It’s snow joke: the historic storm that wasn’t.
So the historic winter storm that was to cover New York City in a few feet of snow, didn’t happen. While it blanketed New England further up North, the storm changed course only dusting NYC instead.
However, only in New York would people moan about missing such a weather event and they cast scorn on the weather forecasters who in turn, issued a public apology.
Niziol suspects he was not to blame: earlier in the weekend, he was on the Weather Channel predicting between 12 to 18 inches of snow for the city, half that of the NWS’s direst warnings. Meteorologists, including Niziol, generally make their predictions based on the same data and a half-dozen or so internationally shared computer models.
On Monday afternoon, not long before Cuomo announced the subway would close to riders for the first time ever because of a snowstorm, Niziol rolled his prediction back to between 8 and 12 inches: snowy, but not one for the ages.
The NWS, which has the gravitas of a federal agency and whose officials directly brief civic decision-makers, continued to stand firm on a prediction of three feet.
Events would show that Niziol’s revised estimate was close enough. Most of the city got no more than 8 inches, De Blasio said on Tuesday, although some areas of Queens got 10.
As with the NWS and other meteorologists interviewed on Tuesday, Niziol also pointed out that the far end of Long Island, east of New York City, and swathes of Massachusetts and other neighboring states were grappling with an actual blizzard, more or less as predicted.
“There is no pleasure in getting the forecast right over the guy at the next desk,” Niziol said, “because, you know what, next time I’ll get it wrong and that guy will get it right.”
Louis Uccellini, the NWS director, was by turns defensive and remorseful in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
“What we learned from the storm is we all need to improve how we communicate forecast uncertainty,” he said, after citing a list of places besides New York City where the NWS accurately predicted a disruptive amount of snow.
He said he was still “tracing” who wrote the service’s “CRIPPLING” and “POTENTIALLY HISTORIC” advisory, whose language was widely echoed by civic leaders as they declared states of emergencies.
Individual NWS offices are responsible for what they publish, he said. The chief meteorologist at the NWS station in the Long Island town of Upton, which is responsible for New York City, did not respond to a request for comment.
The preferred meteorologists of Cuomo and de Blasio, who both continued to cite the scarier forecasts on Tuesday as they defended their transport shutdowns, could not immediately be determined.
Cuomo’s office said his officials rely on the regular briefing services that the NWS offers to city officials. De Blasio’s office did not respond to questions on the matter.
Let the blames begin.