Franklin Fact Archive
Back to Franklin Facts homepage.
Back to TV12
THURSDAY JANUARY 25 - BIG SURPRISE SNOWSTORM LAST YEAR
During the 1990s, East Coast forecasters had great success in predicting two huge
snowstorms several days in advance: the "Storm of the Century" in March 1993 and
the "Blizzard of January 1996." Much of that success resulted directly from continued
improvements in weather computer models.
But last year on this date, those same models burned forecasters as an unexpected
six to twelve inches of snow fell across much
of the East Coast. These computer models
had predicted that the
storm would move harmlessly out to sea. The models did
eventually catch on to the
actual track of the storm, but only a few short hours
before the white stuff began. So many folks from North Carolina to New Jersey awoke
heavy snow that was largely unforecasted.
The lesson: these weather computer models were, still are, and will continue to be,
imperfect. Weather forecasting is a blend of human experience, knowledge, and
observation, all of those crucial to interpreting computer predictions - a
combination consistently better than just computer forecasts alone.