Not Much Smoke; Rain Coming

Published at 09:09 on 5 August 2021

First, my smoke warning was mostly a bust. Some smoke did make it down to ground level earlier this week, but it didn’t last very long and the air quality never got worse than the moderate range. So our incredible run of luck at avoiding the smoke continues. It does not look likely to get smoky again in the near future. I still will be surprised if we escape this summer without any serious episodes of degraded air quality at the surface, but who knows, we just might.

The best models do all agree that starting as soon as tomorrow, we are in for a spell of weather damper than we have seen since June. Some model runs are saying it will be quite damp; if so, this could end up really helping the situation with the fires in Okanogan County. But others are saying amounts should be fairly paltry (remember, there has been no more than a trace of rain since June, so the phrase “damper than we have seen since June” really doesn’t say much).

There is, in other words, far less model agreement on precipitation amount than on the general fact that at least some precipitation is coming. What this means is that it is really not possible for anyone to make an accurate forecast as to precipitation amount. Any amounts you see being forecast, even in professional forecasts, need to be taken with more than a few grains of salt. A given forecast might end up being correct, but if so it will be a matter of sheer luck.

This is in fact one of the biggest problems with weather forecasts as they are currently disseminated. There is no information given as to accuracy. (I actually had a pretty easy job with last winter’s successful snow forecasts; models were in significant agreement, and all I did was summarize them.) It would help a lot if the public had some idea of how confident forecasters were in a given forecast.

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