WATCH: New York was shutdown in advance of a blizzard than never really hit the city. But head a little bit north and the storm showed no mercy. There’s not just heavy snow, but flooding and high winds that brought travel to a virtual standstill. Jackson Proskow reports.
TORONTO – Snowpocalypse. Snomaggedon. It was touted as possibly being the worst blizzard in New York City’s history.
Except it wasn’t. It wasn’t even a contender.
How bad is air travel due to the blizzard? Check out the ‘misery map’
Blizzard of 2015: Boston area hit by howling blizzard; New York gets off easy
Blizzard-stricken East digs out amid forecast 2nd-guessing
Did meteorologists —; often accused of being wrong —; overreact?
READ MORE: Blizzard of 2015: Boston area hit by howling blizzard; New York gets off easy
One forecaster is getting a lot of attention after sending out an apologetic tweet.
You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry.
— Gary Szatkowski (@GarySzatkowski) January 27, 2015
Forecasting the weather isn’t an exact science. We all know the days where it’s forecast to rain and it ends up being a sunny day. Or the days are forecast to be clear and sunny, and we’re caught in a downpour.
But there are so many factors that can influence the weather that it makes forecasting it difficult. Sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t play nice. There are so many variables to consider: the jet stream, fronts, air masses, air pressure, cloud cover, temperature, and how these things (and many more) interact with one another.
When it comes to the “Blizzard of 2015” (it’s a rather optimistic moniker considering it’s only January), the forecast did say it could be a “potentially dangerous” storm and, as with any forecast, there were no guarantees.
Meteorologists use weather models to forecast the weather. And they hardly ever agree. So they need to do their best to interpret them and issue forecasts based on that. And sometimes they’re wrong.
On Tuesday, National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini told reporters during a telephone press conference that forecasters were using a particular model that they felt “comfortable with” that indicated heavy precipitation over Manhattan. But as the storm neared, they realized that it wasn’t as accurate and turned to another model that indicated the storm would be farther to the east and move north along Long Island into New England. And that was the more accurate model.
WATCH: New York escapes blizzard of 2015. Global’s Jackson Proskow reports.
Some areas didn’t get hit hard, while others did. In Connecticut, for example, 58 cm of snow was reported in Waterford. In Brookfield, about 100 km further inland, only 9 cm had fallen by Tuesday afternoon.
While it’s true that New York didn’t see nearly the amount of snow forecast (60 cm), the city had good reason to issue the advisory. It’s a case of better safe than sorry. There still were blizzard warnings in place in the city on Tuesday morning, which meant snow, high winds and lowered visibility. It’s about keeping the public safe.
Manhattan received 20 to 25 centimetres. But on parts of Long Island —; the same city —; 43 cm fell. That’s a big difference.
A group of teens from Texas play snow-ball-fighting on a deserted street in New York’s Times Square during a snow storm on January 26, 2015.
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
The reason why, is because the storm formed further to the east. Its track moved northwest allowing less snowfall to be dumped on New Jersey and New York state.
Louis Uccellini, congratulated national and local officials for taking action which, he believed ultimately saved lives.
“It’s never an easy decision to close roads, transportation services, schools and businesses. But in this case, it was the right decision. As a result…we’ve seen far fewer storm-related deaths, traffic accidents and traffic jams than previous winter storms of similar nature.”
Uccellini even addressed Gary Szatkowski’s tweets.
“I understand Gary’s disappointment. National Weather Service meteorologists feel a tremendous sense of responsibility and pride to get weather forecasts right. And when a forecast is not verified, we do feel personally responsible,” Uccellini said. “However, it is vitally important that the American public understand that a tremendous amount of science and scientific expertise goes into each forecast.”
“We work hard to get the forecast as accurate as possible each and every time. But given the uncertainties in this case and the tens of millions of people affected by this storm…this was the right forecast decision to make.”
So while people may be quick to attack forecasters for being wrong, ease up: it’s a difficult job. Perhaps it’s a case of the media doing a better job of providing the public with more accurate forecasts in terms of the possibilities.
And by the way, New York: Boston and parts of the Canadian Maritimes are still getting pounded by the snow and high winds. Coastal Massachusetts is experiencing severe flooding which could be exacerbated around 6 p.m. during high tide. This still was a significant storm, even though central Manhattan didn’t get hit as hard.
A man uses a snow blower to dig himself out of the snow on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 in New Bedford, Mass.
AP Photo/Standard Times/Peter Pereira
It can be a lonely world being a weather forecaster.
(From the movie, The Weatherman.)