How was your Christmas? I bet you were watching the forecast for the first significant snowfall of the season, but while you were doing that, parts of the deep South were dealing with the biggest tornado outbreak on Christmas day. From Texas to Alabama there were 28 tornadoes. Even though most were small or weak tornadoes, eight were EF-2′s and two were EF-3.
I questioned on whether or not to talk about this topic, or whether if I should have to defend my forecast. First, if I miss or “bust” the forecast I am going to be the first one to admit it and I have always held myself accountable, giving an apology and explanation to the WANE viewers. But, I have a really hard time sitting on the sidelines, letting people say “you got it wrong,” when in all reality, I feel we nailed the Friday Night snow forecast 24 hours out.
What I am talking about here is the snow forecast on Friday for early Saturday morning. Here is the link to my initial forecast Friday afternoon, which I also posted on the the weather blog. That evening, I even updated the forecast, bringing the band of +3″ slightly more to the west. Here is the exact image from the 2nd blog update that evening:
Now, compare this to the official amounts from the National Weather Service and area weather spotters:
With the exception of southeastern Blackford county seeing 6″ of snow, I say that’s a pretty precise and accurate forecast. (Only off by an inch on the high range of the forecast.)
So, why are people so “angry” on social media? I am not going to call out any specific people here, but feel free to visit our WANE FB feed from Friday night and Saturday Morning. Are people angry because they hate snow? Are they angry because of the “looming fiscal cliff?” Or is this what social media has become, a place to be negative and vent? That being said, I do want to thank the WANE FB fans who did step in and support our brand and our forecast.
Again, I hope this post didn’t waste your time and honestly, I am not trying to stroke my ego, I just feel people have to realize that we can get it right and forecasting has come a long way.
This is from a good friend of mine and one heck of a forecaster back in Oklahoma and his reference to the Christmas Forecast in OKC:
For those upset about the weather forecast, let me tell you a little secret…
100 years ago the best forecast was what is currently happening down the road in the next town over a telegraph or radio.
50 years ago the best forecast was a few hours.
1980s gave us the 2 day forecast with considerable error using the best computers.
1990s gave us the 5 day forecast with considerable error as super computers really kicked in.
2000s gave us the 7 day with error, but significantly improved the 2 and 5 day as computer processing speed went through the roof.
2010s we’re stretching to 15 day trends, with 7 days reasonably close, 5 days darn good, and 2 days almost perfect in general terms.
What we have not and cannot do is estimate the exact amount of precipitation over your house and what type it will be. The best we can do is estimate over a broad region. We move from science to art/craft when hyper-local amounts come in. You put it on a grid and average it out and spread it around. A statistical means applied to an unscientific method. The main reason for this limitation is money. There’s not enough of it to build the vast array of measuring stations that are needed to input that data into the models. The model will take any error fed in and magnify it. In addition to the numerous locations, timing is key. We run the models 4 times a day but only 2 of those 6 am/pm have most of the data available to input. We would need to launch soundings 4x a day and put them in a very dense network rather than 1 or 2 a state. Finally each model applies a slightly different combination of physics, because we don’t know everything we need to know about the atmosphere to pick the perfect mathematical formula.
Just keep all of this in mind for the next storm…we’ve come a long way and produced quite a spoiled generation as a result.
Alright, I digress. Thanks for your time and have a Happy New Year!
Heavier Snowfall South of Fort Wayne
A system which will over spread snow region wide will once again expend most of its moisture to our south. This time the bulls eye is right around the Terre Haute area which they could see up to 3″ of snow. The graphics above represent the how much snowfall I believe we will get across the central and southwest part of the state this afternoon and this evening. The second graphic shows the Winter Weather Advisory area which includes Muncie and Indianapolis, where 1 to 3″ of snow will fall.
New Year’s Eve A Little Slippery
I expect that most of our snowfall will be late this afternoon and into this evening. The snowfall will begin to taper off by mid evening but we could still look for very slippery roads and side walks.
Cold Start To 2013!
This cold air will begin to filter into region overnight New Year’s Eve and continue to decrease in temperature through New Year’s Day. This process will cause the coldest days of the winter which is only just beginning. Highs will only be in the 20s for the next several days. Because of the snowfall low temperatures will fall into the single digits. If there wasn’t a snow pack the ground would insulate the air a bit and the warmer air from day time heating would dissipate into the night air. Because there is a snow cover air is not allowed to heat up during the day using the insulating properties of the ground.
Good news! Not much has changed from this morning. Most of the area will still see around 1-2″. Places north and west of Fort Wayne will see a little less than that. Here is what it will look like across the area.
The heaviest snow with this system will stay farther to the south.
If you are heading out for New Years Eve, be sure to keep in mind that most of the snow will be falling between 3 pm and 10 pm. This could make for some slick roads on your way out and possibly on the way back. If you do encounter snowy or icy roads, slow down and take your time.
As Lee Ann mentioned in her previous post, we are tracking snow for Monday/New Year’s Eve. Updating things here from the weather center this morning, I can tell you the areas most likely to experience the snow on New Year’s Eve will be places from Fort Wayne southward.
