Elisabeth Anne Riba wrote:
> I am appalled.
> I woke up this morning (in Medford), looked out my window and saw barely
> a half-inch of snow. I didn't think anything of it until halfway to
> Boston when I heard that most of the schools and colleges were closed for
> the day.
> Come on people! This is what winter is supposed to look like!
> Okay, if there are six inches of snow, *then* I can see the necessity of
> making people stay home. But not for this. Yes, the forecasters said
> that there might be six inches by nightfall, but that still shouldn't
> impede traffic until after the normal work/school day.
> At 6pm, New England Cable News showed a reporter standing beside 128.
> Anchor: Hey, traffic looks like it's moving at a pretty smooth clip.
> Reporter: Yes, folks are driving at reduced speeds, but I haven't seen
> any trouble in the three hours I've been here.
> A reporter stood and watched highway traffic for three hours when
> NOTHING UNUSUAL WAS GOING ON!?
> I don't get it. Maybe it's because I lived in Wisconsin as a child, and
> we went to school in all kinds of weather. I just don't see what all
> the fuss was about today.
> Can somebody please explain it to me?
> ---------------> Elisabeth Anne Riba * l...@netcom.com <---------------
> "[She] is one of the secret masters of the world: a librarian.
> They control information. Don't ever piss one off."
> - Spider Robinson, "Callahan Touch"
A. we *usually do not get 3 year snow droughts
B. Feb 6, 1978 put a paranoia in people especially here in RI whe we had
30"-45" of snow in 2days, shutting everthing down for at least 1 week. It's
the truth, people around here jam supermarkets EVERY time 2-4" of snow is
predicted....."got to get bread and milk"
Elisabeth Anne Riba wrote in message ...
Look at the public info posted, there was a widespread area of 8-16" from
just south of Boston to NW RI south and east.
Charles Demas wrote:
> When the blizzard of 78 occurred, I left work when it just started to
> snow, and barely got home (Needhan to Norwood). Some people never
> made it home that night.
> With a major snowfall predicted, the chances of a repeat are higher,
> so better safe than sorry.
> Remember, weather forcasting has gotten much better than it was
> 20 or 40 years ago. Back then, we didn't know what was to come,
> and there was less traffic too.
> Nobody predicted the blizzard of 78, BTW. It would have been much
> worse, had there not been a practice blizzard the week before.
> People got stocked up after the practice blizzard, and that helped
> as the state was shut down completely for days when the real
> blizzard came.
> I think we're more protective of our kids today too. Many more
> lawsuits to worry about in case something happened with today's
> Chuck Demas
> Needham, Mass.
> Eat Healthy | _ _ | Nothing would be done at all,
> Stay Fit | @ @ | If a man waited to do it so well,
> Die Anyway | v | That no one could find fault with it.
> de...@tiac.net | \___/ | http://www.tiac.net/users/demas
>I woke up this morning (in Medford), looked out my window and saw barely
>a half-inch of snow. I didn't think anything of it until halfway to
>Boston when I heard that most of the schools and colleges were closed for
In the morning they were predicting 12-18 inches for Boston and the near
suburbs. I don't think they were cancelling school because of the morning
drive, but because of the anticipated problems going home.
It ended up that the predictions were wrong and the cape got the brunt of
the storm, so the cancellations were for nothing.
Barry Margolin, bar...@bbnplanet.com
GTE Internetworking, Burlington, MA
FROM: ED GOLDMAN, NEWS DIRECTOR
TO: JOE SHORTSLEEVE, LIZ WALKER, ED CARROLL
CC: JACK WILLIAMS, VIRGINIA CHA, BARRY BURBANK, BRUCE SCHWOEGLER
DATE: FEBRUARY 24, 1999
As you're well aware, we here at WBZ are in the middle of the February sweeps. As you're equally well aware, we've been
running # 3 behind the other local stations for well over a year now. Our recent shuffling of on-air staff has produced scant
ratings improvement. The impeachment trial is over (though with any luck this Jane Doe # 5 thing might gain momentum). Most
of the CBS sweeps-related specials fizzled. So what does that leave us with? You guessed it.....WEATHER.
