Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Weather Talk: Lessons to learn from St. Paul school bus debacle

Many St. Paul students were stranded in school buses Monday, Jan. 22, some until almost midnight, when very heavy snowfall rates caused sudden snow accumulations. The big problem is that powerful winter storms often do unexpected things, so potential forecast error needs to be a part of any decision.

In this case, the general idea of a heavy snowfall for the Twin Cities area was well forecast. The heaviest accumulations were, as expected, south of the metro area, and the idea of a sharp cutoff to the north was anticipated.

But during the day, Monday, bands of extremely heavy snow produced accumulations of 2 inches an hour for several hours in a row. Central and southern parts of the metro area expecting 6 inches in 12 hours got 12 inches in about six hours. Plows simply couldn't keep up.

This is why a certain degree of "erring on the side of caution" is probably a good idea with winter storms.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

(701) 241-5387
randomness