Friday, March 4, 2011

Forecasters Sing a Different Tune: Growing Consensus That Tues/Wed Storm is Trending South

Storm tracks giveth and storm tracks taketh away. That big snow you've heard about scheduled to arrive next week? It appears that it may not happen, at least not to the magnitude that many forecasters figured. As of this writing (late Friday night) forecasters who had predicted rather prodigious snow totals a mere 12 hours ago were backtracking

The rather sudden and unexpected change in the storm track (for a storm that has yet to form, no less) left many weather watchers (consumers) questioning the wisdom of forecasters putting forth snowfall estimates five to six days before possible onset. Approximately 130 comments were left on the Star Tribune weather site during the day on Friday, many debating that very issue.

Still, most forecasters weren't ready to pronounce chances for a big storm dead, quite yet. A record of the changing forecasts is compiled here. Here's where things stood as of Friday night:

WCCO: Latest model information now says 2 to 5 inches of snow for Tues/Wed. "That could still change next week."
KSTP: Last few hours track appears to be moving south. "There's even a scenario where we don't get much snow at all."
FOX: Now storm track would have heavy snow missing Twin Cities. "Accumulations may be hard to find on Wed."
KARE: Trend is to keep storm further south. "Doesn't mean we're going to miss it, though."
Strib: 3-6" of new snow for most of the metro by Wednesday night (1-2" coming on Monday)
MPR: No update 
NWS: 60-70% of snow Tuesday night and Wednesday

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  1. So, what happened??? at least to the GFS, (the European is still not out)?
    Just 24 hours ago the GFS had a foot or more possible for the metro, but with that run at 7am on Tuesday the western edge of a 80 knot upper level jet was to be located from the 4 corners area through central Nebraska to SW South Dakota. With tonight's run that same 80 knot jet is forecast to set up from the 4 corners to central Nebraska and than flatten out to a more west to east flow over northern Missouri, therefore the track of the storm has no choice really but to track south of us. Why did this happen? Last night's run had a push of cold air at 7am Thursday only as far south as the North and South Dakota border, but with tonight's run it pushes all the way to west central Nebraska, causing the flattening of the storm track.

    Keep in mind we are in the middle of a season change and there is a constant push and pull between colder air and warmer air, what happened in the last 24 hrs can easily reverse it's self.

  2. the last snownami did the same again....

  3. "So, what happened???"....well as it has been pointed out, any model output is based upon the data that it is used during initialization. Crap in, crap out. The "storm" is still out to sea.

    As the storm energy approaches the coast, better upper air data will be gathered by satellite, WX balloon soundings and ocean buoy's and a pin point area should come into focus, I'd say late Sunday.

    People (including some posters here) tend to put way to much faith/hype into atmospheric computer model outputs past 72hrs.

  4. OK, storm is about 48 to 72 hours out so it is now time to get more specific with the forecast.

    Here are my initial thoughts.
    - Storm will come at us in 2 waves. First one on Monday (1" to 3" snow) and 2nd main wave on Tue/Wed.
    - Strong surface low on Tue/Wed. will track from near OKC to CHI.
    - Axis of heaviest snow will run from around Grand Island, NE to LSE to GRB.
    - The storm will tap abundant gulf moisture and the snow will be heavy and wet especially in IA, WI and southeast MN near the rain/snow line.
    - MSP will receive accumulating snow but will be on the northwest fringe of the main swath of snow. (As you head further north and west of MSP, totals will go down quickly).

  5. storm is still wobbling,to pinpoint the heaviest axis right now is too early,novak with your track so close to msp metro could still end up with heavy snow with an 100 mile wibble still too early to say metro misses the big event

  6. big daddy just his initial thoughts

  7. the storm that doesnt even exist is wobbling?

  8. according to nws the European has the storm on a more Northerly track with the gem and gfs staying south...which to believe? my7 feeling is the record will stand...much like the record for hits....4192 will always belong to the hit king.

  9. John,
    Some have suggested this winter's on steroids. So not sure the record should count if we reached it anyway.

  10. what exactly is the roid this winter has taken??