Martinsville Weather - Winter Storm Forecast Review for Thu 12/16/10
Note: I got away from doing forecast reviews last winter, but I have decided to start doing them again this winter. I enjoy the opportunity to reflect on what was good and what was not so good about each winter storm forecast. Feel free to leave comments and grade my forecast if you'd like by filling out the form at the bottom of the page!
Long Range Forecast (Good): My long range forecast for this system was pretty good. I started forecasting a possible light wintry mix 6 days ahead of time, and gradually refined my forecast as the date got closer.
Short Range Timing Forecast (Good): My detailed forecast predicted snow developing after midnight, and I tried to get a little more specific in my forecast discussion, predicting that it would most likely start around 3 or 4 AM. That is precisely when the snow began to fall. However, I did not give myself an "excellent" rating in this section because freezing rain continued falling through much of the afternoon, which I did not expect. I thought the bulk of the precipitation would be over by early afternoon, leaving us with just some occasional freezing drizzle.
Precipitation Type Forecast (Good): In a general sense, my precipitation type forecast was right on target. I predicted that it would begin as snow, then change to sleet, and end as freezing rain, which is exactly what happened. However, my timing was a little off. The day before, I said that the snow would probably change over to sleet around 8 or 9 AM Thursday, and I should have stuck with that forecast. But I changed it at the last minute, thinking the changeover wouldn't occur until later in the morning, but sleet started to mix with the snow in some areas as early as 7 or 7:30 AM. The "warm nose" aloft that causes snow to change to sleet or freezing rain came in much earlier than expected, which caused the early changeover. This also impacted total accumulations, which I will get to in a moment.
Temperature Forecast (Excellent): My temperature forecast was right on target; we dropped down into the lower 20s the night before as I predicted, and reached a high of 34 as the precipitation was winding down in the afternoon which also matched my forecast.
Accumulation Forecast (Poor): Like the precipitation forecast, this aspect of my forecast could have been better had I not made last-minute changes. Sometimes I feel like I make better forecasts the day before the event than I do once it has actually started! I have never been the best at "nowcasting." I predicted 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet the day before the event, and I should have stuck with that prediction. However, I changed it to 2 to 4 inches after that, because it looked like we would get more snow before the changeover to sleet. Most locations just ended up with around an inch, with a few reports of 1.5" or 2" around the county. I just wish I had stuck with my initial forecast!
Overall Grade: B-
Summary / Conclusion: The big thing that continues to bug me is those last-minute changes I made. My forecast would have been really good had I stuck with what I was predicting the day before, but I made two critical changes that did not work out well at all. All in all, it wasn't a bad forecast, but it could have been much better had I not made those changes.

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