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Why are weather apps often so wrong about Vancouver forecasts?

"I'm being 'gaslit' by the weather app."
Environment Canada says the Vancouver weather forecast might be inaccurate depending on what smartphone you have and the one it includes.

Simon & Garfunkel sang that they get all the news they need from the weather report — but many people say they don't trust the information they get from online weather applications. 

In a video she shared on TikTok, a frustrated Vancouver-based singer/songwriter asks why weather forecasts are often wrong. 

"I've never questioned my reality more than being told every single day by the weather app that it's going to rain all day every day for the next week and a half and it being the nicest day of my life," she says.

"I'm being 'gaslit' by the weather app."

The video has been viewed nearly 20,000 times and dozens of people commented that they agree. A couple of them mentioned that recent forecasts have seemed particularly inaccurate. 

@_xty__ It’s always raining SOMEWHERE in Vancouver #yvr ♬ original sound - •XTY•

Metro Vancouver weather apps

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone interview that not all weather applications are created equal. 

The national weather forecaster has its own weather app, WeatherCAN, which provides current conditions, hourly and seven-day forecasts for over 10,000 locations in Canada. It also gives push notifications for all weather alerts. 

"So you're at the prairies [and] there's a tornado watch then that gets pushed to your phone, buzzed right away. And then you're at least warned of the most critical weather, dangerous or high impact weather that might be coming your way," he explained.

"That's kind of the big difference between our app and all of the other apps. Because Environment Canada obviously has the mandate to speak to the warning levels of weather."

Many smartphones come with a weather app that has raw "international output" that isn't specific to the region, Castellan notes. This information can be "dramatically wrong."

"I've woken up to my phone saying, 'You're in Victoria, it's minus 17 and it is going to go down to minus 25 today.' And yes, it's January, but there is zero chance of that happening because it's already 10 degrees," he said. 

Environment Canada, on the other hand, has operational meteorologists working 24 hours a day, seven days a week who interpret the model output. They offer regional forecasts and adjust the raw model output before it goes out on the app.