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12 September, 2006

Might rain; might not

Today's weather in Lancaster, according to the BBC five-day forecast, will be 'light rain' with 'poor' visibility.  However, though the 24 hour forecast warns of 'drizzle' between 13:00 and 16:00, the rest of the day can expect 'sunny intervals' or outright 'sunny' conditions.  Visibility is to be 'moderate' until 13:00 and after 01:00, but 'good' in the intervening period.

Maybe it's better to be pessimistic and prepared than optimistic and damp, but it'd be even better to be correct. Today's entry in the five-day forecast simply isn't a fair summary of the conditions actually expected over the next 24 hours. How is one derived from the other – how can the 'average' be more extreme than any component interval?
Therefore, how could one plan for later in the week (surely one of the purposes of a forecast) if one has to presume the summaries of the expected weather on those days are inaccurate too?

I wish this was a one-off error, but it seems to be routine; I'm rarely happy to trust the BBC's web-based forecast in other than the most general terms. I have reasonably high confidence in the BBC Weather Centre's forecasts themselves, but there's something seriously wrong in the way they're translated to the web.

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