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What You Should Know About Snow Forecasts This Winter Season

3 months ago
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Meteorologists aim to provide the public with helpful guidance on impending snowstorms, including projected snow totals. However, predicting snowfall amounts precisely poses inherent difficulties even just one day in advance.

Multiple interconnected factors influence snowfall forecasts and last-minute changes frequently occur. Appreciating the obstacles meteorologists face when forecasting snowfall helps the public set reasonable expectations and make sound preparations when snow is expected.

The Evolving Puzzle of Factors Impacting Snowfall Projections

Reliably anticipating snow amounts requires assembling a complex, constantly changing puzzle. Meteorologists must accurately predict multiple variables five days to a week ahead of a potential storm.

Most significantly, forecasting a possible snow event’s eventual track, moisture content and temperature days before its arrival proves especially tricky. Subtle forecast adjustments of any of these elements dramatically alters snow projections.

Additionally, the public primarily focuses upon eventual totals rather than precipitation type. People expect relatively precise snowfall predictions.

However, small moisture forecast mistakes make enormous snowfall estimate differences. If meteorologists correctly projected a quarter inch of rain and double-materialized, people would accept the error. Conversely, perceived failure occurs if meteorologists expect three inches of snow and a foot accumulated.

Meteorologists initially detect possible snow-producer formations developing as disturbances thousands of miles away over the Pacific Ocean. The computer models guiding forecasts may inadequately characterize these distant features’ current strength and future path days ahead.

Consequently, early model snowfall depictions for a specific location far in advance are seldom verified accurately. Snowfall estimates constitute well-educated guesses rather than certainties until the event nears.


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