What happened with the snow storm, and why it was so off for so many

Published: Dec. 10, 2018 at 9:34 PM EST
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A snowstorm to remember.

We knew forecasting this storm it was not going to be anywhere near perfect. This was an extremely difficult forecast and the problem was that we had very little information even in the days leading up to Sunday. The exact track was going to make or break this storm and a slight shift was going to mean the difference between getting absolutely nothing, and getting slammed with snow. Some of us ended up getting slammed with snow.

The storm track as a whole, didn't really shift. The northern edge ended up just north of the Shenandoah, Rockingham county line, and the southern edge near Charlotte North Carolina.

The problem was the heaviest core of the snow, expanded more north, east, and west than expected. We weren't the only ones that failed to forecast this. Everyone did.

There ended up being more intensity in this storm. That, combined with temperatures in the 20s, made for more snow. The colder it is, the more the snow can accumulate. You will have much more snow at 23 degrees, than you will at 33 degrees.

The impact of the storm, remained the same. If you remember earlier in the week I said, get where you need to be Saturday night because I highly recommend not driving Sunday, especially south of about Augusta county. The roads were always expected to be the biggest impact, which they were.

Sometimes there is so much focus on a number. An exact number of snow. It's more the impact that we all need to focus on. Will there be travel issues, school and work delays, power outages, etc.

A storm is much more than just the amount of snow you receive.

We fully accept that we were wrong, for many with this forecast. However, we did accurately state how extremely difficult this storm would be, that there would be a very sharp and tight gradient in the snow, and that a small shift of 20-40 miles could mean a huge difference, and that it did. If you look at the snowfall report graphic, there was a difference of 7" of snow in the 20 miles between Staunton and Harrisonburg. In Augusta county alone, there was a range of about 5-18" of snow. That's an impossible forecast.

As good as forecasting has gotten, it's not a perfect science nor will it ever be. We will continue to put out updates and alerts as needed on the WHSV weather app. That was something we were continuously updating all day on Sunday.

Winter hasn't officially started yet, and it's already been a busy year. On to the next storm.