Sometimes, the weather doesn't appear to change every day, but it does. And then during busy times, we often hear, "if you don't like the weather, wait around a day."
Did you know that weather systems tend to move 500-700 miles per day? That means that the energy from low and high pressure systems can move around the entire world in 30-50 days.
On a simplistic level, our weather in the Quad Cities was over Denver yesterday.
What's 700 miles west of Denver? Reno, Nevada. That means that tomorrow's weather was Reno's weather yesterday.
These examples may be overly simplistic since the air within our atmosphere behaves like a fluid, instead of moving in a straight line. But you get the picture: a snow storm may only be three days out and still be over the Pacific Ocean.
That means we learn a lot about how our weather works in the days preceding a storm. Since we don't know the fine details, we often refer to the 8-day as a "weather outlook."
The number one reason you should pay attention to the weather (especially if you travel on a daily basis) is because we are in a constant state of learning.
6-8 days out, we can recognize general weather patterns. Using analysis and weather modeling, we can tell when winter storms are possible. Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke saw the first signs of November's blizzard a week in advance.
4-5 days out, we look for persistence. "Have the weather models been persistent in showing a winter storm?" This builds our confidence in particular solutions. At this time, Meteorologists make maps and drive the weather story with one main focus.
2-3 days out, we are learning more about the timing of a particular storm system and its impact. At this point, we like to touch on the question, "How should we plan?" Even though we'd like it to be, nothing is yet set in stone.
1-2 days out, we learn more about the fine details of an upcoming storm system: where the heaviest snow will fall, what the wind gusts will be, and where a rain/snow line could set up. Now we know the specifics and can tell people how to react to a storm.
-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen