Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Your Thoughts Please 

SEEKING PUBLIC INPUT TO EVALUATE FORECAST AND 
MODEL METHODOLOGY FOR THE JANUARY 26-27 WINTER STORM,

A screen capture of the publicly available  Surface Map Projection for 7 AM Monday morning
which is prepared at NOAA by a blend of forecast data and adjustment by Meteorologists. 
The dark blue areas projected "Snow Likely" for a large portion of the Mid-Atlantic. 
So what went wrong?

12:57 PM EST 1/27 - REQUEST FOR INPUT & EVALUATIVE COMMENTS ON STORM 

Please read the following statement from a media outlet, and then guess what year it was written. Then click on the link at end to find out. 
"Friday and Saturday A model designed to forecast coastal weather predicts that a storm from the Great Lakes will merge with the Atlantic low-pressure system off the coasts of Delaware and New Jersey. The model projects the storm will stall and dump as much as 28 inches of snow on New York City. Forecasters, including the National Weather Service, AccuWeather and local TV and radio meteorologists, warn of a blizzard in the city."





This open discussion is designed for readers to provide constructive, thoughtful and respectful input on the unfortunate and disappointing outcome of the latest winter storm. Despite delivering some snow to the DC & Baltimore regions, left the Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas wondering what happened to all the snow that was forecasted. Our team has made forecasting mistakes before, and admitted to them, so we understand the difficult position this outcome places our colleagues in at the National Weather Service and other organizations. 

This opportunity to evaluate the situation is not inviting everyone to a  "sack the quarterback pile on" or to "ready the firing squad" while the storm is still raging. Those who are unable to present their concerns in a civil manner will be removed from the comment board without any warning. You are completely welcome to disagree with the forecast and the forecasters, as long as you remember they are people like you, and there is no one on this planet who is perfect, myself included. 

We and other outlets will most certainly take your statements into consideration for future storm procedures, as lessons learned, and apply as soon as we can. It appears the first chance to do so comes this weekend.  With your help, the weather forecasting industry, public and private, will learn from this experience and ultimately improve the quality of service delivery to you, the readers.


Mr. Foot, CEO & Founder  
on behalf of the U.S. Team of Foot's Forecast LLC

39 comments:

ravensbbr said...

Everyone whiffs. All there is to it. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Cobb, Murray, everyone whiffs. Enough said. Swing and a miss. Next storm up, move on.

The most disturbing part of this, to me, was the "travel bans" so cavalierly issued and obeyed without question by the NE sheep.

Jason S said...

Juno really made all of here in Maryland have sweaty palms! With the forecasters slowly making snow fall adjustments as the storm began its salute off the coast in its predicted strengthening move, we here in the Mid-Atlantic realized it had moved slightly farther out to sea. With the move we realized it should be decrease Baltimore Metros snowfalls significantly, which it did. Also with the colder air being dragged into the system as is scooted off and headed to the north- I believe the some of the moisture in the Baltimore metro area aloft was evaporating before hitting the altitude near the surface. With this said, we dodged one more... leaving us time for the "one" that shall leave snow on the ground for days after the storm! Happy trails!

genser95 said...

1. You guys make it fun and give people an education, so no reason to stop doing it the way you're doing it.

2. Being the media capital of the world, the New York City area thinks it's the center of the universe. So even though a powerful blizzard formed (as predicted) and people got upwards of three feet (as predicted), it's a "bust" because it missed by a few miles? Very myopic.

3. Here in Maryland, it feels like people's expectations of snowstorms have risen to ridiculousness ever since our unusual 3-blizzard winter (2 in one week!) of 2009-10. We seem to expect that as the usual, which is insane! Folks found your website and others during that time, and now they can't get enough of it.

Butch Dynomite said...

I agree with everyone else. You have a responsibility to warn people of potential danger even if it is just a strong possibility. I read once that most of the general public does not really understand probability enough to look beyound a snowfall total map or a happy sun icon on a weekly calendar. I'm prety much in that group. It is one of the things I like the most about this nature is that it's complexity allows for so much study without resolve.Who would really expect(or wish) to know excactly what tomorrow will bring.

L. Cranston said...

Folks... The Earth's atmosphere is a VERY dynamic system and conditions change all the time. The models sometimes do not pick up on the shifts and trends that good forecasters can pick up. The "clipper" did not mature and shift its energy as predicted so everyone should have shifted. This is a good science lesson for the citizens. T. Nixon

Butch Dynomite said...

also - Saturday is the last good day this month to get your haircut-Farmers Alminac

What?!?! said...

