Snow!

We had a little snow a couple of days ago and got more tonight — it actually seems to be sticking now. The upcoming forecast varies depending on what you want to believe. So, for the next few days, I’m going to track which of the various weather resources is most accurate.

To keep these forecasts comparable, I chose the my home airfield of KBFI. It’s just over 4 miles from downtown, fairly close to Puget Sound, and low elevation. Thus, no funny stuff. I will update the results the following morning and on Tuesday, we will see which one’s the most accurate.

Source Tonight
(1/1/2004)
Friday
(1/2/2004)
Saturday
(1/3/2004)
Sunday
(1/4/2004)
Monday
(1/5/2004)
Tuesday
(1/6/2004)
Seattle Times Showers
39/32
Mixed
39/32
Snow
38/31
Mostly cloudy
32/29
Partly sunny
35/19
Revised 1/2: Snow
35/20
Partly sunny
29/29
Partly sunny
35/19
Revised 1/3: Mostly sunny
29/16
Partly sunny
30/19
Revised 1/4: Mostly cloudy
30/25
Snow
37/26
The Weather Channel Snow showers
/25
Rain/show showers
38/32
Snow showers
38/18
Partly cloudy
29/29
Partly cloudy
35/19
Revised 1/2: Snow
35/20
Partly cloudy
28/15
Partly cloudy
28/19
Revised 1/3: Mostly sunny
29/16
Mostly cloudy
32/25
Revised 1/4: Mostly cloudy
31/25
Wintry mix
38/32
Seattle PI/KOMO TV 4 Rain, Cloudy and cold
40/30
Cloudy and cold
35/28
Snow
32/20
Cold with some sun
28/22
Cloudy and cold
32/22
Revised 1/2: Snow
30/20
Partly sunny
28/18
Chance of snow
30/26
Revised 1/3: Mostly sunny
26/16
Chance of snow
30/26
Revised 1/4: Mostly sunny
30/24
Snow and sleet
38/36
KIRO TV 7 Mixed snow/rain
38/33
Mixed snow/rain
38/32
Snow
35/30
Partly sunny
32/26
Mixed snow/rain
35/24
Revised 1/2: Snow
33/30
Partly sunny
29/20
Snow
33/24
Revised 1/3: Partly sunny
29/20
Snow
33/24
Revised 1/4: Snow Flurries
30/14
4-12″ Snow!
37/28
KING TV 5 Mostly cloudy
37/31
Mixed rain/snow
37/31
Snow
35/32
Sunny
35/28
Partly cloudy
36/26
Revised 1/2: Snow
33/30
Sunny
30/22
Snow
31/19
Revised 1/3: Mostly Sunny
33/27
Snow
45/20
Revised 1/4: Snow
32/28
Wet snow
41/28
KCPQ TV 13 Scattered rain/snow
/31
Rain and snow
37/30
Morning snow
32/21
Mostly sunny
28/19
Mostly cloudy
32/23
Revised 1/2: Snow
29/21
Sunny
29/21
Snow late
30/22
Revised 1/3: Sunny
27/16
Snow late
32/28
Revised 1/4: Snow late
32/28
Snow then rain
42/38
AccuWeather Snow or flurries
/30
Rain or snow shower
36/29
Snow or flurries
34/19
Partly cloudy
29/20
Mostly cloudy
32/23
Revised 1/2: Morning snow
33/17
Partly sunny
29/15
Snow late
35/30
Revised 1/3: Mostly sunny
30/12
Snow, ice, rain
34/27
Revised 1/4: Sunny then snow late
29/23
Snow, sleet, rain
42/37
National Weather Service Light rain or snow
/31
Rain or snow showers
37/25
Partly cloudy
35/23
Mostly sunny
35/23
Partly cloudy
35/25
Gives ranges
Revised 1/2: Morning snow
33/17
Sunny
27/20
Snow late
33/28
Revised 1/3: Sunny
27/16
Snow late
30/25
Revised 1/4: Snow late
30/25
Snow then rain
38/43
Actual Rain, Snow
41/33.1
Rain, Snow
39/30.9
Snow
37.9/26.6
Mostly sunny
30/19.4
Overcast
28.9/19.4
Winner KIRO TV7 Seattle Times Seattle Times KIRO TV7 Seattle PI/KOMO TV4
Runner(s) up KCPQ TV 13,
NWS
Weather Channel,
KIRO TV 7,
KING TV 5
KIRO TV 7, KOMO TV 4 AccuWeather KCPQ TV13, AccuWeather

Update 1/2/2004: Congratulations to KIRO TV 7 for being the closest to the official reported conditions for last night. I’m kind of surprised, given that there wasn’t much forecasting left to do for last night’s weather, how much the forecasts for last night differed.

We had about 2″ of snow where I live, and my kids are conducting experiments with snowballs in the freezer and building snow blobs on the curb.

I forgot to mention earlier that the National Weather Service forecast is the most wishy washy, providing ranges like “Highs in the lower to mid 30s.”



Update 1/3/2004: The Seattle Times edged out the pack, though there wasn’t that much discrepancy because of the broad forecast (“rain or snow”), thus temperature factored more than normal. Curiously, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and KOMO TV 4 did not forecast snow for Thursday or today.

As an added dimension, I’ve recorded revised forecasts underneath the original (it’s the smaller font). The first one is from tonight (Friday) for the remaining days. I will add additional lines for Saturday and Sunday’s revisions to provide some visibility into tweaking. I think Susan Dennis said it best, “My guess is they did not buy their 8 balls at the same place.”



