As we kick off a work week that will feature some record high temperatures by mid week… let’s take a look back at our sneaky snow storm from Saturday night…
After a lot of computer guidance chaos, that caused us some pretty big headaches early on Friday… things settled back to what we originally expected, and our finalized forecast from Saturday morning captured the storm’s potential properly.
The northern Hudson Valley got the short end of the snow stick… only seeing 1 to 2… maybe 3 inches of snow. Areas north of Kingston, and NW Ulster county… on up into Columbia and Greene counties. Moving south, we saw a widespread 3 to 6 inch snowfall across the bulk of the Hudson Valley… with a lot of 3 and 4 inch totals north of I-84. As you moved further south… the biggest winners were Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties… where a lot of 6 and 7 inch totals were reported.
The radar images from the storm painted the picture pretty well, as we saw the heaviest snow bands consistently in the lower Hudson Valley… (zones 8 and 9). There was a secondary snow band that hit the NW portions of the Hudson Valley, and that was responsible for causing the 3 to 5 inch totals across Sullivan and Delaware counties.
Computer Model Chaos
All in all, the storm behaved in line with the forecast. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. When we first began to zero in on this storm Wednesday and Thursday, we had it pegged as a widespread 3 to 6 inch event. We were so confident in fact, that we began discussing it Wednesday, before anyone else. This caused some feedback on social media, asking why we were calling this a likely event, when nobody else was talking about it. The storm had the look of a fairly stable forecast, where we didn’t see a lot of margin for error, and felt comfortable discussing it early as a 3 to 6 inch event. The 1st bouts of data supported that idea rather well…
This was what the Thursday night computer models were suggesting. The models tend to be a big aggressive with snowfall projections, but seeing this really helped us reinforce our 3 to 6 inch snowfall ideas. Then Friday morning, everything changed…
As we were getting ready to put out our “Preliminary Snowfall Forecast”, almost all of the computer guidance turned on us. There was a dramatic shift to push this storm further to our south, keeping the real accumulating snowfall to our south. The amount of time between the first snowfall map (showing widespread 6 inch snow) and the 2nd map (showing 1 to 2 inches tops)… was 12 hours, or two cycles of the computer model.
This left us with a big predicament… did we completely alter our ideas, or hold fast in the face of changing data. We settled on a compromise, of widespread 2 to 4 inch totals… which was actually an aggressive forecast in the face of data that was suddenly saying we would see an inch or two across the southern half of the valley, and maybe a dusting further north.
As Friday continued, and we moved into early Saturday… just as quickly as the guidance had shifted from 6 inches to 2 inches… the computer guidance went right back to the original idea. The storm began to look like it would be further north, and that the Hudson Valley would see a decent snow of 3 to 6 inches in general… with the ‘jackpot zone’ setting up in the lower Hudson Valley. So we were able to get the “final snowfall forecast” to reflect the proper data, and have everyone ready for a light to moderate snow event across the HV.
We just wanted to show you a little bit behind the curtain… of what goes into forecasting snowfall amounts during a snow storm forecast. You can’t react to every piece of data, you need to be measured and plant your flag in the ground somewhere. Otherwise you run the risk of just rapidly altering your forecast up, then down, then back up… and everyone is bouncing around like ping pong balls.
Thanks for all your support… and thanks for reading our recap! Have a great day!