Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Twitter Timeline: The Anatomy of a Christmas Blizzard Fizzle

Hi there, everyone! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. This week instead of trying to decipher what Dean Blevins has to say, we’re going to try and re-create the run-up to yesterday’s Oklahoma City Christmas “snowstorm.”

The weather week started off as it should, with Lord Gary England announcing that there may be a Winter Weather Event. Smartly, he refused to make a definitive prediction.

Like the wise man that he is, Lord Gary would not weigh in on the storm again before Christmas. The rest of the local weathermen, well… the same cannot be said for them. They let the hype begin:

Channel 25’s Jon Slater thought we could see a blizzard.

Rick Mitchell’s replacement at Channel, 5, Damon Lane, teased the snowfall as close to record-breaking.

His colleague Danielle Dozier agreed.

On Christas Eve, Slater thought 6-8 inches sounded about right.

Damon Lane tweeted out a wacky model that had Enid getting 30 inches, but OKC less than 3.

Rick Smith of the National Weather Service helpfully pointed out what was becoming apparent: no one had any idea what was happening.

Next time I’ll remember to listen to him.

Damon Lane decided it was time to firm up some predictions.

Oh yeah, and David Payne had shown us one model that had OKC getting 20 inches.

Steve Lackmeyer said what we were all thinking….

And then David Payne decided 8 inches sounded about right.

Channel 4’s Chase Thomason gave his Christmas forecast the morning of Christmas Eve. 3-6 inches!

But updated it again before the day was over. 4-8 inches “will be common in and around OKC!”

But then Jon Slater said something ominous! The storm was changing directions!

Rusty McCranie still had faith we’d get a decent amount.

And then, in the middle of the night, Jon Slater called it all off. There would be no White Christmas for Oklahoma City.

People were sad.

Some of us were angry, and people called us out on it.

And that guy’s right! We can’t predict snowstorms well. But then again, it doesn’t seem like the actual weathermen can either, at least not too reliably. And, more importantly, we don’t run television commercials all the time about how awesome we are at predicting the weather and how amazing all our fancy equipment is and all the awards we’ve won for meteorology prowess.

Predicting the weather must be an incredibly hard job, and maybe snow in particular is tough. I’m sure all the local meteorologists do the best job they can, but next time around we should all be incredibly chastened before getting excited about a promised White Christmas.

Ho, ho, ho :(

That is all for this week. Follow me on Twitter here. Good bye!

email

Comments

  1. Well the problem was, Morgans coat never came off…I’m telling ya, the more excited he gets, the more clothes come off…if we lived near the coast and there was a hurricane, he’d be butt ass nekid by 5:30..The models they speak of are each others predictions…LMAO!!!

  2. …and all the TV weather hacks won. Viewer ratings were awesome, I bet. We all watched the weather the last few days thinking that they were right.

  3. I feel bad for Damon Lane. First chief event turns out to be first chief non-event. And if there are so many weather “models”, why are we looking at these guys?

  4. Fooking weather in OKC has became an absolute national joke! People cancelled trips/changed plans based upon what I call criminal negligence on the TV stations. This is tantamount to screaming “fire” in a crowded theatre.
    My friends and relatives from out of state laugh so hard when they are here, they noticed that we interupt programing when if fooking rains! If it rains we have weather updates and dicuss the “danger” of the most minute possibility that the wind may blow and it might hail…………this lates BS on the snowstorm is absolutely ridiculous.
    My GAWD we have became such weather whores!

    • “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

      At some point we need to realize TV weather is nothing more than entertainment around here. Want the real forecast? Ask NOAA or the guys in Norman.

    • That’s exactly right.

      I always watch the National Weather Service. They aren’t trying to sell commercials, and oddly enough, the forecast is almost always less extreme than the media. These yahoos scared people all week using a worst case scenario as what should be expected and I’m sure they caused a lot of people to cancel plans and miss time with family.

  5. Hey, it’s white in McAlester. It was ok to drive last night while the snow was light and crunchy. This morning, the stuff had melted from residual road warmth then refrozen into glare ice. //wild exaggeration// Took longer to walk across our parking lot to the door than to drive to work //end exaggeration//.

  6. I did not watch the weather all week until yesterday morning. Then found it hilarious how Channel 4 at least spent the whole morning trying to convince you that they were right. That Chase guy was at a gas station just running people down to their face for getting out on the roads. I guess their thinking is that if they just keep saying it over and over that we will not notice that they were wrong.

  7. I did see that Lord England tweeted about you guys yesterday!! did you see it? It was a Christmas Day Miracle :)

  8. I took that philosophy when they were predicting snowmaggedon in 2009 and wound up trapped at home with nothing but a single tray of baked ziti to eat for three days.

  9. I am a board certified consulting meteorologist and was on KFOR TV (then WKY TV) from 1970-74. I am also a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

    After nailing, and I mean nailing, the blizzard from Denver to Des Moines to Green Bay last week, this snow storm was incredibly difficult to forecast. And, yes, we did not do a very good job. We never intentionally cry wolf. Winter storms in the central and southern Plains are very difficult to forecast in spite of the considerable progress we have made the last five years.

    That said, we got the record Christmas tornadoes in the South correct: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2012/12/some-thoughts-on-this-evenings-mobile.html

    Over the long run, you’ll find our storm warnings are right far, far more often than they are wrong. Sorry we didn’t get this one correct.

    Mike Smith

    • I don’t think people get upset at the predictions being wrong. The anger rises from the presentation and the shameless promotion and constant creation of “drama” associated witht the forecast, rather than providing factual information. This arises from each channel having to outdo each other with camera time. Just report the weather, when there is something to report.

    • You guys are who I check. You aren’t selling commercials all week. You’re almost always closer than the rest. I think this is directed more at the sensationalist tv types.

  10. Lesson #1 about meteorology: certainty is a big thing, and some weather systems possess an inherent lack of predictability. The model runs from various weather agencies flipped, flopped, and flipped back again during the 10 days leading up to this event. Some earlier forecasts when the event was still a week out called for no real trough at all, whereas others had the amplified trough with the strong mid-level jet that was observed. The point is, some systems are harder to predict than others. This was one of them.

    Lesson #1 about the media, including broadcast meteorologists: since everything is all about money, which comes from viewers, sensationalism is the way to go. All broadcast meteorologists will have a tendency to overdo the impact of systems. If you’re just now realizing this…welcome to the world.

    • “Television meteorologists are shameless hypemonsters and we all know this by now so we should just accept it” is seriously the worst defense I have ever heard.

  11. The boasting of this storm now seems much easier to complain about in hindsight. This is the weather. If it actually happened and we did get 6in of snow or more then this article wouldn’t even be here. now that the obvious is stated. The low pressure system and the rest of the system pushed it 100miles south. Most meteorologists in their forecast made mention of this.

    The big give away was the 0Z model run on the models. they started to verify OKC was lucky to get MAYBE 2inches. this was around 9pm central time. on Christmas eve. There were some meteorologists that were still persistant to believe there would be more. This particular setup was extremely hard to predict. Yes, It does seem to be a bit blown out of proportion, but many things do in hindsight. People canceled plans because of this storm. I understand the frustation, but at least your family was at home SAFE and no one was hurt. The roads were still icy and dangerous. Even if you are the safe driver you don’t know what the other driver might do. Overhyped? Maybe, but then again I’d so no if the storm actually happened.

    • Yes, if the tv meteorologists who brag about how awesome they are at predicting the weather had been right — instead of what they were, which was wildly, spectacularly wrong — then this post would not exist. Well argued. If they don’t want to be held accountable for the things they predict, then they should get out of the prediction business.

      • Yes they were wildly wrong. This particular scenario I argue and stick up for their side because it’s not the first time they have been wrong. or in this matter “Spectacularly wrong”. Accountable for what? It’s the weather. The fact everyone saw this storm coming 10 days out and them being able to know it was going to hit somewhere between here and TX is pretty impessive. There is nothing to be accountable for because the weather is always changing. the models on the 0z run on christmas eve pushed it south at that point. the model run before that still had it sitting on top of okc with huge amounts of snow. Snow storms of this one imparticular was extremely hard to predict. Much different than severe weather setups in the spring. I understand it causes people to crow grocery stores and stock up on food and the other chain of events it causes, but to be this wildy and spectacularly bothered by a wrong prediction is baffling to me. Then again, we all have an opinion and I kind of know/get what you are saying, but at the same time I don’t. The bigger annoyance was how long throughout the day they carried out a broadcast until noon. That was not needed.

        • Again, the problem is not that they were wrong. People understand the weather is hard to predict. The problem is the fear mongering, the non-stop weather broadcasts, and the attempt to create a story or news before it happens. It is not like this in other parts of the US. It is that way here because instead of the weather being an intergral part of the broadcast to provide valid information, here in OKC it is an arms race and a rating ploy. Facts, truth and common sense be damned! Channel 4 is going to broadcast at least 1 minute more of live weather than 9 or 5. They argue/brag over who has the best radar…….you wonder why Rick Mitchell bolted? This will never change as long as we “sheep” keep falling for the falling for the trick and as long as we respond to the rating war. If for one second I truly believed that they really were interested in safety i would understand, but you know that ratings, radar arms race and who can say “Mike said it would” and so forth is the main focus and hey if we get it right and warn some people then bonus! I’m beginning to see these fookers in light of faith healers and snake oil salesmen.

          • OK is exactly as you describe it. I think more of this is inflicted on us because of the tornado(or severe weather) threat every year that we endure. Now that the obvious is pointed out… other big time markets… I don’t recall every having the weather advertised quite like it is here. If one weather channel sets the bar on a level of anticipation and maybe suspense? The other channel will suffer horribly in ratings if they don’t too. Now the only exception is Gary England, Oklahomas Pope when it comes to weather. He doesn’t have any pressure on him to put any fear in his listeners(you clearly share that example in your post). He has a market. He has a audience and he does not need to take on these angles to get ratings. he already has them. Competitive business is a wench and so is marketing your product. You want that to change? Good luck changing business or marketing the way it is today. Is it frustrating when any of what you described takes place? Absolutely. Is it annoying never ending and a arms race? Yes, it is.

  12. The problem with these TV weatherguys is they rely and react too much on these weather models. Yeah the models were showing armaggedon leading up to Christmas, but they were constantly changing and inconsistent with each run. When the models are all over the place like that, got to be more conservative in the snowfall forecasts until you find more consistency with each run. I don’t know what Ch 9 was thinking predicting 6-10″ on Christmas Eve, I couldn’t find any models hinting at even that. Closest at that time was the ETA showing about 4-7″. The rest were in the 2-4″ range, and even that turned out to be too high. All it takes is for a storm track to be off by 50-100 miles and you end up with these ‘failed’ forecasts.

    • None of them bozo’s analyze models; they just take finished public products from the NWS, and repackage them back to the public with their own hype/spin. If the NWS forecasts a high of 33, they just pick a number within a few degrees to look unique. Some weather reporters over-hype the information with theatrics for ratings, because ratings is selling advertising, and keep them employed. Do you really think tv station place public safety over the almighty dollar?

      remember these two formulas:

      “modified” NWS forecast + over hyped theatrics = $elling advertising

      and

      $elling advertising – Mike Morgan’s salary = $$$KFOR PROFITS$$$

      $ee what I mean?

  13. Aaron Tuttle posted many different “models” of this “storm” over the last week. Seems like it kept changing, the data, the amounts, the total blizzard wasn’t ever possible according to “his” data.
    Oh well, another strike against sensational weather-ism

  14. I’m sorry, but Mike Morgan is a buffoon when it comes to weather; he doesn’t even have a meteorology degree! He needs to use his bs talent in selling used cars instead. I heard Wikipedia deleted his profile because it was over-exaggerated, and that he’s not considered notable (famous) to have one like Gary England is.

  15. Little teasers before they go to commercial…..you know the “Could we get 5 feet of snow and all die by next weekend? Mike has the details” tells me that they pick the worst case, yet possible model and pimp it all week to get people to tune in and worry so they stay tuned in and worried. It is fear mongering and it’s pathetic. Like I said, go online and check out the NWS. They don’t need to sell commercial time to the Mathis Bros and The Key creep.

  16. This is one of the things I really don’t miss about Oklahoma, all the weathermen racing to be the first to tell you that bad weather is coming. After that big tornado in Moore on May 11th (?), anytime it started to even sprinkle outside, they all started screaming tornado and to run and hide. Then the next day, they ran some commercial bragging how they were the first to tell you.

  17. When your weather map has an advertisement for Newcastle Casino on it while you’re delivering your nightly spiel, that pretty much should tell everyone what you think is more important.

Previous Post Stuart Scott impersonated Sweet Brown on SportsCenter. Merry Christmas.
Next Post 2012 Year In Review: October