What happened?

The 24 hour snowfall forecast busted for our area. Here's why.

Posted: Mar 7, 2018 6:07 PM
Updated: Mar 8, 2018 3:46 PM

***Commenting has been temporarily disabled due to inappropriate language***

We know it, we own it. This particular forecast was one of the biggest busts in recent memory for our region. Our forecast of 6-12" in our region ended up producing only a few inches of snow (hardly any in the lower elevations). 3-6" of snow fell in areas we thought could get over a foot.

We aren't the only ones who got this wrong. The forecast for the big cities was a big bust. NYC was expecting a cold rain - that ended up being a heavy, wet snow accumulation. Boston is likely going to see the same thing play out tonight.

So what happened? The computer models botched it with storm development.  Small errors in predicting the storm development lead to large errors in the track and intensity.   This is called the chaos theory, and it's a limitation to weather forecasts.  Chaos theory usually limits our ability 3 or more days in advance, but this forecast was an exception.

The storm was not as strong as expected and the track was much farther to the east. The most impactful errors took place prior to the storm developing last night. Once the storm began to develop we knew we were in trouble, and were able to throttle back the forecast. Too little to late for some schools and organization that made a decision the night before the storm.

Where do we go from here?  On the science end, this will likely become a case study event.  The research community will take a closer look at this one and see if any tweaks can be made to the computer models to prevent something like this from happening.  Our advice to you is to keep checking the forecast - the forecast can always change.  Some events are well handled, some are not.  The information this morning was far more helpful than last night - and that is at least one thing that was handled well.

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