Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Dog Days of Winter

As we move into February, the weather is doing its own Groundhog Day routine. The weather seems to be stuck like a needle on a record, playing dry, warm weather over and over again.

Use this space to discuss any changes you see coming down the pike.

TMF's CEO took this picture of a bee picking over faded blossoms of a rosemary plant in northern Virginia (outside of DC) on Feb. 1. Unbelievable!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Weather Service Staff at MOA This Weekend. Who's In?

Randy in Champlin, a regular contributor to TMF, asked that we pass on notice that staff from the National Weather Service will be at the government expo at the Mall of America this weekend. He notes that they are very accommodating and will answer all kinds of questions. In addition to having the opportunity to talk to the NWS staff, this might also be an opportunity for regular visitors to TMF to meet others and put the proverbial face to a name. Information about the event can be found here. If you think you may go and want to meet others, feel free to leave your plans, expected time of visit, etc., here.

Forecaster Profile: Patrick Hammer, KSTP Morning Meteorologist

Forecaster Profile: Patrick Hammer, KSTP Morning Meteorologist
In the first of a series to help familiarize readers with Twin Cities weathercasters, Minnesota Forecaster sat down with Patrick Hammer, KSTP morning meteorologist, for a wide-ranging conversation. Patrick spoke about everything from what attracted him to Minnesota, his California roots, KSTP’s forecasting philosophy and how he was originally expected to work in the family’s retail clothing business. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t working as television meteorologist?
A: I have no idea. Well, I guess I’d have worked in the family business in San Francisco, where I grew up. It was a mens and boys clothing store called Young Mans Fancy where everyone in San Francisco went as a boy to get their first suit. That was kind of my path. But when I was working at the store I also interned at local TV stations in San Francisco and my grandparents didn’t know. They would have been like, “Weather? You like weather? We don’t like weather. This is what you’re gonna do.” I loved the tradition of the store but I knew the retail industry was kind of going like this [he motions downward] and I had this passion for weather since I was two. I had to do it.

Q: How did you go about pursuing a career in weather?
A: When I went to college, USC did not offer a degree in meteorology. I also had an interest in urban planning, still do, and became a teaching assistant in the Geography Department. The Geography Department had some of the weather classes. So that at least got me into weather even though I didn’t major in it. When I got out of college, I went into real estate office leasing in San Francisco. Then I went back to work at the store. And that’s when I said, “OK, I got to do this.” I got my AMS seal in 2002. I didn’t get my first on-air job until I was 26, which is later than people who get weather degrees right out of college. Even though I knew what I wanted to do, I had a different way about getting there.

Q: How did your career evolve from there?
A: I got my first on-air job in Chico, California in July 1996. I thought I’d be there for six months. But it was a party school, and at the time I was 26 and I’m like, “this is awesome.” I’m reliving my college life. Four years later, I’m still there and I’m the chief meteorologist and everything and then finally my buddies came to me and said, “You gotta get out of here, you’re never going to grow up.” So finally, in 2000, I left. I went to Albuquerque, then Seattle and then I did a stint in San Francisco, which was my hometown and my home market. It was for the sister station of the station in Seattle. I worked there for a couple of months, but it was only going to be kind of a part-time, temporary fill-in kind of situation… and with a wife I knew I needed something more stable. So I came out here in 2005. I’ve always dreamed about working in Minneapolis just because of the weather. In San Francisco you get some interesting weather in the winter but in the summer it’s “fog on the coast, sunny inland” and that gets old. So this market is far more challenging. And for that reason, I love it.

Q: What’s it like to be a meteorologist in California?
A: The weather in places like San Diego is an afterthought, and it’s just not a promotable thing. People don’t really watch it because it’s fairly predictable. Now they all have their little idiosyncrasies there. You’ve got the coastal eddy and how that affects fog. And you get big temperature variations from the coast to inland, but other than that…. Here it was 103 last summer and the lowest temperature we had last winter was 16 below so that’s a 119 degree shift! I love that.

Q: It seems like a lot of meteorologists are from the Midwest and other parts of the country that get more “interesting” weather. Yet you’re from San Francisco.
A:  But you know even though you don’t live in a place that has severe weather, there are still microclimates there and the weather can be as fascinating and some very well known meteorologists have come out of San Francisco.

Q: What are some of the more interesting weather phenomena you observed and forecast while working in Chico?
A: Two of the most interesting features were the Delta Breeze and Tule Fog. The Delta Breeze occurs when there’s enough hot air that builds in the Sacramento Valley and eventually that hot air will lift and allow a cool breeze all the way from the ocean through the delta and you’ll go from 105 in Sacramento one day to 80 the next. That happens in the summer quite a bit. The Tule Fog happens in the winter. It’s high pressure and it can just envelop that valley with fog for weeks. It causes flight cancellations and many accidents. [Tule fog is named after the tule grass wetlands (tulares) of the Central Valley of California.]

Q: How attractive is to work in Minneapolis, where snow is obviously more common than in other cities?
A: When they get snow in a place like Seattle, it’s a big deal. And even though you hear people say, “It’s just an inch of snow” those hills are steep. And it does snow in Seattle. There are some years they’ll get snow five or six times. Some years you get none. But that was my draw to this place… winter. I love forecasting snowstorms and last winter I loved it. I mean how many 13-inch storms did we have? We had like three or four of them whereas my first couple of years here we were just getting this piddly stuff, and I’m like “what?” This isn’t going to work. I think we’re into this pattern over maybe the next year or two where weather swings will be more dramatic.

Q: What else do you find unique about this market?
A: There’s a lot of viewer loyalty in this market and, in particular, morning viewers are a little less apt to change. As the saying goes, “They don’t know who they like but they like what they know.” So having a little longevity is important, sticking around for a bit. When I first got here, I replaced a guy by the name of Jim Guy who had been here a long time. All of the sudden I showed up and people are like, “Who in the heck is this guy?” And it took a while to not only gain the respect of my coworkers but also to get warmed up to the viewers. I would say there was a Jim Guy hangover for at least six months.

You also don’t find many “rip and readers” [people who “rip” the forecast from the National Weather Service and essentially just read it] in this market whereas you get that in a lot in other markets. And believe me, I’m still learning. I learn every day from Dave, from Ian, from others… I mean, I watch.

Q: Do you feel like you’re an entertainer or a scientist?
A: I think it’s both. At the National Weather Service, they’re very good, but they’re notoriously a little drier. They eat, sleep and live weather and are more shift oriented. Yet, I take it home with me as well. When I’m twittering at home, it drives my wife crazy! You know we’re having dinner and I’m doing updates. But did I get into this to be on TV? No. Do I like being on TV? Yea, I like it. I have a passion for this and doing it in front of an audience. You’ve got to be personable and be genuine, because the minute you’re not yourself, the minute it sounds phony, people see that. You have to be real and I think most everyone is in this market. There’s not a lot of BS here because it wouldn’t survive.

Q: How has social media changed your role or your perception of your role?
I don’t do much with Facebook but I love Twitter. There’s just a lot more that we can do to engage an audience. I think it’s exciting. You know some guy said, “Thanks for all the Twitter information. Now I don’t need to watch any more.” And part of me initially felt that I didn’t want to give it all away, yet if you develop a relationship they will come to you when weather happens and when it’s necessary. And luckily in Minnesota there are more of those kinds of days than anywhere else. I don’t believe you can tweet something like, “Want to know how much rain we’re going to get? Tune in at 5.” People are smarter than that. Tell ‘em, but maybe don’t give it all away. But I don’t want to just text my 7-day forecast to everybody because yea, you do still want people to watch. But if they know you, when there is a time to watch you’re who they’ll go to I believe. It took me a little while to grasp that. Chikage (Windler) was helpful in getting me to understand that.

