You’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it: “Don’t like the weather? You’re in luck! Stick around five minutes and it’ll change…”
Turns out, the old adage wasn’t too far off base when it comes to Dallas. Nate Silver and Reuben Fischer-Baum at Five Thirty Eight set out to determine which cities had the most unpredictable weather using a formula that measured how far temperatures strayed from what long-term averages would suggest the weather should be like. They write:
Meteorologists call these long-term averages climatology. Weather forecasting has moved beyond climatology to embrace more sophisticated techniques, but in some cities climatology does extremely well on its own. Take the case of Phoenix, for example….On a typical day in Phoenix, the high temperature deviated from the long-term average by only 5 to 6 degrees. You could plan a wedding or golf tournament in Phoenix years in advance and be reasonably confident of what the temperature would be.
This wouldn’t be true for Denver. Over the past three years, climatology has missed the high temperature there by 9 to 10 degrees on average. And misses of 20 degrees or more, which almost never happen in Phoenix, have occurred, on average, once every other week in Denver.
Silver and Fischer-Baum did this across ten measures related to temperature (highs, lows, and daily means); precipitation (rainfall, snowfall, and a binary variable that accounted for the lack of precipitation); and severe weather (wind speed, humidity, cloud cover, and another binary variable for whether an event occurred). They gathered data from 120 cities around the United States.
The results? Among major metropolises, Dallas came in number 10 for unpredictable weather.
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Oklahoma City
- St. Louis
- Birmingham, Alabama
What do you think? Is Dallas weather truly that unpredictable?