The storm was unpredictable and read as it progressed in real time. What's the big deal? People are getting bent out of shape because you guys aren't psychic wizards?

Mike Cheuvront said...

When the NAM and EURO both say 18-24" and an area gets 1/3 of that amount, what are you supposed to do? When the NWS says the clipper is coming in on alot more southern route based on modeling and it comes in more northerly, what are you supposed to do? The models saw something big but did not handle it well AGAIN. I love Foot's! Indeed you make it fun and the people on this blog are nice to talk with about something incommon we love. You were wise this time to hang loose on amounts. As I told ANDY in another blog, it all looked real suspicious to me for Maryland. One of the big boyz posted a 6-12" map for central and northern Maryland on Face Book. Oh how I wish. Keep up the great work and service! Thank you so much Mr. Foot!

Jeremy Smith said...

Every single post you guys made indicated a boom-or-bust scenario, with lots of uncertainty explicitly written, so I don't think there was anything wrong at all with the way you presented it. If it was a boom, then people would be grateful for the warning. If a bust, then no real loss.

People forget, in this high-tech era, that weather forecasting is inherently uncertain, down to its roots, and can never be 100% accurate.

notsofreestate said...

Weather happens.

How did the human race ever survive without internet and weather forecasting? SERIOUSLY people, try to have some fun here!

I love the discussions...and the educated opinions about weather potential that are presented here. The weather has a life of its own: that is what keeps us excited and interested in trying to understand and predict what may happen...and just when we think we do...we get our comeuppance. :D



BioPat said...

I enjoyed reading everyone's posts. The Earth is a dynamic system, to try and predict each weather event with exactness is simply improbable. However, to look at all the options and let people know to prepare for the worst case scenario is simply being proactive, responsible and possibly life saving. I enjoy reading all the blogs as well as the ideas that eventually will come together into a forecast that we can buy into.
Thanks for providing the vehicle to allow people to have fun examining science in a way they may have never done in the past.

Morpheus said...

This site was the first that I read that indicated that there was a real upside potential to the clipper. As it got close you posted your boom or bust post indicating the uncertainty despite the models aligning on a significant snow for the area. No snow amount map was posted - indicating to me even more uncertainty.

I have family on long Island and in land of Boston. The first received 18 inches and the second is over 2 foot and counting. This was a big winter event...just not for us and I think this site did a good job of interpreting the situation.

...On other related news the UPS truck just dropped off the plow for my ATV...bring on the snow I want to have some fun pushing some white stuff around...

Keep up the good work Foots Team and fellow blog followers!

Richard Hershberger said...

What I look for here is more than just the straight-up forecast, but also the explanation of what goes into it and how it can go wrong. You guys do a very good job. I knew from your explanations going in that this was a storm that is hard to forecast, and why. This makes you credible when you are more definite. This puts you far ahead of the outfits that think their audience is too dense for all that wonky stuff, or that uncertainty is a sign of weakness. You guys still have my attention.

Wisconsin Native said...

To reiterate what others have said, Foot's Forecast has done a fantastic job of covering the whole event boom or bust. I've noticed there are a lot more variables to weather forecasting here compared to Wisconsin. There you could pretty much assume if it was directly to your west you'd get hit by it. Here there's clippers and coastals. You can't forget gulf moisture or mountains just to the west. As such, I don't even think the NWS should have apologized. To quote everyone's favorite quarterback Tom Brady, "It's not like we're talking about ISIS." Now I just hope the NWS's feelings aren't hurt like his were.

Anonymous said...

Foot's Forecast does a great job with their forecasting and making it fun for folks to get involved. No need for any apologies. One item I do want to bring up that I believe is hindering all meteorological teams is the fact hat several satellites for national weather organizations are not in play this year. NOAA had said last summer we wouldn't notice these satellites being gone but I would bet the reason why no models are handling any storm well until right before it hits is the loss of these variables. Just a hunch. Anyhow, thanks for the work you do Foot Team.

Josh O said...

Don't throw snowballs at the Messengers. You'll get them next time. You presented the information as fair as you could. Every other forecaster missed too but better safe than sorry.

phatkrome said...

No issues at all with the forecast but if I had one comment, it would be that I really like when you post the multi-scenario graphics. It just gives a better sense of possible outcomes and likelihood of each playing out - and why they may play out that way. Keep up the fine work!

Foot's Forecast said...