I don't care if the NWS says we'll get 2 inches or 2 feet, I want this thing hyped from the git-go. We''ll run promos and
cut-ins every 1/2 hour.....call it "Northeaster '99" or "Snow-Pocalypse '99" or "Last Best Storm of the Century".....whatever
Of course, we'll have the usual suspects reporting live from the street, with camera shots from angles which best enhance the
And we'll hit this hard and early on radio, too. Get a call in to Gary LaPierre. Not that he needs it, but tell him to load
up on the double espresso.....I want him sounding even more hyper than Margie Reedy over at NECN.
I have full confidence in your ability to take this story and run with it. With any luck, the weather might even co-operate;
but if it doesn't, there's still no reason to let the facts get in the way of a good story.
I woke up this morning (in Medford), looked out my window and saw barely
a half-inch of snow. I didn't think anything of it until halfway to
Boston when I heard that most of the schools and colleges were closed for
Come on people! This is what winter is supposed to look like!
Okay, if there are six inches of snow, *then* I can see the necessity of
making people stay home. But not for this. Yes, the forecasters said
that there might be six inches by nightfall, but that still shouldn't
impede traffic until after the normal work/school day.
At 6pm, New England Cable News showed a reporter standing beside 128.
Anchor: Hey, traffic looks like it's moving at a pretty smooth clip.
Reporter: Yes, folks are driving at reduced speeds, but I haven't seen
any trouble in the three hours I've been here.
A reporter stood and watched highway traffic for three hours when
NOTHING UNUSUAL WAS GOING ON!?
I don't get it. Maybe it's because I lived in Wisconsin as a child, and
we went to school in all kinds of weather. I just don't see what all
the fuss was about today.
Can somebody please explain it to me?
The more they get, the more they need; and half the time they get harder &
harder to please... :)
> Elisabeth Anne Riba wrote:
>> I don't get it. Maybe it's because I lived in Wisconsin as a child, and
>> we went to school in all kinds of weather. I just don't see what all
>> the fuss was about today.
>> Can somebody please explain it to me?
I am wondering what's happening there. Some people are saying that amount
of near 10 inches fell near Boston & Worcester; other people are saying
that an Alberta Clipper is worse. Then you wonder why some people don't
like forecasting snow amounts.
I actually did explain it, and wasn't kidding. How much does a kid really
learn one day at school ? Is it worth the risk of possible accidents, etc.
if the storm is as bad or worse than expected ?
When I looked out the window this morning, cancellations didn't even cross
my mind. I went into work today -- I left early expecting the typical
snow slowdowns on the roads, but the streets were empty. Many coworkers
worked from home or took the day out. A few people came in with their
children because the schools and daycare were cancelled.
Now, the April 1 storm last year was worthy of keeping people home.
But this one... esthetically speaking, it was beautiful outside.
: Look at the public info posted, there was a widespread area of 8-16" from
: just south of Boston to NW RI south and east.
So those people were justified in staying home. But I commute through
Malden and Cambridge, and there wasn't even an inch when I left this
morning, and three inches at most when I got home. And those schools
I'm a native. Yesterday, I said to a cow-orker, "Another dud storm
hyped by the TV news that will make New Englanders look like wimps."
Sure enough, you have proved my point. The weather forecasters look
like idiots if they under-predict the severity of the storm AND by
hyping the storm they help their ratings.
Now, let me tell you about '78............... <zzzzzzzzzz>
(preferred email: dhayes AT iname DOT com)
-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own
LOL LOL thanks for the laugh - need it with looking out my window
at a probable 2 inches at best!
(to e-mail take "x" off pywaket)
The National Weather Service was saying up to 22 inches of snow, with
power outages because of thick heavy accumulation. I haven't seen the NWS
predict power outages before!
If this looks funny the baby is trying to help me type!
>Remember, weather forcasting has gotten much better than it was
>20 or 40 years ago
It may have gotten better over the last 40 years, due
to satellite imagery but what evidence can you cite
that it's gotten better in the last 20 years?
I posed this question on this n.g. a year or two ago and
"answer came there none". I was told that because
there are no standardized definitions of the terminology
used in forecasting it was difficult or impossible to
compare forecasting prowess from one decade to the next.
No one could cite any well-designed studies showing
any improvement over that time. Are there any?
