In April of 2013, we launched our first 10-day forecast in my NECN weather broadcasts. In its first week of air, the feedback was immediate and pronounced - it was either loved or hated, there was no in-between at the time. Some claimed it was an exercise in futility: how could we claim to have any accuracy so far out? It was “misleading to the public,” these voices argued, professing a level of ability we just didn't possess as an industry. Others lauded the ability to plan so far in advance, formulating an idea of arctic outbreaks, heat waves or stormy patterns well in advance - that would prove helpful, if not depressing for some, during the record snow of February and March of this past year.
Many of the doubters had likely never taken the time to actually practice, review results, and adjust forecast techniques – we had. Years of practice went into making 10-day forecasts behind-the-scenes before we ever released it publicly, ensuring the product would, indeed, carry considerable value.
"Medium-range" forecasting is, to a large extent, where we believe the future of weather forecasting is with regard to public interaction: predicting high-impact events sooner, to allow more lead time. Within 24 hours - whether it's blizzards, hurricanes, severe weather outbreaks or other impactful weather events - we still have plenty of room to improve when it comes to fine details like precise timing and town-by-town location, but everyone in today's modern media culture knows the event is coming. We'll choose our favorite provider of information and the message inside of that one-day window is largely going to be the same.
Outside of two or three days, however, differences become more pronounced, and the ability to really improve the forecast is much greater - it was this "sweet spot" that a 10-day forecast could capitalize on. At the time, and for the years that followed, the exclusive NECN 10-day forecast remained limited to my weathercasts, with an exclusive team product across all parts of the day yet to be realized.
Fast forward two and a half years, and under the leadership of NBCUniversal, with the necessary resources to add sufficient data and information, the 10-day launched this week on NECN, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This launch comes with plenty of operational trial and error under the belt, development of a tried and true methodology, and NECN-specific verification scores of 5.5 degree Fahrenheit error at Day 10 during summer and winter, and a six degree error at Day 10 during the fall and spring.
Compare these NECN verification scores to the "climatological" error of 7 degrees per day (the average error if you simply forecast the normal high and low), and the institutional industry average forecast skill of 5.5 degree error at Day 7 with no availability of 10 days yet, and you have a product that adds value. In addition to adding value for our NECN viewers, this forecast continues to be what it has been for the last two and a half years - market-exclusive in Boston and to our 3.7 million viewing households across all six New England states, and one of only a few broadcast 10-day forecasts in the North American Continent.
This is a significant milestone for our team of meteorologists - Nelly Carreno, Tim Kelley, Michael Page and Yours Truly - who, together, are taking a pledge to responsibly lead the way in operational meteorology for mass media. There is a sense of responsibility for our team in rolling this 10-day forecast out across all day-parts: deliver the same quality our viewers are accustomed to, while remaining at the forefront of broadcast meteorology.
We hope you'll have an opportunity to turn to NECN for your forecast each day and night, not just for storm coverage of the events within 24 hours, but for planning life events, travel and daily activities from farther out than anyone else can provide for you. As I share with anyone who asks about the 10-day: it's guidance, not gospel of the weather - we won't nail each event with precision from 10 days out, but you can bet, more often than not, we'll lead you in the right direction and work to keep you informed and safe.