Post Report of Historic November Snowstorm

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Well things sure did escalate quickly yesterday afternoon as a storm for the books beared down on our region.  Many meteorologists across the region downplayed the strength of the cold air damming due to the high pressure that was over Maine.  As the morning went on yesterday the observations and trends in the short range modeling made it more evident that the cold air damming was underplayed.  Washington, DC reported 3.0 inches of snow accumulation coming in as its 5th snowiest November day on record.  Around 12:24pm the National Weather Service began to realized that the Winter Weather Advisories would need to upgraded to Winter Storm Warnings across most of Northern, NJ due to the rain/snow line being much farther southeast than anticipated.  At this point, it was much too late as dry air was easily overcome by the heavy precipitation rates entering our region around 12:30pm.  With the National Weather Service and many other meteorologists calling for nothing to a coating in coastal areas, and 2 – 4 inches northwest with mostly everyone turning over to plain rain between 5 and 9pm the night before the storm, the general public thought nothing of it.  This caused state officials to not take precautionary measures like salting the roads and major highways the night before the event leading to total chaos/gridlock during the evening commute yesterday.  Even I didn’t think the CAD would hold as long as it did for coastal areas that saw snowfall accumulations of between 1 – 5 inches on Long Island, and most of coastal NJ.  NYC saw its snowiest November day in 80 years recording 6.4 inches of snowfall in Central Park!  That being said, I was very impressed with the outcome of my forecast for Northwestern, NJ, Northeastern, PA, and the Hudson Valley as I nailed the snowfall accumulations in those areas.  This event is also a great way to express why models are tools and not forecasts.  Continue down below…

Actual Radar vs. Model Simulated Radar at 4PM Thursday:

Actual Radar vs. Model Simulated Radar at 6PM Thursday:

Actual Radar vs. Model Simulated Radar at 8PM Thursday:

As I stated on my pre-storm entry, the CAD is almost always underplayed on models which lead me to creating a more aggressive snowfall forecast due to past experience and having knowledge of their biases.  If I had to pick a model that did the overall best with this system, I would have to go with the European Model as it did the best job picking up on the CAD in the mid-range.

Here is my snowfall accumulation forecast I made the day before the event vs. what actually happened:


Basically all snow accumulations were shifted 20 – 50 miles to the southeast of where forecasted due to the CAD winning the fight against the warm air.


In the end, almost all meteorologists including myself busted with our forecasts in some way shape or form with this historic system.  This was probably one of the hugest busts in the meteorological community since the “Blizzard of 2015”.  The big lesson that can be learned here is that you should never underestimate the power of a cold air mass in November and that systems don’t always follow the rules of climatology.  This is a system that shattered snowfall records across the entire Mid Atlantic/Northeast region, and is one that we will never forget due to part of the fact being that it struck in the middle of November!




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