I Would Like To Speak To You About Snow


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.

Artisinal forecasts.

9 thoughts on “I Would Like To Speak To You About Snow”

  1. I could see you right now, with your sleeves rolled up , being very clear…that nothing is written in stone. You were and still are never an alarmist, but one that does his best to take the data and give us the most accurate information possible. ….and we here in Conn…..miss that !!!

  2. Ditto Doris Carlson!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And hope everyone that has you now
    appreciates you(surely Connecticut’s
    loss big time)!!!!!!!!

  3. Ditto what Doris Carlson said!!!!
    And hope Connecticut’s loss is
    appreciated by those fortunate
    to have you and your expartise

  4. I agree, can’t stand Gil Simmons! He goes nuts every Winter. Hey, the fact he’s threw up a Winter 2016 prediction in July should say something!! Really hoping that this thing shifts further South, don’t want it!

  5. Isn’t John Wolfort the owner of JAMS,the Dassas-based jingle company? I thought that he did a custom jingle for you years ago.

  6. Agree about Gil Simmons (add Justin to the list)…they hype and wishcast the snow for 3 months no-stop! That hate these kinds of winters in the Tri-State area with no snow.

    We are only supposed to get like 3 to 5 inches here in southern CT…our first snow of the whole season. It will be almost 50 F by Tuesday, so it won’t last long. Gil will be soooo mad.

  7. As an older adult(try 80), I used to pray you home on those nights you were on late or wonder what was going through Helaine’s mind, not knowing if you were on the road or bunked in for the night. I say–as an older adult because, in my middle and younger years I was a nurse–home care in the end, but formerly worked at YNHH. If you managed to get in for the 3-11PM shift–over what New Haven called it’s ‘plowed roads–one always prepared to be working a double shift +, as even those close enough to walk, “couldn’t!” And if you worked for the state, you were on mandatory! Now, they pretreat the roads 2 days before and begin plowing with the first flakes still in the air. The forecasts for amounts are all over the place. Supposedly it should be starting in the state about now—someplace!
    I’m glad Geoff, that you remembered us in your forecasting–miss you a bunch.

  8. Snowmageddon is in full force here on the CT Shoreline. The event began about 8:00-8:30am this morning with the first flakes beginning to fall…and it’s been snowing at a good clip ever since. It is now 7:50pm and the TV weather folks are just beginning to talk about the event winding down around midnight. At the moment I have a measurable 10″ of the powder like fluff sitting on my deck. Thank goodness it’s such a dry snow. Most local forecasts regarding accumulation were “spot on”. They definitely got this one right! Kudos to all.

  9. I think the snow was a bust in CT, maybe not in VA or NJ….but here in Old Saybrook after all the hype we got 7 inches of snow (they were hyping 12 to 18 inches !!)….we had little or no wind (gusts to 23 mph on my wind meter)….and the temp was barley below 30 F. The hyped it to no end, it was a typical mid/late winter snow for the Tri-State area.

    I think they hyped it because it was the “only” snow all winter in the CT/NYC area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *