How to Understand Weather Forecasts

weather forecast

Are you sometimes confused by weather forecasts? I am.

Are you sometimes confused by weather forecasts? Click To Tweet

“Sunny” and “cloudy” I comprehend, but “partly sunny,” “mostly sunny,” “partly cloudy,” and “mostly cloudy” leave me a bit unsure.

My hope was to clarify this, but the only conclusion I can reach is “No one knows for sure.”

The Reader’s Digest said “partly sunny” is the same as “mostly cloudy,” while “mostly sunny” equates to “partly cloudy,” as in:

sunny (or clear)
mostly sunny or partly cloudy
partly sunny or mostly cloudy
cloudy

But I couldn’t corroborate this. Another source says the middle ground is shared by “partly sunny,” which is the same as “partly cloudy,” with “mostly cloudy” residing on one side and “mostly sunny” on the other side. This results in:

sunny (or clear)
mostly sunny
partly sunny or partly cloudy
mostly cloudy
cloudy

And I found other explanations as well.

Of course, any forecast with “sunny” in it would only apply to daylight hours, while indications of cloudiness level is equally applicable for day or night.

Perhaps the real explanation is if weather forecasters can keep us confused, there’s less chance of us accusing them of being wrong.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

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