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Posts: 29522
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

Are Gardeners Competent Weatherforecasters?

Recently when my family went on a group field trip to a pumpkin picking dairy farm tour, the weather forecast was iffy. I woke up during the night before, checked the weather, and emailed the organizer with what I thought about the day's weather, including a screen capture of the future radar.

When I woke up, she had send an email hesitating about canceling the trip or not, so I checked the weather forecast again and emailed her my best guess, including that I thought we could chance it and maybe get some sprinkles (so be ready with raingear) but that we might be able to dodge the heaviest passing showers during the lunch break.

...and despite some anxious moments, it all turned out and we had a great time. :D (Er... I'm not saying I'm as accurate all the time, mind you :P)

This morning. I woke up and was glad I had brought inside all the potted plants that I expected to be frost sensitive, but was not happy that the actual temperature was 31ºF instead of the forecasted mid-30's for my zip code (ranging from 34-38ºF depending on weather station):roll:

It was a reminder, once again, that in times of near-frosty weather, I have to subtract at least 3ºF from the forecast.:?
Unfortunately, the "slightly cooler than forecast" doesn't seem to apply in the summer heat. :roll:

How do the rest of you compensate for the weather forecast? Do you follow a rule-of-thumb? 8)

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3233
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 8:15 am
Location: Oregon

I have a weather rock and it works well.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I don't know about competent forecasters, but I'm sure we all pay more attention to the weather than non-gardeners, especially in the transition seasons. And we learn how to adapt the forecast to our own mini- climate. AS, you subtract a few degrees. Here in the city heat island, I add 2-3 degrees. If it says temps are getting just to freezing, the frost probably won't hit where I am, because I stay at least a couple degrees warmer, up to 4 degrees at times.

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Green Thumb
Posts: 344
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:56 pm
Location: Hurry-Cane, Florida USDA10/SZ25

Maybe we just use our tools better.

I've got two weather applications on my phone (local weather - I actually have six when you count the hurricane, extreme weather, and windsurfing applications), and have bookmarked between 2-6 direct satellite radar feeds on my different computers and web browsers (home and work) that I regularly watch or check for predicting our precipitation for outdoor activities around the county.

70% chance of rain today and I sent a raincoat with one of the children even though I was pretty sure it wouldn't rain (last time I shoulda sent one I forgot but they survived). 80% tomorrow but we're still planning to make it out to the fair in costume anyway ...

Charlie MV
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 11:48 pm

I keep my nose in the weather sights since half of our life is spent at home in the garden and the other half on a boat. I can predict fairly well if I can put a weather radar in motion on the computer.

We boat on a big boat which doesn't really care what the lake weather can throw at us but we canoe long distances and I am terrible at predicting when a wind is going whip up. We've been caught in big water in the canoe far from home that it's just become part of life that we have to really dig for a couple of hours to make it back.

Life on the boat creates a hyper sensitivity to wind direction. Each direction means something so it's easy to know what's going to happen if the wind's blowing but knowing when the wind will blow is hard.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3760
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

As a weather forecaster, I'm pretty good. But . . . the WS people are quite a bit better. I mean, I can maybe get out 24 hours but that's about it.

I spent quite a few years farming and when I worked at a greenhouse, that great big sky was always just on the other side of the glass. In recent years, not only do I have a garden but I have to harvest, process and then show up at an outdoor farmers' market. Actually, it is the weather during that market that's fairly critical - wind and light-weight canopies :shock: bad combinations.

My larger garden is 20 miles from home but there is a Weather Underground volunteer about 2 miles away. Every 5 minutes I can get a "Rapid Fire" report :) ! The WS radar is checked most every day but when the weather is coming from the north, the Environment Canada radar (thru The Weather Network) is a better choice.

It is kind of funny. If you suggest the possibility of a storm to someone around here who is accustomed to working outdoors -- he or she will immediately look to the southwest. Especially thru the growing season, that is the direction from which storms are most likely to be coming. Inexperienced people just kind of stand and turn in a circle :wink: .

The Weather Service people are my friends :) . They have made my life a good deal more comfortable on many, many occasions.

TV forecasters :roll: are 50/50 . . .

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1494
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:40 am
Location: Wyoming

Years ago, I read somewhere (or heard it) that mosquitoes become especially fierce just before an electrical storm. I observed, and it's true, at least up here and in South Dakota.

Of course, it's more difficult to discern in the winter 8)

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