Thursday, April 18, 2013

A word on today's forecast "bust"

Sometimes Mother Nature throws a curve ball. Despite multiple days of buildup based on weather computer models that printed out scenarios involving severe storms with damaging wind and possible tornadoes, tonight's cold front has come through with little fanfare.  In fact, by late afternoon, the atmospheric setup was so borderline, a watch box was not even issued for most of the metro.  This after two days of Moderate Risks, hatched areas, and 45% risk zones.

Was it hype? No, absolutely not. Was any preparation you might have made for naught?  I would think not.  Meteorologists take the information they are given, combine it with their knowledge of the atmosphere and, in many cases, years of experience in a region, and put together their best forecast.  Typically, that forecast is pretty darn close to what actually happens, especially in the first 3 days or so.  Sometimes, despite the latest technology and years of experience, we bust.

Today, despite getting most parts of the forecast right, the expected intensity of the storms was way over-done, at least in this part of the Mid-South. We messed up! One of the key problems: too many clouds contributed to too little instability. There just wasn't enough "juice" to fire up the storms to severe intensity.  Many of you are OK with that - you don't like severe weather anyway.  For those of us in the business, we learn from it, add it to our case studies, and move on.  We'll bust again sometime down the road.  But hopefully there will be some home runs before then.

In the meantime, enjoy the pollen wash and promise of reduced post-frontal humidity.  Just don't accuse your local weather guy (or gal), or the NWS or Storm Prediction Center, of hyping or creating a mountain from a molehill.  We didn't say "tune in at 10 to find out whether you'll live to see tomorrow," we simply provided the best forecast we could based on the information we had to work with. In this case, Mother Nature decided to throw that curve ball.  We'll gladly step up to the plate and take another swing in the next at-bat.

--Erik Proseus, MWN Meteorologist

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