Q: How do you feel about the idea of employing confidence ratings in forecasts?
I see both sides of the argument for using confidence ratings. A guy I know in Albuquerque has something called a “bust potential” because storms in the southwest can be far more fickle. He would have a forecast for the storm but he would also include a bust percentage like 30 percent that this doesn’t work out. And they actually started promoting it and it was a cute little thing and something different that other people weren’t doing.

If I feel like there’s a lot of uncertainty, I communicate that by showing different models or explaining that models are showing different timing and amounts. Or I’ll say that new model information came in and while I’m not sold on it we can’t turn our back on it. But I think people think, “You’re a meteorologist, you should know.” Ultimately, I think you have to go with your gut, go with what you think and sell it.

Q: From our assessments on The Minnesota Forecaster, we’ve seen several instances where KSTP’s forecasts stand out from the collective consensus of other Twin Cities weather outlets. Why is that?
A: I’m glad to see that we’re not all the same, that we all have a little different way of doing things. We’re not afraid to take chances and go for it. I remember the day last summer when we hit 103. Granted, we all underestimated the temps that day, but we had 94 on Day 7 and everybody else had the low 80s. Sometimes you take a little bit of a risk. You knew there was a little bit of a chance that that warm front would have stayed south of us and we could have been cooler. But it kept showing up.

When we’re wrong, or if there’s a bust, it bugs me, obviously. Even if I said it was going to be sunny and it turned out to be cloudy. I mean is it really affecting people? No. But I got it wrong. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Q: How do you feel about sharing model-predicted precipitation amounts in your on-air presentation?
A: One of the things that has been a help, but in some ways a hindrance, is the fact that now we display model data which we never used to do years ago, and a lot of these systems like WSI have a built-in RPM model which often times nails it. It’s really something. However, some times it can be out in left field. And if you’ve got your forecast thinking all done and then all of a sudden this in-house model shows something different, don’t show it because you got to stick with your forecast, use it as maybe a tool internally, but don’t show it just because it looks good. One of the things that Dave (Dahl) does – and one of the things I really learned from him – was still kind of going old school. For example, when you make your snowfall forecasts don’t just throw out model data. Throw out what you’re thinking and use that as your forecast and not these models. We can become overly reliant on the models and sometimes you just have to go with what you see.

Q: Do you think forecasting beyond five days really makes sense?
A: Yea, I do. But I think beyond five days is really a trend. We could almost just say 80s, 90s, 70s, or mild vs. a specific temperature. But we stick with it. I think you have a pretty good handle. Are you going to forecast a 90 percent chance of snow on day 7? No. Usually our pops [percent chance of precipitation] won’t go any higher than 40 percent on Day 7. We just don’t know. But a lot of people go, “OK, we’re getting married next Saturday. What do you think?” And I always tell people it’s a week away. Here’s what I’m thinking. Call me back three days out and then we can nail it a little more clearly.

Q: Given that the Twin Cities have no elevation differences and the weather is not affected by close proximity to a large body of water, do you think it’s necessary for temperatures to be detailed in all of the towns and suburbs that comprise the greater Twin Cities?
A: That’s something that we talk about. Here’s the thing. There will be days where there will be a clear difference in north and south metro temperatures. There can be a warm front right through the state where there can be a huge change. And sometimes east to west. But nine times out of ten without elevation, without topography, an area that is fairly small is not gonna see a huge difference. There’s no land-sea effect. There’s nothing. But we’re reminded that people want to hear their town mentioned so if you say “In Buffalo or in Eden Prairie” that will resonate. Particularly in the summer, though, it’s hard to say that it makes much difference. But in the winter it can be a different story because sometimes you can clearly see that the south metro may get eight inches of snow while there may be one in Cambridge.

Now in San Francisco, they really use a lot of detail. They used to just have a 5-day forecast, but now they all do 7-day forecasts and three different ones: coastal, bay and inland … so there are many numbers up there. But you’ve got a huge difference.

