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Many factors come into play when forecasting weather. Weather models vary on exact storm tracks. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Let's say a winter storm warning is issued for your area for heavy snow. Here is what the forecast, from the national weather service, holds.

WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 8AM UNTIL 4PM ET
Today...Snow. Snow could be heavy at times.
Snow accumulation 4-8 inches. Highs around 30.
East winds 10 to 15 mph CHANCE OF SNOW 70%.

One thing to keep in mind is there is a 30% chance that forecast won't hold true, resulting in less snow than anticipated and you ran out and bought a new snow blower and got a babysitter for the kids for nothing. But since there is a strong likelihood, a warning has been issued. Or perhaps the storms track could change resulting in more snow than forecast, but since 8 inches is a lot, if you ended up with 9 or 10 it wouldn't be much of a difference. Not the high being 30, well let's say it gets to 33. 33 is a temperature where the precipitation could change to rain. Be a little leery when seeing one forecast precipitation type when the temperature is flirting with 32 (30-35 I consider iffy), a shift in the storm track could result in warmer or cooler air filtering in. Timing and track is the key. Same holds true with a rain event, you've been issued a flood watch but the storm tracks further north than expected, resulting in little or no rain, just an overcast or mostly cloudy day. So you got your sandbags for no apparent reason

Or it's the middle of summer and the Storm Prediction Center is warning of a possible severe weather outbreak. So you flip on the news and they say look out for severe weather later, stay tuned for possible warnings.

Keep in mind several things come into play with severe weather, the ingredients must come together. It could so happen that it stays cloudy all day and no sun gets in to destabilize the atmosphere. Or the atmosphere becomes capped and the cap never breaks, but if that cap breaks, look out. therefore it must be made clear that things could get rough.

Another point to make is that the closer you get to the time forecasted the more accurate a forecast generally will be, however as the time for that severe weather to occur approaches your time and ability to properly prepare becomes less.

The moral of this is, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Don't bash your local friendly neighborhood meteorologist next time.

Expand got feedback?

by dslwanter See Profile edited by Axilla See Profile
last modified: 2006-03-03 16:52:49