The Weather Elements
The Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, once stated, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”.
You will find no disagreement here, especially since we at the Florida Keys National Weather Service are predicting (or forecasting) so many different weather elements across a large and diverse area (~25,000 square miles), including the Straits of Florida, the Florida Reef Tract, the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, and the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico.
When weather forecasters speak of “weather elements”, we are not talking about the chemical “elements” on a Periodic Table; instead, we are referring to a measurable property of the atmosphere, observed from the Earth’s surface. A more formal definition of weather element (courtesy of the American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology) is: any one of the properties or conditions of the atmosphere that together specify the physical state of weather or climate at a given place for any particular moment or period of time. A common example of a weather element is air temperature. A less common example would be heat index. Other weather elements for which we provide forecasts include: maximum temperature, minimum temperature, dew point temperature, relative humidity, wind velocity, probability of precipitation, sky cover, precipitation amount, weather type, and even significant wave height, among others. The forecasts of these weather elements generally are quantitative in nature (e.g., the probability of precipitation = 30 percent, or wind is blowing from the east-southeast (110 degrees on the compass) at 17 knots, or the significant wave height is 3 feet). The combined forecasts for all of these different weather elements make up a digital database from which other forecast expressions are derived, among which include: text forecasts (like the “Coastal Waters Forecasts”); web “point and click forecasts”, hourly weather graphs for specific points; and graphics such as the ones available online at:
You even can access the raw, digital forecast data directly, and display the output on a smartphone or tablet application. For more information on how to do this, go to:
These “digital forecasts” and their various derived text and graphical expressions typically are updated at least four times per day by the dedicated meteorologists at the Florida Keys National Weather Service Office. A new way you can access all of this information is through a new smartphone “widget”. The National Weather Service has developed an experimental Adaptive Forecast Page, compatible with computers, tablets, and smartphones, as well as any other devices with web browsing capability. Save it to your mobile device as a widget to have the most up to date forecast while you’re on the go! For a point marine forecast, you can simply click “Use a Map”, and click on your desired location. Check it out by pointing your smartphone browser to:
Feel free to use this experimental widget to keep track of all of your favorite “weather elements”, and if you have any feedback, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is hurricane season, so stay aware and be prepared, and remember to be weather-ready, and stay safe.
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