Back in Buffalo, my friend Jeff Lapides told me about working in a men’s store when he was younger. He was taught to bring out fewer, not more suits. Too many confuses the customer. Too many makes it tougher to close the sale.
I often think about that story when I look at weather data for upcoming storms. There is too much data for one person to choose! Not only do we have computer models, we have models that remodel the modeled data!
Don’t get me wrong. I used to get weather data on a 300 baud dial-up connection. I’m not looking to return.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
The graph shows 12 different solutions to Monday/Tuesday’s storm. They range from 6 to 14 inches. Thanks.
Those are just today’s runs. If previous days were added it would look a lot worse! The center of the path has shifted south and now north. Bad data in the wrong place (or good data in an unseen place) can send the models in the wrong direction.
Up to now our data was limited. The center of this storm is still out in the Pacific where weather observations are sparse. It won’t make landfall until tomorrow.
In spite of my complaining, what we have in 2016 is light years ahead of what I worked with in ’82. The models are much more insightful, not offering a perfect solution but giving good useful, actionable information days out. Nebraskan’s have known (and planned for) this storm for nearly a week. That’s a lot of power we didn’t have in the past.
When was the last time you were surprised by a storm? That speaks to our progress better than anything else.
At some point a human has to take over and make a diagnosis (our models are referred to as diagnostic tools). I pick and choose based on my experience in analogous situations. When the models showed this in the past, what really happened?
This is my Saturday afternoon call. A little more for Northeast Nebraska, a little less in the south, especially south of I-80. The track will doubtless shift a little again. I’m confident it will snow and snow enough to have an impact. Exactly how much is another story.