Whether or not you think this was a well-predicted storm probably depends on where you live. For purposes of The Minnesota Forecaster and our assessment, we consider what happens at our urban St. Paul headquarter location, approximately three miles south of 94 and two miles east of the Mississippi. The official snowfall recorded by the MSP airport was 3.0 inches, which was essentially the same amount received at TMF.
In the big picture, this storm was fairly well predicted. However, upon closer inspection – specifically the snowfall in the close-in metro – the performance was lacking. MPR’s Paul Huttner provides a very good synopsis of the general forecast performance and challenges here. Due to the on-again, off-again nature of the storm, we didn’t track each and every forecast leading up to the storm as we might have. Here’s our subjective assessment of the performance of local forecasters.
Essentially, all weather prognosticators missed the band of heavier snow that set up over the south metro. As of Friday night, most forecasters were calling for 1-2 inches of snow at best for the Twin Cities. All forecasters also stated that metro snowfall amounts would be higher on the northwest side; some, such as KARE11’s Jerrid Sebesta, even suggested that southern suburbs like Burnsville might not receive any snow (Burnsville recorded 3 inches).
We felt that Fox9’s Ian Leonard minimized this storm a little too much. His mantra for the storm in the days leading up to the storm was “more wet than white” and he attempted to distance himself from others’ storm hype that he felt was unwarranted. While in the end this was clearly not a megastorm, we think the large number of metro-area traffic accidents reflects that it was a legitimate storm that justified solid warning if not hyping.
On Saturday morning, the Star Tribune’s Paul Douglas, while rightfully declaring that he thought snow amounts would be toward the upper end of the 1-3 inch range, forecast that the snow would not stick to roads until closer to 5 p.m. as darkness descended. This, in fact, was wrong, and was no small error given the number of people relying on his information.
As late as early morning Saturday, MPR maintained an expectation of a coating to an inch. MPR upgraded forecasts amount by early afternoon to reflect higher snowfall projections.
We also believe the National Weather Service was inexplicably slow in issuing a snow advisory. While one can argue that the first snow of any kind justifies the issuance of an advisory, the band of heavier snow that began to set up over the south metro shortly after noon should have triggered an advisory. This seemed a missed opportunity for public awareness about deteriorating road conditions. The advisory was issued close to 3 p.m.
As we said, we didn’t watch every forecast from every media outlet leading up to the storm. Did you see any forecasts or official comments that you thought were especially on or off for this storm forecast?