Weather forecasts for Wisconsin and Milwaukee are unreliable on smartphone apps

Wisconsin residents may have seen the weather app on their smartphones predicting record highs of 110 or hotter earlier this month in a forecast that exceeded actual temperatures by nearly a dozen degrees.

Local meteorologists said these weather apps are easy to use, but unfortunately, they can be really unreliable. Those looking for the most accurate forecasts are more likely to find such forecasts elsewhere – in fact, much closer to home.

this is the reason.

Why is the weather app on your smartphone so inaccurate?

Most weather apps use algorithms and just pull information from a single computer model to create a forecast. The Global Forecast System is one of many different forecast systems that meteorologists and applications use to create forecasts. The GFS can include inaccurate data because it often fails to take Milwaukee-specific factors into account, said Brian Neznansky, TMJ4’s chief meteorologist.

“Often when temperatures exceed the computer model, it’s not fully understood that we’re next to this relatively cold body of water,” Neznansky said. The modeling system also doesn’t take into account that Milwaukee faced drought conditions this year, so temperatures could fluctuate more than if the ground had more moisture.

All forecast models, including others such as the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the North American Medium-Range Forecast System, have biases. Some of these models, such as the GFS, can overshoot temperatures, while others inaccurately predict too much snowfall in the winter.

Where can you get the most accurate weather forecast?

To get the most accurate weather forecast, close your weather app and open a report from your local meteorologist. Meteorologists still use computer modeling systems, but they can mix different models together based on which model seems most accurate, said Mark Baden, chief meteorologist at WISN-TV.

Local meteorologists will also look at radar and take into account factors such as Milwaukee’s proximity to Lake Michigan.

“Just like a lot of things in this world, whether it’s artificial intelligence or a computer model, you kind of phase out some of the human elements,” Niznansky said. “This is a prime example of how a human working in this profession in Milwaukee will be able to create better forecasts than just a computer.”

Does this mean you should delete your weather apps entirely?

not necessarily. In fact, Niznansky said he’ll sometimes use the same weather apps when he’s quickly trying to look up the weather forecast while camping or on vacation. But if you’re looking for the most accurate weather information, you should always rely on your local meteorologist.

Plus, some apps are better than others. The best weather apps are produced by local meteorologists who make sure their forecasts match their most accurate forecasts, Neznansky said.

Contact Alex Groth at agroth@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @grothalexandria.

more: The weather this Labor Day weekend will be in the 90s in Milwaukee, but not as hot as your Apple app says

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