These comments are superb! Hi everyone, I am the Executive Director of Foot's Forecast. I have heard comments about forecasters getting paid big bucks to be wrong half the time. Well, please let me throw this out there: If a baseball player succeeds in getting on base safely 3 out of 10 times(only 30% of the time), he is classified as "All-Star" material. And he is only concerned with the physics and dynamics of the pitch and his swing. Forecasters must consider and analyze thousands of inter-related variables including, but not limited to: thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, historical data, large and small scale topographic anomalies, atmospheric variations, etc. Then, as if that wasn't enough, they need decipher it and present it in an uncomplicated and easy to understand format. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I just thought you should know!

Adam Herb said...

So many comments here that are spot-on. It's weather, which nobody can get 100% right, and you presented all the facts you had gathered. I am glad so many seem to understand that. We read and people discuss for the fun and see who is right. It's a bit like gambling as a hobby... some people can be more successful than others because they put themselves in a better position to succeed with the right research and practice. But you still can't win them all, through no fault of your own. Foot's Team, you're great, keep it up!!

Flame said...

Excellent coverage, but only one comment here.

When a post had dynamite in the title, it confused me what is really going on, and gave me a wrong initial impression of what is really going on. I thought it would be massive, and took some re-readings before i could fully appreciate the uncertainty of the situation.

Just saying to choose the song title a bit more carefully!

Julee said...

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
That's because we CAN'T! Weather does WHAT it wants WHEN it wants.

We can only talk ... which turns out to be the fun part.

Thanks to Mr. Foot and associates ... and to all of the nice people who visit here.

CB said...

The Foot's Team job well done. I have followed you since the big storms of 2010 and will contine. Our world is not perfect. Thank you for what you do.

wvm said...

Thank you for always giving The predictions with the information to back them up. It does a Weather lovers heart good to have somewhere to rely on up to date information that always teaches me something. Keep up the great work. I have been an avid reader and fan for more than 10 years !!!!
Wvmommyof5

Westsidehideaway said...

I would only say that I wish the updates on the site were a little more frequent. I also would suggest that giving things to look for like ground temp, sun angle and other stuff really help us amatures play a role in figuring outcomes ourselves. It's great when you give is these tips.

Harry Gormley said...

In our crazy world today there is just to much data, which I think is part of the problem. Look what a baseball player gets paid with a 300 hitting average. Thats about 30% contact 70% back to the dugout.I just wish you would report on a more regular time basis. No COMPLAINTS!!!

Kathi said...

I've been following Foot's since 2010 and I have learned so much about weather that I would never have known if I had not found you guys! I enjoy the camaraderie of the regulars that post here and I look forward to coming here everyday. Mother Nature is going to do whatever she wants and no amount of predicting is going to change that! It's just fun to follow along and learn something new! You guys do a great job!

Dollar Flipper said...

I think you guys do a fantastic job. The general public doesn't understand probabilities! Its hard for them to figure out what a distribution of scenarios means in real time especially when your data is moving and shifting. You guys give is the why behind the tough decisions and point towards the important factors that can change our current situation. Please keep up the great work!

Malfunkshun said...

You are the first place to look when it comes to weather in Maryland. You have a great balanced approach, offer legitimate reasons for your forecast. Unlike the MSM weather Guru's, you don't hype it - in fact I wish the others would offer various potential forecast options (Scenario's) like your site does. Nice job all the way around - with humor and teachable moments. Thanks for being a great alternative source for weather.

Bobbie Heil said...

It's pretty bad when you get an email from CVS telling you that a big storm is coming and you better come in a buy all your emergency supplies! They need to consult with Foot's Forecast before they do that again.

Bobbie
A fan in Lancaster, PA

DeadPrez said...

At the end of the day, Andy is what keeps many of us coming back. Sure the articles on this site (and especially the images) are intriguing but it's Andy's thorough "guts and gore" analysis of the weather that keeps me coming back. Nine times out of ten I shoot straight to the comments.

Don't worry about your titles or your content, its better than most out there. Just keep providing Andy a forum to inform and educate the rest of us.

Thanks!

Robert Abe said...

The question of moisture was never up in the air on this. We could see plenty of it on the radar and indeed we got a lot of moisture...as rain.

The biggest failing I see is in all of this was that temperatures were much too high going into it. Whenever the Baltimore area is near (but above) freezing temps the forecasters should always lean towards the very conservative side of any accumulations..if any. But for whatever reason, all of the major sites kept showing the same information, regardless of actual temperatures.

