Weather Forecasting refers to the scientific prediction of future weather patterns and phenomena that is natural and which affects the day to day occurrences in weather. It has been known to exist since time immemorial and this has underscored its importance significantly.
Traditionally various methods were used to predict future weather patterns. The modern times however apply scientific approaches which include the use of highly automated equipment for prediction of weather patterns. The data is of particular importance to various stakeholders as we shall later see.
Traditional methods of Weather Forecasting
Weather patterns have been relied on by numerous individuals since time immemorial. The ancient society was no exception. They needed to know what weather would be coming next so that they could plan. Planning here majorly regarded their economic activities such as farming and fishing. They also used this to predict any form of disasters. The farmers wanted this information so as to plan on when to plant. They could not plant seeds during the dry spell period (summer). Planting was done during the rainy season.
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The fishermen also could not go fishing at a time when floods had been predicted. This would be extremely danger as their boats may have ended up capsizing in the ocean.
The traditional society made use of the observation technique in their prediction. They observed various phenomena in order to predict weather patterns. They observed migrating birds and insects and this was seen as coming of a dry spell. They would then prepare themselves fully.
The sky was another indicator. A clear white sky meant there it would be sunny for the better part of the day. Heavy dark clouds however were an indicator that it would be raining for the better part of the day (Weather Forecasting: Radar Availability)
The traditional society also relied on the behavior of trees. Most trees tend to shed their leaves in preparation for a dry spell. This is usually to enable them to conserve water especially through transpiration which is greatly reduced. The traditional society would also rely on the phenomena to predict that there would be a coming dry spell. They would then prepare accordingly for the period for example by storing enough grain. Dew on the grass in the morning was also an indicator used by the traditional society. They relied on this as prediction for coming rainy season. They would then prepare their land by tilling it in readiness for planting.
Morning fog also was used as an indicator of an approaching rainy season while the appearance of thunderstorms showed the coming of fair weather. The appearance of croaking frogs was phenomenal to the traditional society. It was an indicator of an approaching rainy season. This is the time the frogs go into a mating period in readiness to produce young frogs. The traditional society was therefore keen enough to understand this development and it actually helped them in preparing themselves for eventualities. High temperatures at night were yet another indicator. This was instrumental year in year out for the traditional society. The high temperatures showed that it would be raining soon.
Modern methods of Predicting Weather
Use of a barometer. A barometer is used to measure pressure. The method started its use in the 19th century. It checks on the changes in pressure with time. If the pressure change is so rapid, there is greater probability that it is going to rain. This is instrumental and has helped the weather forecasting departments in giving accurate predictions.
Observing the sky. This method is also applied in the modern times in addition to the traditional society. Thickening clouds are an indicator of an approaching rainy season while a clear sky is an indication that it is not going to rain in the near future. It shows the coming of a dry spell.
The Analog technique is also applied in predicting weather. This is whereby a person remembers past phenomena and tries to relate it to the present. The takes advantage of more complex mathematical techniques such as algebra in determining future trends.
The use of forecast models. These comprise standardized models such as those consisting of isotherms. This has proved instrumental especially a regards reduction of errors.
Application of Weather Forecasting
Predicting weather patterns is relevant for the air transport sector. This is important because travelling in air is highly sensitive to the appearance of the sky. Transport may be affected by such things as fog which affects visual displays. Objects from far appear blurred and not clear and this may end up in a disaster in case an object which was not being seen in hit. The pilot on understanding the coming weather patterns may deliberate on the best course of action. This information has proved useful for American Airports and other airports too around the world since it facilitates transport and helps avoid any occurrence of disasters (Weather Forecasting Bridgestone books)
Weather Forecast is also applied in the marine industry. This is because marine transport is highly affected by the behavior of water. The occurrence of tides is very phenomenal as it may result into an accident especially where the tides are huge and strong. The phenomenon thus needs prediction so as to decide on the next course of action. In addition the height of waters is significant in a major way. Marine transport requires when the waters are enough to prevent the means of transport such as ship from hitting the floor of the sea. This is instrumental since it enables accidents to be avoided. Highly risky earthquakes such as the recent tsunami are also risky for water transport and thus their prediction will make the Marine department focus attention on the best alternatives including halting water transport for a while until things calm down.
The agricultural sector also relies heavily on weather prediction patterns. This is because growing of crops requires water for irrigation. A dry spell would be therefore disastrous to crop yield. Farmers need to be well advised as they plan on planting their crops to avoid cases of low or no yield at all. The predictions also enable farmers to know when to harvest their crops as this happens during the dry spell. The Forestry department also relies heavily on weather prediction data. Forest fires are common especially in the presence of unscrupulous and selfish persons who wish to clear forests for charcoal. These activities may cause a spark which spreads to the rest of the forest cover. The fires need to be controlled and the forestry department must be able to know the wind patterns so as to be competent enough in this mandate. Predicting weather also enables the Forestry Department to know of an emerging species of dangerous insects such as locusts which may destroy forest covers (Gail Gibbons 2009)
The service industry also requires the information from the meteorological department as regards prediction of weather. This is so that they are conversant enough with the approaching demands for various commodities that they offer. The gas companies may for example be able to predict when the demand of gas will be high so that they may produce adequately to meet demand. The information is also important in military applications. This is because the U.S Army, navy and Air force rely so much on means of transport such as air and water. These in turn rely on weather patterns the prediction of weather is important.
Weather Forecasting is one very important thing as we have seen. It was therefore before the modern world and was used by the people existing then in various fields. The phenomenon continues to date with highly automated devices being used to predict weather conditions. This has helped check on a variety of excesses including disasters and other unforeseen circumstances.