Where did the snow go? An explanation of the forecast change
MADISON, Wis. — In a perfect world, meteorologists could call Mother Nature on her cell phone to get an exact forecast. We could ask for temperatures and sky conditions 20 days out. Unfortunately, (to my knowledge) that phone number doesn’t exist, and crystal balls are also quite unreliable.
We build our forecasts using several computer models. Blending these all together to help paint the best picture for what is headed our way. Some days that picture is crystal clear, other times there are vast differences between different models. There can even be major differences between runs of the same model.
It became clear last week a winter storm would be approaching the Midwest for the last week of February. We began to keep a close eye on the potential for winter weather, and when models started to align on snow chances for southern Wisconsin, we added Alert Days to our forecast (Saturday night).
There was still some uncertainty for exact snowfall totals Saturday night; southern Wisconsin is on the very northern edge of this system making it more difficult to pinpoint exact snowfall totals. A small shift in the track of the system north or south would drastically impact accumulations.
Only a few model runs started to trend south Sunday evening, muddying the forecast confidence. As more model runs pulled the system — and southern Wisconsin’s snow chances — south, it became clear this would not be a major event for much of the area, including Madison.
The National Weather Service in Milwaukee/Sullivan noticed the trend too, canceling the Winter Storm Watches previously issued for southern Wisconsin.
Our forecast changes multiple times a day, always trying to keep up with the latest information we receive. This is why we stress it is important to stay tuned to the latest First Warn Forecast or download our First Warn Weather App.
Snow chances are still likely Tuesday and early Wednesday for the southeast corner of the state and northern Illinois, though not even southeastern Wisconsin will see a major event. The rest of the area will end February without any additional accumulating snow.
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