Almost every time I pull up my weather widget on my Mac, there is usually 2 or 3 thunderstorm clouds appearing on my weather forecast. Here is today’s forecast for example:
While we definitely get a lot more thunderstorms here than I am used to, we definitely don’t usually get 3 in a week. I always heard that forecasting weather in the NW was difficult because of the jet streams and mountains, but what is New York’s excuse? So I started to dig a little deeper and start looking at the hourly forecasts online. Once I started looking at the full forecast I started noticing that the days forecasting for a thunderstorm usually have a less than 30% chance of precipitation. I’m no math mathematician, but if there was a less than 50% chance of something happening wouldn’t you rather forecast sunny or partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms?
This post comes at an ironic time because it actually is thundering right now, but today’s forecast was predicting with a 70% chance of precipitation so they hit it right on the money. So what do the statistics of thunderstorms really boil down to from the NW to New York? Well, I found you guys a handy little guy of thunderstorm density over the last 10 years (the darker red the higher density). From the map you can pan to the NW Seattle and even Portland areas and see the light blue shading, which denotes the least amount of thunderstorms annually. Then you can pan to the center and the south that get hit the hardest, and then over to New York where you are a darker red, but not the darkest.
After looking at this map and doing a little research I’ve come to the conclusion that New York’s thunderstorm predictions are kind of like Seattle’s rain. Meteorologists would rather forecast them in and have the population be prepared for the chance of a storm (no matter how slim of a chance) than plan on just another hot and humid day.