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Atlanta snow jam New Jersey style
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Atlanta snow jam New Jersey style

Atlanta snow jam New Jersey style

Atlanta snow jam New Jersey style

While you can’t compare half an inch or snow with 6 inches plus, it is interesting to see how there are limits to what can be done with heavy snow even where they have a lot more equipment, and how hard forecasting snow/ice is even where it happens routinely. 

The storm threat was advertised well in advance by several days. But like down here, specifics will always change last minute and ALL forecasts are wrong to some extent, we just notice it more when it’s a winter impact.

They got LESS sleet and freezing rain than predicted, and about 4 inches more snow. That’s not a horrible forecast. Although I am told for some areas the forecast was bad, while in other nearby locations it was on the money. (That is normal, people don’t realize it because they are me me me focused).

Reminds me of last December when my forecast was a total bust for 3 NW suburban counties, OK for in and near the perimeter, and spot-on for the South and  East suburbs. But the news will always look only at the bad and not the whole picture. 

A big problem they had was the RATE OF SNOWFALL, it was coming down at a half to one inch an hour. When that happens NO city or state can handle it, not enough salt and plows in the world. 

Typically the politicians always blame the forecast even when the forecast was decent or mostly good, that happened in New York and New Jersey with this storm. We’ve seen it repeatedly here in Georgia. 

Take a look at these citizen comments from Twitter:

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All forecasts called for snow during the rush hour, but like here in Georgia, because forecasts can be wrong, everyone behaved like it would not happen and waited until they could see it with their own eyes. So school and business decide to go on as normal. (Like people standing in their garage during a tornado warning looking for it instead of taking cover) by then it’s too late and it’s time to blame someone else. 

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I remember reading a research paper in a science journal a number of years ago that pointed out the margin of error for rain vs. snow in the data is only 1%! That’s right, if you’re off by just 1% your forecast can bust. I don’t know about you but I wouldn't want to have to engage in ANY activity with that small a window, when the odds are always strongly against you. 

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THERMODYNAMIC DIAGRAM SKEW-T FOR THE STORM:

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Note the circled error. I hate to tell ya folks, but that is a normal routine and to be expected margin of error and not a big bust meteorologically. However, it is in terms of impact. Those two simultaneous truths/facts can not be resolved in terms of the state of the science. 

It’s like the “cone of error” in hurricane track forecasts. In ANY forecast there is actually a range of possible outcomes. I’ve made this point dozens of times over the years for my followers. Problem is people demand a yes/no this or that answer because we can’t handle gray areas, but that’s most of life. It’s why we ask for “an estimate” before committing to a home project or an auto repair. Forecasts are BEST ESTIMATES. Weather is a non-linear system but most people have not had enough science and math in school to know what that means. 

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So we over-react or under-react. I say, there’s less down side to following the old Boy Scout rule: Be Prepared. Plan for the worst hope for the best. 

Believe me nobody wants the science and art of forecasting to be better than those of us who try to predict the future with just a fraction of the data needed, and nobody wants the forecast to be right more than forecasters. And guess what? Nobody knows a forecast is wrong more than those who make them, and WE KNOW IT FIRST because we can see when things start evolving away from expectation. So no need to say, hey buddy ya blew it. lol 

There’s a good reason so few professions involve predicting the future. Meteorology is one of the few, and the only one to do it publicly under the microscope. The others are barely paid attention to because they are wrong so much more and more often than forecasters people assume they don’t matter. Oh well, mother nature is always fun, exciting and fascinating to watch. 

For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.

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