The snow arrives Monday afternoon and continues into the evening, tapering off Monday night.
The current track of the next system places little snow north of Allen County (under 1″). I expect Fort Wayne and south to pick up between 1″ and 2″ of new snow by Monday night when the snow tapers off (only a few flurries/snow showers will be left over by Tuesday AM). Most of the snow will have stopped falling by the time the new year arrives at midnight, although areas far south, like Portland and Hartford City, may still see some snow falling then.
Of course, changes in the system’s track may result in changes to our snow accumulation forecast. So, keep checking back in here on wane.com and on NewsChannel 15 for the latest.
Another snow system looks to move south of the area on Monday and Tuesday. It is uncertain how far south of us it will travel. The farther south it stays, the less snow we will see. Here is a look at what 2 models are saying for snow totals for our area. First a look at the color scale.
This forecast model takes the storm farther south and we will see very little snow. The light pink equals 0-1″ of snow. But, take a look at what this model shows.
This model is showing anywhere from 2-4″ of snow. This is a huge difference! We’ll continue to track this system so check back for updates on the storm track.
After a snow forecast that gradually increased as we tracked the incoming system during the day on Friday, I wanted to update you with Saturday morning’s snow totals so you can see how our Live Doppler 15 Fury Forecast fared. I’ve posted a mixture of official weather service reports with reports we also received from viewers on our WANE facebook page.
Compare the numbers above to the image in Jonathan’s previous post and you will see that this system panned out pretty much as expected, dropping the heaviest amounts in southeastern portions of the area (like Portland) and barely any new snow in far northwestern areas (like LaGrange). Snow total reports from Fort Wayne ranged from 2.5″-3.2″ (official reading at the airport).
Above is the updated snow forecast for tonight through Saturday morning. We are still on track for lower amounts northwest and higher amounts southeast but we had to up the numbers a little bit for the area highlighted in dark blue. This area could see 3-4″ of snow with isolated areas seeing up to 5″ of new snow.
Fort Wayne is on track to see anything from 1-3″ with most of us seeing about 2″ of snow. Remember, flurries are likely in the afternoon, but the accumulating snow will turn off by the mid morning.
When it comes to forecasting snow, the forecast models have come a long way. I remember back when I was in college, the models only forecasted the liquid amount and the meteorologist had to calculate how much snow that would be. Now, we have numerous models to look at and each model may have several solutions or outputs. The same model may have a completely different snow forecast, depending on the snow to liquid ratio that was occurring during the snow event. Is it 10 to 1 or is it 15 to 1? Meaning, 10 inches of snow for every inch water.
Here is an example of what I am taking about. Take a look at this model:
Now take a look at this model:
The first map is the GFS model and it has at least 3″, up to 4″ for Fort Wayne for this Saturday morning. Compare this to the second model, which is the NAM and it is only forecasting 1″ up to 2″ for Fort Wayne. Now, this is not that big of a difference, but which model is right? Well, that’s my job as a meteorologist to determine that and know which model is handling the current weather solution better. Want to see a huge difference?
Check out these two computer forecasts for the Day after Christmas snow storm. Here is the GFS:
Here is the NAM:
Can you see a difference? Even though both models had about the same amount for Fort Wayne (about 5-6″ and we really picked up 3-5″), check out the difference in the heavy snow band from Greensburg to Dayton! The NAM is out to lunch with over 16″ and the GFS was almost spot on with the heaviest snow at about 8″ from Indy to Lima Ohio.
Can you see what we deal with when we forecast? Now imagine, we look at about 6 models a day and each model may be updated 4 times a day. Factor in how many different solutions you can have with each model based on just changing the air temperature a few degrees and you have dozens of solutions. This was pretty much the case with the same system but over Oklahoma on Christmas day. One model was forecasting over a foot of snow between OKC and Tulsa and that stretch on I-44 was lucky to see an inch, if that. Actually, it was funny watching some of the OKC broadcast meteorologists handle the forecast and get tricked into the heavier snow forecast. Speaking of forecasting snow, I need to turn my attention to the snow right now that is moving across the WANE viewing area.
A few days ago, this next snow maker was expected to stay well to our south. Well……. this same weather system is tracking a little bit more to the north, putting us on the northern fringe of accumulating snow.
Here is what you need to know:
- Snow moves in after Midnight
- Accumulating snow ends by late morning
- More flurries are expected in the afternoon.
- Snowfall totals will range from 1-3″ across the WANE viewing area.
- The Fort should expect to see about 2″ of snow.
Now, I was gone during our last snow event and from what I could tell, the Live Doppler 15 Fury Weather Team did a great job forecasting the snow totals. (You have to remember, I am a weather junkie and even though I was on Christmas vacation over 700 miles away, I was actually forecasting the snow for Fort Wayne.) When it comes to snow forecasting folks… it still is not a perfect science! Even though I expect 1-3″ by late Saturday morning, I can not forecast exactly where the heavier snow bands may set up. If I am off by only 20 miles, that could make a difference between and inch or so. So, no reason to get upset if I say 2″ for the Fort and we see only an inch, or up to 4″.