From our years as cranberry farmers and golf course superintendents, we have developed what could be classified as an unhealthy obsession with the weather. We've updated our favorite weather links, because there is really some great stuff out there now for those looking for a precise forcast.
If all else fails we have a very generous rain check policy.
A Rant About Weather Forecasts
But allow me to digress. In New England it is really difficult to forecast the weather. Our estimates of forecast accuracy:
Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow - Pretty Accurate
3-4 Days Out - Possibly an idea of what it might be like
5+ Days Out - Not very accurate at all
Please keep this in mind when a meteorologist says on Monday that it is going to rain on Sunday. Anything beyond a three day forecast should be illegal in New England, and the weather graphics are the worst. How can someone summarize 6 AM-6 PM over the area from Springfield, MA to Orleans with a picture of a rain cloud? If you have lived in New England for more than 5 minutes, you know that it could rain all day in Marshfield and be bright and sunny in Plymouth.
A Rant About SmartphonesAlso, smartphone apps are killing us. If there is a 10% chance of a shower, your phone will show a rain cloud for the day. Make sure you check the forecast details and the actual chance and amount of rain before you decide to make other plans!
The best smartphone weather apps I have found so far (and I am new to this) are Radar Now, a fast loading radar site, and NECN Weather, which has a ton of detail to the forecast. If you have any better ones, please let me know!
The Best Weather Links
National Weather Service Forecast
Our favorite - loads quickly, very detailed forecast, plus a 7 day graphical forecast with chance of precipitation built in. If you are really looking for great stuff, click on Forecast Discussion and see what they are saying behind the scenes.
Interactive Radar Map
Our favorite. Press play in the upper right hand corner of the map to put it in motion, and you can zoom right down to street level to see exactly what's going on by clicking on the plus-minus scale in the upper left corner of the map. Also click Futurecast on the upper left of the map to see what's in store for the next 24 hours or so.
National Weather Service Northeast Radar
A quick loading radar that will give you an idea if it is going to rain later on in the day or tomorrow.
Weather Underground Forecast
Our new go-to since the Channel 5 detailed forecast went away. Scroll down about a page and click on Extended Forecast to get good information about the weather in the next 5 days or so. Key feature - probability of precipitation for every day, rather than something vague like "chance of showers."
Accuweather.com Local forecast
A variation on Weather Underground. A great feature - the chance of rain graph broken down over the course of the day. Also provides a link to the hourly forecast. (We used to be really high on the hourly forecast, but it really isn't updated often enough. If you want to know if it is going to rain in the next hour or two, the Interactive Radar Map is where to go.)
Dave Epstein's Weather Wisdom
We would be remiss if we didn't include this guy, our weather hero, who as a rookie in the early 90's made a very precise weather prediction. Immediately, we ridiculed him, saying that the kid didn't understand he was supposed to leave his forecasts vague. However, his prediction was dead on, and he has been a legend ever since. He also has a great gardening website.
National Weather Service Graphical Forecast
If you go to "Forecast Element" and select Probability of Precip, and hit play and you can get a look at what the radar will look like going forward. Pretty good stuff!
Taking It to the Next Level
I don't recommend this for just anyone, but for those of you who have a wedding or a big tournament coming up, or are trying to get declared legally insane, here we go:
The best way to know if it going to rain is to watch the weather on TV. Listen to what they say, the graphics are useless (I don't know how many times I've heard a weatherman (yes, I have someone specific in mind) say, "Slight chance of an afternoon shower in western Mass," and then show a graphic on the 5 day forecast that makes me want to build an ark and start loading up animals).
The best forecasts are on at 5:14 AM, 5:44 AM, 6:14 AM, 6:44 AM, 12:14 PM, 6:14 PM, and 11:14 PM. If you start on channel 4, watch the first 75% of the forecast, switch to channel 5, and then to channel 7, you can see what three Boston stations are predicting. Coupled with checking the National Weather Service Radar every 15 minutes all day, this will give you a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in the next 24 hours and possibly alienate all your friends and loved ones. I only do this every day from March 1 through December 23rd. Good luck!