Friday, December 31, 2010

Grades for New Year’s Eve “Storm” – No Cause for Celebration

For a storm that had been first eyeballed ten days ago and talked about with breathtaking detail almost every day since, this was an underperformer of underperformers for the Twin Cities metro. Thursday’s rain was minimal and I counted 26 sleet pellets on my back deck from today’s much-touted “Round 2.” (OK, so I really didn’t count the sleet pellets.) Effective with this storm, I’ve created a progressive forecast by weather outlet that details the full prediction history for the storm. The summary can be viewed here.

Without further ado, here are the grades for the most recent snow event (grading criteria can found here). In the coming days, an overall average grade-at-a-glance will be provided to reflect how the various weather outlets are performing on a cumulative basis

WCCO: C- Four words: Quit while you’re ahead. If WCCO had stopped forecasting the storm on Monday night, nearly 96 hours before the storm, they’d have been close to dead on (calling for rain and then “just flurries”). Their forecast actually got progressively worse as they moved from “flurries” to “about an inch” to “an inch or two” and finally to 3-4 inches (thru Sat.) on Friday morning. WCCO can’t be accused of over hyping the storm in the days leading up to Friday.

KSTP: D From the beginning, they never forecast less than an inch and predicted 3-5 inches 24 hours before onset of the “storm.”

FOX: B Through Tuesday, Fox was calling for potentially heavy snow. However, by Wednesday p.m., they came the closest to getting it right, using words like “dusting” and “less than inch.” Outside of the early (and wrong) hype, not a bad effort.

KARE: C- Maintained a relatively conservative approach throughout. However, by Friday morning, they were caught in the 1-3-inch fever.

Star Tribune: F One of the first to note the possibility of a New Year’s storm, Paul Douglas in c/o Star Tribune was the most consistent predictor of significant snow, initial tossing out “3 to 6 inches” when the storm was nearly four days away. He mentioned “plowable” throughout and predicted 2-4 inches on Friday morning. Poor performance.

MPR: D+ They were the last to incorporate snowfall accumulations into the forecast, which seemed judicious given the great uncertainty with this storm. However, they predicted 1-4 inches for the metro on Thursday night, lowering it to 1-2 inches on Friday morning.

NWS: C This was the third time in the last four storms that the National Weather Service either inappropriately issued weather advisories or issued one way too late in the game. This is not good. On the plus side, the NWS held tightly to the same forecast of up to one inch since Thursday morning; they were therefore just one inch off the actual trace that fell.

Final Friday Predictions

Recap as of Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. The forecasts for Friday continue to be fine tuned although there’s no single clear picture. On the high end, the Star Tribune/Paul Douglas calls for a probable “plowable storm.” Fox and the National Weather Service, which has maintained the most consistent forecast, are in the low end with up to an inch of snow. This will be the final forecast update for this winter weather event; grades will come out tomorrow after the storm is effectively over.

WCCO: 2-3 inches of snow through afternoon and evening with another inch possible on Saturday

KSTP: 1-3" expected through early tomorrow morning with more NW Metro, less SE Metro

FOX: In the metro the sleet and snow could accumulate to near an inch by New Year's

KARE: freezing rain developing after the noon hour and changing to snow by the mid afternoon with accumulations of 1 to 3 inches by 8 p.m. - highest amounts in the west Metro and lowest amounts in the east Metro.

Star Tribune: PM "burst" of 2-4" possible in the metro area, combination of sleet and snow - best chance of 3-4" northern/western suburbs - probably enough snow/sleet to plow/shovel.

MPR: With the track of the low moving further west, the bulk of the moisture will miss the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Total snowfall accumulation around the metro may approach an inch or two.

NWS: Snow and sleet accumulation up to 1 inch. Ice accumulation around one tenth of an inch.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nature's New Year's Eve Party Mix on Tap for Friday

As of Thursday evening at 7 p.m., the consensus prediction for Friday’s winter “event” is substantially unchanged, which is to say that a small amount of freezing rain and sleet will change to snow. FOX and KARE call for no more than an inch while MPR is on the high end with 1-4 inches of snow possible. Will provide one last forecaster update tomorrow morning with grades to follow by Saturday morning. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to receive an alert when the grades come out.

WCCO: “We’ll have a ‘phase change’ tomorrow. Maybe an inch or two when it’s done on Saturday morning.”

KSTP: 1-3 inches of snow/sleet

FOX: Not much more than a dusting to an inch when we get through with snow on Sat a.m.

KARE: Up to an inch of sleet and snow

MPR: A glancing blow that could produce one to four inches of snow Friday into Friday evening for the metro.

NWS: Winter weather advisory issued. Snow and sleet accumulation up to one inch. Ice accumulation around one tenth of an inch.

Star Tribune: MSP metro: 1" of ice (sleet/freezing rain), then 1" of snow Friday night.

Sleet Seems to be the Word for Friday

Summary recap as of 9 a.m. on Thursday.This appears to be a particularly challenging forecast for the ensemble given questions regarding the type of precipitation and the timing of a changeover to sleet and snow. KSTP (channel 5) is now the most bullish on snow totals with a forecast of 3 to 5 inches (most in the west metro). Others generally call for an inch or two of sleet and snow. If you'd like to receive tweets on the sleet, follow us on Twitter.

WCCO: About an inch with some sleet
KSTP: 3-5 inches, highest west metro
FOX: Not much in the metro. Could be an inch or two and much of that would be sleet.
KARE: 1-3 inches
Star Tribune: MSP Metro: 1" of ice (sleet/freezing rain), then 1-2" of snow Friday night
MPR: “The track of the second low over the Twin Cities on New Year's Eve places the heaviest snow into west central Minnesota.” Snow/sleet indicated for Twin Cities but no specifics on accumulation
NWS: Sleet accumulation up to 1 inch. Ice accumulation around one tenth of an inch.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mixed Prognistications on Mixed Precipitation for Friday

Here's an update on the storm possibilities for New Years Eve/Friday as of Wednesday at 7 p.m. As an expected one-two punch of precipitation approaches for Thursday and Friday, there was forecaster consensus on a rainy Thursday but considerable disparity on Friday's weather. KARE does not mention the possibility of snow on Friday while the Star Tribune/Paul Douglas forecasts 2 to 3 inches of snow. FOX's forecast was very confusing, seemingly predicting no snow but maybe 1 to 3 inches. Other weather outlets were either inbetween or noncommittal with respect to snow.

Follow us on Twitter for updates. The next update will be mid-morning on Thursday.
Looks like mostly rain on Friday. Maybe some light flurries later
Sleet and snow through metro on New Years Eve. Friday 1-2 east metro 2-3 west metro.
Not much snow expected in the Twin Cites on Friday. Fancy snow projection tool shows 0.0 inches of snow for metro. “But if we do get any, we could get 1 to 3 inches.”
Icy mix on Friday. A “snow potential” map shows nothing for the Twin Cities. No mention of snow at all, in fact.
Star Tribune
2-3 inches of icy snow on Friday
Snow is likely over eastern Minnesota Friday afternoon and evening. No snow accumulations mentioned except for “the heaviest band of six inches should stay to the west of the Twin Cities.”
Friday: Patchy light freezing drizzle in the morning...then snow in the afternoon. Snow accumulation around 2 inches. Little or no ice accumulation.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Years Eve Potpourri

Hoar frost in St. Paul on Monday morning.

Update as of 6 p.m. on Tuesday night: Rest assured that your local weather forecasters are hard at work analyzing the possibilities as the week-end, year-end storm approaches. Most look for rain on Thursday, which may begin as freezing rain, and rain turning to snow on Friday with a small accumulation. The Star Tribune/Paul Douglas seems the most certain of snow, declaring without condition that "rain ends as accumulating snow New Years Eve," with 2-3 inches of snow forecast. MPR leaves the door open to heavy snow possibilities, though no specific accumulations are mentioned. Follow us on Twitter for additional updates.

Rain to snow on Friday. “Could be a little accumulation.”

"The heaviest snow will be in Central and Western Minnesota with blizzard like conditions for Western Minnesota. Far less snow expected in the metro with a couple of inches."

Thursday morning commute could be interesting. Snow expected on Friday, "some heavy." No advisories or warnings for the Twin Cities now, but I’m sure that will change.

Rain to snow on Friday. “A few inches possible.”

70 percent chance of rain and snow Friday. 50 percent chance of snow on Friday night. No mention of accumulations.

Star Tribune
Blog headline: "Rain Thursday Ends As Accumulating Snow New Year's Eve." Two to three inches in the Friday p.m. hours

The second low tracking towards Kansas City on Thursday could turn north and produce a band of heavy snow close to the Twin Cities to Duluth on Friday into New Year's Eve. No accumulation specifics offered.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years Eve Storm Potential

Update: The possibility of snow seems to be inching back into the picture as part of the second half of a late-week storm. As of Monday night, here's what forecasters were saying:

WCCO: Rain transitioning to snow Friday night; probably just flurries
KSTP: Amount of snow uncertain. Potential for significant snow, wind and cold for New Years Eve. Have to keep a close eye on it.
FOX: Snow could accumulate very quickly from Friday p.m. to Saturday a.m.
KARE: "Does look as though we'll get a little snow."
Star Tribune: Blog headline reads: "Plowable" Snow New Years Eve? Also identified the potential of 3 to 6 inches of snow.
MPR: Notes the possibility of a "one-two punch" with rain/freezing rain/sleet from Wed. night through Thursday and the possibility of a period of moderate to heavy snow on Friday into New Years Eve. No mention of accumulation amounts.

As of Sunday night: The much talked about late week storm is now on the horizon. However, what seemed like a possible snowstorm or ice storm several days ago, now seems like it will largely be a rain event according to virtually all weather outlets. Several mention the possibility of a wintery mix at the start of the event some time on Thursday and see a possible changeover to snow showers later on Friday night. Since all forecasters project essentially the same weather as of late Sunday night, individual forecasts are not provided. As variability in the individual forecasts develops, we will provide details.

Friday, December 24, 2010

If Only They Could Take a Retest -- Poor Grades for All

Ouch. It was a tough outing for the local weather mavens for the snowstorm just concluding. Not that we really needed a reminder of the fallibility of forecasters and their much-acclaimed weather models, but we certainly got one. A storm that had been anticipated for almost a week was essentially pronounced dead just 24 hours prior to its ultimate beginning. To borrow from Mark Twain, reports of the storm's demise were greatly exaggerated. Here are the grades for the Xmas Eve Eve storm of 2010. Remember to follow us on Twitter.

Piles of snow surround this golden retriever/cocker spaniel mix (courtesy Fuzzy Mutt Photos)
WCCO: F+ Declared "little or no snow from metro north and east" on Tuesday with "an extended period of dry weather ahead."
KSTP: F Not only missed the boat like everyone else, but also had the worst prediction on Thursday morning.
Fox: D+ Fox deserves a bit of credit for holding on to a forecast of "maybe up to an inch of snow here in the metro" on Tuesday night when others had written off the storm.
KARE: F On Tuesday night, KARE said, "If we see any snow, it would be in the southwest metro and be less than an inch.
Star Tribune: D First suggested the re-emergence of the storm on Wednesday night and came closest to nailing the forecast with its predictions on Thursday morning.
MPR: F Had the snow going to the southwest of the metro. And when the snow was back in the picture, their predictions for the metro were not clear.
NWS: F While they never took snow out of the forecast (maintaining a 30-40% probability), there was no mention of accumulations through Tuesday night. The introduction of a weather advisory was too late to serve its "heads up" purpose.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Can You Say "Busted Forecast?"

As of Friday night, most weather outlets are now calling for 3 to 5 inches of snow. Grades for this storm should come out tomorrow afternoon.

Looks Like Snow After All For Thursday Night/Friday Morning

It seems the trusty weather models have pulled a fast one over local weathercasters. In the darkness of night they threw a curveball and now accumulating snow seems to be on its way. The Star Tribune stands out on this forecast, calling for 3-6 inches. Most others are in the 2-3 inch range. Here's the latest projections as of Thursday morning:

WCCO: Snow beginning very late this p.m. 2-4 inches.
KSTP: 1-2 inches in metro by mid-day Friday. SW metro could see 3 inches.
FOX: 2-3 inches SW metro, about 2 inches metro, lesser amounts, NE metro
KARE: 2-4 inches. Highest amounts in SW metro
Star Tribune: "Expect about 3", but as much as 6 in the south and west metro (from front-page video)
NWS: 2-3 inches
MPR/Updraft Blog: Metro accumulations were not clearly presented. Looks like no more than 3 inches.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Min'NoSnow'ta for Thursday

The near-unanimous consensus for Thursday afternoon/evening is a forecast of flurries. FOX still provides for the possibility of an inch of snow in the metro. Although it now appears to be a substantially snowless Thursday, this non-event will still be graded because so much attention was focused on the possibility of snow for the last several days. We've also included a few comments related to the extended forecast as detailed by several weather outlets. Remember to follow us on Twitter for forecaster updates and related comments.

