I wanted to use this space to bring everyone up to date on the potential for accumulating snow Friday into Friday night. As you are probably aware, a major winter storm is likely to strike the East Coast and parts of the mid-Atlantic region. Will it impact the Valley?
First, a word on apps and social media.
Most weather apps, including The Weather Channel, have forecasts that are largely generated by computer algorithms. The forecasts are largely based on one run of one model with minimal (if any) human input. No human forecaster is sitting at a computer at the Weather Channel stewing about how much snow Youngstown Ohio will see. This is just how these large weather companies have to do it when they have to be able to provide a forecast for millions of points on the Earth.
So, when you see an app such as the Weather Channel saying “5-8 inches of snow” 4-5 days out, keep in mind what you are looking at. It is mostly just computer-generated junk.
There are THOUSANDS of Facebook weather pages out there these days. Some are really terrific. Many are awful and are run by individuals without the training, education and expertise to forecast the weather. This graphic from the NWS sums it up well:
On to the storm.
Where is it now?
The piece of atmospheric energy that will eventually produce the storm is still over the Pacific ocean!
This is important. Why? A couple of reasons. Our computer models are fed information from weather balloons that are launched over LAND, so when a system is over the ocean it is not being sampled very well. When this system gets over the US tonight and tomorrow morning, the models will have more information and should therefore have a better handle on it. Secondly, this system will interact with the Rocky Mountains and when it emerges on the other side it may look a lot different than it does now.
With the information available now (as flawed as it may be), here’s what we think.
1) This will probably be a huge storm for parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Look at these huge odds of 12″ or more on the European model. It it almost a lock that a lot of people will see 12″ or more and 2 feet is possible.
2) The storm is likely to cause huge problems for air travel nationwide.
With major airports such as those in DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC and Boston impacted, a ripple effect will occur across the country. Flying Friday through the weekend? Be ready for trouble.
3) The forecast for The WFMJ viewing area is a tough one at this point. It will get easier over the next 36 hours.
There will be a SHARP snow accumulation cutoff on the northwest wide of this storm. The distance between those who get several inches of snow and those who get nothing will not be very large.
We think that accumulating snow is most likely south and east of Youngstown. The heaviest snow is likely to be south and east of Pittsburgh.
The NWS odds of at least 2-3 inches of snow seem reasonable to me at this point.
We are confident that if we see precipitation it will be all snow and not a mix.
4) Odds do NOT favor a big storm for our viewing area
I am not ready to take it “off the table” that we get a “big” storm of 6 inches or more, but I think odds favor less than that. I think it is possible that parts of our viewing area get next to nothing out of this. The farther north and west you live, the less snow you are likely to see.
European model odds of 6 inches or more:
A range of 0-20 or 30% for our area.
5) Stay up on the latest forecasts.
There will be new information available as we go through the next 48 hours so stay up on the latest forecast. You know that I will be updating this blog and social media constantly.