Martinsville Weather - Winter Storm Forecast Review for Thu 2/3/05
Long Range Forecast: My long range forecast for this winter storm was not all that great. I (along with everyone else) initially predicted that it would hit on Monday. Then all of the computer models took the storm away altogether, so I removed it from my forecast. Then 4 days in advance, they started showing the storm hitting this area on Thursday. So, I really only predicted the winter storm 4 days in advance, which is pretty good, but not quite as good as I would like.
Short Range Timing Forecast: My short range timing forecast was pretty good, but a few hours off. I didn't think the precipitation would begin until about 7 AM, while it actually began around 3 or 4 AM. My forecast for the ending time of the precip changed several times. My final forecast of the precip ending between 10 and 11 AM was a few hours off, as the upper-level low (a low-pressure system in the upper levels of the atmosphere that is usually a few hundred miles behind the surface low-pressure system) kept the snow going for a few more hours. You may remember something similar happening in January 2002. The main storm system moved out of the area early in the morning, but the upper-level low kept snow falling throughout the rest of the day, and as a result we picked up 2 additional inches. Today's situation was similar, although it didn't last quite that long, and that is why the snow ended later than I thought it would.
Precipitation Type Forecast: My precipitation type forecast was pretty good. I didn't expect freezing rain, which some places received a little bit of in the early morning hours, but the majority of the precip fell as snow and sleet as I predicted. Also, it changed from a mix to snow as I predicted and many other people were forecasting the opposite (snow to a mix or snow to rain), so I'm very pleased with how that part of my forecast turned out.
Temperature Forecast: My temperature forecast was pretty good. The odd thing is, the temperature never actually got below freezing today. It briefly hit 32 early this morning, but for much of the day the temperature was 34, even with snow falling. So my temperature forecast was a bit on the low side, but still farily close.
Accumulation Forecast: For the first time this winter, my accumulation forecast (which many of you probably care about most) was very good. Although I really wanted to go with higher amounts, I remembered the lessons learned in the past couple of winter storms and went with an early guess of 1-4". I upped that slightly to 2-5" in my Wednesday morning update, only because it appeared that the precipitation might arrive sooner than expected. However, that first batch of precip fell apart before it got here, so I lowered my forecast back down to 1-3" in my Wednesday evening update. That ended up being the right call, as most locations picked up between 1 and 2 inches of snow today and a few places in the extreme eastern side of Henry County may have gotten 2.5 to 3 inches. That was all thanks to the upper-level low that I discussed earlier; if it had not kept the snow going for several more hours, accumulations would have probably been between 1/2 and 1 inch.
Conclusion: I give myself a grade of A- for this storm. I think overall my forecast was very good, especially my accumulation forecast. The main reason it isn't higher is because I only predicted it 4 days in advance, and because my short-range timing forecast was a few hours off.
Review my forecasts:
7 AM Monday 01/31
7 PM Monday 01/31
7 AM Tuesday 02/01
7 PM Tuesday 02/01
7 AM Wednesday 02/02
7 PM Wednesday 02/02
7 AM Thursday 02/03
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