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Local TV news, the weather channel, radio stations when i am listing ( least relible, but work), the internet. Then i got an older guy at the shop called Herb, my yard guy this year. He makes his prediction on a storm for amounts of ice and snow, i am not exactly sure how he does it. However his predictions are usually better than the guys on tv.
We are looking into try a weather service this winter. I have heard some go and bad things, but I think we are still going to try it. We also listen to the local radio and there is a local weather service on the net.
We use a local weather service which gives us the time it will start snowing,type of snow how much,and when we will see 2 inches,4 inches,and 6 inches on paved surfaces.We are using DTN for the first time this year and of course local news.I think between the three we should be able to get a good feel as to whats happening. We use the window Like John said the most reliable out of all for local weather service.
The National Weather Service has a good real time weather service that can be accessed free at iwin.nws.noaa.gov
There are several versions for those w/ high speed and snail access. There is also free software for EMWIN which offers real time weather, just as the NWS gets and dissemintates it. If anyone would like more links for short and mid term forecast models, surface maps, etc just let me know or drop me an email. By the way . . . the best radar on the web is at http://www.weathertap.com It costs about $40/year and is well worth the service. We use it as part of our forecast products for storm chasing.
A member of this forum, DaveO, gave me a great site for info. They have a realtime doppler radar loop. The weather channel has a doppler radar too. Between the two of them, I can keep on top of what's happening. The real secret is knowing what all the lines on the weather map mean, and being able to interpret the data yourself. Low pressure lines, high pressure, cold fronts, it all adds up to what will happen. Knowing your local conditions helps too. For instance, the NWS and others give forecasts for Newark, NJ. There's an airport there. The temps they give as "current" are always at least 10 degrees warmer than where we plow, 5 miles north west of there. Newark turns over to rain, and it keeps snowing where we plow.
On the local note, we always get intense storms from the west, but they always lose intensity crossing a mountain range before they get to us. Ocassionally they stay strong, so I have to keep up on the current radar.
Using the national radar doppler loop on intellicast, you can see the path and pattern of a storm. Watching the weather channel during a few snowless winters in the past, I learned quite a bit about weather. I think weather education plays a big part, as well as what the forecasters say. Everyone is always saying "the weather guy was wrong", so we all have to learn as much as we can ourselves.
I also mounted a thermometer in the bed of my truck, on the wooden sideboard, so I can see just what the temp is. This is a BIG help. The NYC radio stations are no help, because it's typically 10 degrees warmer there too.
In addition to the other sites mentioned, here are some I like. The first one is for the East Coast guys (sorry Digger, Iowa et al) There's nothing there yet but bookmark it now & when the season heats up you'll enjoy what you find there. This guy tracks all of the winter events with a passion, and he was 90% accurate for my area (Central NJ) last year (better than any local or other forecaster did) and he goes into great detail & will post his accuracy after the storm. This is one serious weather dude. He's based somewhere near Maryland or Virginia I believe, so his forecasting concentrates more on those areas, but he follows the storms all the way up the coast & I hope he'll be back for this season. The second site is the list of all current storm warnings or watches in the continental US. (There's snow happening right now!!!) The 3rd & 4th sites are discussions, analysises, & interpretations of the "computer models" that you hear all forecasters refer to. (not for the weather squeamish LOL) With those 2 sites you can make your own forecasts & ignore all of the weathermen. Of course, you need to know all of the stuff Chuck mentioned to have any idea what they're talking about. http://www.millenniumweather.com/winter/cast2.html http://kamala.cod.edu/winter/ http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/model/model.html http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/
Intellicast does have a nice site, but keep in mind that they are a vendor of the NWS and their radar images only update 2 times per hour. On the other hand, weathertap has a special contract whereas their radar updates every 3 minutes. We find this very useful during severe weather. They also have excellent satellite (visible, water vapor and infared) images. The downside, is that you have to pay for their service.
Here's another link that I used for sat, sfc and short term and medium range forecasting:
Not all weather is a derivitive of the NWS.
The private weather forcasting services, like the one John P uses and weather services out of Walpole Mass, or there abouts do their own forcasting.
They are the types of services that cater to DOT, utilities companies and the like.
They have remote info stations all over the US and get better up to date info, then just from major city sites that the NWS uses.
I have found that all NWS winter forcasts for my region are 30% accurate at best.
I dont need much info, is it going to snow/ ice or not. Then updates during a storm from local radar. That way I know when to do final clean ups.
I'll give a hearty AMEN to that, Dino. Many of the NWS offices aren't always right in their forecasts; along with the tv/radio stations. It's really hard to make a good forecast more than 24 hours out; especially with the Nor'easters you guys get up there. I guess the old method of sticking your head out the window from time to time works just as good.
I thought you guys are proffesionals,did'nt you ever hear of carrying a noaa weather radio in your cab? radio shack sells one with weather alert that turns it on automatically when noaa sends out important info.all the other sources are great too,just make sure you really understand those maps ...............
If you read all of the posts, a few of the guys questioned the reliability & accuracy of the NWS (NOAA) forecasts, based on their experiences. I have NOAA radios in all of the trucks, but I certainly don't rely solely on what they are transmitting. It seems that predicting winter weather is no easy task for meteoroligists. I think that the jist of this thread is that the professionals are monitoring as many weather sources as possible to best determine their plan of attack for each storm.
I also carry a weather radio (NOAA) in my cab. I haven't had too many problems with their forecasts in this area.
I was in the truck oneday during a storm, the radio kicked on and the forcast predicted the storm should stop in the Stamford area by 1:30 pm... at 1:15 pm the snow began to taper off. It came to a complete stop on my site at 1:40 pm
Just wondering for you guys who have DTN weather service. What are the benifits for having that service over the local news, weather radio ect. I just had DTN fax me over information on their new Elite Seasonal Service and it was not very informative on the benifits for paying over $3,000 per year. Just wanted to know if it is worth it. The way I see it how can spending that much be any better when the local news station probably has over $10 million in equipment and still can't predict what the weather is going to be out tomorrow or even the next day.
Thats why for me, this is how it works. You watch the weather find out when it is going to snow, and possible stop, and possibly how much. Then from the time it starts, to the time it stops, you just roll with the storm. Or as some would say sticking your head out the window. I carry a scanner with the weather service, and a 3" hand held tv, all in my truck. I used to carry a lap top, but decided it was too much of a pain, and i had to keep it secure in the cab, and that was a bigger pain.
I must say Geoff, for a back woods state, you sure have alot of high tech equip. Are you sure you cant sell straight salt sales. Maybe if you carry a can of chucks paint in your pocket, and spray it in the room, they will be to out of it to know what they sign.