Forecasting the 12–14 March 1993 Superstorm

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This paper describes the decision-making process used by the forecasters in the National Meteorological Center's Meteorological Operations Division and in Weather Forecast Offices of the National Weather Service to provide the successful forecasts of the superstorm of 12–14 March 1993. This review illustrates 1) the difficult decisions forecasters faced when using sometimes conflicting model guidance, 2) the forecasters' success in recognizing the mesoscale aspects of the storm as it began to develop and move along the Gulf and East Coasts of the United States, and 3) their ability to produce one of the most successful heavy snow and blizzard forecasts ever for a major winter storm that affected the eastern third of the United States.

The successful aspects of the forecasts include the following. 1) Cyclogenesis was predicted up to 5 days prior to its onset. 2) The unusual intensity of the storm was predicted three days in advance, allowing forecasters, government officials, and the media ample time to prepare the public, marine, and aviation interests to take precautions for the protection of life and property. 3) The excessive amounts and areal distribution of snowfall were predicted two days in advance of its onset. 4) An extensive number of blizzard watches and warnings were issued throughout the eastern United States with unprecedented lead times. 5) The coordination of forecasts within the National Weather Service and between the National Weather Service, private forecasters, and media meteorologists was perhaps the most extensive in recent history.

*Meteorological Operations Division, National Weather Service, National Meteorological Center, Camp Springs, Maryland (Current affiliation: Office of Meteorology, National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland).

+Scientific Services Division, National Weather Service, Eastern Region, Bohemia, New York.

Corresponding author address: Paul J. Kocin, Meteorological Operations Division, NWS/NMC, 5200 Auth Rd., Camp Springs, MD 20746.

This paper describes the decision-making process used by the forecasters in the National Meteorological Center's Meteorological Operations Division and in Weather Forecast Offices of the National Weather Service to provide the successful forecasts of the superstorm of 12–14 March 1993. This review illustrates 1) the difficult decisions forecasters faced when using sometimes conflicting model guidance, 2) the forecasters' success in recognizing the mesoscale aspects of the storm as it began to develop and move along the Gulf and East Coasts of the United States, and 3) their ability to produce one of the most successful heavy snow and blizzard forecasts ever for a major winter storm that affected the eastern third of the United States.

The successful aspects of the forecasts include the following. 1) Cyclogenesis was predicted up to 5 days prior to its onset. 2) The unusual intensity of the storm was predicted three days in advance, allowing forecasters, government officials, and the media ample time to prepare the public, marine, and aviation interests to take precautions for the protection of life and property. 3) The excessive amounts and areal distribution of snowfall were predicted two days in advance of its onset. 4) An extensive number of blizzard watches and warnings were issued throughout the eastern United States with unprecedented lead times. 5) The coordination of forecasts within the National Weather Service and between the National Weather Service, private forecasters, and media meteorologists was perhaps the most extensive in recent history.

*Meteorological Operations Division, National Weather Service, National Meteorological Center, Camp Springs, Maryland (Current affiliation: Office of Meteorology, National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland).

+Scientific Services Division, National Weather Service, Eastern Region, Bohemia, New York.

Corresponding author address: Paul J. Kocin, Meteorological Operations Division, NWS/NMC, 5200 Auth Rd., Camp Springs, MD 20746.
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