The Pacific Northwest has some very interesting weather. The Olympics to the west split the airflow which then combines over Seattle, mountains to the east produce lift and down drafts, the Pacific Ocean provides vast amounts of moisture, and the Puget Sound provides consistent temperature. That’s jut the beginning. If you’re a weather geek, there is plenty to keep you interested.
But what if you just want a good forecast? Forget the TV. Here are the best websites I’ve found to predict the weather around here:
- http://www.wunderground.com/ – This site works all over the United States. It began at the University of Michigan and is the site I visit most often. The Wundermap is an excellent view of what’s happening now. With just a few clicks, you can delve into the forecast models and make your own predictions. They even have a Windows sidebar gadget so you can skip the unreliable forecasts provided by the default weather gadget.
- http://www.probcast.com/ – This is a research project from UW that gives very specific probabilities for precipitation, temperature and much more. I contacted them a few days ago and suggested that they have a page that shows how accurate their predictions ended up being. It turns out this is a feature that is being rolled out soon. However, even without that feature, in my experience this has been a great way to know if that 50% chance of rain is going to affect me or another part of the Seattle area.
- http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/ This UW professor offers great weather commentary and has written a book that sits on my shelf.
- http://www.nwac.us/forecast/weather/current/ – In the winter time, this is the absolute best source of mountain weather predictions. During ski season, I read this forecast every morning.
Remember that forecasting is an inexact science, but by learning how to use these websites, you can have a pretty good idea of what the upcoming weather will be like. Forecasts for today and tomorrow are generally reliable. Looking 3-5 days ahead gets more sketchy and beyond that it’s a complete guess.