“Hurricane” Schwartz: “I Was Wrong”

I was wrong -- at least for a good part of the area.

And, I HATE being wrong.

It's tough being both a meteorologist AND a perfectionist and I've lost a fair amount of sleep over the years as a result. Tuesday night was no exception.

I was pretty confident about this one too.

The main coastal storm was clearly going to move too far offshore to nail us with heavy snow. Normally, when that happens, we can get a couple of inches with the "wrap-around" from the storm or from the upper air disturbance that helped cause it.

It would take a freak combination of factors to dump six to 10 inches over part of our area. Not only did those factors come together -- they did so right over Philadelphia and the nearby suburbs.

My forecast turned out perfect for Allentown, Trenton and Atlantic City and I actually predicted TOO MUCH snow for Wilmington. It was the area in between that went wild.
So, how did it happen?

There was a wind shift line that developed right over the area, from northwest to southeast (Reading to Philly to Atlantic City).

Winds to the north of the line were from the north and on the other side of the line they were from the west. That caused convergence, which causes the air to rise, resulting in more snow.

The convergence combined with a very small-scale upper air piece of energy that moved right over Philadelphia Tuesday evening. The combination of the two (plus some usual wrap-around snow), led to the burst of snow in a limited area.

If that "mesoscale" setup had occurred 50 miles to the north, we would have gotten the predicted amount of snow.

The starting time was right, the forecast of snow all day and into the night was right and the daytime melting was right. But, the key to the heavy snow was missed.

As a result, I had to deal with the same snow all of you did. In fact, I skidded my car on the way home and nearly hit a tree.

Wednesday, instead of going to the gym, I decided to stay home and do laundry. This is the time when it's not so great being a public figure.

In the past, when I worked for a private weather company and the National Weather Service, if I missed a forecast, I could still go out and not be recognized.

Not any more.

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