Q: How do you feel about going on air when there’s severe weather?
I know that we all think we really like it when severe weather happens because we know we can own it. If it’s your day off, you come in and the station gets the helicopter up. When the North Minneapolis tornado happened, we set the bar very high. Dave and I teamed up and our helicopter was up showing what happened. One of the other stations stayed with golf and that really surprised me.

We have a policy and I think every station has it, too. If there’s a tornado warning in the seven-county metro, you go on. If it’s out of that, you still go on but you probably cut in. Last summer during the tornado, I came in and we covered up NASCAR. People can get angry. I made the mistake of taking a 20-second break off the wall-to-wall coverage and checked my email. A lot of people were not happy. But listen, if there’s a tornado warning in the metro… if we weren’t on and somebody dies... You’re mandated to show warnings and things. We’re not mandated to go wall to wall. And you don’t do it just because everybody else is doing it. It’s just what we do. And the Hubbards [owners of KSTP] completely support it.

Q: Do you foresee the day when severe weather coverage can be streamed so it doesn’t affect regular viewing?
A: I think that the technology is there for us or is just about there. We could just stream it online but not everybody’s got the Internet. My goal would be to put it on channel 45. Or why couldn’t we have taken NASCAR and put it on one of our other channels? But on the weekends there may not always be all the staff here that can figure that out.

The Minnesota Forecaster provides analysis of both the weather and those who forecast the weather for the Twin Cities. For periodic updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Forecasters Weigh in on Overnight Snow

As of mid-evening on Sunday night, here were the various forecasts for snow from tonight into Monday. The National Weather Service, MPR and @NovakWeather have the most bullish forecasts for snow accumulation.

WCCO: 1-3
KSTP: 1-2
FOX: 1-3
KARE: 1-2
NWS: 2-4
MPR: 2-4
Accuweather: 2.1
TWC: 1-3
Strib: 1-2 (early Sunday update)
Novak: 2-4

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Forecasters Scramble to Figure Out Sunday Snow Scenario

We haven't gathered all the various forecasts for a possible snow event Sunday night into Monday but it appears to be a particularly fluid situation. Some have suggested close to an inch of snow while others have suggested closer to the possibility of 2-4 inches (MPR mentions that possibility in a late Saturday night post.)

This forecast may well separate the men from the boys!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Weather Heartbreaker, Minnesota Style

In the end, even the weather produced a Vikings-esque performance.

In a winter that’s already established a number of daily warm records, a bigger, more significant and telling mark lay ahead. If the Twin Cities could go until Thursday, January 19 without recording a temperature below zero, it would establish a new standard for the latest sub-zero ever recorded – the ultimate warm record for this northern locale.

Never in the history of the Twin Cities had a zero degree reading meant so much.
The stage was set for this momentous weather achievement. As of Wednesday morning (January 18), the National Weather Service was predicting a record, forecasting temps to stay above zero until the wee hours of Thursday morning (January 19). Most other local weather outlets, while stopping short of guaranteeing a new record, were clearly expecting January 18 to be free of sub-zero temps. Even as late as early evening, The Weather Channel forecast temps to be three degrees above zero as the calendar turned to Thursday.

Hourly temperatures forecast by The Weather Channel
At 6 p.m. on January 18, the temperature was 25. While forecasters warned that the temperature would "drop like a toilet lid," the idea that it could drop 26 degrees before the clock struck midnight was considered highly unlikely. In a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment, Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas wrote the following in his daily weather blog, authored Wednesday evening (for reading on Thursday morning):

Welcome to the first subzero morning of winter, and a record-breaking one at that. We set a record for the latest subzero on record in the metro.

Indeed, the Twin Cities stood on the precipice. The champagne was on ice. Weather geeks around the metro area were looking for the Gatorade jug.

