Before I explain what I mean by “Computer Model Wobble” I want to get right into what we here in West Central Ohio can expect as far as snow and impacts are concerned by noon on Tuesday.
Very cold temperatures arrived into West Central Ohio for our Monday and to add insult to injury, we’ll see accumulating snow moving into the region tonight thanks to a clipper system moving through the Great Lakes. This system will begin spreading snow into Western Ohio by midnight.
This clipper system will definitely live up to its name too as it will be a fast mover! We’ll very likely see snow beginning to let up here in West Central Ohio by about 7 or 8 AM Tuesday morning with the majority of the accumulating snow off to our East.
Over the last 48 hours, weather forecast models have gradually shifted this system further and further south. They have also sped up the clipper with the window of accumulating snow here shrinking. Because of this we have tapered off our snow totals slightly from earlier today across West Central Ohio. Here is a look at what I’m expecting across the viewing area through sunrise Tuesday morning.
Even though the snow will move out by about 7 or 8 AM, we’ll still have slick and slippery roads to deal with Tuesday morning. Here is a look at what to expect when headed out the door.
So how about this “Computer Model Wobble”? I use this term based on what computer forecast guidance tends to do leading up to a Winter event. The forecast track will wobble west then east, or it will wobble north than south. In this case, it didn’t much wobble as it did just move the track of our clipper south over time. I fear that the Computer Model Wobble phenomena trips up meteorologists and forecasters at times, especially amateurs that make it their hobby to post on social media. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being wrong, it’s the weather it will never be right 100 percent of the time. But if you fall for the computer model wobble chances are you will be wrong more than you’re right, especially in winter weather events.
In the past few days leading up to tonight’s snow, I have seen snow forecasts from 3 to 5 inches, 4 to 6 inches, 5 to 7 inches and even 7 to 8 inches!!!!! How can there be so many different forecasts? There are a couple of reasons for this.
1) Amateur forecasters. I LOVE the enthusiasm I see on social media for the weather from those who simply love the weather and make it their hobby. The problem is that many of these people don’t really know how to forecast and will generally hype storms more than they need to be for more likes and shares. For this reason alone it’s SO important to get your weather from a trusted, experienced and credible source.
2) Those simply out to hype. Unfortunately there are degreed meteorologists out there and on social media who hype events that probably don’t need it. Again, the nature of social media allows the more outrageous and grim forecast to probably be liked and shared more. It’s pretty easy to spot one of these simply by the wording used. i.e. Historic, Polar Vortex, Extreme, Massive….You get the idea.
3) Falling for the “Computer Model Wobble” and not following the overall trend. I saw this happen with our clipper moving through tonight. Let me show you the trend of forecast models the GFS leading up to this storm.
Here was the GFS Model for our clipper on Saturday morning. This shows a nice swath of snow moving through the Great Lakes over night Monday. Still a bit early to say at this point exact snow totals, but definitely showing a good potential for accumulating snow.
Here was the GFS model run on Sunday morning for the Monday night-time period when snow was expected. What we’re looking at here is a system that is cutting right through Ohio with a decent amount of measurable snow. It was around this time when I saw forecasts ranging from 2 to 4 inches to upwards of 6 inches for Sunday night. Sure, both this model run blow and the one above it did show a good amount of accumulating snow for a clipper, but the obvious trend was that it was shifting south and looking to move a little faster.
Here was a look at the GFS Monday morning for tonight’s snow. The slow south trend continued and the snow looked to speed up a little more. At this point, most began backing off their higher forecasts from Sunday. Even we here at WLIO probably went a little high at first with a 3 to 5 inch prediction for most of West Central Ohio.
The point I’m trying to make is this. You have probably noticed by now that snow fall totals for Winter Storms can be VERY difficult to nail down. Calls for a definite amount of snow much past 2 or 3 days can usually thrown out the window. Keep in mind that high snowfall total predictions that are shared on social media will more than likely change, and a majority of the time at least from what I see, come down. It’s tough not to fall for the “model wobble” when one computer model run may display a higher amount of snow than previous runs, but over time and with experience I have learned that one model run usually means nothing. You watch for the trend and adjust your forecasts over time as opposed to swinging for the fence all the time and having to back off drastically!
Just thought I would share 🙂 I hope you all continue to trust us for all your upcoming winter forecasts, we really do try to keep it very straightforward and without the hype.