Weather Forecasting 101: How Do Meteorologists Do It?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This day started with major disappointment for some, and celebration for others.

Southern Minnesota looks like a winter wonderland, while downtown Minneapolis is dry as a bone.

WCCO Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak says the weather team took some hits Friday.

“This is nothing new, we take knocks every time,” he said.

As of Thursday, there was an 80 percent chance downtown Minneapolis would be covered with snow, but Mike says, “Probability works in that way — still a 20 percent chance it won’t happen.”

And for much of the Metro it didn’t. It was a blessing for some, curse for others. Brian Brown of Minneapolis was happy: “I hate snow,” he said.

Chad Hersog and his friend Zach were disappointed.

“Expecting to see snow, expecting a snow day. No snow day, had to come into work,” he said.

“It’s just kinda weird that it’s nothing at all,” Nick Germain of Minneapolis said. “So a little bit would have been good.”

Sure, snow in the Cities was always a possibility but so was no snow – as WCCO’s weather team warned over and over.

“To try and pinpoint exactly where a storm is going to hit is very, very difficult,” WCCO Meteorologist Chris Shaffer said. “We know how much precipitation they will yield, we know the timing pretty well, [but] to nail down — it’s going to hit Fairbault, it’s going to hit Cannon Falls — is very difficult.”

Mike Augustyniak says this storm was especially tricky.

“This storm, the forecast was actually quite good,” he said. “The problem is it was one of the sharpest cutoffs from zero snow to a foot of snow that I have ever seen in almost 20 years of forecasting, and that cutoff happened over where a lot of people live.”

Sometimes being a forecasters pretty tough, too

“If you want to punch, me take a number, get in line,” Chris Shaffer joked.

Shaffer reminds viewers within 48 miles, some people had no snow, others got 14 inches.

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