Improving Subseasonal Forecasting in the Western U.S. with Machine Learning (Research Track)

Paulo Orenstein (Stanford); Jessica Hwang (Stanford); Judah Cohen (AER); Karl Pfeiffer (AER); Lester Mackey (Microsoft Research New England)


Water managers in the western United States (U.S.) rely on longterm forecasts of temperature and precipitation to prepare for droughts and other wet weather extremes. To improve the accuracy of these long-term forecasts, the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the Subseasonal Climate Forecast Rodeo, a year-long real-time forecasting challenge, in which participants aimed to skillfully predict temperature and precipitation in the western U.S. two to four weeks and four to six weeks in advance. We present and evaluate our machine learning approach to the Rodeo and release our SubseasonalRodeo dataset, collected to train and evaluate our forecasting system. Our predictive system is an ensemble of two regression models, and exceeds that of the top Rodeo competitor as well as the government baselines for each target variable and forecast horizon.