Snowmageddon or snowperbole? Juno was both.


Rockville Centre, NY | Photo courtesy of Diane Masciale

It is the second day after what Mayor de Blasio warned “could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of [New York].”  And by most estimations, the City has survived.  But what exactly?  A snowpocalypse?  A snowmageddon?  Well, whatever Juno was, it certainly wasn’t “something worse than we have ever seen before,” as predicted on Sunday in light of increasingly grim reports streaming from the National Weather Service.  So grim, in fact, were the forecasts that the New York City subway closed down reportedly for the first time in response to a snowstorm.

So, was Juno “the blizzard that wasn’t” — a snowperbole — or a super storm that simply took a different trajectory?  Here in New York, the lead-up may forever be remembered as unnerving and ultimately, overblown, but for the areas hardest hit, particularly southeast New England, as well as parts of Long Island, which saw as much as 26 inches of snow, the so-called “blizzard that wasn’t” certainly was, and to suggest otherwise, would be inaccurate.

Still, that hasn’t stopped a number of meteorologists from turning to social media and apologizing for what some have called a terrible case of crying wolf.  Gary Szatkowski with the National Weather Service tweeted, “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t.  Once again, I’m sorry.”

The director of the National Weather Service, Louis Uccellini was less apologetic, however, stating, “There were aspects of this forecast that were good.”


Mattituck, NY | Photo courtesy of Christine D. Rivera

But what about those aspects that were bad, principally the ultimate failure to closely predict Juno’s path?  Well, the modest dusting over New York City actually had been predicted — at least by one forecast model.  However, that model, the GFS (Global Forecast System), would be discounted in favor of two others, the NAM (North American Mesoscale) and the ECMWF (European Center for Medium Range Forecasting).


Mattituck, NY | Photo courtesy of Elise Calabrese

“In this case, the NAM and the ECMWF both showed 2 feet of snow or more for New York City, while the GFS (which has just been upgraded this winter) showed a more conservative 6 to 12 inches,” explains CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.  “As meteorologists we must convey the uncertainty associated with these forecasts,” he went on to stress.  In this case, caution was certainly exercised — and by some accounts, too much — but few would intimate it was exercised in interpreting the initial forecasts.

The final verdict?  Juno undoubtedly packed a punch and in some instances, indeed, a “historic” one.  But here in New York City, where public transit remained closed until Tuesday morning, it was neither a snowpocalypse nor a snowmageddon, but rather a sometimes inconvenient, ice-o-lating snow day best for Netflix watching and Seamless dining.