By Dan Brown
February 25th, 2013
Springfield, Mass (WGGB)- When putting together our weather forecasts Meteorologists use computer models for guidance. From time to time you’ll hear us mention them on the air.
Most of the time, days before a storm, these computer models are in conflict. One might be saying snow, another rain and yet another, out-to-sea. It causes meteorologists to hedge their bets. Very often we’ll use words like “potential” or “possible” when referring to a storm this far in advance. Some might say we are trying to cover our backs, which is, somewhat true, but in reality it’s our way of saying that the forecast is still “up in the air”.
As we get closer to a storm or as we, Meteorologists, like to say “event”, the models come in-line and things become clearer. The forecast becomes more in focus. Our confidence level increases. This is usually when we start making those important, snowfall maps.
However, that wasn’t the case this time around. In fact, it was quite opposite. During the middle of last week it looked fairly, certain that western Mass would get hit with another snowstorm. The only question at the time appeared to be whether or not snow would mix with rain, holding amounts down for parts of the area.
Everything appeared to be on target as late as Friday morning but then things started to unravel. The models that were in agreement, where no longer. What looked like a “slam dunk”, big storm was suddenly in jeopardy.
New forecast “issues” began to arise. Not only was it a matter of snow versus rain but now the amount precipitation available to us was “up in the air”, not to mention timing issues were developing. When would it snow? Would it be cold enough to support snow? Would the storm be strong enough?
It was quickly becoming a meteorological nightmare! There were more questions than answers only hours before what was supposed to be a big storm!
In the end the heavy precipitation stayed to the east and temperatures were to mild for snow. The main area of low pressure tracked out-to-sea and the snow that fell ended up arriving yesterday, coming from a trough that lagged behind the main storm. A complicated scenario indeed. All of which led to a big disappointment, if you’re a snow lover.
So far this winter we (meteorologists) have done a decent job. The blizzard certainly lived up to the “hype” and before this weekend there were no real surprises. However, I will be the first to admit, model agreement or not, this storm was a challenge that most forecasters, myself included, didn’t quite live up to!
Meteorology is indeed, an inexact science and this weekend certainly proved it!