WCCO: Little or no snow from metro north and east. Extended period of dry weather ahead.

KSTP: Maybe some flurries. No snow until possibly the middle of next week.

FOX: “Maybe up to an inch of snow here in the metro.”

KARE: "If we see any snow, it would be in the southwest metro and be less than an inch.
We’ll most likely add to our snow total before the end of the month. As we get out to New Year’s, there may be a more significant big storm headed to the Upper Midwest."

Star Tribune: Flurries. "It's pretty far off, but the GFS model is hinting at a potentially significant snowfall between New Year's Eve and roughly January 3, over 1.5" liquid. If it verifies (too early to tell) it could be a big, new pile of additional snow."

NWS: 30-40% chance of snow Thursday and Thursday night. No accumulation mentioned.

MPR: Snow sliding off to southwest of metro (from Tuesday a..m. update)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dimming Prospects for Chrismas Eve Eve Snow

While acknowledging that it still bears watching, most local weathercasters think the chances of significant snow in the Twin Cities on Thursday are small. Note that FOX and KSTP have lowered their expectations significantly. Here's an updated progression on how the weather gurus see Thursday's snow or lack thereof. The next update on the possibilities of this storm will be Wednesday morning.

Tuesday a.m.  "Evidence suggests it will (mostly) be a miss."
Monday p.m. More accumulating snow. Enough to shovel and maybe plow. Range of 1 to 5 inches.
Sunday p.m. Chance of snow on Thursday. Could again be something we have to shovel and plow.

Tuesday a.m. Chance of light snow Thursday evening. Favoring southern Minn.
Monday p.m. A couple of inches of snow
Sunday p.m. Could be a couple of inches but it may be even bigger than this one [Monday storm].

Tuesday a.m. Most will stay south and west of metro
Monday p.m. Forecast not obtained
Sunday p.m. 3 to 6 inches of snow

Tuesday a.m. Models taking storm to south. Still bears watching.
Monday p.m. Another snowstorm expected on Thursday. Brunt looks to be in southern Minn.
Sunday p.m. decent possibility of a couple more inches of snow on Thursday. Probably not as much as Monday storm.

Star Tribune
Tuesday a.m. No update regarding Thursday.
Monday p.m. Could see accumulations, esp. southern Minn.
Sunday p.m. Could be more snow accumulations, especially in southern Minnesota.

Tuesday a.m. A 40% chance of snow Thursday p.m. and Thursday night
Monday p.m. A 40% chance of snow Thursday p.m. and Thursday night
Sunday p.m. A 40% chance of snow on Thursday.

Tuesday a.m. Looks like brunt of storm in SW Minn. and Iowa. Twin Cities on edge.
Monday p.m. Forecast models at odds on Thursday. Favored model steers its south; another takes it into the Twin Cities
Sunday p.m. No mention of Thursday weather

Passing Grades But No "A"s for Monday Night Football Snowstorm

Today's snowstorm, which both arrived and departed a little earlier than forecast, looks like it will leave most forecasters patting themselves on the back (indeed, it has). But the Minnesota Forecaster strives to be a bit more objective. The grading criteria can be found here. (Note: the official snow accumulation at the MSP airport was 4.5 inches as reported on the 10 p.m. news.)

WCCO: C+ Final prediction of 5 to 9 inches was a little high. Also thought highest accumulations would be to the northeast when in fact the bigger snow totals seemed to be on the southwest side.
KSTP: D+ On Friday, they predicted "the track of this snow seems to be south of the metro." Last night, they forecast 8 inches (6 to 10 inches). They missed the mark.
FOX: C On Saturday, they called for "8+ inches in of near the Twin Cities." They came down to a forecast of 4-7 inches last night, which was generally correct.
KARE: B- Off on timing of the storm. On Saturday night, the forecast called it for it be "dry for most of the daylight hours Monday." Obviously, this was not the case. Their final forecast of 4 to 7 inches was generally correct, though no accumulations greater than 6 inches were recorded in the Twin Cities.
NWS: B- Generally, a decent job, though a bit high on projected snow accumulations. However, the amount of snow received never met official winter storm warning criteria and a winter weather advisory may have been more appropriate.
Star Tribune: B- Like others, initially thought the best chance of accumulations were to the south. They joined the 4-8 inch bus by Sunday.
MPR/Paul Huttner: B First to identify the possibility that the snow would end as a period of freezing rain. Paul's forecast of the popular "4 to 8 inches" was also a little high.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Class is in Session

