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Icons and Uncertainty. Compiled by Cliff Mass. What Does Probablility of Precipitaiotn Mean?. ICONS are frequently used to communicate precip uncertainy. The use of icons are sloppy and inconsistent. The icons are often inconsistent with the text under them.

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Icons and uncertainty l.jpg

Icons and Uncertainty

Compiled by Cliff Mass



Icons are frequently used to communicate precip uncertainy l.jpg
ICONS are frequently used to communicate precip uncertainy

  • The use of icons are sloppy and inconsistent.

  • The icons are often inconsistent with the text under them.


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  • Consider the term “chance of rain” for which the official NWS definitions are:

    • Uncertainty Terms

    • Indicate the percent chance of measurable (0.01 inches) precipitation occurring anywhere in the forecast zone or area.

    • Term Probability

    • Slight Chance 10-20%

    • Chance 30-50%

    • Likely 60-70%

    • no term used 80-100%

  • The icons text use CHANCE from 30 to 70!!

  • The icons are the same for 20% to 70% !!

  • Doesn’t the slight chance or chance icons look VERY, VERY WET? Completely useless in communicating the chance category


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Even worse…they use the same icons for likely rain and rain as they do for chance rain. Also, they used “likely rain” for 70% on this page and “chance rain” for 70% in the example on the previous page


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Intensity vs probabilities l.jpg
Intensity vs Probabilities a trip to Antarctica

  • Need better icons and other tools to communicate the distinction between them


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Conclusions a trip to Antarctica

  • The current icons are a complete disaster:

    • They do not reflect that probabilities of the events they are trying to describe

    • They are not used in a consistent way between NWS offices or even at the same office from day to day.


Other graphics l.jpg
Other Graphics a trip to Antarctica


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