New graphics help forecast snow more accurately

King 5's Glenn Farley reports

Snow is one of the hardest weather patterns to forecast, and new graphics help make that forecasting easier.

Thursday night saw the rollout of a new generation of snow graphics that accurately forecasted and illustrated the kind of snow we saw this morning. 

It's called the UW High Resolution Model, and you'll only see it on KING 5.

"It's allowed us to get this resolution, the sharpness of the image down to where we can see really small scale features," said KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott, who is an expert in winter weather.    

The resolution is less than a mile, so that won't give you a pinpoint forecast for your house, but it will get you pretty close and far, far, far closer than older methods. 

"It's all very, very complex," said University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass, who's been working on this computer modeling for 25 years. 

There are a lot of pieces to the model that are baked in and can be broken out separately, such as winds.

The modeling is complex in part, because Washington is a complex weather environment. There are hills and mountains, large bodies of water, and river valleys that can channel cold winds. This includes the winds that factored into Thursday's snow event, which came blasting southwest out of the Fraser River Valley just north of the border in British Columbia.

Knowing temperature is one thing, but it's important to know where those temperatures will be cold enough to turn rain into snow and where will it be cold enough to stick.

"But to have cold air coming through the gap, to have the upslope, downslope effects.  All these things to get right is very difficult," said Mass. "That's why snow forecasts are the hardest."

© 2017 KING-TV


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