The prep (forecasting) is over. The fearless forecasters of Mpls/St. Paul are now taking their tests as the snowstorm is well underway. Check back Tuesday morning to see what grades they receive on their latest effort.
Check back late tonight to see how forecasters are progressing on their forecasts for Thursday. Follow us on Twitter for occasional updates.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snow Assessments for Vikings Monday

Sunday night update: There's a reasonable spread among the local weather gurus for Monday's storm. KSTP/Dave Dahl is the most jazzed on this storm, putting the Twin Cities in a 6-10 snow band. Others are calling for 4-7 inches and still others fall in between. It's shaping up to be a real test of the local weather peeps. Follow us on Twitter for frequent updates on the ensemble's prediction for Monday's storm.
Sunday morning update: The weather outlets that provided updates Sunday morning have increased snowfall projections. A little disappointing that no updates have been provided by four weather outlets a full 12 hours after the last update.
Less than 48 hours from the expected arrival of the next snow, all forecasters are gaining confidence on a Monday/Tuesday snowstorm. FOX seems particularly confident, calling for up to 8 inches of snow by Tuesday. Others see somewhat lower accumulations. Forecasters also have begun to consider prospects for an additional snowfall on Thursday. Here's a recap based on forecasts obtained Saturday mid-evening.

Sunday p.m. 5-9 inches for metro. Highest amounts toward the northeast.
Sunday a.m. 4 to 8 inches Monday afternoon and Monday night (source WCCO radio, not channel 4)
Sat p.m: Probably enough to shovel and plow with next system. A chance for a little bit of light snow Thursday.

Sunday p.m. 8 inches. 3 inches by 6 p.m; 6 inches by 9 p.m; 8 inches by midnight.
Sunday a.m: Now forecasting 4 to 8 inches. Timeline: snow begins after lunch. 2.5 inches by 5 p.m; 4 inches by 7:30; 4.5 inches by 10 p.m; 5 inches by midnight.
Sat p.m. 3 to 6 inches from Monday afternoon through early Tuesday. Higher amounts south and west of metro. A chance of snow on Thursday -- no mention of scope.

Sunday p.m. 5 to 8 inches
Sunday a.m. 6 to 7 inches
Saturday p.m. 4 to 5 inches of snow Monday/Tuesday. A 40% chance of snow Thursday and Thursday night

Sunday p.m. 4-7 inches; more north.
Sunday a.m: No update available.
Sat. p.m. Provided full details on timing for Monday snow. "Snow beginning around lunch time; 2-4 inches of snow by kickoff, 4-5 inches at the two-minute warning.  On the way to 8+ in or very close to the Twin Cities." Thursday another few inches of snow as a system clips us from MSP and to the south.

Sunday p.m. 4-7 inches with heaviest on the northwest side of the metro.
Sunday a.m. No update available.
Sat p.m. Most of daylight hours on Monday dry. Several inches looking more and more likely. Another chance of accumulating snow on Thursday.

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas
Sunday p.m. 4-8 inches
Sunday a.m. No update available
Sat p.m. 3 to 6 inches for Monday/Tuesday. Most of Thursday moisture looks to stay south, "but it's still early in the game."

MPR/Paul Huttner
Sunday p.m. 4-8 inches
Sunday a.m. No update available.
Saturday p.m. No update available.

Less Gungho on a Nostalgic Viking Snowstorm Monday

Two guys that would be happy to watch outdoor football. (Photo courtesy Fuzzy Mutt Photos)

Prospects for a snowy Vikings game appear to be dimming according to virtually all forecasters as of Friday night, meaning nostalgia may have to take a back seat to reality. The latest:

WCCO: Models pushing precipitation a little farther south. There will be fairly significant accumulation... just a matter of how far north.

KSTP: The track of this snow seems to be south of the metro.

Fox:  As we head into our Vikings Monday we're still due for some snow. How much has yet to be determined as the storm still hasn't materialized just yet

KARE: Still a plethora of scenarios for this next system, so stay tuned. We could just get a little snow or several inches for some spots.