However, shortly after 6:30 p.m., just five and a half hours before the finish line, the temperature began a steady decline. From 6:33 p.m. to 6:53 p.m. the temperature dropped nearly six degrees to 19. But that still required a further drop of 20 degrees in the next five hours. The record seemed as safe as a commanding Twins lead with Joe Nathan taking the mound in the ninth inning (well, at least in better years).

Then Mother Nature began to heave a Hail Mary. The hour from 7-8 p.m. brought a staggering 10-degree drop in temperature to a bitter nine degrees, rocking the psyche of those who wanted to live through a most unlikely record. It was time to sweat; a photo finish looked increasingly likely.

Official temperatures recorded at MSP airport.
By this time, weather watching, or more specifically temperature watching, became a spectator sport among Twin Cities weather hobbyists and professional meteorologists alike. The words of @dlhmnwx30 said it best: “Eating popcorn while watching temp at MSP. Will it stay above 0 thru midnight?”

The prospect of setting a record grew darker with each passing hour. At 9 p.m., it was six degrees. An hour later it was a mere two. We were Rangers fans watching the Cardinals putting together a most unlikely two-out ninth inning rally.

The situation grew dire by 11 p.m., when the official airport temperature dropped to an even zero. All the work it took to set the stage for this unlikely, extraordinary record for mildness was on the verge of being wasted.

Lacking the ability to build an enclosed wall around the airport thermometer gauge, it was a forgone conclusion. The same destiny that produced four Super Bowl losses and a long dearth of sports champions (sorry, we can’t count the Links), was at work on the Twin Cities record books.

By 11:25 p.m. the temp officially dropped to one degree below zero. It remained there through midnight, cementing a weather consolation prize that left many disappointed.

Call it a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. In weather, as in sports, a tie is like kissing your sister.

The Minnesota Forecaster provides analysis of both the weather and those who forecast the weather for the Twin Cities. For periodic updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Watching for Possible Sub Zeros and Possible Snows

At last, winter was giving local meteorologists something to talk about. As of Tuesday night, there seemed to be a consensus that Thursday would likely record the Twin Cities first sub-zero temp of the season, the latest such occurrence on record if it pans out. There was also talk of a possible snow "situation" developing for Friday, though snow lovers and other interested parties are surely skeptical based on previous forecasts this year.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Let's Talk Weather Apps

I've volunteered to help a weather colleague gather a bit of feedback regarding weather apps. I know this post is a bit out of the ordinary but if you have a moment or two to provide a comment or two, I'd be most appreciative.

Three questions:
1) Do you use weather apps? If so, which ones do you use?
2) How have you learned about the weather apps that you use? How do you become aware of weather apps in general?
3) How would you classify yourself: very casual weather person, weather enthusiast, weather pro, etc?

Thanks for your help!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some Warm Predictions for Next Sunday

Although the Twin Cities is set to endure the coldest days of the winter so far (and perhaps all winter) in a mere matter of days, some forecasters are already targeting what could be a record warm Sunday a week from today. As we all know, such extended forecasts are prone to significant error (witness the fact that today's high of 40, was predicted to be 28 only three days ago), so we thought we'd put this one to the test. Per below, the spread in forecast highs ranges from 34 to 44. The record high for next Sunday is 51.

Tweet from KSTP's Patrick Hammer

Here are the forecasts we could find. We look forward to assessing these predictions a week from today.

WCCO: 36
KSTP: 34
FOX: 34
KARE: "30s"
NWS: 37
TWC: 43
Accuweather: 32
Intellicast: 44

It's Winter Halftime: Will Winter Reassert?

It's January 15, square in the middle of meteorological winter. Winter, as Minnesotans know it, has been slow to make its presence felt. Currently, it seems to be in the throes of a comeback, in cold if not snow. What does the rest of the winter have in store?

Based on ever-scientific observations of the coat of the official TMF dog, here's our guess as to how the whole winter will end up (including March, April and however long it goes):

38 inches snow
6 sub zero days
5.4 degrees above normal for December through February

What say you? (And don't forget to answer the new poll question at the right.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Dear KSTP,

First, kudos to you. You’ve amassed weather talent the way the Yankees acquire career .300 hitters.

