Can we get a mulligan here?
Toledo's TV weather guys - as well as the national snow gurus - got it wrong.
Sure, they were educated guesses based, in part, on sophisticated computer models and past winter snowfall totals. But predictions of below-normal snowfall for the area this winter are becoming more obsolete than rotary-dial phones.
With another big storm looming - we could get anywhere from 3 to 10 inches tomorrow depending on where you live in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan - it's starting to look like the area will get more snow than usual this year.
In fact, if just two inches of snow falls at Toledo Express Airport, it will put this month into the Top 10 of snowiest Januaries on record.
"It's all a guessing game anyway, really," said Robert Shiels of WTOL Channel 11, referring to season-long estimates.
But Mr. Shiels, like the other forecasters, acknowledged that the previous "guesses" provided to The Blade for a season snowfall prediction published in early December were low. While he originally predicted 33 inches for this winter - below the 36.6 inch average - he's now going with 43 inches.
Stan Stachak, the longtime weatherman for WTVG Channel 13, said he now thinks we'll get 42 inches, up from his earlier prediction of 30 inches.
At WUPW Channel 36, weatherman Jeff George said initial long-range computer models indicated that a dry weather pattern for this area could last for four months.
"Obviously, it lasted a few weeks," he said. He upgraded his forecast to 42 inches from 30.
"Blizzard" Bill Spencer of WNWO Channel 24 is well aware that his initial prediction for The Blade of 25 1/2 inches of snowfall is in serious trouble. With a total snowfall already of 25 inches, he has only a teensy-weensy bit of wiggle room. Mr. Spencer said he now believes we'll get 41 inches of snow for the year.
The Toledo situation is somewhat difficult to explain. Detroit's snowfall thus far is above average, as is Lansing and Flint. But western Michigan cities Grand Rapids and Muskegon are below average. In Ohio, Dayton is above, while Columbus and Cincinnati are about average.
Henry Margusity, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, a private forecasting company in State College, Pa., said Toledo has had the same luck with snow that Orlando had with hurricanes last year. "We're in the right spot for snowstorms," he said.
All the forecasters agreed that the swift change from flurries to substantial snowstorms within hours shows the folly of making season-long predictions.
"Four-month forecasts are just so unreliable," Mr. Spencer said. "They're fun to talk about and fun to look at. [But] one storm could bust it."
The one storm that will likely obliterate Mr. Spencer's season-long estimate - and perhaps everyone else's as well - is forming over Canada. Expected to arrive here early tomorrow morning, the storm will dump anywhere from 3 to 10 inches of snow on the area, forecasters said.
While some hate the snow, there are others who relish it.
Those who make money selling snow throwers and rock salt are in the latter category. The new predictions forecast good days ahead.
"Nothing sells 'em like a storm," said Tim Janney, general manager of Janney's ACE Hardware in West Toledo. "It's not good for all businesses. But bad weather is good for our business."
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