January 02, 2009

You Can Help Improve Weather Forecasting

WE HAVE ENOUGH NOW...there may be more of these later..thanks everyone!>.cliff

I am working with psychologists at the UW to understand how individuals interpret weather forecasts, and particularly how they deal with uncertainty. How is the best way to describe an uncertain forecast so users get the most valuable information? Below is a link to a short survey that I encourage all of you to try...it will really help us make progress! Thanks, cliff


Please make sure pop-ups and Java-script are enabled...the software needs them.


  1. I tried to do the survey, but the continue button doesn't seem to be live. I couldn't continue.

  2. Same.. Page two


  3. I am working with Cliff on the survey code. Which browser/OS/platform are you using when these issues arise?

  4. And perhaps more importantly, are JavaScript and/or Pop-Ups disabled on your browser?


  5. It worked for me.

  6. Worked fine for me up until question 4.2 where it keeps telling me I need to enter an answer. (Apparently the one I entered is not good enough.)

    Firefox 3.0.5

    Question: Given that this audience is a little more weather savvy than the general population, would you like us to spread the word?

  7. You need to use IE v7

    I tried IE8, Mozilla and Chrome - none worked.


  8. I just tried doing the survey on my Windows XP Professional PC running Mozilla Firefox with pop ups disabled. I have relatively current javascript running.

  9. Now Cliff you're just laughing at us.
    Nothing works.

  10. Continue button on first page doesn't work. Mac OS 10.5.6, Firefox 3.0.5. Javascript enabled, popups disabled.

    Perhaps this is part of the psychological experiment Cliff and co. are conducting...

  11. First page "Continue" button also did not work for me. Using Firefox

  12. Cliff's book on front page of on-line PI today:


  13. For those of you having trouble....255 characters is not very many. I thought I hit a bug, but I'd actually just been too verbose. Maybe that's true for most bloggers?

  14. OK == looks like there are 60 completed surveys in the database so far in the past 50 minutes or so.

    Thanks to feedback from an astute blog member, I think we've been able to isolate the problem with the 'continue' button.

    I encourage anyone who was *not* able to continue to give it one more try -- if it still fails, please send an email to me with the following information:

    * Platform ( PC/Mac/Linux, etc. )
    * Operating System and version
    * Browser and version
    * Was Javascript enabled?


  15. It worked just fine for me. :-) Thanks for doing this kind of survey. In the interest of getting the non-weather-obsessed involved, I'm going to ask my husband to take it too. LOL

  16. Here's a better link to the article about Cliff's book: School Zone Blog

  17. I also had trouble with the 255 character limit--but the 'pop-up' was rather cryptic, telling me that I needed to enter a response, when what it should tell me is, "please edit your reply."

  18. Everything worked fine for me. Please let us know your results & conclusions when you get them! Thanks. (I realize it will be a while)

  19. Completed! Worked great!

  20. I tied to go back to proof my answers and found only empty pages. I'll try again tomorrow.

    Firefox 3.0/Mac 10.4.10

  21. FYI -- the survey will not retain your answers moving backward through the survey. This is feature, while perhaps non-intuitive to some users, is important to the correct application of the survey as specified by the designers. Please consider the information presented on each page independently of any others.

  22. Completed the survey with no problems.

  23. I was able to complete the survey using Opera 9.63. It did warn me that I was using an unsupported browser though.

  24. i had trouble with the continue button as well. eventually i figured out that for some reason the middle of the button was not active, or something, and i could only continue by clicking the outside of the button.

  25. Dude Diligence, you made me smile on your comments on my "napkin drawing" analysis of the affect of road salt on the sound's salinity.

    I have to admit I did think about tidal mixing action (how would I get THAT number) and the dilution factor of all the fresh water inflow (too many streams to analyze) ... but.......that would have been a bit too much work :)

    But I agree with you on the short term affect of the run off into the storm system...

    Anyway, this is a weather blog - so, lets talk about Calculating Adiabatic Temperature Changes...... ONLY KIDDING CLIFF :)

    PS - Cliff, I took your Atmos 101 class in the early 80's. I was either going to go into Atmospheric sciences or Engineering - Civil engr won, but now I'm a Director of Information Technology.

  26. no problem with the survey. will forward to others to take.

  27. I completed the survey with no problems (Mac OS 10.5.6, Firefox My main issue was that we were asked to respond with specific numbers (e.g., '100' for the deg F question), when my preferred response would have been a range (e.g. 90-103). I also would have been happier if the text boxes would not have allowed more than the 255 characters to be entered. Most times I'd type my response, find out that it wouldn't take it, copy it, edit it down to the char. limit in my text editor & paste it back in. ;-)

  28. Vista Home with Google Chrome on default settings worked fine (although it complained about non-standard browser).

  29. I will take it, but thought you might want to know that it is snowing east of Renton (east end of cemetery hill) at about 380feet elevation. Light dusting so far, but it is sticking. 32.4F right now. Was 30 earlier.

  30. I successfully took the survey, looking for questions about wind, but saw none that address my issues: Tall trees surround our house & neighborhood, so wind forecasts are important and scary. The most frustrating things to me are forecasts that for days ahead hype the 'coming wind-Armageddon', and the lack of stating WHERE events will actually occur. I just want to know, will my neighborhood be affected? I thoroughly enjoy the Cliff Mass Weather Blog. Thank you.

