Some new data out shows that Minnesota has some of the least accurate weather forecasts in the country. This isn't because we have bad forecasters. It's because it is just really challenging.

Even then, not all places in Minnesota are equally difficult for weather predicting.

According to some research done by The Washington Post, the average weather forecast in Minnesota is considered "accurate" looking out only about two days into the future when looking at temperature forecasts vs. what actually happened. Anything past about two days, and things get less accurate.

Unlike places in the US Southwest or Southeast, where forecasts tend to be accurate for 5+ days, Minnesota's unique weather influences make it hard to generate anything consistently accurate beyond only a couple of days. Even then, there are some places that are tougher to forecast than others in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

What towns get the least accurate weather forecasts in Minnesota?

Photo by Brandon Cormier on Unsplash
Photo by Brandon Cormier on Unsplash
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Anyone who has lived near Lake Superior (or knows anything about the area) knows that the weather can vary pretty wildly because of the big lake. Even then, there is one specific town that seems to be the hardest to forecast.

The large, cold body of water can drastically swing temperatures and enhance or reduce precipitation amounts, making the area near Lake Superior one of the toughest places for forecasting weather in the entire country.

For reference, the data compiled by The Washington Post deems an "accurate" forecast one that sees a difference of less than 3 degrees F between the forecast and what actually happens.

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While it isn't the least accurate forecast city in Minnesota, I'll start with Duluth; being it is the biggest city in the region. Duluth sees an accurate forecast only one day into the future, with the colder weather months being slightly more accurate.

During the winter months, the forecast tends to be accurate as far as 2 days out. Summer forecasts tend to be less accurate, varying by as much as almost 7 degrees in the warm weather months by the end of a 7-day forecast

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Two Harbors and some other North Shore towns see a similar level of accuracy/inaccuracy, but one town seems to be the toughest to forecast for the state.

That town? Beaver Bay.

According to the the analysis from The Washington Post, even a look at the one-day forecast has a tendency to be inaccurate for this little town not quite halfway up the North Shore - but it depends on the time of year.

Breaking down the Beaver Bay Forecast

Photo by Andrew Ling on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Ling on Unsplash
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Looking at the annual average, the forecast for Beaver Bay tends to be accurate no more than one day out, but during the warmer weather months, even the one-day forecast can go beyond the Washington Post's definition of "accurate".

The colder weather months tend to see more accurate forecasts, with an "accurate" forecast consistently seen as far as 3 days into the future. The variability and challenges during warmer weather months and the changeover seasons are what contribute to making the forecast definitively "inaccurate", even on a short-term basis.

Not all places are the same on the North Shore

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash
Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash
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While Beaver Bay is the toughest town to forecast and a lot of towns along the North Shore have similar outcomes to that of Duluth and Two Harbors, Grand Marais stands out as a place that tends to get a more accurate forecast.

Unlike the rest of the North Shore, Grand Marais tends to see an accurate forecast as far as 3 days into the future. During the cold weather months, the forecast tends to be accurate as far as 4 days out.

While the warmer weather forecasts tend to be tougher in Grand Marais just like they are elsewhere on the North Shore, the average of a 3-day accurate forecast is much better than the average of a 1-day accurate forecast elsewhere along the North Shore.

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According to 2022 data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth