Environment

Twitter Debate: Did Forecasters Nail or Blow Snowstorm Predictions?

Not everyone's complaining about the snow forecast.
Not everyone's complaining about the snow forecast. 9News via YouTube
As Denver residents waited for the snowstorm, pretty much everyone had an opinion about the hype, as demonstrated by our post spotlighting an F-bombing hot mic 9News video about complaining viewers. But while the blizzard reached Colorado's urban corridor a day or more later than originally anticipated, it packed a considerable punch once it finally arrived.

In posts on Twitter, the debate over whether weather prognosticators blew their predictions, nailed them or landed somewhere in the middle continues to rage, even as the weather system that wreaked so much havoc on the area heads east.

No question, the advance hype was early and excessive. Take this headline from the boldly named AccuWeather site, as published on Thursday, March 11, when the leading edge of the storm was supposed to reach the metro area: "Denver could get one of its biggest snowstorms since 1885."

That same day, Governor Jared Polis held a press conference during which he announced that search-and-rescue efforts by the Colorado National Guard would be authorized through the state's emergency operation center beginning at noon Friday, March 12. But few flakes fell that day in metro Denver and beyond — just raindrops. And on the morning of Saturday, March 13, the amount of precipitation was hardly historic, prompting tweets like these:



During the afternoon of March 13, however, snowfall began to pick up in most parts of Denver and north along Interstate 25 to the Wyoming border and beyond. The snow continued to fall through that night and for much of Sunday, March 14, and substantial winds made things that much more miserable. Denver International Airport, where the city's official totals are calculated, currently registers just over 27 inches of snow; the place shut down last night.


While this amount doesn't best Colorado's biggest snowfalls going back to the nineteenth century, it's good enough for fourth place in Denver's recorded history.

Granted, the snow amounts vary widely across metro Denver. In the Ken Caryl Ranch area of Jefferson County, where I live, we collected between eight and eleven inches of snow. But plenty of other spots are looking at two feet, and the tonnage was enough to prompt some rare social media acknowledgements that weathercasters were closer to the mark than it initially seemed.

Not everyone agrees, however:



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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts