2010-11-28 23:51:35.000 – Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist
First off, let me just say, sorry about todays higher summits forecast, I blew it. I tried my best like I do every morning. I spend two hours or more each morning pouring over data preparing for my morning forecasts. I look at several satellite loops with various color enhancements (done manually and not done by yelling “enhance” at the computer or tech support like they do in movies). I look at surrounding stations current and past observations. I look at our own mesonet for information. I look at NHDOT and VDOT road weather stations if I need additional points of information. I then compare initialization to model numbers and various weather modeling maps. I look at radar maps to see how those are initializing. I examine model soundings as well as “real-life” soundings by NWS. And I look at various other weather tools in preparation for my forecasts. And when all is said and done, I write up my forecast, throw it online and head to bed shortly thereafter, hoping for the best with my predictions.
Six to eight hours later I wake up, first looking out the window then checking out our current weather conditions page that runs in real time in the living room. Each day I feel like a kid looking out the window to see if we’re getting a snowday or running down the stairs on Chirstmas Day to see if Santa brought everything I had imagined and asked for on my list. Some days I wake up and everything is magical. The weather, the temperatures, the winds, and the timing of it all is spot on and I feel good about life. Other times, the temperatures, the winds, the weather, and the timing are nowhere near what I thought and it feels…awful. The feeling, I imagine, is what Charlie Brown felt when he got a potato for Halloween or how a naughty kid must feel when they receive coal. And today/tonight is one of those days where I woke up to a sack of coal and potatoes as nothing I predicted or called for came true.
What I called for was fog free and mostly sunny skies, mid teens, and gradually decreasing winds. What we got was freezing fog, blowing snow, upper single digits, steady winds and snow showers. And this is continuing into the overnight hours, blowing my forecast even further. But if there are a few positive things to look at, it’s these. First, it snowed! Like I mentioned yesterday, we need more snow. Second, I wasn’t alone in my thinking. My coworkers, National Weather Service, and a few other private weather websites were calling for a similar, if not nicer, forecast. And lastly, even though the weather was worst then predicted, it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. It at least didn’t get to 100 mph gusts with negative temperatures and rain. It could always be a lot worst than predicted. But, it is days like today when the header of all our forecasts rings true: “Mountain weather is subject to rapid changes and extreme conditions. Always be prepared to make your own assessment of travel and weather conditions. This is one tool to help you plan a safe trip. Always travel with adequate clothing, shelter, food, and water.” So while my outlook and other outlooks may not have been the best tools to use today, hopefully anyone out and about today came prepared and were able to make their own assessments about the weather and conditions on their way up. It may not have been the weather I or you may have wanted but as long as you made it up and down safely, it was a good day. And I will try again tomorrow, hopefully with a bit more success.
Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist