What The Forecast?!?

Not that I encourage it, but if you were flipping through the channels this morning, clicking around other websites, or checking different weather apps on your phone, you may have noticed a WIDE variety of forecasts for this coming week.  You probably saw either several inches of snow, an inch or more of rain, or something in between.  And depending on where you looked all of that precipitation started on Tuesday or didn’t arrive until Thursday.  Here’s why…

Forecasts beyond a few days are largely based on computer model predictions, or specific calculations of atmospheric variables done by computers.  However, those calculations are based on assumptions and estimations that are incomplete, limited by computational resources, or inadequately representative of the actual atmosphere.  Errors tend to become exaggerated over longer time scales.  In other words, "models make mistakes." 

Right now there are two camps.  One set of models has the storm coming up from the south and hugging the coast as it moves into New England.  In that case, it would take less time to get here and the precipitation might begin as early as Tuesday.  We would get less total precipitation, but more of it would fall as snow.  The other set of models has the storm taking a more westward track, closer to the Great Lakes.  In that case, the storm probably wouldn’t arrive until Wednesday night, there would be much more precipitation, but almost all of it would fall as rain as temps soar into the 50s.  Think this past Tuesday. 

Sometimes averaging the models together gets you the right solution.  In that case, we get something in between.  Quite often though, there is a right solution and a wrong one.  Right now, if I had to pick one solution, I’d go with the westward track.  So, a warm, wet, windy Thursday in my forecast.  In the meantime, we might get a coating of snow early Monday morning, but that doesn’t look like a big deal and will probably be overshadowed by whatever happens later in the week.