How are our weather forecasts produced?
Most of our information is from a range of weather forecast models.
Accuracy of models is improving decade by decade, but forecasts are increasingly poor a few days ahead, and occasionally within a day or so - when the variation of wind in the atmosphere is complicated. Unfortunately these situations are often related to more severe weather (upland gales and heavy rain/snow). Therefore as forecasting severe conditions is critical to mountain safety, our forecasts are probability forecasts. We explicitly state when the forecast confidence is low.
We use a range of words in order to keep the texts 'fresh', but there are a number of commonly used words that have probabilities attached to them.
- Almost nil
- 5% (or less)
- 10% (or less)
- Very unlikely/occasionally
- Very likely/very frequent
- Almost constant
- 90% (or more)
- Almost certain
- 95% (or more)
We normally reserve the vaguer terms 'mostly' and 'mainly' to help describe areas, such as when there is variation across a region as to just how far say low cloud on coastal mountains spreads inland (eg, mostly coastal hills).