I’m Not Currently Speaking With Mother Nature

It didn’t snow today. Oh, it will later – but that’s too little too late.

Yesterday, in the face of reality wildly deviating from my previous forecast, I was forced to change snow to rain. Sure they’re both storms, but this is like going from the Enquirer to the Times.

On the air I stepped up and admitted the radical shift. I’m not sure I’ve ever hidden from that kind of mea culpa, but I can understand why some forecasters do it. I think viewers are more likely to forgive if I take responsibility… just as long as I don’t do it too often.

In the past, I’ve read technical forecast discussions where consistency is talked about… as in leaving a wrong forecast up for one more cycle because the new data isn’t consistent with the old data. That I don’t understand.

In thinking about what transpired, as I write this entry, I realize my own expectations for accuracy have changed. This forecast change was made long before the onset of the precipitation. It was Wednesday and the snowiest and stormiest weather was never expected before Thursday. Five or ten years ago, that correction would have been a coup.

I can’t quantify it exactly, but I think what I used to expect in 1-day accuracy is now what I expect two days out.

Where have I gone wrong? I kid around when I make speeches to organizations. “We know the laws of physics. They are inviolate. So I’ll never make a mistake.” Cue the laughter.

What upsets me is how far off the temperatures were above the ground, especially in the two to thousand foot level. That was really what changed this from a snow to rain event. The rain snow line was way north – into central New England, not along the Connecticut shoreline.

Yesterday, a few friends and co-workers consoled me. “Everyone” had gotten it wrong – not just me. As far as that goes, it was nice of them to say. It is, however, no consolation at all. I want to be (and I’m sure I’m not alone) better than the others, with more insight into the future. Getting it right or wrong is an individual thing, not a group effort.

Anyway, the good thing about forecasting is, I get to go back and try again today.

At some point I will look back, or read some scholarly retrospective on this or a similar storm, and have a “Eureka&#185” moment where it will all make sense. Right now, it does not.

&#185 – I have used the phrase “Eureka moment” before, and realize not everyone knows where it comes from or why it’s fitting. “Eureka” was the word supposedly exclaimed by Archimedes when he discovered how to measure the volume of an irregular solid and, in doing so, determine the purity of a gold object. It was a scientific breakthrough that opened the door for more in the future.

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