When In Doubt, Blame The Weatherman… Again

georgia snow

When in doubt, blame the weatherman! Maybe there was a time that worked. It doesn’t anymore. The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, understands that better today than yesterday.

Tuesday at 10:00 AM, as a crippling snow and ice storm was moving through the south, Governor Deal said,

“At that time it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any, and that the majority of the effects of the storm would be south of here. Preparations were made for those predictions.”

Except those weren’t the predictions.

Here’s a segment of the NWS Area Forecast Discussion from Tuesday at 4:11 AM:

IN MAIN BAND FOR THE AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT…HAVE SNOW/SLEET AMOUNTS OF 1-3 INCLUDING ATL METRO. GREATEST AMOUNT ALONG A BROAD LINE FROM LA GRANGE TO THOMASTON TO LOUISVILLE. BUT SOUTH OF LUMPKIN TO MACON TO SWAINSBORO LINE…ACCUM WILL BE 0.1-0.3 INCH MIX OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WITH UP TO AN INCH OF LIGHT SNOW ON TOP. ALL THESE ACCUMULATION… OTHER THAN THE NW GA LIGHT BAND…WILL MEET WARNING CRITERIA SO HAVE CONTINUED WARNING AND EXPANDED THIS TO ANOTHER TIER OF COUNTIES INCLUDING ATL METRO AREA.

FINAL NOTE…WE REMAIN CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT WITH ONSET OF PRECIP AROUND RUSH HOUR AND SCHOOL RELEASE.

The governor has now been taken to task by pretty much everyone who knows the definition of the isobar!

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.

“The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus,” he said.

At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday, Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. “Overall, the Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event,” he said. – USAToday

This reminds me of Connecticut’s Halloween snowstorm of 2011. You remember Jeff Butler, the president of CL&P.

“But I will assure you, when we had the weather forecast and everything we looked at in preparation for this storm, the amount of snow, which ended up being the problem, was far more significant than what had been forecast,” he said.”This event as it came in Saturday started earlier and lasted longer, with more snow accumulation–and remember, all the trees still had their foliage on them.” Butler’s comments stood in stark contrast to the dire warnings issued by local television meteorologists and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday, more than 24 hours before the first flakes fell. “If we get the amount of snow that’s being forecast, a lot of people are going to lose power, and power is going to be out for an extended period of time,” Malloy told reporters at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building late Friday morning. – Hartford Courant

I don’t think so. Here’s what I wrote in my blog a few days before that storm hit.

Whatever falls will be heavier inch-for-inch than a typical storm. The snow to water ratio will be low. It’s the kind of snow that’s good for snowballs and extra slippery for drivers!

There’s one more element of this storm which is worrisome. Sustained 20-30 mph northeasterly wind with higher gusts is likely. If this wet snow clings to trees and leaves we’ll have enough wind to bring down limbs and power lines. – My Permanent Record

I wasn’t alone. NBC30′s Ryan Hanrahan’s early take:

“One of the reasons I’m unusually concerned about this storm is that the amount of leaves on the trees make them particularly vulnerable to damage. If the snow is of the heavy and wet variety we could have major and widespread power outages. We’re in uncharted territory here in terms of this type of storm this early in the season.” – Ryan Hanrahan

This same excuse was trotted out after Hurricane Sandy left Long Island powerless! Are we that easy a target?

What happened in Georgia is truly a tragedy. It would have been nice to get a really long lead on this forecast, but sometimes science doesn’t cooperate. However, once the forecast is there you can’t stick your head in the sand and you can’t blame the weatherman.

Well, you can, but we’ll call you on it in a hurry.

2 Responses to “When In Doubt, Blame The Weatherman… Again”

  1. Barb B says:

    I’m with you Geoff–and Al Roker. I too, listened to that Mayor and Governor, and thought–”Are they out of their minds?!” I saw the weather maps and realized that Atlanta and points East and South were going to get hit hard. I have step daughter and grandchildren living in Gainsville, and I am praying they are OK–their homes don’t have central heat like we do.
    As for the 2011 storm here–that too was well predicted. But I believe no one wanted to believe it–it was too early for that amount of snow—well, guess what–It was way too early for the ice storm some years before that. Wet snow or a Heavy Ice coating on trees with leaves still in place–don’t mix. I don’t think we will ever learn. They are just lucky that the baby born enroute to the hospital didn’t freeze or have major problems. I lived in DC for 8 mos (Oct-July) and I used to crack up laughing—with an inch of snow cars would be sliding all over the place–that was many years ago–and it is probably the same now–they don’t stock the amounts of sand and salt that we do now.
    It was good to hear Al Rokers stand up for the report and all of the weather forecasters involved.

  2. 793tango says:

    When I heard Atlanta’s mayor blame the weather reportsers and forecasts for their lame-assed response to the storm I was pissed off big time. There was no excuse for this kind of thing to happen except inattention at the executive level. Why weren’t the governor or the mayor keeping tabs on the National Weather Service broadcasts? Why didn’t they at least pre-treat the roads as a ‘precaution’? A perfectly REASONABLE step to take if you’re not sure of what’s coming. ‘Wait and see’ isn’t the kind of approach to use with dangerous winter weather. Idiots.
    Well we’ll see how this plays out forn their political futures. Snowstorms (and the response to it) have been known to make or break municipal officials politically.

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