Winter Storm Hype

Friday, January 28th 2011, 2:33 pm
By: News On 6

There's a lot of buzz regarding the potential for a significant winter storm for next Tuesday, February the 1st. Yes, several of the weather "computer models," or "computer guidance" meteorologists interpret are suggesting heavy snow or ice. However, personal "experience" and "logic" dictates a cautious approach; especially with something as dynamic as a winter storm. 

Across the contiguous United States is a surface observation network known as ASOS - Automated Surface Observing System. This system is comprised of hundreds of weather sensors that measure surface temperature, dewpoint, wind, air pressure, precipitation and other various parameters. Upper-air data is collected via weather balloons known as radiosondes, which are released twice daily from various spots across the country.

All the data collected from these two observational networks are ingested by weather computer models to predict the weather. It's up the human forecaster to interpret the computer model forecast, and interject his or her own knowledge and experience to come to a final conclusion on the week's weather. 

This is the exact scenario which is going to unfold over the weekend. The weather computer models are predicting a major winter/ice storm for next Tuesday, but a smart forecaster would know the high degree of uncertainty that a system out over the waters of the Pacific, out of the land-based observational network possesses.

Could Oklahoma be dealing with a significant snow/ice storm next Tuesday?

Yes, it's possible; and confidence for a winter storm is increasing - I'll agree with that. Until this system can be better sampled from our various observation networks, this meteorologist's experience and logic tells him to proceed cautiously, and resist the hype.