Winter Storm Juno results in less snowfall than expected
The Northeastern U.S. bundled up in anticipation of Winter Storm Juno early last week. Pittsburgh was firmly within the designated disaster zone and prepared accordingly, canceling more than three dozen flights out of Pittsburgh International Airport, among other moves to combat the Steel City’s impending weather.
The predictions didn’t pan out. The fear that the whole Northeast was moments from becoming a tableau in The Day After Tomorrow turned out to be based on a forecast error by the National Weather Service (NWS).
The storm hit slightly further north and to the east than initially expected. The storm turned out to be problematic for places like Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, which did receive record snowfall of over two feet, interrupting many citizens’ daily activities.
This saved Pittsburgh from the brunt of the storm. The official tally, according to The Weather Channel, turned out to be 4.3 inches of snow, still a heavy snowfall considering Pittsburgh’s usual January totals. On average, only 0.8 days in January per year receive three inches of snowfall, and 0.2 receive five inches, according to currentresults.com.
Using the site’s provided data, there would be approximately 0.33 days receiving the level of snowfall Pittsburgh got, meaning this kind of storm only happens once every three years. That level of impact is not something to just brush off, but it does not compare to the estimates of between one and two feet, with rates predicted to reach two feet of snow per hour.
Given the forecasts, students at Carnegie Mellon were unimpressed by the storm.
“I thought school would be canceled,” said sophomore physics major Anthony Paone. “But then it barely snowed at all.”
The contrast between expectation and reality was echoed by much of the student body with common terms like “underwhelming” and “anti-climactic.”
The contrast between the predictions and reality led to some anger with local politicians and the NWS.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city may experience a “potentially historic blizzard,” which some saw as an overreaction to the models given the reality of the storm in New York, which saw less than a foot despite predictions nearing three feet. The mayor received backlash for his decision to shut the city down, but defended the decision to The Weather Channel saying, “We heard from meteorologists all over the region, that this was going to be two feet or more of snow. If that had proven to be true ... it was a no-brainer this was the right thing to do.”
Additionally, the NWS claimed that their prediction was largely correct in predicting the shape and intensity of the storm, but their projections were about 50 to 100 miles off.
While the snow was unusually intense, it did not reach the heights initially predicted. Pittsburgh residents were able to go about their daily activities without severe disruptions, except for flights into and out of the city.