According to a survey, Americans use a total of 300 billion weather forecasts in a single year.
The new nationwide survey by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has revealed that almost 9 out of 10 adult Americans obtain weather forecasts regularly, and they do so more than three times each day on an average.
The study is the first comprehensive research of its kind to examine how the public perceives, uses, and values weather forecasts.
The value Americans place on these forecasts appears to be far more than the nation spends on public and private weather services.
NCAR scientist and lead author Jeffrey Lazo said that the study also revealed that most people are generally satisfied with weather forecasts, and have fairly high confidence in forecasts with a lead time of one to two days.
"Weather forecasts equate to an enormous volume and multiplicity of information, when you account for the array of forecast providers, communication channels, and the size and diversity of the U.S. population," said Lazo.
He said that the understanding of how individuals use day-to-day weather information could help direct the development of more relevant and valuable weather forecasts and warnings by providers like the National Weather Service.
In fact, gaining a better understanding of people's attitudes and behaviors toward forecasts also provides valuable information to forecasters and emergency managers.
"Better communication strategies can be developed for hazardous weather like hurricanes, winter storms, and floods. Improved understanding will also help forecasters to communicate forecast uncertainty more effectively," said Lazo.
The Internet-based survey, conducted in November 2006, collected information about 1,520 respondents' weather-related activities and experiences, as well as basic demographic information.
It was found that 1,465 (96 percent) used weather forecasts, of which 87.1 percent reported getting a forecast at least once a day on average, while 9.2 percent reported doing so once a day or less on average.
Despite a variation in the number of forecasts obtained by a person, the researchers found that on average survey participants received forecasts 3.8 times a day.
When extrapolated to the total U.S. adult population of 226 million, the findings indicate that Americans receive a yearly total of about 300 billion forecasts.
The study has appeared in the latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.