver also understands how uncertainty can be undermined:
Unfortunately, this cautious message can be undercut by private-sector forecasters. Catering to the demands of viewers can mean intentionally running the risk of making forecasts less accurate. For many years, the Weather Channel avoided forecasting an exact 50 percent chance of rain, which might seem wishy-washy to consumers. Instead, it rounded up to 60 or down to 40. In what may be the worst-kept secret in the business, numerous commercial weather forecasts are also biased toward forecasting more precipitation than will actually occur. (In the business, this is known as the wet bias.) For years, when the Weather Channel said there was a 20 percent chance of rain, it actually rained only about 5 percent of the time.
The same is true in the discipline of economics, where generations of modernist practitioners have attempted to domesticate and contain uncertainty (in the form of probabilistic certainty) instead of allowing it to flourish (and dealing with the resulting effects on their concepts and methods).
As Silver explains, “It’s much easier to hawk overconfidence, no matter if it’s any good.”
Tags: drought, farming, Indiana, Kentucky, weather, workers
It’s the middle of the summer, and not yet the hottest month, but the heat and drought are already taking their toll.
The living and working are clearly not easy, according to Frank Bill, either in a warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky or on the farms of southern Indiana.
It’s July and the temperatures throughout southern Indiana and northern Kentucky are an inferno, in some cases scorching to over 100 degrees, and we know it’s not even August yet; it’s only going to get hotter. Several days in a row I get a mind-splitter headache; it’s so bad, it hurts to blink.
At my job, it’s the huff of chemical fumes and the smell of dirt from truck tires cranking up and down 13th Street and into the Southern Clay warehouse in Louisville, Ky. I sit on a forklift from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., loading inner-city semis and overseas shipping containers with paint additives. Sweat coats my body like moist insulation.
In the evening, on the drive home, the heat beats down on the traffic. Crossing over the Sherman Minton Bridge to Indiana, I can see the Ohio River has receded, revealing stair-stepping stone formations below the former banks. On Interstate 64 West, cars and trucks are stalling, breaking down, not built for the high temperatures. Exit onto Crandall Lanesville Road, past shrunken feed corn crops. Windows down, a sticky breeze whirls in as I speed past corn and soybean crops into Harrison County. Past homes where yards are dead foliage and scabs of dirt.
Tags: banks, cartoon, healthcare, Obama, politics, Republicans, United Kingdom, United States, weather