The History and Accuracy of Weather Forecasting

Weather forecasting has been an important part of mankind’s lifestyle down through the ages. The weather has always been and will always be an important topic of conversation because of the impact it has on everyone’s life. We are all very dependent on it, for farming, travel, sports and much more. There are so many aspects of our daily lives which are controlled and influenced by weather conditions. With global warming and extreme weather events it is becoming increasingly important to accurately record and predict the weather. Forecasting dangerous weather conditions such as how serious a flood may be or the intensity and direction of a hurricane can save many lives.  The main method of weather forecasting has not changed through mankind’s history and that is observation and then formulating a prediction from these observations.

The method may be the same however the technology used in measuring the conditions of the atmosphere and oceans has made phenomenal advances in the past three decades. The data from these measurements are recorded and placed on a map.

“The so-called synoptic weather map came to be the principal tool of 19th-century meteorologists and continues to be used today in weather stations and on television  weather reports around the world” “weather forecasting.” (Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 07 Feb. 2011.)

Before the 1840s and the invention of the telegraph, the speed with which weather data could be shared with other regions was extremely slow. This limited the scope and range of the weather map. After the advent of the telegraph data such as temperature and barometric pressure readings could be transmitted quickly over long distances thus a larger more complete picture of weather conditions was able to be formulated. This combined with the new science of fronts and how they influence weather was a major advancement in the accuracy and range of weather forecasting. Other new technology as it was invented, such as the telephone and radar, further contributed to the speed and dissemination of the data needed for the synoptic weather map.

The next major step forward was in the 1950s with the advent of the computer. With this new computing power, it now became possible to make models of weather conditions using mathematical calculations. Weather stations are an important part of collecting data for these computer models. The first weather stations collected the data manually; however, today there are many automated weather stations around the world transmitting this information. Weather balloons and satellites have also added a further dimension to the data available to meteorologists. They can provide information about the upper atmosphere and satellite imagery.  These elements combined with improved computer speeds and modeling was another important step forward in the evolution of weather forecasting.

All these advances in technology give us today the most accurate means of predicting the weather that has ever been available to man throughout the ages. The weather, however, is also influenced by many variables which meteorologists are still unable to determine. This is what limits the weather forecasting even in our current day and age.


“Weather forecasting.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 07 Feb. 2011. <>.

 “The Forecast: Better Weather Prediction Ahead”  18 August 2009. <>  07 February 2011.