  31. Most of us are not impacted in any way by the weather forecast. Whether it's going to rain tomorrow , or be 20 degrees or 23 degrees -- it doesn't matter. Only a few workers might actually need and benefit from a weather forecast (fishing?). The rest of us don't. We still have to go to work (or look for work).
    What does it matter? Seriously.

  32. Cliff and DC,
    Is this survey limited to people in the Puget Sound Region?

  33. Cliff, I hope at some point you can find a source at the school of fisheries to talk to about salt issues- as well as one in the department of forestry. Because either there are good scientific reasons to avoid road salt, or the City of Seattle is responding to political rather than scientific processes.

    Union Mills, either frozen fog or a light sprinking of small ice pellets over night. Currently 30.2. Overnight low 26.8, 24 hour high 38.7. Still have about a half-acre of unmelted snow on the NE face of the hill; Lake Lois, which is a low place on the extensive system of kettle lakes and wetlands on this periglacial plain still had extensive ice-cover as of January 1.

  34. Camco:

    Not everybody works in an office, many of us work outside or drive a vehicle ( or both, like me ). I get up way to early to stay up and watch the news so it's nice to have a forecast. This helps me decide several things, how many layers do I need to wear, do I need to leave early because the snow will add time to not only my commute, but my workday.
    I started later than normal a few days the lest couple weeks to wait for the roads to get a little better based on the forecast for a little warmer weather.
    Most of you only have to worry about driving to work, once I get to work I have to drive around all day.
    I know you feel most are not impacted by the snow, but there is a lot of ups, usps, fed ex, truck drivers, garbage collectors, bread guys, etc, etc, etc out there.
    Next time you are at the grocery store or gas station think about how that product gets there, by people like me who have no choice but to drive around in a vehicle much heavier than your car.

  35. A comment about salt use in Seattle: can anyone give perspective on the effect of the rapid melting that occurs here (due to rain and temp rise generally following snow) as a factor in the decision to use salt or not?

    I grew up in the Rockies and went to college in New England, where temperatures rarely hover at freezing--they are usually below freezing following a storm.

    It seems to me that salt in the environment here would be *in solution*, rather than solid form, due to our conditions, and therefore enter the fresh water system more rapidly and more often as a result.

    Also, my experience with salt is that it doesn't work when it's covered with a fresh layer of snow and it works best when temps are below freezing.

    Thanks! bowmac

  36. your survey was hard to take...I got about hal way through and it and lost my motivation. Not really sure what you were trying to achieve....

  37. Got through the survey w/no problems. Vista/Firefox.

    Thank you so much for putting this blog out there, and for your engaging and frequent entries, Cliff! Blogs are work, and yours is greatly appreciated!!

  38. The survey ran ok on my Safari (3.2.1) browser on my Mac (os 10.4.11), although I got an error message about the unsupported browser. The questions extended beyond the end of the box, but the screen widened so I could see the question by scrolling. This was the only glitch I noticed.

    - Pete

  39. Took the survey with Mac OSX 10.5.5 and Firefox -- worked fine.
    I wonder what proportion of weather folks are mac vs. pc users?

  40. Mine worked very well, now that the internet seems to have recovered, using Windows XP, Firefox, Comcast, etc. Good survey that we should all help with, stats will be fascinating and the response will be interesting too.

    My guess is that most responders will be this blog group; PBS/NPR viewer/listeners; UW-connected folks if UWRA, UUAlum. UW Daily and UW Week. AAUP all distribute the survey link. Might local museums and libraries help out; maybe even Internet Cafes, bookstores, REI, PCC Natural Markets? What other groups can other blog fans suggest?

  41. Addition to the last post from me, Bob Moore, (not intended to be "Anonymous"!): could we recruit interdenominational religious support? I'll share an Announcement and handout with the survey link at Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church tomorrow, and I urge other blog fans to do similar things in their churches, synagogues, mosques, shrines, and temples at appropriate times.

  42. Update from Bob Moore:

    I did "Announce" Cliff's Survey in church today, with handouts about details for finding Cliff's blog which included a copy of this posting from Cliff, and hand-delivered a copy to my church-friend/UW-colleague who's a retired Ed. Psych. prof and "Positive Psychology" advocate who probably knows the Survey designers and could "test" the Survey and then share a "grade" with us (we hope better than Mayor Salt Nick's B, or 3.0 as we UW profs express it...)

    Then, as I'll post above in more detail as a comment for Cliff's more recent forecast posting, I tried to jazz things up by reading this from Jeff's poetry posting above:

    "Tires were spinning and just wouldn't go,
    And chains lay broken in the dirty old snow.
    Then, what to my surprise did my eyes look over and see?
    Eight representatives of SDOT,
    With a fat politician so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment it was Mayor 'Salt Nick'."

    I wanted to add another part, but my wife said I was running on too long:
    "Sliding down Thomas and onto a wall!
    The busses hung over I-5, ready to fall!
    Still, he insisted, it wasn't his fault,
    As the world's greenest mayor he wouldn't use SALT!

    That stuff's corrosive, could hurt the fish.
    (But the Puget Sound's SALT WATER you ignorant kish!)"

    I'll include some of my email exchange with Jeff about this in my posting above.

    In 2 tries, this didn't post, so here's a third try


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