Data, Forecasting, Statistics

Thinking Probabilistically

Uncertainty in forecasting could very easily be too important to be poorly indicated or left unreported depending on the situation.

Predicting a storm surge of 49′, for example, up against a 51′ levee and not reporting on the margin of error could lead most people to believe that everything is fine. If the margin of error is reported as +-9′ then there would really be cause for concern.

In Nate Silver’s keynote during the Tableau TCC13 in Washington, he goes on to explain that the actual storm surge in the example was 4′. Well within the margin of error, so great for predictability, but still resulted in a flood of 2′.

The location does not matter.  The point is in how the probability is presented to be easily understood so that appropriate action can be taken if need be.


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