Star Tribune: Mostly cloudy with a growing potential of some snow accumulations south

MPR/Paul Huttner: The latest models are hinting at the potential for snow next Monday into Tuesday. Stay's too early to make a call yet.

NWS: Chance of snow on Monday is 40%. Potential for significant snow accumulations is still there for south central and west central Minnesota.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Forecasters Weigh in on Snow Possibilities for Monday

As of mid-day Friday, there's a general sense that a Vikings snowstorm is no cinch. While WCCO still calls for a "few inches on Monday," KMSP alludes only to a "threat for snow" and KARE provides no specifics. KSTP seems to question snow the most, saying "confidence is low with storms tracks being all over the place." They also say it "doesn't look like a big deal" and that southern Minn. stands the best chance of a plowable storm. The National Weather Service has lowered the probably of snow to 40% on Monday. The last update from the Star Tribune (last night) notes a "growing possibility of accumulating snow." Look for a complete update late tonight.

The next possibility of accumulating snow is Monday. But it's still early to bank on snow at the bank for the Vikings game. Here's a first look at Monday snow possibilities from the meteorological ensemble as of Thursday night:

WCCO. "Snow mainly in the southern half of Minnesota. A few inches. "Some models say 4 to 8 inches but that seems extreme this far out."

KSTP. "Could be interesting. Tracking developing storm. Will let you know more when it gets closer."

FOX: "A great looking system on the charts. Could be talking 3 to 5 inches with decent regional snows."

KARE: "It's still early but we may need to get the shovels and plows ready once again."

NWS: 50% chance of snow on Monday.

MPR/Paul Huttner: "If the potential Monday system stays on track, we could be looking at a few inches of snow for the Vikings game."

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas: No current information. Is anybody home?

Tough Grades for a Tough Storm

If it wasn't a busted forecast, it sure came close. The "piling on" snow event that's concluding never really started for many. To be sure, virtually all weathercasters warned that there would be a sharp cutoff from accumulating snow to nary a flake. And they also correctly predicted that snow would be heavier to the south and west. Note: We realize that there was some accumulating snow in the Twin Cities' southern and western suburbs, but even those amounts were considerably less than forecast.

There's no grade inflation at TMF. Here are the glum grades:

MPR/Paul Huttner: C. Although he largely missed the forecast like everyone else, PH at least warned of "high bust potential"on Wednesday morning. And more importantly, he was the first weather source to significantly downgrade metro area snow accumulations at 3:40 p.m.
FOX9: D+. Fox deserves at least a bit credit for staying the course for their forecast. While others flip flopped, Fox maintained its initial prediction of 2 to 4 inches (from Sunday night) through to the evening news. Too bad it was wrong.

WCCO, KARE, KSTP: D. If misery loves company, these local affiliates can share a beer with each other.

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas: D- It's holiday season and in the holiday spirit, we didn't have the heart to pass out an F. The Strib fell the hardest for the fickle storm, forecasting 3 to 6 inches Wednesday morning. Most importantly, they were MIA in ever coming to grips with the storm's fleeting potential. If you read the Strib weather blog on Thursday morning, you'd have thought it was snowing, albeit lightly, in the central urban core.

National Weather Service: D- Last but not least ... the NWS actually issued a formal snow advisory for places that never saw a single flake. That's embarrassing!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Flip Flopping Away .....

.... and, apparently, less slip sliding away. Hours before the expected onset of snow, several weather outlets are downgrading possible accumulations. As of 4:30 p.m., here's a summary of the snow event for Dec. 15-16:
A dog looks out in anticipation of more flakes over Lake Minnetonka.

Paul Huttner/MPR: A coating to two inches
KSTP5: 1 to 3 inches
KARE11: 1 to 3 inches
National Weather Service: 3 to 4 inches
WCCO4: 2 to 3 inches
Fox9: 2 to 4
Star Tribune/Paul Douglas: No update available since morning update (2 to 4 inches)

Report cards on the performance of the fearless forecasters will be issued mid-day Thursday. Sign up to the right to receive regular updates

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prospects for Snow Wednesday/Thursday

The general consensus on Wednesday's snow seems to be about 2 to 4 inches, although several outlets are calling for 3 to 6 inches. Grades for the forecast performance of this event should come out midday Thursday. Sign up in the box to the right to receive regular updates.
How much will be added to the pile on Wednesday and Thursday?

