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Back to the Future: How Do Current Weather Forecasts Compare to the Film's 1985 Prediction?

In the classic 1980s film, Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly and Dr. Emmet Brown used a car fitted with a time machine to travel 30 years in the future, arriving on Oct. 21, 2015.

When the time-traveling duo arrived in the future, they saw flying cars, skateboards that hovered above the ground, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series and weather forecasts precise down to the second.

While not everything that Marty and 'Doc' saw in the theatrical version of 2015 has come to fruition, some of the movie's predictions were not far off from reality in 2015, such as weather forecasting.

Upon arriving in 2015, Marty and Doc were greeted by heavy rain. When they went to get out of their car, Doc checked the weather forecast on his watch and said that the rain would be over in five seconds.

Five seconds later, the rain ended, clouds dissipated and the sun shined brightly to reveal the futuristic world.

Weather forecasts this precise may have seemed impossible to people in the 1980s, but 30 years later, advancements in technology have allowed AccuWeather to produce forecasts that are accurate down to the minute.

"AccuWeather MinuteCastâ„¢ continues to revolutionize the way people consume weather," Steven Smith, AccuWeather president of Digital Media, said. "By providing pinpointed, minute-by-minute precipitation forecasts with Superior Accuracyâ„¢ for their exact locations, we help people make more informed decisions throughout the day. Our minute-by-minute forecast is free to users everywhere and easily accessible through our mobile apps, as well as on web and mobile sites."

MinuteCast predicts start and end times for precipitation by the minute for the next two hours, specific to a user's exact street address. It is available in 13 countries, and AccuWeather plans to provide its unique hyper-local forecast in additional countries worldwide.

"The only way to get a weather forecast back in the 1950s through the 1980s was through newspapers, radio or TV," AccuWeather Meteorologist Meghan Mussoline said during AccuWeather's 50th anniversary.

"Today, those means of getting a forecast are still available, but computers, smart phones, tablets and social media have helped the quick flow of weather information as well," Mussoline continued.

Another prediction that holds true from Marty and Doc's visit to 2015: Wearables offer yet another way to view crucial forecast information. Smartwatches, which are still largely tethered to smartphones because of their small screen size and more limited processing power, provide a new avenue to receive timely and relevant weather information such as severe weather alerts.

"Having a watch on makes receiving and accessing information easier. You're elevating information that's important and immediate," said Ezra Nanes, senior director of Digital Media Product at AccuWeather.

Nanes added that since wearables offer a new user experience, it's something developers continue to learn about to try to find the optimal user experience and find what is valuable to people.

In addition to new forecast products such as MinuteCast®, the overall accuracy of weather forecasts has increased dramatically since the 1980s.

The primary reason behind this has to do with the supercomputers that produce the weather models that meteorologists analyze.

These supercomputers have undergone many upgrades since the 1980s to increase computing speed and computing ability, resulting in a better tool for meteorologists to use when making a forecast.

Not only have technological advancements helped make better weather models, but also the way in which forecasters access and view the data from the weather models has also helped.

In the 1980s, forecasters had to print out all of the maps and information that were produced by the models before being able to analyze the data to make a forecast.

Thirty years later, forecasters can access the same information with a few clicks of a mouse on a laptop or desktop computer.

This allows forecasters to view and analyze the data from the weather models in a matter of seconds rather than waiting for the information to be printed out before making a forecast.

"If you compare the amount of weather information that a meteorologist has access to today in an eight-hour shift of weather, it is as much as a meteorologist 50 years ago would have had in an entire 40-year career," said Fred Godomski, senior lecturer in Penn State's Department of Meteorology.

With the meteorological advancements that have occurred in the past 30 years, meteorologists can only speculate what technology will be used to make forecasts 30 years down the road.