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Snowfall totals: Rating the weathermen

Posted by Mark Leccese  January 27, 2011 11:13 AM

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GK_Snow01-27-11_V2.jpgI set up a contest for Boston TV weathermen — and, on the early evening newscasts they were all men — to determine who predicted the snowfall totals of last night and this morning’s storm most accurately. Here are the rules:

  • Judging based on predictions made 24 hours before the start of the storm, on the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts Tuesday evening.
  • Each meteorologist’s snowfall prediction for Boston recorded.
  • Meteorologist who comes closest to predicting total snowfall in Boston, as reported by the National Weather Service, declared the winner.

I know, I know — New England snow storms are unpredictable and forecasting snowfall totals 24 hours before the first flake is complicated business. “The storm is still 24 hours away,” WBZ-TV meteorologist Todd Guttner said at 5:30 Tuesday evening. “Things could shift around.”

But, hey, why not judge the weathermen on a tough forecast? We’re trying to rate meteorological chops here.

In descending order of snowfall totals, here are the predictions:

  • Matt Noyes, NECN: 12 inches (kudos for precision)
  • Pete Bouchard, Channel 7: 9 to 12 inches
  • Harvey Leonard, Channel 5: 6 to 12 inches (lotta wiggle room there)
  • Todd Gutner, Channel 4: 6 to 10 inches
  • Kevin Lemanowicz, Channel 25: 6 to 10 inches

For the record, at 5:29 p.m. on Tuesday the National Weather Service prediction for snowfall in the Boston area was 6 to 10 inches.

At 9:10 this morning, the National Weather Service in Taunton issued a Public Information Statement reporting snowfall totals submitted by its spotters, which included three reports from Boston (scroll down to Suffolk County).

At 4:16 a.m. a ham radio operator in South Boston reported 11.5 inches; at 7 a.m., Logan Airport reported 9.9 inches; and at 9:05 a.m. a member of the general public in West Roxbury reported 12 inches.

Average them out and you get 11.13 inches. Because (as George Carlin astutely pointed out) nobody lives at the airport, and because we got more snow after the South Boston spotter’s report at 4:16 a.m., I’ll declare the snowfall total in Boston a nice round number: 12 inches.

The winner: Matt Noyes of NECN. He predicted exactly 12 inches and, by golly, we got 12 inches.

The runners-up: Pete Bouchard of Channel 7 (9 to 12 inches) and Harvey Leonard of Channel 5 (6 to 12 inches), on the grounds of imprecision.

The loser: The Brookline Department of Public Works. Brookline Patch tweeted at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night: “Brookline DPW expects 2-4 inches of snow tomorrow night, does not plan to declare snow emergency.”

If only.

Follow @mleccese on Twitter.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mark Leccese, a journalism professor at Emerson College, covered Massachusetts politics, business and the arts for more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and magazine writer. He has More »

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