Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grades for Feb. 5 Storm

You may recall that before we'd fully digested the last snowstorm, many forecasters were talking about the train-like procession of snowstorms that were going to threaten Boston. The first car on that last train left Boston yesterday with nary a flake, leaving a handful of forecasters left to explain where things went wrong.

Here are the grades we've assigned (and yes, they're subjective, but based on objective information) for yesterday's event:

WHDH: C+ On Tuesday evening, WHDH noted that yesterday's storm would "not be a big deal." True, indeed. They can't be accused of being alarmists. Still, as recently as Thursday evening, they were "thinking about 3 inches for Boston."

WCVB: B WCVB never suggested yesterday's would be a big storm. They emphasized that their prediction was not a high-confidence forecast so notice was appropriately served. (Expressing lack of confidence is not a bad thing; see also the Weather Watcher's Bill of Rights.) And by Friday evening, they no longer mentioned any accumulations while others clung on to the possibility of a coating or an inch.

WBZ: D WBZ's performance gives credence to the skepticism about so-called "weather terrorists." From the outset, they used terms like "snowstorm" and "big snowmaker." On Wednesday evening, they predicted 4-8 inch totals.

FOX25: C+ Sufficiently conservative in their assessment throughout. They noted a likely changeover to rain on Tuesday evening. They placed Boston in a "mix to up to 6 inch" potential category on Thursday evening, which clearly communicated their ambiguous feelings about the forecast. However, even with the wide range, there was hardly an mix to speak of.

NWS: B Snow amounts were never mentioned in NWS forecasts until Friday evening when they mentioned the possibility of up to an inch at the end of the storm. Still, they clearly expected more of yesterday's event to include snow than what actually dropped from the sky.

NECN: D+ On Monday, NECN warned, "chance of snow or mostly snow on Saturday ... could be another one." And Santa Claus may make an appearance in July. By Wednesday evening, they acknowledged the storm wouldn't be as heavy as past storms but still included "plowable" in their forecast.

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