Who Gives the Best Weather Forecasts?

January 5, 2017 07:32 PM
storm clouds

Weather forecasting is a competitive business, with many local, national and global options vying for your attention. There must be differences among them all, which begs the question – who gives the most accurate weather forecasts?

A group called ForecastWatch devotes all of its time to answering this question, as it turns out. From 2010 to 2016, ForecastWatch has analyzed more than 142 million forecasts. It rated each one as accurate if precipitation predictions came true, and if high and low temperature forecasts came within three degrees Fahrenheit.

ForecastWatch then sorted the results into three categories – 1-3 day forecasts, 3-5 day forecasts and 6-9 day forecasts. The results were very close in several instances, but The Weather Channel and Weather Underground were often in the top two from year to year.

Here’s a look at the accuracy winners:

1-3 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2013, 2016), Weather Underground (2014, 2015) and MeteoGroup (2012)

3-5 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2015-tie, 2016), Weather Underground (2015-tie) and MeteoGroup (2012, 2013, 2014)

6-9 Day Forecasts: The Weather Channel (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) and Foreca (2012, 2014)

Other groups measured included Intellicast, AccuWeather, Dark Sky and World Weather Online. You can review the entire results here.

The data show that the law of diminished returns definitely holds true for weather forecasting. The 1-3 day forecasts were the most accurate, with the best forecasters getting it right about 75% of the time. The best 3-5 day forecasts slip to around 70% accuracy, while the best 6-9 day forecasts call it accurately just under 60% of the time.

AgWeb has a whole section devoted to weather news, analysis, real-time conditions and plenty of ag-specific maps that track cumulative rainfall, soil temperatures, soil moisture, growing degree days and much more. Go to www.agweb.com/weather to learn more.

Back to news



Spell Check

Tante Cindy
Hutchinson, MN
12/29/2016 08:28 PM

  Personally, I always go to the NOAA National Weather Service page - excellent accuracy & no annoying adverts!

central, MN
12/30/2016 01:50 AM

  I wonder why NOAA wasn't included? I agree with Cindy, I think it is the most accurate.

Orovada, NV
12/30/2016 07:46 PM

  Forecasts from the top two are abysmal in Northern Nevada, National Weather Service does much better. I especially like their user defined area forecast and the weather graph option to fine tune certain perimeters.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by QTInfo.com
Brought to you by Beyer