I’ve been trading texts with Jon Wolfert tonight. He’s from Long Island, but has lived in Texas his entire adult life. We all make mistakes.
I’ll bet you’re busy with Nebraska snow forecast updates. If you were still in Conn., would you be sleeping at the station tonight?
“Conn.” Haven’t seen that in a while. Reminds me of old license plates. I approve.
This winter, Nebraska’s relationship with snow has been interesting. So far 24.4″ at Norfolk, ~9″ above average.
No major storms. It’s all come an inch here, two inches there.
Even the famously ferocious Nebraska wind has retreated to parts unknown. Unusual, for sure.
The sleeping at the station question is equally interesting. I am an expert on the impact of snowstorms. This was my beat for nearly thirty years.
In those decades I stayed at the station only a handful of times. I was comfortable at home in my own bed. I never enjoyed driving in snow–never. I feared for my life only one or two times–certainly during the Halloween snowstorm.
As I drove down the deserted Merritt Parkway (legally closed, but unenforced) I could hear the stately oaks surrounding me cracking and falling. I watched some drop. The highway itself was an obstacle course.
Life or death became random. It freaked me out.
I wrote back to Jon…
First of all, it isn’t 1957. We have modern snow fighting equipment.
Yes, snow screws things up–but minimally compared to when you and I were kids. And, part of the reason is because forecasts are so valuable. As this one is.
There is no practical difference between around 3″ and 8″. They both have exactly the same effect.
The state-of-the-art predicting precipitation type and onset time is pretty good. When was the last time you were surprised by snow?
We suck at QPF, quantitative precipitation forecast. It’s much too random to properly predict today. We’re nowhere close to understanding each individual cloud, which is what’s necessary.
Thankfully, “How much?” is one of the least important parts of the equation.
Snow is never cleared quickly enough, but the days of police and firemen (it was men then) ferrying doctors and nurses to hospitals in the snow is gone. We are moving again in hours, not days. It is not necessary to buy milk and eggs.
In 2016, in most places that receive moderate amounts of snow there is no practical difference between 3″ and 8″. They both cause the same grief and take around the same time to clear.
What I would be doing if I was in Connecticut (and to an extent because I opened my yap here)? I would be nearly insufferable by now, wound tight as a clock. I’d be a good candidate for a shot, a joint or Xanax.
It happens when you’ve done all you know, but you wish you could do more. The correct forecast is always right there in that pile of wrong forecasts. Machines help point you, but with me it’s a person who makes the final decision.