Why so negative, forecast.io?

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 10.51.07

Something that’s been puzzling me for a while is the way some of the weather apps I use  – as well as my default weather web site (and web app) — tend to give a negative outlook, even when the weather is going to be pretty good.

I stopped using Weather Line, which I thought was great at first, because it kept misleading me about the weather, and I was making decisions and plans based on overly pessimistic assessment of the outlook. The final straw was when I left my bike at home last half-term holiday, because my weather app convinced me that it would be raining all the time. In fact, it wasn’t. In actual fact, it only rained all day on one of the days of that whole week.

Just recently, the bright summer and sunny days we’ve been having have been described as mostly cloudy throughout the day. Sure, there were clouds in the sky, there were very few days of unbroken blue sky, but on the whole the weather was great.

Forecast.io is often the source of the weather data. It’s a pretty accurate site, but you have to dig into it to know what’s really happening. Take, for example, the screen grab above. It shows the weather at our place in France for next week. Hmm. The little icons on the left indicate rain, rain, and more rain. So much is expected in that part of France. Such forecasts are why I left my bike at home that time.

Expand the view of one of the days, however, and you will discover this.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 10.51.28

Thursday. Cloud/rain icon. “Drizzle starting in the evening.” Min temperature 15°C, Max 25°C. Oh, and CLEAR THROUGHOUT THE DAY UNTIL ABOUT 7 IN THE EVENING, AT WHICH POINT YOU MIGHT GET A LITTLE BIT OF RAIN.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was told that Thursday was going to be sunny all day, until evening, and a balmy 25°, I’d be pretty happy. But if I just glanced at the unexpanded view? Well, I’d certainly not be planning a bike ride, a hike, or a barbecue, or a yard sale, would I?

If a day is going to be 80% clear, I would like to know that, please, and not be misled by a pessimistic icon. Weather apps need to lighten up!

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