Monday, December 20, 2004

SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

This is a test post to see if I can email posts from school to the website. If so, I can do a better job of updating if we have a rapidly evolving situation.

A few comments about the big disappointment felt across central Maryland this morning...

- Don't underestimate Mother Nature (hint to salting crews)

- Never tell motorists that ice should not form when you know an Arctic front is coming (hint to NWS)

- The more that forecasters downplay a situation, the more likely you'll be surprised by it (hint to public)

- Be prepared for more "character building" incidents this winter as it is now clear districts will not close or delay under the "cold little kiddie" clause. Unless of course parents make their voice heard to their district. My family would hear nothing of this 'too cold waaa.' business. They'd say, "I walked up hill both ways to school in 2 feet of snow while chopping wood by candlelight at the same time." (hint to students and teachers)

In hindsight, would I have changed the forecast? Did I feel foolish as a result?

The answer is: NO and NO. I think the meteorology was there and appropriate for what I predicted. Areas of central Maryland did receive 2 or more inches, but was confined to Anne Arundel County. We did not see as much of the Bay enhanced snow as I expected, mainly due to the Arctic front moving faster than expected.

And I do not use other's misfortunate at their expense, but I am saddened by the many accidents that could have been avoided if the Weather Service had taken the icing potential more seriously. That potential was outlined in this website well before NWS decided to down-play the ice formation theory.

The big loser was of course the snow. The low did form, it did move as expected, and there was more moisture back over MD, especially eastern shore, but those areas had rain longer, which turned into much more ice than central MD received once the front moved through. Thus the reason why schools in lower Eastern shore were closed, which is unusual, and the big city districts were open. This shows a eastward bias in the computer models of perhaps 50-75 miles, and I will use that to your advantage next time we have a storm.

So now the 800-pound gorilla in the room is.... WHITE CHRISTMAS OR NOT?

I know there's probably a few more skeptics out there now, and rightly so. But I have to do my job as a forecaster and forge ahead. I am pleased to report that students did not grumble at me as much this time. Maybe they accepted that we were all equally confused as to why this situation was not "severe" enough to warrant a delay. But you're ready to put this behind you, and set your sights on the reward coming at the end of the week.

So there are three choices...
1. I tell you what the computer models are saying about Xmas Eve and Day.
2. I downplay the whole thing because you are recently stung by this event
3. I just go out on a limb again and stubbornly hold to my ideas...with scientific evidence to support.

I will take my wife out to dinner and ponder on these things, and then get back to you this evening on my decision and forecast for Christmas Weekend.

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