A message from our President:

Let's Get Low
Alan Sealls, NWA President 

In my final message as National Weather Association President, I’ve got to go low. That’s low as in minimum daily temperature. We’re in the season when reaching 32 degrees is a big deal if the ground is wet or there is precipitation.

A user of my TV station’s weather app recently complained that the app was wrong because it showed a predicted low temperature on the extended forecast that was nowhere near the temperature when he woke up in the middle of the night. He said the actual temperature was closer to the hourly forecast on our weather app. Both app forecasts were correct, but how the temperatures are presented is confusing. Look at the collage of website forecasts in the figure. The high precedes the low or the high is directly above the low. What’s a user to think about when the low happens? Anything they want! The man who complained misinterpreted the low for the calendar day as being the morning low for the previous day. I don’t blame him.

Collage of weather forecasts showing the forecast low temperature displayed below or to the right of the high temperature.
Collage of weather forecasts showing the forecast low temperature displayed below or to the right of the high temperature.

Grab the nearest non-meteorologist and tell them the low for next Wednesday will be 29 degrees. Ask them when they think that low will happen. I predict you'll get an even split of answers between Wednesday morning and Wednesday night (after midnight). That’s not good. Glance through your favorite weather apps and weather sites to see how many of them don’t make it clear when the low will occur. Something as simple as 65/29 implies 65 happens first followed by 29 but we know the minimum for a day is typically before the maximum. The calendar day certainly ends at midnight. Would displaying 29\65 be better? I think so, based on having learned to read from left to right!


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NWA_ColorNWA 44th Annual Meeting

"Pay it Forward"


September 7-12, 2019

Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama





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