By Doug Schneider
The St. Pete street course is partially located at the Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG), so getting accurate observed data for the track is really convenient. Overall, I think the forecast worked out okay. Thursday and Friday were sunny and dry, and the temperature forecast both days was pretty accurate. There was a good breeze through the event, which was accurately forecast. The big question through the week was whether rain would arrive over the weekend. There was a lot of uncertainty about this, and the timing of the potential rain shifted from Saturday to Sunday. As it turned out, there wasn't any rain at the track until after the racing was over, at 9 pm Sunday night. The downside of the forecast was mentioning a chance of rain on Saturday. I should have leaned the forecast toward the slower model. But at least it was only a 40% chance, and I did trend it downward with later forecast updates. I kept the rain chances low on Sunday, which worked out well. I wasn't impressed with the potential for rain on Sunday, as it looked like the low pressure system would be lifting farther northeast and weakening on the southern end of the front. My Twitter posts on race day were downplaying the potential for rain while others on Twitter were posting radar images and getting excited about a wet race mixing things up. Radar loops showed the rain was moving northeast, and would pass north of St. Petersburg. Given all the uncertainty about the rain and the model disagreement right up to Friday, I'm mostly satisfied with how the forecasts worked out.
Doug Schneider and Scott Martin are race fans and meteorologists dedicated to providing accurate forecasts and timely weather updates at racing venues around the world. We forecast for IndyCar, Indy Lights/MRTI, IMSA, Pirelli World Challenge, World Endurance Championship, and Trans Am Series races, as well as major SCCA and NASA events.