Exactly! I had a concert at the Wang Center cancelled, and so I
thought I would just attend a class I normally go to on Thursday
nights in Nashua, only to find that, too, cancelled, just based
on the forecast! There were 3' on snow on my front yard in
Chelmsford this (Friday) morning and I didn't bother to shovel
anything; I just drove to work in Andover as usual.
In the Air Force they call the weather forecasters "The Liar's
Club". Of course bad forecasts are just mistakes, not lies.
But I would agree that the term fits when applied to the way
weather forecasters promote their abilities to the public.
Weather forecasting is a VAGUE, INEXACT art and
forecasters have an obligation to make this clear to the
public every time they open their mouths, and to eschew
precise terminoogy like "inches" when forecasting snow
depths. ALL they should have said yesterday was "We
MIGHT get a big snowstorm, especially along the coast,
but we're not sure." We're all adults; we can deal with that
and make our plans accordingly.
As of 8 AM or so, the NWS in Taunton was predicting 12-22 inches of snow
in the Boston area. They revised that forecast to 7-10 inches (4-7 in
the western suburbs) around noon as the storm track moved further south
than they had feared. Cape Cod and the islands indeed did get the 12-22
inches predicted earlier for Boston.
Umm, I got my information on the storm straight from the NOAA site:
Could you please tell me what "ratings" NOAA is concerned about?
I went there and did a search on "forecasting" and "accuracy" and
got only one hit ("An Investigation of Flow Regimes Affecting the
Mexico City Region.")
When I broadened the search by replacing "forecasting" with "forecast"
I got more hits but they were investigations of specific methodology,
e.g., "Data Assimilation Using an Ensemble Kalman Filter Technique"
or "Use of the Aliased Spectral Model in Numerical Weather Prediction."
So do you know for a fact that there are any such studies there or
are you saying that IF there were I could find them that way? If there
are comparative studies of overall forecasting accuracy between the
present and some points in the last decade or two or three, please
suggest some pointers. I'd be especially interested in any signs of
improvement in precipitation (rain/snow) amounts or temperature.
>peter nelson wrote:
>> Charles Demas wrote in message <7b4tfd$k...@news-central.tiac.net>...
>> >Remember, weather forcasting has gotten much better than it was
>> >20 or 40 years ago
>> It may have gotten better over the last 40 years, due
>> to satellite imagery but what evidence can you cite
>> that it's gotten better in the last 20 years?
When I asked this question here a year or so ago I was told all
the reasons why it was hard to do such studies (which I fully
acknowledge since my background is in experimental design
and methodology) but no one even knew of any actual attempts.
FWIW, I recall seeing a study in the last year to the effect that
long-range (4 or 5 day) forecasts have gotten better, but in
terms of the issue at hand, predicting the next 24 hours is what
really counts and I'd love to see some data supporting the
view that this has gotten better recently.
I think it is only natural that most of us in the heart of MA (anyewhere
except se sections) should feel disappointed at the outcome of this
storm. Personally I don't really feel that way, only b/c I followed this
thing religiously yesterday, and it was pretty clear to me that we would
not get the full potential this storm had to offer. But the feelings
would have been obviously more dramatic for another young snow lover in
my area (n central MA) who woke up yesterday to a forecast of "8-18
inches and blizzard conditions," only to have 2-4" occur. Same story in
Boston, where "up to 22 inches" was forecast, and only 4-8" occured. That
is naturally disappointing, no matter how you slice it.
This is not a knock on the forecasters. Lets face it- we all live and die
by the models. The ngm/eta the night before indicated 1-2" of qpf across
all of MA, and anyone who would not have predicted 1 foot plus of snow
would have been asking for trouble. So in retrospect, even though the
forecasts of 1-2' of snow were way off, they were probably the 'correct'
forecast at the time. If the storm had stalled 100 miles closer like it
could (should?) have, we'd all be shoveling out from a foot and a half of
Not one for the books, (unless you live on the snowy side of the
Sagamore) but a very interesting storm meteorologically, nevertheless.
>This is not a knock on the forecasters. Lets face it- we all live and die
>by the models. The ngm/eta the night before indicated 1-2" of qpf across
>all of MA, and anyone who would not have predicted 1 foot plus of snow
>would have been asking for trouble. So in retrospect, even though the
>forecasts of 1-2' of snow were way off, they were probably the 'correct'
>forecast at the time.
