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Weather Prediction and the Blizzard of 2015

Weather models from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center

Weather models of the northeastern U.S. from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center — January 26, 2015

Over the past weekend, the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and parts of Ontario and Quebec was delivered a massive amount of snow — but not as much as was predicted. posted a series of articles on that powerful storm as it arrived and departed the area and were left trying to answer why the prediction models weren’t consistent or in some cases correct.

On the approach of the storm, there were four different weather models used by meteorologists to predict that New York City could get as much as eighteen inches of snow when at actually they received no more than ten (9.8″ measured in Central Park). There are multiple reasons for the variance between models like computational power for the models, the frequency and volume of data gathered, and lack of communication on the margin of error of the forecast.

For more information, check out these articles from

This article on post-storm analysis of weather models

This article on the increasing frequency of big blizzards in New York

This excerpt on meteorology by Nate Silver from the New York Times Magazine from September 2012

Additionally, CASIT’s Research Support Services (RSS) has data visualization capability for UO programs. For more information about their services and offerings, click here.