Dear people-in-authority caught napping during a storm. Don’t blame meteorologists. We keep records of EVERYTHING related to weather, even our forecasts!
Let’s call it the Hanrahan rule. It was Channel 30’s Ryan Hanrahan who called out CL&P’s Jeff Butler when he tried to blame bad forecasting for his company’s response to Connecticut’s Halloween snowstorm of 2011. Butler later publicly apologized… then was conveniently “disappeared” by his corporate bosses.
The head of LIPA on Long Island did about the same thing after Hurricane Sandy.
Our latest episode comes from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.
“No one had an idea that it was gonna be that much snow that fast. Snow coming down at the rate of about five inches an hour. No one had an idea. The weather service was off. By the way, I said this in my state of the state last year we’re putting in our own weather detection system,” said Cuomo. — WGRZ TV
Bullshit has been called! Here’s part of the Weather Service’s area forecast discussion from the Sunday before the first flakes fell.
LAKE INDUCED INSTABILITY WILL BE EXTREME WITH LAKE INDUCED CAPE PEAKING AT AROUND 1400J/KG AND EQUILIBRIUM LEVELS AROUND 20K FEET. SUCH STRONG INSTABILITY AND WELL ALIGNED FLOW IS STRONGLY SUGGESTING INTENSE SNOWFALL RATES WITH 3-5 INCHES PER HOUR A POSSIBILITY AT TIMES FROM LATE MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT. OUR LAKE EFFECT LIGHTNING NOMOGRAM FROM LOCAL RESEARCH DONE BY RSH ALSO SUGGESTS A GOOD POTENTIAL FOR THUNDER AND LIGHTNING OFF BOTH LAKES. WINDS WILL BE STRONG ESPECIALLY LATE MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING WITH GUSTS IN THE 40-45 MPH RANGE RESULTING IN SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW AND NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AT TIMES IN AND NEAR THE BANDS.
And there’s more!
LAKE EFFECT SHOULD SLOWLY INCREASE IN INTENSITY AND CONSOLIDATE INTO A MORE DEFINED BAND AFTER MIDNIGHT AS MOISTURE AND INSTABILITY INCREASE. EXPECT THE BAND TO INITIALLY BE BROAD FROM THE BUFFALO SOUTHTOWNS INTO THE NORTHERN PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHERN TIER. THE BAND SHOULD THEN FOCUS ON SOUTHERN ERIE/WYOMING COUNTIES AROUND MIDNIGHT…THEN DRIFT NORTH INTO THE BUFFALO
SOUTHTOWNS DURING THE PRE-DAWN HOURS.
Lake Effect snow is well forecast. If the underlying conditions are properly called, LES forecasts are easy thanks to research from mets like Tom Niziol (at The Weather Channel now, but previously at NWS Buffalo).
What Cuomo said doesn’t surprise me. For years I’d get emails and calls complaining about blown forecasts I’d actually gotten right. It comes with the territory.
This whole incident says a lot more about Andrew Cuomo’s take-no-prisoners desire to deflect criticism than it does about our ability to forecast.
Will he take responsibility?