Had the Baltimore area been 10 degrees (or maybe even 5?) less than it was for all of the precipitation, we would have very likely gotten what was forecast.

So my take on all of this is, pay MUCH more attention to actual temperatures people are reporting on the ground and using actual reports by people on the ground in various spots to give a better take on it as it happens. Don't wait until it's over to call it a bust.

Let's crowd source the information of temperatures and accumulations of storms like that as they go along and then we'll be more accurate. That clipper LOOKED like it was producing a lot of snow based on the BLUE on the radar, but I bet it wasn't dropping much snow as it went along and that should have been part of what we were all considering.

zortapa said...

While the GFS and RPM pretty much nailed this storm, the NAM and EURO didn't get it quite right. When there continues to be variation among the models, I don't see the justification for "definitively" choosing one over another as a basis for a "final" snowfall prediction. When the uncertainty remains, perhaps you could report two possible snowfall prediction maps to demonstrate the uncertainty. And only when the two prediction maps are consistent you could report a single prediction. This approach would help to prepare all viewers for both the "boom" and the "bust" scenarios.

Sinbad said...

I feel that the forecasts presented here included reasonable indication of uncertainty and explained a set of possible outcomes. The information was there for anyone willing to read and acknowledge the entire text. I can't speak about the methods you use to make forecasts; it's not my area and it doesn't need to be.

I think if anyone is feeling unhappy that they didn't get a return on their investment of preparing for bad weather, it might help to consider these phrases which also help me get by: "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best" and "It's hard to prepare for an emergency when the emergency is already happening."

Thanks to everyone at Foot's Forecast. Your continued reliability and pleasant demeanor make you a favourite of all who know your work.

Anonymous said...

Sinbad....for the powderhounds out there, the "worst" is sometimes the "best" scenario. That's the reason we get on here. : )

As a born and raised Dundalkian....We get knocked down sometimes, but we always get up! Mr. Foot, your support from us is unwavering.....Time to discuss the next storm, please.

Sinbad said...

Hi PG. Make no mistake; I was absolutely crushed by the amount of snow I didn't get.

Mike Cheuvront said...

ENOUGH CHIT CHAT, BUCKLE UP NANCY'S AND LETS MOVE ON. LOL!

ravensbbr said...

I commend Foot's for not only being willing to hear critcism, but asking for it in a constructive manner. That shows character and integrity...two things those mainstream weather pukes don't have.

:-)

Foot's Forecast said...

THANK YOU ALL for such insightful, heartfelt and intelligent responses to the question posted. We really do appreciate the input, and try to get on the commment community here when we can. Weather, life, family and customer needs can change the schedule as you all know too well.

We have taken note of the concern about our occasional headline choices that may not convey the message we intended. Long time readers know to expect a vibrant mosaic of culture in the headline. This is called "fusion forecasting" and is part of our brand technique to emphasize a point about the current or future weather pattern. Fr those who are new to this site, it is an approach we have used since the very beginning 11 years ago. These culturally-focused headlines have ranged from Confucius to Mozart to Maya Angelou to James Franco. Our music has ranged from Tina Turner and Carly Simon to One Direction to the recent (but less-well received) Taio Cruz.

We realize that selecting a lyric, quote, book title or other artistic creation which may not be among the more well-known or favorite choices of readers can be controversial at times. The purpose is definitely not to instigate angst among the comment community, other than to headline a point about what's coming.

A classic example of this approach was a post around February 3, 2010 prior to the first great Mid-Atlantic blizzard of 2010-- when we said, "This Time I Know It's For Real" by Donna Summer. The intent was to convey high confidence in the forecast that we knew would in of itself be controversial at 48-72 hours out. How about a trip down weather memory lane? Here's the link:
http://www.footsforecast.org/2010/02/this-time-i-know-its-for-real.html

We do recognize that the headline and it's dual meanings should not result in distracting or confounding the reader's desire to digest and evaluate the message content outside the headline.

In the future, starting with the next event... if we have reservations about a proposed headline, we will sure to reach out and ask for input or alternatives! If you are thinking ahead to a song title, lyric, book quote, movie line or any type of artistic creation suitable for a weather context-- send us your ideas to winter@footsforecast.org

That said, it is time to BUCKLE up.
THE month of winter is now arriving.
(We will also repost this message in the next post for those who may miss it.)

-Mr. Foot and the FF Leadership Team

Gwen Cicone said...

Love you guys! I rarely look anywhere else besides the NWS link on your site for my winter weather forecasting fix. Keep the fusion and fun and information flowing!