I woke up with a headache today (really, no drinks after the shows yesterday)…must have been lots of that stress hormone running through me yesterday afternoon and evening. What a depressing day for forecasters here in Portland. It’s time to break it down and see how things panned out.
First, let’s get this out of the way: We (I) really screwed up this forecast! We apologize to those of you stuck in the worst Metro area commute in my 18 years forecasting here.
See, that wasn’t so hard…the air feels more clear now. Let’s answer a few questions.
WHY WAS THE STORM & TRAFFIC SO BAD WITH ONLY 2-4″ SNOW?
1. It wasn’t forecast: 1-4″ of snow was widespread across the metro area with no one forecasting more than “maybe it could start as snow”. No TV weather people or the NWS.
2. Because of that no one had alternate plans or drove their “snow cars”: I normally drive a crappy (in the snow) two wheel drive that gets great mileage. I only drove the 4 wheel drive because I expected something frozen at my home in the western Gorge. Otherwise it would have happened to me too.
3. Timing was the worst it could be: The beginning of the afternoon commute when thousands of us were at work. If it was 6-9am most would have stayed home. If it was at 8pm everyone would have made alternate plans for the next morning. We were trapped at our workplaces.
WHY CAN’T YOU PEOPLE EVER GET IT RIGHT, YOU’RE WRONG AGAIN!
I have received 2 emails about this and seen harsh criticism on the Oregon Media Central site plus a few on this blog as well.
I am keenly aware (being in the TV business) that often “perception IS reality”. For years there will be residents that remember the big storm “they” screwed up…”see, they never get it right!” I could have 100 correct forecasts, screw up one big one and people will only remember that one. That’s human nature; so it goes, I’d be the same way sitting on the other side of the TV tube. But let’s get rid of all emotion and look at the reality. We’ve hit almost every major weather event the last few years. Here’s a list: 1. Last year’s major cold wave forecast 7-9 days ahead of time. 2. Snow arrival with cold wave forecast several days ahead of time. 3. Biggest snowstorm in decades forecast 3-4 days ahead of time last December (20th). 4. Worst heat wave in decades forecast 5-7 days ahead of time last summer. 5. Severe thunderstorms on June 4th. We knew, and mentioned, that good chance for afternoon storms moving into the Valleys. 6. Major cold spell this December forecast 5-7 days ahead of time by most of us.
The last time we really screwed things up was January 2007 (almost 3 years ago), remember the trace or so of snow that turned into 3-5″? So I think we’ve done pretty well the last 5 years.
WHY WAS THE FORECAST SO BAD?