Martinsville Weather - Winter Storm Forecast Review for Sat 12/04/10
Long Range Forecast (Poor): I only started to predict a chance of rain or snow showers on this date 3 days in advance. In my defense, clipper systems are notoriously difficult to predict, and usually they dump little or no snow on our area anyway.
Short Range Timing Forecast (Excellent): I was very pleased with this aspect of my forecast because it was more accurate than what I heard from most other forecasters. Most people were saying the snow wouldn't begin until late afternoon, but I predicted that it would start by early to mid-afternoon, and it did begin around 1 PM. Snow from clipper systems almost always starts sooner than computer models predict, and I used that knowledge to help me have a better timing forecast.
Precipitation Type Forecast (Excellent): Precipitation type was very easy to forecast with this particular system. Aside from the possibility of a little rain mixing in at the onset (which didn't happen), it was clear that it would be an all-snow event, and that is in fact what happened.
Temperature Forecast (Good): My temperature forecast was fairly good, but I predicted a high of 41 while we only made it up to 39, and hung around 37 for most of the morning before the snow began. That slight difference helped the snow begin to accumulate sooner, having a drastic impact on the next aspect of my forecast.
Accumulation Forecast (Poor): While the amount of snow that fell was only slightly higher than I expected, it started to accumulate much earlier than I thought it would, which led to higher accumulations than I predicted. I was only expecting an inch or so at best, but most locations ended up with 2 or 3 inches. One saving grace is that the above-freezing temperatures kept most roads fairly clear, but still, my accumulation forecast was not very good.
Overall Grade: C+
Summary / Conclusion: Some aspects of my forecast for this event were very good, while other aspects were pretty bad. Clipper systems can be very fickle and hard to forecast. Generally it is best to go with lower accumulation forecasts because clipper systems tend to fall apart while crossing the mountains, giving us little or nothing in the way of snowfall. This system was the exception to the rule, however. It brought quite a bit of moisture through the area, giving us higher snowfall totals than anyone expected. All in all, this was sort of an average forecast--not great but not awful, either.
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