Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Went Wrong, What Went Wrong, What The Heck Went Wrong.


As I said on my facebook page, nobody takes missing a forecast harder than I do.  No snow forecast is going to be absolutely perfect and this one was nowhere close to being right and for that, I'M VERY SORRY.  There are many lessons learned this week which will be used in the future.

So what happened? Where do I begin with that question?  For quite awhile, all the guidance we use to formulate a forecast pointed towards a significant winter weather event for much of our viewing area.  It's hard to ignore when that data says several inches of snow.  The National Weather Service office in North Little Rock issued a winter storm watch too and I completely agreed with that given the information at the time.

If you look at previous blog posts, I talked about the models having troubles resolving each wave of energy coming off the Pacific Ocean.  Would it comes out in separate waves or maybe come together with another piece of energy to combine for a bigger storm?

Models are only as good as the data you put into them.  These small pieces of energy flying over open water can only be sampled using satellites so all the parameters are estimated without true measurements.  This adds uncertainty.  Once these systems move ashore, they can get better sampled using weather balloons launched twice a day at weather service offices around the country.  Theoretically, this is when the forecast should improve.

Let's go back to last Sunday.  The data all of the sudden started to shift  indicating less moisture and changing the timing as well.  The swath of snow with a disturbance we were expecting across west central through central and east central Arkansas looked less and less impressive.  One of the models, NAM, even went so far as to show NOTHING. You might remember my Sunday night broadcast when I said that winter storm watch may get "adjusted" and I mentioned a great deal of uncertainty has entered the forecast after the modeling indicated some agreement in previous runs.   This is a higher resolution short term model (NAM) which has not performed well lately, but it turned out to do a better job with this situation.  That piece of upper level energy was clearly seen Monday night dumping significant amounts of snow across Kansas and Oklahoma and was traveling towards Arkansas.  However, the guidance insisted it would fade and indeed it did.  What's left of that is over northern Arkansas this morning with very light snow flurries.

The models then started to key in on another wave of moisture Tuesday afternoon and night over southern Arkansas and that still has the possibility to bring some icing there, but this will really increase east of the state.  Those two waves of moisture I talked about above will come together and produce a very significant eastern United States winter storm over the next few days.  So if you have travel plans, beware of that.  You're going to see a ton of news reports out of that region.  Atlanta, GA could end up with another big storm!

Once again, I'm very sorry.  That's the nature of weather forecasting.  We have had a very good run so far this winter forecasting the onslaught of cold, snow, and ice.  We got this one storm (or lack of) wrong.  "Onward through the fog" as my mentor always told me.  It's time to get back to work and move on.   Thanks!

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I forgive you. :) The way things kept changing over and over my husband and I were pretty much thinking "Just wait until Tuesday morning and see what is happening then." We reminded our college age son to do his homework anyway. When things started to change so much we planned for the worst but hoped for the best.

Anonymous said...

Todd, people have to remember, it's Arkansas, and our weather is notorious for change. Don't let it hit you that hard, man. You do a great job for everyone who can see your forecasts.

Anonymous said...

Todd, we think you have done a wonderful job forecasting weather for this winter! It did not hurt our feelings that this storm went the wrong way. Keep up the Good Work.........

Anonymous said...

Todd, you don't have to be sorry :) You did the best job a any person could do, with the information you had available. Remember, as you have mentioned on FB and the blog, there is only One who really knows what is going to happen :) Keep up the good work!!

Jeff said...

Todd, NO need to be sorry here, If you went out on a limb and was the only met to call for snow and it turned out to be a bust, then maybe you can feel a little guilt, but everyone missed! Now I want to give my two cents on something Ryan said Sunday night. He mentioned that maybe yall shouldn't post or tweet the models like yall did on this last event to get everyone in a frenzy. Let me just say this, posting the information is what makes the blog. just as you state on every post, its meant to show the possibilities. to me, your twitter and fb account, ninja, Paul and the others are all an extension of the blog. DO NOT take away that information. If I run to the store and buy bread and milk and panic off a model yall posted, that's my fault. you have warmed me many times that it can and will change! again, the more yall can share the better. If you were to create a poll on this, I'm pretty sure the support would be high. As a business owner, you and the other contributors are my go to weather stop and I thank you all a lot for this!

Anonymous said...

You have no reason to be sorry! If people are mad at you I'd like to see them try and do what you do. Thank you so much for this blog, and how much work you put into it. God Bless you!

Anonymous said...

Your blog today was truly heartfelt.
I appreciate your passion for weather. This is why I am a Channel 7 news and weather watcher.

Lynne said...

