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Election Day Climate Forecast: Who Will It Want?

Newly published from Cliff Mass's weather blog

Tuesday October 27, 2020

I got a call today from a California political science professor asking how to get reliable weather forecast information for the next week because the weather can make one party preferable to another.

I helped him, but that got me thinking about the weather on election day, especially since we're now close enough in time to have some skill.

I was familiar with a number of studies that had been done on the subject and their suggestion that bad weather favors Republicans (see an example below).

What do the latest and greatest model predictions predict for Election Day?

Because my blog readers deserve the best, I have examined the world's leading guidelines of the European Center model.

The forecast for election day across much of the US is extremely … extremely pleasant, with minimal storms and rainfall.

To give you the best possible forecast, we examine the model predictions of the ensemble of the European Center, where the model is run 51 times, each time slightly different. The mean or mean of these ensemble projections is usually a good prediction.

The upper ensemble (500 hPa, approx. 18,000 ft) weather map for 11 a.m. PDT shows a HUGE high altitude / pressure area that dominates most of the United States, with a low pressure / low altitude trough offshore. Such a pattern will be warmer than normal and dry for the western two-thirds of the US.

To show this, temperatures are predicted at the same time. Toasty in California, the Southwest, the Central and Southern Plains states, the Gulf Coast, and Florida. The only locations that are below freezing are northern England and New York.

Precipitation that day? Almost nothing but a few sprinkles in New England. Even Seattle will be dry!

In light of this forecast, the classic papers, like the one mentioned above, would propose an improvement in democratic voting.
But I suspect there are still some surprises to come. How will the COVID pandemic and the large number of postal ballot papers change history? The percentage of votes on election day will be much lower than normal.
Trump supporters are likely to be different from Republican voters 20-30 years ago. And can you really trust telephone surveys? Many people use smartphones exclusively, and conservative voters may be afraid of sharing their honest views with someone who calls their home out of the blue.
One thing is certain: the weather this weekend looks quite pleasant here in the northwest – a perfect time to enjoy the fall colors. A pleasant way to forget about the choice for a few hours.

Courtesy Rachel Samanyi

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