Turning It Around
Posted by Pete Bouchard
Throughout the morning, our nor'easter remained stalled over Nantucket. As it gained a "second wind", renewed gusts rotated around it, hammering the Cape and the Islands to the tune of 50-60mph. I'm happy to say that over the last two hours, our nor'easter has finally shown signs of moving!
The forward speed should increase in the next few hours and as a result, the winds will drop dramatically and there may even be some breaks in the overcast toward sunset.
So what went wrong with the forecast? Why did so many places end up with more (plowable) snow than rain? There are many answers to that question, but the short story is that we had some unusually cold, dry air in place across Northern Mass. and Southern NH. That was carried into the storm on a north wind yesterday afternoon, changing the rain over snow within hours. As it kept feeding in, the snow got fluffier, the roads got colder, and we were caught in a feedback loop.
Behind the scenes, I'm a little disappointed in the weather models we use. We seem to have a widening gap between the short range (next 12-48hrs) and the medium and long range (two to seven days) models. They don't jive, they don't see eye to eye, and we're constantly filling the gaps between them. I dare say, sometimes I feel more confident in the 2-7 day period than a I do over the next 1-2 days!! The medium and long range model (from Europe) we use is the cream of the crop. It nailed Sandy's path 7 days out! Meantime, the shorter range models (from the US) still wanted to bring her to New England, push her through to Ohio, and generally fought among themselves over a solution.
Time will tell if we work the kinks out, but I don't hold out much hope. With the "fiscal cliff" on the horizon, there won't be much money devoted to new synergies between the government and academia over model improvements. But fear not, I've become pretty good at flying by the seat of my pants.
In the meantime, we're increasing the sun in the coming days (there is agreement on that matter), and juicing up the temperatures for the weekend. Confidence is running high on hitting the 60s by Veterans Day.