If you already see snow totals for this weekend’s storm, they’re likely wrong; here’s why

If you already see snow totals for this weekend’s storm, they’re likely wrong; here’s why
(Source: WOIO)

It’s too soon to believe the social media posts about snow totals this weekend. First Alert meteorologist Kelly Dobeck Meteorologist tells you why.

Posted by Cleveland 19 News on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - You’ve been hearing about a winter storm making its way to Northeast Ohio for a week now.

Social media is already cluttered with weather models; some saying 6 inches of snow, a foot, or even 30 inches of snow are on their way to Ohio.

Truth is, one of those could be true, or none of them. At this point in time, it is all just a guess that someone may get lucky.

The fact is, as of Wednesday afternoon, this storm system that is set to hit us this weekend, is still just a bunch of clouds hanging out over the Pacific Ocean.

Do all the models agree the storm system will make its way to Northeast Ohio? Yes.

Do all the models put us on the northwest side of the low, typically where the heaviest snow is, directly in our path? No.

This is the key point. Just from Wednesday’s model runs only, the track has shifted farther south, putting the bullseye for the heaviest snow between Columbus and Pittsburgh?

Will this be the case? Well, maybe.

Days before a storm arrives, the track typically becomes wobbly.

As a meteorologist, you never fully rely on a model to make a forecast. Weather models ARE NOT forecasts. They are simply tools that anyone has access too, but meteorologists use them to help their forecasts. Because anyone in the world has access to them, they are easily posted online, and shared on social media.

Meteorologists look at trends, historical data, current observations, and a variety of different weather models at different levels of the atmosphere to create a forecast.

Weather models do not become more reliable until more data is put into them. What this means is, the closer we get to the weekend, the better understanding we’ll have of this system. Upper air data from balloon launches will be a key ingredient in helping determine the path of this storm, giving us a better idea of what to expect and where by late tomorrow. We’ll be able to get balloon launch data from the west coast by Thursday as the storm approaches the U.S.

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