Reviews of Important Papers on Forecasting
Before 1985 Reviews
Review of:

Michael H. Glantz (1982), “Consequences and responsibilities in drought forecasting: the case of Yakima, 1977,” Water Resources Research, 18, 3-13.

This paper describes the forecast of a drought by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The forecast led to actions to save crops. As one farmer put it, ‘Drought is when the government sends you a report telling you there’s no water.’ As it turned out, the forecast was wrong. (No confidence interval was published, but the actual water flow was much different than the forecast.) It appears, in this case, that the objective forecasting methods performed well, but that subjective adjustments were made. The subjective adjustments led to the prediction of an extreme event. Attempts are being made to sue the government for malpractice in forecasting. Some questions: Will such legal actions lead to a greater reliance on objective methods of forecasting? Should good practice in forecasting require that confidence limits also be published with the forecast? Should forecasters intentionally bias forecasts if the loss function seems asymmetric (e.g. the cost of a drought might be seen as greater than the cost of a flood)?