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snow
The scene in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood this morning.

If you’re just waking up in the Seattle region, there’s a surprise waiting outside: a nice coating of snow.

In fact, this would have surprised meteorologists in the past. But not this time, thanks to advances in the computer systems and scientific approaches used to predict weather. The new generation of WRF models were predicting this snow, whereas the older systems were saying there wouldn’t be any.

Pacific Northwest weather guru Cliff Mass, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor, said yesterday that the presence or absence of snow today would be “a great test of weather prediction technology.”

“The high-resolution models, the leading edge of numerical weather prediction, are going for a few inches of snow over much of the western Washington interior,” he explained in a post on the Cliff Mass Weather Blog. “In contrast, the much older statistical guidance products (Model Output Statistics, MOS) that use past statistical relationships and coarser model output have no snow.  And the temperature are really not that cold over the region:  at or near freezing at the surface at most locations.  However, (with) all that said, I believe the high-resolution models are correct for a number of reasons. … Snow is coming.”

And here it is. Enjoy it. And good luck getting to work.

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