Saturday morning reminded us that forecasting snow totals in west Texas is not very easy. The forecast shifted on Friday afternoon as the low was going to move farther south. We knew Lubbock and central counties would receive more snow. I adjusted the totals for Lubbock and called for 2-4". Well, we did end up getting 4" of snow...with an additional 6" on top of that. Yes, the official total for Lubbock was 10" by noon Saturday. The National Weather Service office at the Science Spectrum actually received 10.5". Ok. So we missed this forecast. That is very easy to do in west Texas.
Forecast models did not help out forecasters too much. The models I use to forecast were calling for anywhere from 1" to 14" in Lubbock. I threw out the 14" model on Friday but now I will humbly respect that model next time. Yes, there will be a next time. El Nino is looking continue to strengthen as we get closer to winter on December 21. El Nino is the warming of water in the eastern Pacific. This will cause more wet weather for the southern United States, including Texas. We'll expect to see more rain and more snow through March. That is especially good news for ski resorts in New Mexico. They had an awful season last year but will get lots of help this winter. The drought is also much worse in New Mexico, with the highest level of drought from Santa Fe, north to the Four Corners.
I will certainly learn from this. There hasn't been many times that I have gotten to forecast snow during my 10 1/2 years in Texas. We had snow just a few times during my six year run in San Angelo and only a handful times since I have been here in Lubbock. I am from West Virginia, so I am used to seeing snow. However, forecasting it is much different here in west Texas. In West Virginia, we have mountains which affect areas that get snow. Obviously we don't have mountains here on the South Plains. We have to look at what the storm has dropped in other locations, as well as how much moisture is it pulling in and what the temperature and moisture profile looks like from the surface up to 30,000 feet or so.
I'm not making excuses, but I will vow to learn from this experience and give a more accurate forecast when there's snow expected. We got beat up with the historic storm in 2015 and got beat up again on Saturday morning. I will study harder when it comes to forecasting and make sure I can do a much better job for you the next time Lubbock sees snow. That next time will be sooner than you think.