Election Day is tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3rd). Relatively quiet and dry weather is expected nearly across the nation today and Tuesday. So let us dive in. Election Day Weather – Mild For Most! Let us also dive into the details of some things we are keeping an eye on as we head to the polls.
Weather Forecast Today and Election Day
A weather pattern featuring mainly high pressure is essentially widespread across the nation Monday and Tuesday. This will benefit most on Election Day because it will also influence a warming trend for many. Warmer temperatures will be gradually ‘traveling’ east as a relatively large high pressure center holds strong.
There are some weather issues coast-to-coast. Some snow showers wrapping up early in the morning TUE may lead to slick driving conditions near Lake Ontario. And Rain showers are likely west of the Cascade Mountains out west. Rain looks likely for Seattle on Tuesday for example.
Snow and Lake-Effect Snow Event Details
Lake Ontario has their first lake effect snow event of the season starting this evening. The worst of it will be mainly tonight. Be mindful east of the lake. Moderate to strong west winds, very cold air ‘fetching’ over the open lake will generate moderate to heavy snow at times. The worst of the snow will be done BEFORE polls open here Election Day. However hazardous driving conditions may remain.
WHAT: LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING. Heavy lake effect snow. Total snow accumulations of 7 to 13 inches in the most persistent lake snows. Snowfall rates may reach 1-2 inches per hour. Winds gusting as high as 45 mph will result in areas of blowing snow.
WHEN: From 4:00 PM EST this afternoon to 4:00 AM EST Tuesday (Election Day).
Severe Thunderstorm Threat – Monday (11/2/20)
What about a threat for severe weather? Answer: Nope. An upper-level low pressure system will ‘spin’ into areas of the SW United States over the next couple of days. Scattered showers and storms are possible within the light greed shaded areas. No severe thunderstorms are expected.
Does ‘Bad’ Weather Decrease Voter Turnout?
Quick answer: I am not sure. It is complicated.
I want to dive into this topic that circles around the newsfeed with every election cycle. Is it true? Is it properly explained? Or are we creating a logical fallacy by linking voter turnout and weather? There have been studies on this topic.
A 2007 study included in the pro-science JSTOR showed for the US: “rain significantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1% per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5%.” They also say, “virtually no solid empirical evidence linking weather to voter participation.”
“Poor weather is also shown to benefit the Republican party’s vote share. Indeed, the weather may have contributed to two Electoral College outcomes, the 1960 and 2000 presidential elections.”
That previous research showed in the US one inch of rain reduces turnout at about one percent. To make that relatable… if it were to rain, or rain is in the forecast on any given Election Day, about 1-out-of-100 eligible voters would not vote solely because of the inconvenience of 1″ of rainfall. Also according to this study, it would take 2″ of snow to get that 1-out-of-100 of eligible voters to decide not to travel to the polls. This appears to be a linear relationship according to the study. Because then we go to 2 voters at 2″ of rain. 3 voters for 3″ of rain, and so on. Assuming I am reading into the relationship correctly. I stress I am making lots of assumptions here. There is a lot of uncertainty with what any given person does. And there is uncertainty with the weather. Combining the two creates a rather large task to study. And this does not even take into account if there is severe weather, hurricanes, different rules per state, etc. My head hurts!
We turn to a 2013 Swedish study for more context in order to test whether rainfall on Election Day have the same impact in a high turnout context. Results: “In none of the datasets do we find robust negative effects of rain.” I am aware this is Sweden and not the United States. I may be creating a logical fallacy linking two separate countries.
Basically in my short research of this topic, I ended with more questions than I began with. I will not complicate things for myself. So I will vote whether the weather is hot or not. But will also check the forecast before I go 😉
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Meteorologist Joe Hansel