January 26, 2021

Snowfall in the Midwest

Snowfall in the Midwest

It is a time honored tradition that everyone blames the weather forecasters for being bad at their jobs. In fairness, their general forecasts are reasonably accurate. Although, I've heard it said that you'll be right at least 50% of the time if you forecast the exact thing you had today for tomorrow, so perhaps general accuracy in forecasts is not that big a deal.

For me, the biggest trigger of skepticism is the forecasting of winter storms and especially their snowfall amounts. Last night into this morning we had a winter storm and it snowed. The forecasters correctly predicted the storm, but the snowfall predictions varied from 2 inches to 12 inches. That's quite a range and shows massive uncertainty. One forecaster said 2 to 4 inches. Another said 8 inches. I even heard tell of a forecast of 12 inches. In the end we got somewhere around 7 inches, according to my very unscientific measurement with a ruler on my driveway.

It seems to me that the more urgent the forecast of impending doom, using terms like snowmaggedden and snowpocalypse, the more likely we are to get very little actual accumulation. It's as if the local TV and radio forecasters play games to see who can scare their audience into staying home the most. (As a pastor, this is quite unappreciated on Sunday mornings!)

For the past couple of years, I have become increasingly less interested in checking the weather forecast. I only found out about this storm on Sunday when our server at the restaurant commented that we were supposed to get 12 inches on Monday/Tuesday. I have switched to very much just waiting and seeing what we get. If a big storm is forecast my congregation will let me know with phonecalls and texts asking if we're still planning to have service with all of the bad weather in the forecast.

Tags: Observations