Update 1/3/2004 @ 11:00 p.m.: I’ve updated the forecasts and will add the “actual” tomorrow morning as there may still be some cooling.
Update 1/4/2004 @ 8:58 a.m.: As everyone — except the initial NWS forecast — predicted, it snowed yesterday. The Seattle Times was the closest in actual temperature, thus they are our winner for Saturday. I noticed that all of the revised forecasts for Saturday were further off the actual temperature at the official site. For example, the Seattle Times was initially five degrees off the high/low ((38 – 37.9) + (31 – 26)), but revised their temperatures further down and were nine degrees off ((35 – 37.9) + (26 – 20)). For the record, I’m measuring the low during the 24 hour period ending at 23:59:59 local time.


Update 1/4/2004 @ 8:50 p.m.: The forecasts for Tuesday are pretty interesting with one station going out on the line and calling for 4-12″ of snow and another hinting this could be as big as the ‘zard of 1996. I’ve added those to the table, but they won’t be included in the final results. (Or maybe they should, as they’re so vastly different 😉 Tonight’s winner will be updated later this evening.

Update 1/5/2004 @ 7:17 a.m.: Originally, everyone except the Seattle Times originally predicted a lot of sun. KIRO TV 7 and KING TV 5 were the closest to the actual temperatures. (KIRO edged out KING by 0.2 degrees, hence is today’s winner.) Looking at the revised forecasts, everyone except KING TV 4 got further off in temperature.
Today’s forecasts range from mostly sunny to snow. This will serve as a tie-breaker for the Seattle Times and KIRO TV 7.

Update 1/6/2004 @ 12:20 a.m.: Here’s a bizarre result… based on the original forecasts, Seattle PI/KOMO TV4 was the closest, however they revised it to mostly sunny, which is certainly wasn’t. KCPQ TV13 and AccuWeather were runners up with “mostly cloudy” and 6.7 degrees difference from actual.

KIRO TV7 is most accurate overall based on being closest two days and runner up two days. (Not weighted, but still worth noting is their original forecast for Monday was about six hours too aggressive. It will likely snow Tuesday morning, turning to rain sometime thereafter.)

Congratulations, KIRO TV7!

13 thoughts on “Snow!

  1. PERFECT!!! Earlier in the week I was looking for a forecast graphic that had flakes in ever day of the 5 day forecase. King 5 was the only one and I was amazed at how different all the sources were. This is a GREAT project! Can’t wait to see the results.

  2. > Seems time consuming

    Yep, but it’s something I’ve always been curious about. (There’s a long list of things… new year’s resolution and all that :0)

    Hope you’re feeling better Fran!

  3. I noticed weatherman Patrick Hammer tonight pre-emptively compared Tuesday’s forecasted snowstorm to the big one of post-Christmas 1996. I think he may be sticking his neck out a little too far but we’ll see!

  4. Now… that 1996 one was the best… I do remember eating Christmas dinner at 13 Coins and the couple at the table next to us told us that they had heard that downtown Seattle was going to get 18 inches of snow. I remember how we laughed at them after they left. I remember the 18 inches of snow the next day… I could do that again. Wonder if I need to start with dinner at 13 Coins on Monday?

  5. > pre-emptively compared Tuesday’s forecasted snowstorm

    I heard that too. That would be pretty spectacular. How did Seattle fare during that period?

    For comparisons, I lived in Austin prior to moving here and we used to get a light dusting the last week of January. (The natives swore it happened only once every 7 years, but I saw it four years in a row.) This was enough to paralyze the city for a couple of days because there are numerous uninsulated bridges with people willing to drive on them. Such a contrast to Chicago…

  6. How did Seattle fare?

    Well, it was pretty wild. It snowed buckets the day after Christmas (which I think was a Friday) and then it skipped a day and snowed more buckets on Sunday. Since a whole lot of people were on vacation, it wasn’t as bad as you might think. Except the snow demolished things like those aluminum carports for boats and even some house roofs.

    I, of course, had a uniquely different snow disaster. I do no cook. I had my friend, John, in from California for the holidays. Our plan was to sample all our favorite restaurants. When the snow hit, they closed. We had no food. I mean pickle juice, yes. And some stale crackers. But, we nearly starved to death. We finally hiked up to the Alexis Hotel and begged. They were only serving hotel guests but John was very persuasive. For lunch the next day we went over to the ferry dock and took the ferry over to Bainbridge and back just so we could get lunch. It was a rough several days 🙂 I have food now, tho. I’m ready.

  7. Oh man. I better get to the supermarket and stock up for the siege. That ’96 storm was right before we moved here. In Chicago it’s easier to drive in snow ’cause it’s flat and because they use SALT, which has more of an effect than sand. Still, I spun out my car once on a snowy street. No damage except to my composure!

  8. I’m going to go look for a sled for my kiddos. 🙂

    KIRO, which has (so far) had more accurate reports, estimates 4-12″ of snow. However, forecasts beyond that show it warming up to the 40s with rain.

  9. I went to Utah to ski in ‘real snow’ during the ’96 storm. It was dry there, and Washington was covered in snow. I came home after it melted. Bah!

  10. mr. carson, this is very very interesting….I’m finding it difficult however to ascertain how many days of sun we have had since march, o4? I have a friend who indicates we have had about 12 days of sun this spring and summer…which of course he is wrong……but I’m having difficulty sifting through all of this to determine otherwise?
    thanks for your wonderful site!

  11. This is really difficult for a variety of reasons. First, where is your data point? What defines sunny — like all day with no clouds? Or is partly cloudy okay?

    I found that precipitation data here (Handy Excel spreadsheet), though you will have to do some adding up columns. It doesn’t provide cloud cover, however. For example, it could have been overcast, but as long as it didn’t rain, you might read this as clear.

    You could always troll manually through their daily synopsis, but that’s very tedious.

    Beautiful Seattle had some historical data for February that I used. According to them: July had 11 sunny days, May had 1, April 10, March 0. Total: 21, plus whatever we had in August.

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