Minnesota Public Radio/Paul Huttner
Wednesday a.m. 3 to 6 inches but notes "higher than usual bust potential with this forecast."
Tuesday p.m. 2 to 5 inches for central metro.

Wednesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches

Tuesday p.m. 2 to 4 inches
Tuesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches
Monday p.m. 2 to 4 inches
Monday a.m. “A couple of inches.”
Sunday p.m. “chance of a little light snow” -- no specifics offered

Fox 9
Wednesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches
Tuesday p.m. 2 to 4 inches
Tuesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches
Monday p.m. "A weak clipper system has the possiblity of bringing another 2"-4" snow to areas along/south of I-94 including the metro."
Monday a.m. No mention of accumulations
Sunday p.m.  2" - 4" plus Wednesday night into Thursday. Also, “the NAM model that was excellent on this past storm is plotting over 7" of new snow.”

Wednesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches
Tuesday p.m. 1 to 2 inches
Tuesday a.m. 2 to 3 inches
Monday p.m. Maybe an inch or two.

Monday a.m. “A chance of accumulating snow arrives on Wednesday and Thursday with the chance of a few more inches."
Sunday p.m. Chance of light snow Thursday. A clipper that’s moisture starved. Don’t’ worry too much about this system.

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas
Wednesday a.m. 3 to 6 inches
Tuesday p.m. 2 to 4 inches
Tuesday a.m. Coating to an inch
Monday p.m. Maybe an inch or two (though his post is confusing and also mentions 3 to 4 inches)
Monday a.m. No info.
Sunday p.m. A little light snow, inch or 2 possible. High: 15

Wednesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches
Tuesday, p.m. 1 to 3 inches
Tuesday a.m. 2 to 4 inches
Monday p.m. Weak system. Coating to an inch.
Monday a.m. “Any accumulation will be less than one inch.”
Sunday p.m. A prolonged snow over 2 days, maybe an inch or two, doesn’t look like a big deal

National Weather Service
Wednesday a.m. 2 to 3 inches (though separate advisory calls for 3 to 6 inches)
Tuesday p.m. Around 2 inches
Tuesday a.m. 2 to 3 inches

Monday p.m. Mostly cloudy with snow likely. Snow accumulation of 2 to 3 inches
Monday a.m: 60% chance of snow Wednesday night. No mention of accumulations.
Sunday p.m: “All things considered...this system right now is capable  of 1-3 inches of snow. We will have to keep a close eye on this system and watch for signs of strengthening and if the track  remains consistent.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Washingtonian Comments on Minneapolis Blizzard

From the Capital Weather Gang in Washington comes this interesting comment regarding the blizzard:

I happen to be in Minneapolis this weekend. I never want to hear anyone criticize DC for not being able to handle snow. These people have completely freaked out. The neighbors are all up in arms over the amazing amount of snow...all of 17".

Airport? Closed
Busses? Cancelled
Public events? Cancelled
Snowplows? Pulled off the roads during the height of the storm
Our street? Unplowed ( although they did plow the alley already?
lots of cars, SUVs, and trucks stuck in the snow and abandoned.

They had already postponed the Vikings game, even before the Metrodome collapsed...

That was yesterday. They get lots of, the airport and busses are back running and the plows are doing their work and people are shoveling their walks despite the -20 wind chill. But let's not pretend that they handled this any better than Washingtonians.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Grades Are In

How They're Graded. Just as weather prognostication is as much art as science, so is the grading system for our fearless local weathermen and weatherwomen. A perfect performance is very hard to achieve. For a snow event such as the one just concluded, the criteria include : 1) early identification of a potential storm, 2) preliminary assessment of the storm's magnitude, 3) accurate identification of onset, particularly when a rushhour is involved, and 4) accuracy in snow accumulation forecast for the immediate Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Here are the report cards for the historic snowstorm of Dec. 10-11, 2010, for which 15-20 inches of snow were recorded in most locations.

WCCO (4): B. There was nothing particularly notable about WCCO's performance. It was generally in the middle of the pack.

KSTP (5): B-. KSTP's critical mistake was their Thursday night forecast, which projected the snow to fall just prior to the Friday evening rushhour. Viewers that followed their advice could have made unnecessary changes to their Friday evening plans. Their final snow projection of up to 18 inches was essentially accurate.

KMSP Fox9 (9): C+. Fox9 was the first to project that snowfall amounts would be higher on the south side of the Twin Cities. However, their 10 to 14-inch projection lagged actual totals by about five inches. (An aside: Ian Leonard said on the 9 p.m. news on Saturday that "we weren't far off on our projections from several days ago." Not so. Twenty-four hours before the storm, they were forecasting 6 to 10 inches, a far cry from what actually fell. Graders frown on attempts to self justify, particularly when plain wrong.)

KARE11 (11): C. KARE was consistently a step behind on the escalating snow forecast and never truly caught on to the full "epicness" of the storm. KARE is typically not one to proclaim big headlines such as "blizzard" and "historic," but in this case that would have been appropriate.

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas: B+. As with all other weather outlets, PD initially didn't see the large potential of this storm; however, PD was the first to recognize that the storm could be more than "a few inches." From that point,  PD did an admirable job tracking the storm and its potential with the exception that he anticipated the highest snow amounts to be on the northwestern side of the metro. Still, his 15-20 inch forecast was right on target.

National Weather Service: B- The official forecast of the NWS was sometimes difficult to determine as information in their text forecasts was somewhat different than the verbiage contained in their special statements and warnings. However, what seemed to be their official forecast was 13 to 16 inches, not too far off from actual.

The next potential snow system appears to be Wednesday. Check back early and often to monitor the forecasting progress of Twin City weather gurus.

We paws and wait .....

.... for the final storm tally. In the meantime, this St. Paul canine doesn't seem appear particularly thrilled about the big snowstorm. Photo courtesy Fuzzy Mutt Photos.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Snow forecast for Saturday, December 11

As the first flakes began to fall, here is the final pre-storm forecast as of 11:00 p.m. on Friday, December 10. Summary: While there is clear consensus that a big snowstorm is on the way, there is considerable variance among Minneapolis weathercasters as to how much snow will fall. The Star Tribune/Paul Douglas predicts the most with a 15 to 20 inch forecast while KARE11 (11) is on the low range with 7 to 14 inches. Other weather outlets are in the general 12 to 16 range. The final forecasts appear below. Upon the conclusion of this snow event, we will grade the forecasters. Enjoy the snow!

WCCO (4): 12 to 16 inches

KSTP (5): 12 to 18 inches

KMSP Fox9 (9): 10-14 inches

KARE11 (11): 7 to 14 inches

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas: 15 to 20 inches.

National Weather Service: 13 to 16 inches

Forecast as of 10 a.m. on Friday, December 10

WCCO (4): 8 to 12 inches

KSTP (5): 7 to 11 inches

KMSP Fox9 (9): 8 to 12 inches with headline "Probable Blizzard in Twin Cities"

KARE11 (11): 5 to 10 inches

Star Tribune/Paul Douglas: 12 to 16 inches. Tweets: Biggest since Halloween '91? Models hinting at 1-2 feet , 2-5 ft. drifts poss.

Forecast as of 10 p.m. on Thursday, December 9

Channel 4: 5 to 11 inches

Channel 5: 9 to 12 inches

Channel 9: 6 to 10 inches. Highest amounts in southern suburbs.

Channel 11: 6 to 10 inches

Paul Douglas/Star Tribune: 10 to 16 inches. Highest amounts for nw suburbs.

Forecast as of 11 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8

Channel 4: An inch or two

Channel 5: A couple of inches possible on Saturday.

Channel 9: old forecast on website

Channel 11: Light snow. No mention of accumulation

Paul Douglas/Star Tribune: 3 to 6 inches with a few 8" amounts close to home

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Best Local Weather Site in the Country

For my money, the best local weather site in the country is the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. One feature I especially like is the way they present snow predictions in terms of probabilities. Here's an example:

As with any storm more than 48 hours away, accumulation estimates are very uncertain. Here's a preliminary look at accumulation probabilities:

45%: Less than 1"
30%: 1-4"
15%: 4-8"
10%: 8"+

Unlike the Paul Douglas blog, this one features interaction between readers and the weather experts that produce content for the site. The dialogue is at a consistently high level and almost always stays on topic. Although Washington weather is not as exciting as Twin Cities weather, the blog maintains interest with commentary on weather issues of the day.