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MONDAY MARCH 26 - THE STORM THAT WASN'T
In the 1990s, meteorologists had great success forecasting two very significant
East Coast snowstorms - the Blizzard of January 1996 and the "Storm of the Century" in
March 1993. Those two successes raised the bar for meteorologists, and raised the hopes
of the public that these storms could be foreseen a few days ahead of time.
That increased expectation, however, also means increased disappointment when forecasts
of a big storm don't turn out as expected, as happened three weeks ago today. Despite
such setbacks, forecasts today are better than they used to be. It might not seem that
way, however, partly because of those higher expectations.
In a way, the public's fury at the busted storm forecast a few weeks ago is an
affirmation of progress and a backhanded compliment to meteorologists. People
wouldn't be so furious over a bad forecast if they didn't already have a high level
of trust in weather forecasts. And people wouldn't have that level of trust unless
meteorologists had a pretty good track record of predicting big storms.