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Information Blizzard

January 20, 2012

My friend Elizabeth posted verbatim this prediction from Tom Skilling, a weatherman of the first order:

Why I Love Tom Skilling

Forecasts of Friday’s snowstorm remain consistent. Chicago appears likely to sit in or near the axis of heaviest snowfall with the incoming snow system, with the heaviest corridor of snowfall extending north into southern Wisconsin. Amounts will drop off quickly to the south. We “ensemble” (average) forecasts off a wide array of models rather than depending on just one model. We also look at snow forecasts off these models generated over several days. Studies have shown such a technique is most apt to produce a prediction which gets closest to reality. Our in-house average of snowfall projections off 84 individual forecasts which cover this storm and have been generated the past 3 days comes out to 6.1″. It’s interesting to note that some studies have found predictions several days in advance of the storm verify better than the forecasts generated closest to the onset of snowfall. So averaging recent days as well as current day predictions and doing so across a range of models, smooths out the run to run gyrations common in storm forecasts and also takes into account varied snow/water ratio assumptions as well as differences in various models’ physics packages which lead to the varied predictions you see in snowfall and other precip estimates out of these models. The range in individual forecasts is wide–extending from 2.4″ on the low end to 12.5″ at the high end. I wouldn’t dwell on the 12.5″ total–that appears way overdone. I think presuming a 4-8″ range with lower amounts in southern sections still appears a good range on this system. We continue monitoring this storm. More on our WGN shows tonight.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2012 2:09 pm

    I love Tom Skilling. He is amazing!

  2. Joann B permalink
    January 20, 2012 6:15 pm

    My long-standing but admittedly waning crush on Tom is renewed.

  3. January 20, 2012 10:03 pm

    I miss Tom Skilling. He’s a weatherman in a world of pretty people reading the weather.

    See what I mean?

  4. February 13, 2012 10:33 pm

    Wow! I actually found this interesting and appreciated the explanation. But yes, saying, “We did lots of research and predict that most areas will get a few inches of the white stuff by morning” probably would’ve sufficed.

    Another great old-school meteorologist, from the SF Bay Area, is Peter Giddings.

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