Four months ago, Andrew Cuomo falsely stated that New York just recently started seeing tornadoes. On Saturday, the governor gave a press conference where he slammed meteorologists for their largely accurate Buffalo snow forecasts. As usual, Andrew Cuomo is clueless.
Buffalo's WGRZ quotes Cuomo as saying that "no one had an idea" that the snow would be so heavy over the Southtowns and that the National Weather Service "was off" on their forecasts. The Governor goes on to say that the federal agency's performance during the snowstorm (which was excellent!) is among the reasons that the State of New York is developing its own weather forecasting system.
Cuomo further asserted that "when the weather detection system is off, you don't know a storm is coming, you don't have a chance to prepare."
If Cuomo had stopped his comments at "no one had an idea" that the snow would be so heavy, he might have gotten away with it, but true to his profession, he had to keep running his mouth. His accusing the National Weather Service of missing the storm so hard that residents didn't know a storm was coming is just one more bullet point on a list of stupid comments from a sub-par politician venturing into a topic he knows little about.
When a single band of lake effect snow forms, the band usually drifts north and drifts south until it dissipates. Such an intense band doesn't usually park itself over one area and create whiteout conditions for an entire day. That's why lake effect snow events are usually two- or three-foot storms that barely make the news. Residents take pictures, clean up, and move on.
The two intense bands that affected western New York last week didn't move, and that's why they were such a big deal. While it's not unprecedented in the Great Lakes region, 88 inches of snow in five days is an extremely unusual event for communities outside of mountainous areas. Cuomo is partially right in that we didn't have an indication ahead of time that residents would see near-record amounts of snow across the area.
However, that's where the credit to his knowledge ends. The governor is dead wrong when he says that residents had no warning that a storm was coming.
The Friday before the snow began, the NWS office in Buffalo mentioned the possibility of "feet of snow" south of the city as a result of persistent lake effect snow bands.
[Update 6:51 PM: Josh Timlin points out to me on Twitter that as early as Monday, November 17, NWS Buffalo pointed out that the following week's pattern "has all the makings of a historic or at least well remembered lake effect event.."]
On Sunday night, the office issued the first lake effect snow warning for the eastern shores of Lake Erie in anticipation of "localized amounts around two feet in the most persistent bands Monday evening through Wednesday."
As the bands began to set up and it became clear that they were parking themselves over the Southtowns, forecasters had to up the totals far beyond what usually occurs in lake effect snow events. By 12:30 AM on Tuesday, the NWS bumped up snow total forecasts to two to three feet; by 6:52 AM, the totals were three to four feet; by 9:39 AM, they had updated the snowfall totals to five to six feet across the most heavily-affected areas. The largest snowfall total from the first band was 65 inches (five feet, five inches) south of Cheektowaga.
The second band of snow that occurred between Wednesday night and Thursday was very well forecast, with the NWS immediately calling for three to four feet of snow in the Southtowns when they issued the second lake effect snow warning at 3:33 PM on Tuesday. The highest snowfall total from the two events was 88 inches in Cowlesville, about 20 miles east-southeast of Buffalo.
Again, residents had plenty of warning that it would be a hefty lake effect snow event, even if they didn't know ahead of time that it would crank out more than seven feet of snow.
Governor Cuomo's attempt to scapegoat the National Weather Service for an inaccurate forecast in advance is not only completely in error—the NWS did an outstanding job—but is a disservice to the public and to the hard-working staff of this federal agency. No forecast of such an historical disaster is going to be absolutely perfect, but no one who lives here can say this event was not well forecast in advance, or that the warning headlines of its impact to come were not well explained in advance...his statement is disinformation, purposeful or ill-informed.
I'm willing to go one step further and point out that Andrew Cuomo's attempt to trash the National Weather Service for this unusual lake effect snow event is nothing but a cheap and sleazy attempt on his part to garner public support for a weather forecasting system he wants to implement in his state.
Cuomo has proven time and time again that he is neither qualified nor informed enough to talk about the weather on even a conversational level. The governor needs to leave the weather to the professionals and stick to what he does best—acting like a stereotypical, shady New York politician.
[Image via AP]