You’ve also done a good job positioning the cast of seemingly likable guys as a team to be reckoned with. Who can claim deaf ears when baritone Tom Barnard intones, “If it wasn’t for that, the KSTP team couldn’t have predicted a day like today.” It gives a viewer chills, much as the graphic of the four stalwart forecasters in Mount Rushmore repose does.

But we’re wondering about the team concept, and more importantly, whether you’re aware that recent “mixed forecasts” are confusing us poor viewers.

Specifically, we refer to the Dahl-Barlow tandem whose presentations overlap through the myriad of KSTP evening newscasts. Several times recently, as documented by commenters to minnesotaforecaster.com, their predictions have been significantly different. What’s a viewer to make of this?

A good example of this took place on Monday evening. Dave, in both his online commentary and on-air presentation, predicted “at least a couple of inches here” on Wednesday. This prediction was a clear outlier in comparison to all other local forecasters, where most mentioned snow showers and flurries. We were curious what Ken would say when it came his time to forecast. Would he follow the station line and predict the same as the chief meteorologist or would his forecast be more consistent with others in town? (It was the latter.)

This same generally confusing scenario played out late last week when Ken stated, “No major storms in sight,” while Dave stated, “Big storm possible next week.” The situation was aptly summarized by a tweeter who said, “Same station, no agreement. Who’s right?”

It’s perfectly understandable that individual forecasters come to different conclusions. We all should know that forecasting is part science and part art. But KSTP goes to great pains to convince us it’s a team effort, yet these inconsistencies leave us to wonder.

Forecasters and the forecasting community often, and correctly, fault the viewer/consumer for lumping them all together under “they,” as in “they called for 4 inches of snow or they called for 50 degrees.” In reality, of course, they got confused by what they heard, from whom and when.

But when one evening KSTP forecaster predicts “at least several inches of snow” and another says “maybe an inch” just minutes later, the station itself is creating the confusion. It makes us question whether there is collaboration or even an attempt at forming a consensus.

Loyal viewers and weather watchers

P.S. Why does Ken Barlow always look like he’s racing to catch the bus when he not-so-gracefully exists the extended forecast screen?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Exactly WHAT Happened to Those Records?

On January 5, you’d have thought the most common word in the English language was “record.” It seemed you couldn’t read a weather-related tweet without seeing the word “record” surrounded by all kinds of action verbs. Here is a sampling of the verbs (and tweets) we found associated with records (though, strangely, we couldn’t find any that indicated records were in “jeopardy” and, truth be told, we'd like to see them simply "played over.")









Obliterated (from chasetheplains.com)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Admissions of a Snow Lover

Let me make one thing clear: I moved to Minnesota for the snow and cold.

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where the height of winter resembled, in a good year, Minnesota’s March. But the mid-Atlantic’s infamous Blizzard of ’66 and its 8-foot drifts left an indelible image on a 5-year-old easily dwarfed by what seemed like skyscrapers of snow.

And so from January 1966, the pursuit, the dream, was on. When I was old enough to live on my own, I endeavored to live in a place with a real winter that got real snow. I wanted it piled high and I wanted a kind of cold that was the stuff of legends – where exhaust freezes on contact, where tossed boiling water never hits the ground, and where frozen bananas could be used as hammers. At least that’s what I’d always thought.

Last year’s prodigious snows were welcomed. At the conclusion of each dumping, I found myself looking for the next big storm, the next Panhandle Hooker. More. I wanted more until I couldn’t see out my windows.

Last winter, I read Paul Douglas’s Star Tribune blog faithfully, my heart racing with each mention of two feet of snow as if Jennifer Aniston asked me if I were free on Saturday night. My ears grew wider with each Dave Dahl utterance of “more significant snow on the way.” Happiness was just a Winter Storm Watch away.

