Taking My Work Home With Me

I’ve just taken a look at the late night computer runs. For the past few days there’s been snow in the forecast for Monday night/Tuesday morning. It’s a big deal, because snow on the ground at wakeup time means lots of school cancellations, delays, and other grief.

It would be so nice if this was an easy forecast. Of course it is not.

Here’s the simple truth. No one cares about the difficulty of my job. All they care about is whether I get it right! That’s as it should be.

Earlier today, Gil Simmons, another one of our meteorologists, sent me an email. He was worried because the two models we most depend on were in total disagreement! Even tonight there’s a 10:1 ratio between their predictions of precipitation.

I can’t think of anyone who forecasts the weather who doesn’t take a peek at the data, even on days off.

Luckily I won’t have to address this ‘in public’ until 5:00 PM. By then the computer will have churned a few more times. The storm will be closer. There will be a better chance to see how the models initialized.

I’m sure I’ve written this before, but here’s my secret. I don’t have to bag the numbers exactly. Is there a difference between how you deal with 3″ versus 5″, or 9″ versus 13″? No.

Close is good enough.

The real criteria will be, once the snow is falling will people be prepared. If they feel they got the right warning, I’m off the hook… until the next storm.

I don’t want to be wrong. It is painful to be wrong. After all these years of forecasting, it’s the my greatest work related fear.

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