I am very irritated with the way people are acting about this. You are awesome, your blog is awesome and I love your enthusiasm, especially for winter weather. I always tell my kiddos that winter weather is very hard to predict and these parents that are complaining that their children are devastated are being a tad ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

For anyone to suggest that any of you on the Channel 7 Weather Team weren't forthright in saying that nothing was set in stone they would be lying. You made it clear that things are subject to change. Sure, some people may be disappointed and others may be elated but the truth of the matter is, just as you've been saying lately, only One Person knows exactly what's going to happen and it isn't you or any of the other meteorologists in Arkansas or anywhere else. This blog keeps people informed about the possibilities and the realities of forecasting weather - you shouldn't be apologizing when what happened is exactly what you said could happen. Any emails, tweets, or other messages you've received from angry people directing disgust or anger towards you should be ignored. Period.

Anonymous said...

Todd, we're just as disappointed as you are at the lack of snow and the ensuing warm up. Maybe we'll have another chance or 2 before winter is over?

Anonymous said...

Todd, Your problem is that you are snow blind. You want it so bad that you create a snow storm out of one flake.

Will said...

Don't be so quick to write this event off. Snow / Ice is increasing in Texas this morning.......

Anonymous said...

Sorry, guess I'm not as forgiving. I believe you weather guys sensationalize things to get viewers to tune in all the time. I think more forecasts have been wrong this winter than right as far as the weather here in central Arkansas, so after the huge error that just occurred, I made up my mind to turn the news and forecasts off from now on in our house. There's always a "chance" of something happening, and my predictions are just as valid as yours without all the fancy equipment. For days you guys kept this up, and this time it really came back to bite you. You lost my vote of confidence, but I do appreciate you actually taking the time to apologize for this to people. It shows you do have good character and that is most important.

Anonymous said...

I think all of you are being way to hard on yourselves. I'm very happy that you take pride in your job and want to do it well. Nothing wrong with that, but don't let that pride get in the way of what you do well, and that is be a meteoroligist. You are fantastic at it. You missed one and so did EVERYONE else. You guys are great and have been great for a long time. Keep it up.

Susan Foster said...

It is the nature of the business. You use the information you have. Besides I don't know of anyone who can predict the future very well!! LOL! It happens, some are disappointed but it doesn't last long. Will be enjoying this warmer weather to catch up on walking and outside stuff. Besides, winter lasts through March and we know there is always another chance for snow!!!

Susan
WLR

Anonymous said...

The nature of the business, you use the information you have available. Some are disappointed but they will get over it! I can't think of anyone who can accurately predict the future! For now the warmer weather will give us the chance to catch up of some outside stuff, get out and move around. Besides, this is Arkansas and it is still winter so snow could still come for those who want it.

Doug in HS said...

Great commentary on what happened, thank you for your transparency. Thats what makes your blog great.

Would you care to share your thoughts on the "why"? What do you think made the models change gears so quickly? What were the models seeing Sun AM that suddenly vanished by the afternoon run? (Or what appeared Sun afternoon that wasn't there Sun AM?)

This stuff is intriguing to me, my apologies for "geeking-out".

Ed Buckner said...

Todd, you are very good at what you do, but you don't need to apologize. We are only as good as the data we get. Only God knows. We are all in this together.
Ed Buckner
THV-11

Anonymous said...

Hey Todd, You show a truly good character with you apology and it is appreciated but as others have mentioned, it is not necessary. If the NWS in Little Rock refuses to issue one, why should you? Just a tip for the future as I have learned the hard way over the years, whenever you look at forecast models, look at it from the side of the person who really wants snow/storms/whatever vs. the person that does not. We always tend to look at the worst possible outcome as human nature but that trend can be kicked away using logic. That really balanced out the forecasts for me using weather models and climatologically related data. Don’t be afraid however of pointing things out though for example how the Euro and GFS show a potential for a pretty good outbreak of severe weather next Saturday (22nd) into Sunday (23rd) or at the very least very heavy rain. In the meantime, you fell off the horse, just get back on and ride like the blazes. Good luck and God Bless my friend.

Anonymous said...

You rock. Nobody gets it right all the time. It is easy to sit on the couch and throw rocks at people who are down in the arena trying.

Keep up the good work!

I do wonder why people who have stopped paying attention to forecasts because there's always a chance of something or because it's sensationalized can be found on a weather blog discussing weather.

Anonymous said...

Todd, You’re an Arkansan first of all. I know your first TV meteorology job was in Missoula, Montana where it snowed 111 inches. My boy, go back to your Arkansas roots and remember that Arkansas doesn’t get a heck of a lot of snow compared to our friends to the north. Also, please do not let Joe Bastardi lead you down the path of not following your instincts. Even if he says something and you happen to agree with it, check the model data and go with it, don’t try to follow “the rebel” or “the cool kid in class”. Remember it’s Dr. Maui that’s keeping the model data going, not Bastardi. Bastardi cares about Pennsylvania first, then the northeast, then his energy clients, then the rest of the USA. Don’t jump on the bandwagon with the people like Dr. Jeff Masters either who go all the way with Global Warming. Just ignore the pressure from the big heads on both sides of the Climate Change argument and go with what you feel is right with the models for Arkansas. There’s 3million people in a state that few care about that are counting on you. Keep your head up and remember “A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”

NOAA Winter Guidance