No, the "correct" forecast is to acknowledge the limitations
of the model in every breath spoken to the public. This sort of
thing happens routinely in New England. The correct forecast
should have been "There MIGHT be a big snowstorm, especially
along the coast but we're not sure." No inches, no snowbelts.
Sure it's vague but so is the art of forecasting, so it's TRUTHFUL.
I'm an avid outdoorsman (running, xc-skiing, hiking, camping,
canoing, etc) I also attend baseball games and my wife and
I are subscribers to many concert and performance series and
I attend classes two nights a week year-round. So I am heavily
impacted by the weather, and especially by decisions OTHERS
make based on forecasts. Since I've lived in New England for
nearly 50 years I'm prepared for anything, anytime. I've hiked
in a snowstorm in August (in the Whites) and I've sunned on
beaches in February. I will seldom change my plans based on
a forecast, only on the actual weather as it happens.
But the PUBLIC places too much faith in forecasts and often
ends up overreacting. I've had FAR more events cancelled
unneccesarily by a forecast than ruined by unexpected bad
weather. By being TRUTHFULLY VAGUE, as I described
above, the public will adopt a more flexible, less fearful
attitude toward New England weather.
: . . . I am heavily
: impacted by the weather, and especially by decisions OTHERS
: make based on forecasts. Since I've lived in New England for
: nearly 50 years I'm prepared for anything, anytime. I've hiked
: in a snowstorm in August (in the Whites) and I've sunned on
: beaches in February. I will seldom change my plans based on
: a forecast, only on the actual weather as it happens.
: But the PUBLIC places too much faith in forecasts and often
: ends up overreacting. I've had FAR more events cancelled
: unneccesarily by a forecast than ruined by unexpected bad
: weather. By being TRUTHFULLY VAGUE, as I described
: above, the public will adopt a more flexible, less fearful
: attitude toward New England weather.
Just out of curiousity, has there always been this much overreaction
to storms in the Boston area or is this a recent development?
And if it's the latter, when did things change?
I've lived in the Boston area a little over ten years, and even in that
time it seems like folks are much more likely today to close up on
account of snow.
---------------> Elisabeth Anne Riba * l...@netcom.com <---------------
I'm 46 and I've lived here all my life and I think it's
relatively recent - probably since the 70's. I think it
reflects a combination of two things:
1. The rise of the "TV Crisis Center" style of news coverage where
every event is given a title ("Blizzard of 99") along with theme music
and its own logo, and a breathless, dramatic style of reportage.
All this serves to just raise the level of drama.
2. Weather has become nerdier. I can still remember Don
Kent drawing things on a chalkboard on black and white TV
in the 60's. Now they have computer graphics and satellite imagery
and computer simulations, and doppler radar and a lot of
technical-sounding jargon and numbers which most viewers
don't understand but which create the IMPRESSION that all
this is hard science. When, in fact, a lot of it is guesswork.
Literally it's like that Thomas Dolby song from the 80's, "She
Blinded Me With Science" - the science serves to blind people
to how much guesswork is still involved. So they place undue faith
>I've lived in the Boston area a little over ten years, and even in that
>time it seems like folks are much more likely today to close up on
>account of snow.
Yes. And it's especially nutty because nowadays most
cars are front-wheel drive and the all-weather performance of
the average passenger-car tire is WAY better than a few decades
ago. I live in Massachusetts now but I started off in New
Hampshire and I think that most people when I was a kid in the
50's and early 60's would have LAUGHED at what people think
is "bad weather" today.
> In article <nui678p...@shell2.shore.net>,
> Betsy Schwartz <bet...@shore.net> wrote:
> >The National Weather Service was saying up to 22 inches of snow, with
> >power outages because of thick heavy accumulation. I haven't seen the NWS
> >predict power outages before!
> You're not talking about the crawler on the bottom of The Weather
> Channel, are you? That "Prediction" is an advertisement for a
> generator company.
I followed the links from WCVB's web page, which let to a National
Weather Headquarters machine. The URL for Massachusetts warnings is:
My understanding is that this is the "official" government weather
service and it doesn't have any particular bias.
(There are surely pressures on them, but I'd guess that the pressure to be
cautious, to protect public safety, would be countered by the pressure to
be conservative, to protect business profits and prevent government expenses.)
Oh, how quickly we forget! :-).
