Many dissatisfied with local snow forecasts
Wed, 21 Dec 2011 01:26:00 GMT —
The foot of snow which hit the northern parts of the Texas Panhandle Monday has many people upset with local meteorologists, as some predicted Amarillo would see the same amount.
According to the National Weather Service, the storm system ended up going 50 miles north of where it had been anticipated to go.
"You shift that upper-level storm system by 50 miles to the south and you're talking about a very severe impact on the I-40 and I-27 corridors," Meteorologist Justyn Jackson stated. "So, in that respect, we actually got fortunate that we didn't see the worst conditions, especially the blizzard conditions that folks across the northwestern part of the Panhandle received."
About 1,000 weather balloons are released all over the world each day. They transmit data about the weather back to computer models used by meteorologists. The shift in direction by Monday's storm could have been pinpointed had weather balloons tracked it. But in northwest Mexico where the storm sat for two days, there were no balloons.
StormSearch 7 Chief Meteorologist Steve Kersh said random weather patterns, differences in computer models and the personal opinions of meteorologists sometimes cause them to make different predictions than their colleagues.
"I tend to be a little more conservative in my forecasting, especially when it comes to snow because I've been burned before," he said. "And, so, I went with that northern track. Our computer model also went with the northern track of the storm."
Kersh predicted two to four inches of snow, while other local meteorologists predicted nearly a foot. No stranger to scrutiny, Kersh admitted people can sometimes use the wrong information to decide which forecast they are going to believe is factual.
"I think, sometimes, our viewers can get information overload," he said. "They'll watch us, they watch Channel X, they watch Channel Y, they watch The Weather Channel, they'll check their phone. They'll check all these sources and they'll take all the information, they'll add it up and they'll go, 'Ok, this is what it's going to be.'"
Despite the disappointment in Amarillo's "lack of snow," Monday's storm did have an upside. The rain preceding the snow was more than Amarillo typically sees throughout the entire month of December. With the drought the city has seen this year, that is something everyone should be thankful for.