Martinsville Weather - Winter Storm Forecast Review for Thu 02/12/04
This was just a bad forecast all the way around. Let's get right to the details:
Long Range Forecast: This part of my forecast was bad. I only started predicting snow 4 days out (on Monday) and was forecasting sunny with a 0-10% chance of precip earlier than that. But in my defense, no one saw this storm coming very far in advance. All of the computer models kept the system to our south until just a few days ago.
Short Range Timing Forecast: This was one of the better parts of my forecast. I predicted precip to last from roughly 4 to 11 AM, and it actually lasted from about 6 to 11 AM. The precip actually arrived around 2 or 3 AM, but evaporated before reaching the ground for the first few hours because the air was extremely dry.
Precipitation Type Forecast: This particular storm wasn't very difficult to predict with regard to precip type. Surface temperatures stayed at or above freezing in most locations throughout the event, which means that sleet and freezing rain are very unlikely. I did not forecast the precip to start as rain like it did, but it quickly changed over to snow when the precip became heavier as I expected. Overall this part of my forecast was pretty good.
Temperature Forecast: My temperature forecast was decent. I forecasted a low of 28 but it only got down to 34. I expected that the temperature would drop as the heavier snow moved in. That did happen, but it only fell from 36 to 34.
Accumulation Forecast: Now I will explain what happened and why everyone's accumulation forecasts (especially mine) were way too high. There were several things working against us this morning that caused the lower accumulations. First, as I mentioned in the previous section, the temperature never made it below 34°. While it can snow above freezing (some places have even seen snow in the 50s on rare occasions), snow just doesn't stick very well at those temperatures unless it is very heavy. The snow was rather heavy for a while this morning, but it just didn't stick very well. If all the snow had stuck, we probably would have ended up with 3 or 4 inches (I predicted 3-6"), but it didn't. Another factor that caused the lower snowfall totals was the fact that a lot of convection (heavy rain and thunderstorms) developed along the Gulf Coast this morning. The heavier precip down there caused lighter precip in this area, so the snow wasn't as heavy as it was predicted to be anyway. A third factor is that the precip dissipated quicker than was forecast over Tennessee and therefore ended earlier here (even though it didn't completely end until about midday, the heavier snow was over earlier than it was supposed to be). So as I have explained, a combination of things went wrong Thursday morning which caused the lower than expected snowfall totals.
Conclusion: I give myself an C+ for this forecast. I did rather poorly in each of the above categories. I did have a small victory for myself however. I spent a while contemplating my original snowfall forecast for Thursday, trying to decide between 3-6" and 4-8". I almost decided to predict 4-8", but since I usually predict snowfall totals that end up being too high, I decided to go with 3-6" instead. Even though that was still too high, I sure am glad that I decided on the lower of the two forecasts. So, that is the small victory for myself that I see in this storm that will hopefully benefit me when making future winter storm forecasts.
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