Doesn't anybody remember that storm a few weeks back, the one that started
just before the afternoon rush hour? Dunno about you, but it took me
almost two hours to get home that night - and a coworker who lived further
south on Rte. 128 didn't get home for more than four hours.
I'd say the system worked well yesterday - because so many people did
leave early, or never went into work or school, we didn't have the same
road paralysis during the p.m. rush that we did last time around. And the
plow crews were able to clear the roads.
In addition to people who own pickups, however, I also think people in
BMWs should be banned from driving during snow...
Also, Nantucket got 16 or more inches of snow, clocked winds at 67? and was
without power for the night and was under a snow emergency because of downed
power lines. The south shore got socked.
Scott Simard wrote:
> Look at the public info posted, there was a widespread area of 8-16" from
> just south of Boston to NW RI south and east.
Blizzard of 1978 when 100's were stranded for days on the major highways.
How about last month? dozens of cars abandoned on I93. If it not for the
snow letting up briefly, it would have become a dangerous situation.
Well, with the improvement in computer speeds and processing, the
use of computer models and modeling has become better. Also, the
collection of data from weather radar and the like is a development
that has improved, or been developed subtantially in the past 20
I think that now there are several weather modeling programs that are
used. They don't all agree, but this is a difference that I've
noticed in the past 20 years. There may have been weather forcasting
programs in existance before then, but the computing power that we
have today makes these programs more accurate and allows them to
utilize more input data too.
The use of embedded processors in instrumentation has made the
collection of data and it's transmission better too. Not only that,
but the transmission of data over phone lines has improved. Consider
the data rates available now as opposed to 20 years ago. The modems
of 20 years ago that could do 4800 baud transmission over phone lines
were very expensive (thousands of dollars), now a 56,000 baud modem
is commonplace and cheap (about a hundred dollars). This has made
the collection of data much cheaper, allowing more places to be
So, I cite the improvements in computer technology as a major
factor in improving weather forcasting accuracy. :-)
>I posed this question on this n.g. a year or two ago and
>"answer came there none". I was told that because
>there are no standardized definitions of the terminology
>used in forecasting it was difficult or impossible to
>compare forecasting prowess from one decade to the next.
>No one could cite any well-designed studies showing
>any improvement over that time. Are there any?
That's theoretical. I'm asking for actual evidence of
improvement, ie.e, some hard data. I asked this same
question on this ng a year or so ago and no one at that time
could cite any evidence.
One major problem is that forecasters cannot seem to
agree on rigorous definitions of their terms, which makes
it hard to compare results between forecasters using
different methodologies or between different times.
Personally, I'd LOVE to see a probability distribution
for every precipitation and temperature forecast. It
would have to be based on empirical data, i.e., using
the same model every time, how often was the actual
precipitation over the specified period within 10% of the
predicted amount, 11-20% over, 21-30% over, etc,
and the same on the other end?
In 1978 most cars were rear-wheel drive and the quality of
all-weather tires in those days was much inferior.
>How about last month? dozens of cars abandoned on I93. If it not for the
>snow letting up briefly, it would have become a dangerous situation.
I have no idea what this refers to. I work in Andover and my wife works
in Cambridge and we have many activities on weekends as well,
either south toward Boston or North into the Whites for which we
drive on 93 daily, often several times a day.. There has been no
snowstorm this winter enough to cause a major driving problem
that was more than just transient anywhere in this area. (An
example of the latter was on December 22 at 9:55PM Rt 128N was
closed temporarily when a sudden drop in temperature caused icing
and a white-out snow-squall resulting in dozens of minor accidents
and a jack-knifed tractor trailer which blocked the highway just north
of Rt 2A. I was in the middle of this and witnessed several of the
accidents and rendered assistance to two of them. But police and
road crews had the highway cleared in an hour or so.
Anyway what does this have to do with forecasting? Major
snowstorms are common in the winter in New England (at
least they used to be) and drivers should not venture out
unless they have the skills, and their cars are equipped
properly, for those conditions. When the roads are snowy
we should expect to drive more slowly for safety. So I
can see using forecasts to allow more time. But there are
many places in the US and the world where there is snow
on the ground ALL THE TIME in the winter and life doesn't
come to a halt.
So I don't understand your point. My point is that the forecasts
are unneccesarily scaring people into cancelling their plans
and disrupting everyone's lives.