LITTLE ROCK, Ark – One of the hardest things as a meteorologist is forecasting and conveying the rain chance to the public. When forecasting the percent rain chance, we use two main variables to determine the exact percentages.

The first variable is the likelihood of whether the rain will fall or not. The second variable is how much of the area will see rain.

This can cause confusion because some weather apps only use the first variable. This is why your weather app may have a much different rain chance than you see on our 7-day forecast.

For example, the weather app on your phone is a computer-generated forecast for your exact location. This will normally cause the weather app to show a much high rain percentage.

The forecast you get from the Arkansas Storm Team takes into account the likelihood of the rain, and the amount of area it will take up in our forecast area.

Arkansas Storm Team forecast area.

Let’s use our rain chance on Tuesday as an example. Tuesday afternoon we are going to see pop-up showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Even though this is less than 24 hours in the future the chance for rain at a single point is only 60%. The weather app shows a 60% chance for rain in Little Rock. The Arkansas Storm Team’s forecast shows a 40% chance of rain on Tuesday. This is because our forecast agrees that there is a 60% chance for rain to occur, but the coverage over the forecast area is only about 50% so the rain chance using both variables is only 40%.

Future radar for Tuesday afternoon.

That example is a forecast that is less than 24 hours out. When making a forecast for 3+ days out the percentages will be much lower. This is because forecast models that we look at to help make our forecast are much less accurate several days in the future. That’s why you will commonly see several 20% chances for rain at the end of the 7-day forecast.

I hope this helps you understand what these percentages mean and why your weather app may be so different. The best way to get your forecast is by watching all the great meteorologists on the Arkansas Storm Team.

Have a great week everyone! – Meteorologist Alex Libby

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The Arkansas Storm Team is a collaboration of two stations to bring you the largest weather team in the state when covering Arkansas weather.