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SNOW FAIL

January 7, 2010

This has happened so many times before, you’d think forecasters would get a clue. As a weather nerd I’ve followed the same models the forecasters use, they are easily found on the NOAA/NWS website. For some reason, the models often fail to take into account just how ridiculously DRY the air is with these Canadian arctic highs, and how stubborn it can be. We’ve had a very cold and VERY DRY last few days because we’ve been under the influence of a high pressure center that slid down the midwest into the southeast from Canada. The low pressure system and associated front that is currently passing through middle TN is ahead of yet ANOTHER Canadian DRY airmass. Even though there is some moisture associated with this front, there isn’t enough to overcome the insanely dry air at the surface. There’s plenty of snow flying around waaaay up there, but it’s evaporating as it falls through the lower layers of the atmosphere via a process called sublimation. As of about 10am, we are finally starting to see a few tiny grains of snow making it to ground in downtown Nashville. Other areas to the north and west have already seen about 1/2 inch, but I doubt Nashville will even get that much. It won’t be over till the front pushes on through later this afternoon, though. The only thing we can be 100% sure of with this system is that it will be FYAO cold this weekend.

UPDATE 3pm: Snowflakes finally started fleshing out around noon in downtown Nashville as moisture finally reached the lower levels, but it still has only amounted to a dusting.

This has happened before, and I just don’t see why conventional wisdom never makes its way into these forecasts sometimes. They rely too strictly on the computer models. To the meteorologists defense, however, winter weather has always been, and always will be VERY fickle and hard to forecast in the southeastern US. Also, the science of meteorology is always a work in progress, and any forecast past 1 day or so is at best an educated guess. No matter how sophisticated our computer models get, they will never be near as complex as the forces at work in our atmosphere, and until we devise some method of actually controlling the weather, a 100% accurate forecast past 12-24 hours is simply impossible. For more info on why snow is pretty hard to come by in TN, see my post on the subject from last year.

That being said, here’s my conspiracy theory: Kroger is in cahoots with the NWS and all other forecasters in the southeast. They promise them a cut of the massive profits from all the bread, milk, and eggs sales in exchange for inflating the snow amounts.

KIDDING!!!

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