The snow is a beautiful thing, isn't it? I was just chatting with Chief Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin about how bare the ground looks lately, with all the leaves gone and all. We are, in fact, "late" for snowfall across the area this year when you look at the average first dates of 1" snow.
However a lot of towns and cities got their first inch of snow Monday, Nov. 26 and it wasn't really a good thing.
I say that because starting at about 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. the scanner started blowing up. Well, not literally but sounding off reports here and there for cars off roads or vehicle accidents. It didn't stop there. It lasted all the way through the morning rush. Employees here at the TV station were late by a half hour to an hour on average because of traffic delays and accidents Monday morning.
Let's break down what happened.
We had a small low pressure system move through the area. This thing wasn't huge, it wasn't a big snow maker, it was mostly energy in the higher levels of the atmosphere. I had my eye on this thing since Wednesday, November 21. I wrote down my forecast for 'Partly to mostly cloudy, mountain snow showers, low of 27 degrees and a high of 39' on that Wednesday, 6 days prior to the event. Based on previous research on my forecasts, Day 6 forecast can have big 'bust' potential, meaning I could get it way wrong. That's especially true in the winter when forecasts are statistically worse.
I had this storm on my radar for several days leading up to it. Before I left work Friday I still maintained the call for mountain snow showers, perhaps a dusting in the valleys with up to 1-2" in the mountains Sunday night and Monday. We ended up getting a little more. At our studio in Colchester, VT we got 1". If you asked me Friday to make a $20 bet if we'd get an inch, I'd take the 'no' side. But we got it. These "one-inchers" are tough to forecast. Their tough for people to plan their day too.
I started sounding the trumpet at about 5:30 a.m. Monday. All through our newscast I sounded it louder. By the way you won't find any local TV station, besides us, that provides four solid hours of local news and weather content each morning. I used those crucial hours between 7-9 a.m. to continue sounding that trumpet: "Go easy on the roads. Roads are slick. Allow an extra 5-10 mins depending where you live. Snow is on the ground."
We got a lot of feedback from people on our Facebook page. There wasn't much flack about an underestimated snow forecast. I think people understand that these 'inchers' can happen pretty often, and are pretty tough to forecast sometimes. There was a decent amount of flack on where the road crews were. I won't get into that.....at all.
I harp on myself to get the weather forecast right all the time. I know it won't happen. One, the weather is unpredictable to the point where we can't pinpoint exact conditions. Two, this is a unique forecast area with our TV signal reaching the St. Lawrence Valley and Montreal, QC to the Adirondacks, the 'Banana Belt' of the Champlain Valley, to the always interesting Northeast Kingdom. However we can try. We can get pretty darn close too.
However I don't like hearing, "Wow I was surprised to see this!" I'd like to eliminate that altogether as a meteorologist and forecaster. I don't know if that's possible, but I'd like to. In my short time as a forecaster (only five years) I have realized one thing. Eventually I have to let people out the door and go on their own way, and let them interpret the weather individually. I can give one heck of a forecast and nail it, but it all depends on an individual's decision making through the day. I can only hold a viewer's hand so far, before I let them out the door to proceed with their day. I just always hope that the viewer will always take the local weather forecast seriously.
-Meteorologist Steve Glazier
Wanda McDaniel - St. Albans, VT
JoAnne Wilkins - Cambridge, VT
Ken Bora - Burlington, VT