But then a funny thing happened. The first third of this “winter” has brought brown that, surprisingly, hasn’t caused me to be blue. As the host of a Minnesota weather blog whose activity depends on snowy weather, I’m at a loss to explain it all.

The flannel-lined jeans remain on the top shelf of the closet. The “serious” mittens have yet to see action. My dog walks confidently down sidewalks bereft of salt that usually stings his paws. And it doesn’t seem right that my California born-and-bred girlfriend has yet to report her first fall on the ice.

Maybe, just maybe, this is not so bad. My inner weather geek can find “coolness” in the possibility that this may be a record-setting snowless winter that I can tell my grandchildren about. And compared with all the dire predictions from the experts of a snowy, cold winter, I find unadulterated joy in knowing that weather – at least beyond the next day or two – still defies prediction.

My father, in his eternal eloquence, once reframed the elation I expressed on the first warm day after the snow had melted and it didn’t physically hurt to be outside. “It feels good when you stop hitting your head against a wall, doesn’t it?” he proclaimed. I think the old man was on to something.

Bill Stein is a communications consultant and editor of MinnesotaForecaster.com, a Minnesota weather blog.

New to the Minnesota Forecaster? You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Grades for the New Years Eve Snow

The second “event” (we use the term loosely because Thursday night/Friday produced essentially nothing) in three days proved to be an underachiever, though we do not consider last night’s rain/snow to be a bust. The official snow total at the MSP airport was 1.7 inches.

We’ve based our always subjective grades on forecasts issued mid-morning on Saturday with the idea that that was about 12 hours prior to storm onset and were the forecasts people could best use to plan their day. Many forecasters raised their forecast snow totals later in the morning based on newer model information.

MPR: A- MPR essentially nailed the storm (save for blowing and drifting snow which never materialized).

WCCO: C WCCO was among the most aggressive forecasters with a morning forecast of 2-5 inches. They generally maintained the forecast as late as 5 p.m., calling for 2-4 inches. We do appreciate @Matt_Brickman’s acknowledgement that totals were less than expected. (TMF followers know that we like forecasters who are straightforward in their post-event assessment.)

KSTP: B On the surface, KSTP’s morning forecast snow totals were in the ballpark. However, we think the storm still didn’t unfold as they thought. Their forecast was for “significant blowing snow.” However, due to the fact that virtually all snow fell when temps were above freezing, the snow was heavy and wet, and blowing/drifting never materialized.

FOX: C- It’s difficult to grade FOX because their website did not provide any forecast info in the morning. All we had to go on was a tweet in the late morning with predictions of 3-5 inches (and Sunday winds of 20-40 with gusts approaching 60 mph) and an evening prediction of 1-3. FOX was long on the snow estimate and as of this writing midday Sunday, the highest gusts have been 45 mph.

KARE: B- KARE’s morning forecast included a snow range of 1-4 inches, a range that we felt was unreasonably wide. They tightened it to 2-3 inches by the evening newscast, which was ultimately a little higher than actual.

NWS: D This was a disappointing performance by the National Weather Service. Their use of a winter storm warning seemed questionable from the start, and ultimately proved to be overkill.

Strib: B- The Strib’s initial forecast of 1-3 inches was in the range. However, they swayed with the majority of forecasters and became overly ambitious based on late morning model information.

Weather.com: C- Morning predictions were too low, evening predictions were too high.

Accuweather: C Morning predictions of a coating to an inch were too low. Interestingly enough, Accuweather’s forecast as of 5 p.m. was for 1.9 inches, quite close to the final tally.

@NovakWeather: C This grade reflects a mixed performance. Novak was among the first forecasters that we came across who saw the possibility of a New Years Eve storm of significant magnitude earlier in the week, a time when most others were pointing to wind as the most notable weather. However, Novak’s ultimate snow prediction was considerably too high.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts on our grades in the comments section below.

A reminder that you can follow the Minnesota Forecaster on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy New Year everyone!