Behind The Scenes As NWS Gears Up For Snow Storm

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 00:09:52-05
The National Weather Service is charged with keeping local leaders in the know on what's coming.
NewsChannel 5 uses their alerts in our weather reports and so do emergency managers in charge of 38 counties in Middle Tennessee.
And as the snow melts from Wednesday's storm, NWS Meteorologists are already hard at work gearing up for round two.
They expect it to pack a bigger punch. "Up towards Clarksville our confidence is fairly high they're going to get substantial snowfall from 4 to 8 inches," said NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Krissy Hurley.
She says the last few days have been chaotic. A tour of their workspace shows several scientists quickly and quietly working on models and their own variation of the forecast.
"You can give the same data to 10 different meteorologists and probably come up with 10 different forecasts," explained meteorologist Justyn Jackson.
That's why they collaborate at the NWS in Nashville. "We discuss what each of our opinion is of what's going to happen," Hurley, who leads the Nashville team, said.
They re-evaluate the winter weather alerts every four to six hours. They send them out so everyone from schools to salt trucks have the latest information.
"There you go, it's been issued," Hurley said, after hitting the transmit button at her computer during the 3:30 p.m. update.
And it's not just about reaching officials. These days social media is key to reaching the public. The Nashville office has 66,000 followers.
They post everything from possible snow totals to temperature estimates and even answer individual questions.
"More people use this than our webpage now," said Meteorologist Mark Rose. It's around the clock work. And they say they're ready for anything come Friday's storm.
"After last winter we did invest in some blow up mattresses and cots so it's one of those things you kind of learn from previous events," Hurley laughed.
Forecasting is a science but not an exact one. They say it's especially difficult to predict winter weather in Middle Tennessee.
"A lot of it does have to do with experience," Jackson said. Because only time will tell how big the storm will get.
The National Weather Service has more than 80 volunteer weather stations in the area to help tally the snowfall totals as they come in Friday and Saturday.