Lessons Learned: In the Mind of a Meterologist

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By Sam Kantrow on January 31, 2013, 10:36pm Last modified: February 2, 2013, 8:55am

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Hey friends...hopefully your Friday is going well and most importantly, hopefully you have power!  The front that moved through early Thursday morning certainly packed a punch.  I was asleep...fast asleep and managed to sleep through the whole thing.  I woke up Thursday morning to a very summer-like scene in my driveway with leaves covering my car, and little branches all over the place!  Isn't it great that I got my car detailed yesterday? :)

Anyway, headed to work Thursday to check out some graphics and survey the damage via Report It, and things seemed pretty consistent with what we all expected things to be.  Gil actually talked to me about an interesting formula (a while back) to calculate the potential gusts at the surface based on the 850mb winds, and they seemed to verify pretty well with this front that passed.

It's really great having to keep up with what's going on all the time, because when certain situations repeat themselves, you truly learn a few things.  I have now learned two things recently that I now in my forecasting arsenal.  The first thing I've learned about is an annoying thing the forecast models tend to do during frontal passages.  More so the GFS and NAM, nonetheless it can be annoying.  

When we started checking out this cold front passage, the models were indicating that the front would be passing through from Wednesday afternoon, all the way to Thursday afternoon.  That's a long time for a front to continue to move and pass through the area.  These fronts always tighten up and move through much faster than the models think they do.  When I filled in for Gil on Monday, I had a feeling this would happen, but was a bit cautious and said we could say rain from late Wednesday into Thursday morning.  Lesson learned there, and next time I will make a bit gutsier call and say what I really think!

Lesson two learned has to do with cold air advection in the winter time.  Twice this winter I've gotten burned with this!  After a strong cold front passes by us, and low pressure is way off to the north, the lake effect snow machines are always out in full force.  The forecast models also very rarely forecast snow making it all the way down to us.  The thing I've learned recently is that sometimes when winds aloft (high in the atmosphere) are very strong, these snow flurries and showers can often fly their way all the way to CT, and we see snow fall from the sky.  Does it reach the ground?  Eh...not necessarily, but it certainly can!

So do either of the two things I learn mean a darn thing?  Would it really make a difference if I said it will rain Wednesday night into Thursday afternoon, and it starts a bit later and ends a bit sooner?  Do you care if we don't forecast snow flurries and we get a few?  Probably not...but it is all part of the adventure to me becoming the best meteorologist I can!

Is weather a perfect science?  No way Jose!

Have a great end to your work/school week and hopefully I'll have a lifetime of learning in the world of weather to share with you all!

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Sam Kantrow

Town: Hamden, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

Articles: 581

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