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A few words for All heading into our true "snow season":I post this every year, and have ever since I started Facebook and email forecasting back in 2005.
The role of WFAH regarding storms:Whether it be severe weather, winter storms, heat and cold waves....I view the role of WFAH as giving you as much heads up as possible. I look at a multitude of data trying to examine what kind of pattern we are headed in to. Temperature pattern, jet stream/storm track, available moisture, historical data - all are important in trying to determine whether or not we stay dry or wet/white.
What I do in the winter:I try to identify a potential impacting storm sometime in the 7-10 day time period. I don't spend much time looking at model data and certainly not snowfall projections. I look at the 500mb chart indicating temperature patterns/fluctuations and storm track. The 500mb chart far out doesn't provide the detail that model data will as a storm system gets much closer.
I then alert you as to the potential. As we get to around 4-5 days out from a potential event, that is when I really start looking at model data. At around the day 3 time period, it becomes easier to start basing projections....start to nail down a time period.... much more is known at that point about available moisture....the details start to become more clear. Day 3 is when I am most likely to issue an early snowfall projection chart. These charts often have a wide range of potential accumulation amounts (4"-8", 6"-12") covering a larger section of the state. At day 2, I can start to hone into specifics and narrow down the ranges some (at most, I like to give a 3" range). If confidence is high, I can issue a bullseye amount and potential area at this time. If confidence is average or lower, a bullseye amount won't likely come until the day before the event.
Snowfall projections:Snowfall projections are harder to nail than rainfall forecasts....and rainfall isn't particularly easy. With snowfall, you have a wide range between very wet snowfall and very dry snowfall. In a wet snow, liquid to snowfall ratios can run 6:1 or 8:1 - meaning 1" of liquid will produce 6 or 8 inches of snow. In a very dry snow, the ratio can be anywhere from 15 to 20:1 Again that would take that some 1" of liquid but instead produce 15 or 20 inches of snow. If projected ratios end up being a little off.... that will throw projections off as well.
Alberta Clippers are the most challenging to predict. Because these whip down from Canada....they don't have a lot of moisture, but they do bring down colder air. That can take a snow ratio very high. 0.25" moisture can dump 6" of snow.
Storm track is another key, critical piece. If a low pressure system tracks even 25-30 miles north or south of projection, that can turn a 4" prediction into 7" or sleet. Storms never travel in a straight line like what you see on TV. They do wobble. A little wobble is one thing - but anything over 25 miles can have a large impact on a forecast.
If you have a narrow temperature gradient, you can have a rain/mix/snow line over a single county. That makes for extreme frustration on my part! I do my absolute best to give you the most accurate information just as soon as I have confidence in an outcome. It does no good to give you information that changes every 12 or 24 hours. If you have a weather app and use it for other purposes besides current conditions, radar and satellite.....first, I recommend you stop doing that.....and second, this is why in the morning they throw out a potential of 6"-10" in the morning for 3-4 days into the future, then it changes to 2"-4" that afternoon.....then 4"-6" that evening. The apps take one single model run, without any human interaction, and call that a forecast.
Here is where you come in:I post the most often and the most current updates on the Members Facebook Page. I post ALL bulletin information right there on that page. Check it often ahead of a winter storm. Check the Zone Forecast for your zone nightly.
Asking me for updates when a new update isn't necessary is pointless and takes my attention away from the important job of tracking storm potential. I WILL post anytime there is an update needed. When an update is posted, it doesn't do anything but take time away from me looking over data changes to answer the question, "could I see more snow than what you are showing?" I will answer that now. 90% of the time - you could see more, or you could see less than anybody's forecast is showing. (refer to all of the reasons why above).
A final thought:There isn't a forecaster out there who enjoys seeing a forecast bust. With technology today, it is rare that by most people's standards a forecast truly "busts." I remember in my youth 35-40 years ago, going to bed expecting 6" of snow the next morning to wake up with nothing. I also remember the rare occasion that I woke up to a surprise 8" of snow when the snow never did change over to rain.
The most important thing I can wrap this up with.....always remember a snowfall projection is a RANGE. If your area is projected to see a 3"-6" snowfall, and you get 2.9" or 6.3" - that is a pretty accurate forecast. Every projection has a high end.....but it also has a low end. We still look to see our first accumulation of December (for many) within the 8 day zone forecast period.
Hoosier Weather NOW
January 27-28, 2023
WHAT MEMBERS ARE SAYING ABOUT WFAH....
- Meredith: - You can't ask for better weather explanations and forecasts at a very affordable price! The way Chris and his team interacts with us is amazing, especially in times of severe weather. We always have more notice for potential severe storms, excess cold and heat, and the long, long range outlooks are very much appreciated. With […]
- Tammy - WFAH is the only weather i pay attention to. Accurate, reliable weather in an easy to understand mode. Well worth the price. I feel safe knowing Chris is monitoring severe weather and i can get real time. He stays on it until the threat has passed. I highly recommend WFAH. You can trust what he […]
- D.S.: - Love everything; comical once in a while, educational, prepared in advance, great rapport with forecaster for the great price. Extremely interactive! Can’t have that with the weather corporations or networks.
- Lori: - You made a believer out of me years ago. Your forecast is more accurate that any of the "tv" forecasts. You can't find any other source that gives you the kind of individualized forecast as this. Chris doesn't just give you a forecast. He explains what is going on with the atmosphere. It's a master […]
- Kevin: - As a small business owner in the lawn and landscaping industry, WFAH has helped not only stay safe but also save money. The long term outlooks are prefect for project planning while the shorter term forecasts are so accurate rarely do we miss working because of poor forecasts. Worth every penny and more for the […]
- Jeanette: - My husband and I are 4th generation farmers raising corn, soybeans, wheat and pigs. We make major decisions based on the weather! Your forecasts have helped us determine optimal planting days, when we can spray our fields and when to watch for dangerous storms that could cause power outages in our pig barns. We appreciate […]