In the Know: What's with local weather data's degrees of separation?

TIM ATEN

Q: I have noticed that the Naples weather forecasts in the Daily News and those on The Weather Channel are very different every day by several degrees. Could you please explain the reason for this? For example, the NDN AccuWeather high temperature forecast for the next seven days is 86, 86, 87, 84, 85, 83 and 87. The Weather Channel (Local on the 8s) shows 82, 82, 83, 83, 82, 81 and 84 for the same period of time — a difference of several degrees each day. This is typical of a consistent pattern in which the NDN forecasts are always a few degrees higher than the TV forecasts. Is one weather station on the water and the other several miles inland? No big deal, just curious. Thanks.

— Jim Riddle, Naples

A: The location where each weather information company collects local data is the key to the differing forecasts.

AccuWeather gets its data from the Naples Municipal Airport, which is less than three miles inland and located west of Interstate 75. The Weather Channel data comes from Comcast's headend at 26100 Bonita Grande Road in Bonita Springs, which is about seven miles from the Gulf shoreline and about a mile east of I-75.

So, depending on where you live — in relationship to north-south and east-west of the data collection point — makes a difference for which regional information may be more accurate. Because of the disparity in distance from Gulf waters, the east-west difference in the collection points will be a greater factor than the north-south variation, in this case.

Of course, seasonal changes — when sea breezes make coastal areas warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer — also need to be considered. In other words, AccuWeather temperatures may be warmer now than those reported by The Weather Channel, but the degree of difference most likely will flip in the summer with The Weather Channel data trending warmer.

A spot check of today's local temperature forecasts from AccuWeather and The Weather Channel show them nearly identical. On Sunday morning, the Weather Channel predicted a high of 88 degrees on Monday for Naples and a low of 72 degrees. In Sunday morning's edition of the Naples Daily News, AccuWeather forecasted a high for today of 88 and a low of 71.

Whatever they are reporting, each weather company will tell you they have the most accurate climate information.

"The temperatures for Naples look to be more accurate from AccuWeather. I am not sure what The Weather Channel is predicting for, but we are forecasting for the Naples airport," said Alan Reppert, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, which is headquartered in State College, Pa.

Despite AccuWeather's claims that it is the most accurate for Naples, The Weather Channel says it has developed its own technology to compensate for its more remote data location.

"Most cable companies use Weather Star computers, which is a piece of equipment created by The Weather Channel and located at your local cable provider to deliver the local forecast and current conditions screens for your area," said Melissa Medori, a spokeswoman for The Weather Channel, which is headquartered in the Atlanta metropolitan area. "To generate the forecast, The Weather Channel has its own proprietary technology called TruPoint that goes beyond the (National Weather Station airport) sites and pinpoints weather for exact locations."

The patented TruPoint technology uses weather radar, satellite, a lightning detection network, weather prediction models, surface sensors and all other available observation data to derive current weather conditions. Data is updated several times each hour for points every 1.5 miles across the country, according to information from The Weather Channel.

Barbara Hagen, Comcast's vice president and general manager for Southwest Florida, confirms that The Weather Channel's equipment is located at the cable company's headend, where incoming programming such as broadcast signals are received and distributed. Comcast has a 260-foot tower at that Bonita location, according to Federal Communications Commission records.

INBOX

Sharing these thoughts from "In the Know" readers:

■ Naples Tomato gift cards may be refundable. If the cards were recently purchased with a credit card, I thought there was protection through the credit card company. The charge can be disputed since the product (use of the card as cash) was not received. The credit card company should credit your account and reverse the charge to Naples Tomato. The card company may never see their money but that's the deal they made.

— Gene, Naples

■ I believe there would be less rear-end accidents especially on the Tamiami Trail in Lee and Collier counties if the block numbers were posted above or beneath the street names at the intersections. Many businesses do not display their numbers on the buildings, and if you are looking for a particular business, it's difficult to keep your eyes on the road and look to see what hundred block you are in. If the numbers were displayed at the intersections, you would know that you are in the general vicinity of your destination.

— Sam Pietrofitta, New Jersey and Bonita Springs

___

Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to intheknow@naplesnews.com.

"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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