Why can snowfall forecasts change so significantly?

Weather News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s something we all know well as New Englanders. Talking about the potential for snow, but having to wait until it’s closer to the actual snowfall to talk about potential amounts. That’s due to the tricky nature of snowfall forecasting.

Here’s why forecasts can change so much, and why some storms it seems like your neighbor down the street has more snow than your mere 2 inches. 

The heaviest snow in a storm occurs in very narrow bands. Tiny temperature forecast shifts that determine the difference between rain, a wintry mix and snow, can lead to a significant change in snowfall amounts. But even if we had the same exact storm, snowfall amounts wouldn’t be the same, depending on the conditions near the ground. So snow does not fall evenly everywhere. That can lead to one foot of snow down the street with only a dusting elsewhere. 

Wind can also shift around the snow that falls, leading to less in some locations and more in others.

Snow melts unevenly too, so while lots of snow can fall at night, not everyone will wake up to the same amount.

Another thing we personally deal with here in western Massachusetts: elevation. Elevation significantly affects the amounts of snow that can fall. So the western hills a lot of the time gets much more snowfall.

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