This is a quick recap of the storm for the Mid Atlantic on March 6 that didn’t hit the cities as expected. So let me start out of the gate by saying it was a bust. That’s what I know many want to hear and I will own up to it like I have for good and bad forecasts before. This winter has been full of them.
Below is a recap that I hope you read before grading my forecast. There were areas that did get snow all day and close to what they expected and more. Parts of northern Virginia and West Virginia got 15-20 inches of snow. Many others felt cheated with north. They might want to know why, and deserve to. Please see the slide show for the local snow totals and my original forecast for comparison. A few noted spots are listed below. Also see this video forecast animation showing how the Canadian Model actually got this right, but I gave up on it.
A day off of school for weather is supposed to be for something really bad. Not having snow for kids waiting for it is even worse. I am a dad who thankfully was in the snow zone today. But I get it!
This storm was hyped all over the place. Besides this cute name Snowquester given by the Capital Weather Gang, The Weather Channel called it Saturn. They even sent Jim Cantore to Washington. That’s the real deal right there. But local news stations adjusted to expanded coverage too. Schools shut down and businesses closed. That hurts schedules and potential income. That is what feeds the anger many feel. I stayed consistent with my forecast for a few days, while others ramped up and even beyond my call. NWS did leap over my snowfall forecasts the night before. But this is not about them. It is about my forecast and how you viewed it.
The toughest thing about this forecast was that it was suppose to snow with temperatures staying above freezing. So combine that with a March sun angle and the debate about how much could stick was one worth having again. I remember a storm in 2004 or 2005 that was similar to this on Feb 28 and March 1. It snowed all day. Schools were closed, but the roads were wet. It was all about the higher sun angle hurting stickage. Once the sun went down, the snow piled up 3-6 inches. Still, that day was seen as a loss. But we have had big March storms before. See a history of notable March Snowstorms to get you in the mood.
While I appreciate the large social network I have built up, it doesn’t serve me any good to be very wrong. . I forecast publicly for free, but am often promoting a mobile app called Kid Weather that I made with my son. I don’t play a role in major decisions by the State of Maryland. I do have some clients I consult for, one of which is a Maryland County school transportation system. I was clear in explaining all aspects of this storm. While I was consistent with my call, I made sure to describe what could go wrong. Those points were in my forecast for you and will be relisted below. That is not a cop out., but always a part of a snow forecast. It is like kicking a football and letting it bounce. It won’t always land your way.
This storm was supposed to be much more snowy and it started off that way. Rather than get too technical, I just want to bullet point what went wrong. Please compare this to my formal forecast and notes I made the day before. These items were discussed, but we ended up on the loosing end of the weather stick.
The main busts from my forecast:
· Snow for Baltimore was expected to be in the 6-10 inch range. BWI verified a trace. It snowed or mixed most of the day, but it didn’t stick.
· Annapolis was supposed to be in the 3-6 inch range. They had nothing but rain all day.
· Eastern Shore focused on Easton was supposed to get 1-4 inches. I was even on the radio discussing that in the morning. They were suppose to be rain all day, but turn over mid afternoon and have accumulation after 5pm.
Why was the snow so far off?
· East wind overnight expanded the warmer marine layer. I expected rain in the morning near the Bay, but that rain zone spread farther.
· Intensity of the precipitation was not as strong as forecasted all the way through. The Dynamic Cooling I described was that snow would fall when it was heavy as it dragged down colder air. Lighter intensity would turn back to rain. That happened for many.
· March sun angle was too strong. It snowed all day in many areas that did not get stickage. Even the snow from overnight melted in many areas.
What went right?
Well the snow that fell about 10-15 miles west and north of Baltimore piled up fast. Many areas had 3-5 inches of snow in the morning and were well on their way to reach the top end of the zone. I even said that 10 inches of snow was within reach, and it was. But the temps above freezing didn’t help.
How close was it?
Reisterstown sits 10 mils northwest of the Baltimore beltway and had 4.5 inches of snow, but Pikesville on the beltway had only 1 inch.
In Harford County Fallston had 5 inches in the morning, but 10 miles east Bel Air had little to none.
BWI only had a trace of snow, but a few miles north in Catonsville then had between 2-3 inches. That is on top of a large hill, which helped.
Winds were expected to be strong and they led to a crash that closed the Bay Bridge. BWI gusted to 36 mph, but many areas were over 40 mph. The WeatherBug station in Ocean City reached 68 mph.
The ocean led to beach erosion. The water breached Rt 1 north of Bethany Beach.
Grade my forecast:
I could go on with more, but if you are reading this far you may already understand it. What I don’t understand is how crass people can be with their anger. I’ve seen it all and that was on display on my Facebook page today. But I invite you back there to this post to give me a grade. I do not want style or niceness points. A true grade for this forecast as you see it. Be it just for your house, or the overall region. Considering that I cover a large region across Maryland and southern PA, then I have to base it on that. On that note, here is my grade and you can mark me accordingly.
Western and Northern Suburbs of Baltimore: B. Snow fell, roads were wet as mentioned during the day, but amounts were just below 6 inches. This area does over about 40% of my forecast region.
Baltimore City, along I-95, Anne Arundel County, Harford, Cecil Counties: F The low end of 6 inches for the city and 3 inches for Annapolis didn’t happen. This is the most densely populated area, but only about 30% of the real estate.
Eastern Shore: C It rained most of the day. The winds were strong. The back end snow did not arrive at night.
So the overall event would be a C
I have thought about this and have no reason to be easy on myself for those who are angry. So I understand if this does not work for you. Please let me know what you think. Just keep it clean please.
Please read My Winter Forecasting Manifesto for my forecasting philosophy. For reference and other Baltimore snow history, see these weather pages on my web site justinweather.com.
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