Weird weather lingo: What does 'Chicken 20 POPS' mean?

Sun breaks out in Seattle the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 20., 2016. Will the dry weather return for the weekend? (KOMO)

SEATTLE (KOMO) - I got a good chuckle out of the National Weather Service's forecast discussion that its forecaster wrote Monday evening. In discussing the forecast for Christmas weekend, there has been some uncertainty over how much rainfall will be around, but the latest trends have been for dry weather.

The forecaster wrote: "The GFS, ECMWF, and Canadian all agree that a weakening upper level ridge will move over the area on Christmas Day. This really looks like a dry and cool day with highs in the upper 30s. The current forecast still hangs on to a conservative forecast with chicken 20 pops and a slight chance of rain or snow showers ..."

GFS and ECMWF are forecast model names, but I loved the term "chicken 20 pops."

What does that mean? "POPS" is just the plural of "probability of precipitation" - essentially meaning the forecaster put in a 20-percent chance of rain. "Chicken" means the forecaster is hedging their bet, leaving in that 20-percent chance of rain despite growing evidence (at the time) of dry weather. As in too chicken yet to remove all wording of precipitation ... just in case.

Turns out, maybe the "pops" weren't so "chicken" after all. Some forecast models run Tuesday morning now actually revisit the idea of some precipitation in the region on Saturday. So, maybe the "pops" weren't so chicken after all?

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