Weather forecasters agree to disagree

By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-06 06:49

GUANGZHOU: Since suffering from heatstroke last month, checking the latest weather information has become a daily routine for Chen Xin.

Unfortunately for her, there are often discrepancies between the various forecasts of the National Meteorological Center (NMC) and the Guangdong meteorological center (GMC), she said recently.

"I always follow the weather forecasts because I want to avoid getting heatstroke again.

"But frequently, the indices presented by the two centers are different. So which one should I believe?" Chen said.

In a bid for the "truth", Chen turned to local newspaper, the Information Times.

However, she said that on June 26, the paper had the NMC's heatstroke index at the "high risk" Level 4, while the GMC forecast was a much less serious Level 2.

The newspaper quoted He Xiajiang, the chief meteorologist at the GMC, as saying that the discrepancy might have been caused by the differences in calculation methods.

"Take the heatstroke index, for example. Our forecast is based on a number of weather factors including the temperature, humidity, air pressure and wind power. If different calculation methods are used, the result will be different too," He said.

The number of weather factors taken into account will also affect the forecast, he said.

A meteorologist from the NMC agreed with He and suggested people refer to their local forecasts.

"We might all have five levels for an index, but the indication of each level could be different," he said.

"The heatstroke index is just one of several 'life' indices we offer, but they are intended only as a reference.

"The NMC has to cover the whole country, so some data and information might be not as accurate as those provided by local meteorological stations," he said.

(China Daily 07/06/2007 page5)

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