Tags: blizzard | snowstorm | NWS | weather service | admits | uncertainty | communicating

Weather Service Chief Admits Errant Snowfall Predictions

By    |   Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 10:52 PM

The director of the National Weather Service said Tuesday that the agency did not effectively communicate the uncertainty in its predictions for New York City and Philadelphia, where snowfalls fell far short of what had been forecast.

"It is incumbent on us to communicate forecast uncertainty," Louis Uccellini said, The Washington Post reports. "We need to make the uncertainties clear.

"We’re going to review this [issue of communicating uncertainty in forecasts] very carefully and assess a different approach as we deal with these types of storms," he told reporters.

NWS forecasters had predicted as much as three feet of snow falling in New York and two feet in Philadelphia as part of a huge storm that blanketed far larger amounts throughout the East Coast and New England.

 But the great storm was a bust in the New York City region, which received only 10 inches — and about two inches fell in Philly, The Post reports. By contrast, more than 20 inches fell in Boston, according to The Boston Globe.

The forecasts for the Mid-Atlantic region were so far off because the uncertainty of the conditions was not sufficiently conveyed and forecasters zeroed in solely on the worst-case scenarios, according to the Post.

Uccellini, however, defended that approach as "the right decision" by NWS personnel, given the potential for "extraordinary" snow totals.

Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told the Post that the forecasts greatly aided preparations.

"The NWS forecast is just that — a forecast," he said. "And we need to be prepared to respond to incidents based on the best available information.

"The most important aspect of this event is that people responded and lives were saved."

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The director of the National Weather Service said Tuesday that the agency did not effectively communicate the uncertainty in its predictions for New York City and Philadelphia, where snowfalls fell far short of what had been forecast.
blizzard, snowstorm, NWS, weather service, admits, uncertainty, communicating
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2015-52-27
Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 10:52 PM
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