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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