The National Weather Service responded to criticism from Governor Cuomo today with a response about their forecasts on last week’s lake effect snow event after Cuomo said in a press conference this past weekend that their forecasts were off. The National Weather Service Buffalo office, which covers forecast in the region, responded by saying that its office issued timely and accurate forecasts for both heavy lake effect snowstorms, as well as the rain and potential flooding to follow. They released a timeline of the forecasts that were issued to show they were correct and Cuomo was wrong.
The harsh criticism from Cuomo came after a nearly 100-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway had to be closed for several days, stranding hundreds of motorists in their vehicles for hours in several feet of snow with nowhere to go. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to the storm and numerous structures have been damaged due to the heavy weight of the snow. Preparation ahead of the storm by the Governor’s office and other local and county officials is certainly in question and there is no doubt a “blame game” is being played by Cuomo.
The National Weather Service provided the following forecast timeline to support the assertion that their forecasts were timely and accurate:
- Lake Effect Snow Watch/Warning for Erie County (deepest snow area)
Issued 338 p.m. Saturday November 15
LES Watch for Monday evening through Wednesday morning
1-2 feet or more in persistent bands.
- LES Warning from 5 p.m. Monday through 1 p.m. Wednesday
Issued 348 p.m. Sunday November 16
Around 2 feet in persistent bands, blizzard conditions.
Impacts: Intense lake effect snow and blowing snow late Monday night through Tuesday night will result in very difficult travel at times. Some roads may become nearly impassable.
- LES Warning 5 p.m. Monday through 1 p.m. Wednesday
Issued 1230 p.m. Monday November 17
2-3 feet in persistent bands.
Impacts: Intense lake effect snow and blowing snow will result in very difficult travel at times. Some roads may become nearly impassable. If you must travel be prepared for severe winter driving conditions with near zero visibility and deep snow cover on roads. This includes the New York State Thruway from Angola to Batavia.
- LES Warning through 1 p.m. Wednesday & LES Watch late Wednesday Night through late Thursday night
Issued 347 p.m. Monday November 17
2-3 feet with additional significant accumulations late Wednesday night through late Thursday night
Snowfall rates of 3-5 inches per hour in most intense portion of band.
- No headline change
Issued 652 a.m. Tuesday November 18
Snowfall rates: 3-5 inches per hour, 3-4 feet in persistent band.
- No headline change
Issued 939 a.m. Tuesday November 18
Snowfall rates: 3-5 inches per hour, 5-6 feet in persistent band.
- LES Warning through 1 p.m. Wednesday & LES Warning 11 p.m. Wednesday through 1 a.m. Friday
Issued 333 p.m. Tuesday November 18
3-4 feet local 5-6 feet ending Wednesday.
Additional up to 2 feet with second band Wednesday night through Thursday night in same areas.
- No change to headlines thereafter
- Flood Watch in effect from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning
Issued 711 p.m. Thursday November 20
The Governor also called for the state to build its own weather detection system that would be superior to any other state system in the country. He did not give any further details on how this would be organized or a timeline for the creation of this new system.
“No one had an idea that it was gonna be that much snow that fast. Snow coming down at the rate of about five inches an hour. No one had an idea. The weather service was off. By the way, I said this in my state of the state last year we’re putting in our own weather detection system,” said Cuomo.
Cuomo faced a lot of backlash from the meteorological community after his comments this past weekend were stated without knowledge of the forecasts that were issued. After further review by independent meteorologists and this timeline issued by the NWS today, it is clear that Cuomo was once again wrong and misinformed and showed up late looking to post blame somewhere else but on himself. Wake up and start paying attention, Governor!