Surprise Storm for CL&P?

At a press conference this morning CL&P President and COO Jeff Butler commented that this storm was “far more significant than what had been forecasted.”

Interesting. Obviously CL&P either has a private forecasting firm that is just plain bad or they were not listening to some of us degreed meteorologists on TV in the state that were forecasting a crippling snowstorm. Friday morning Bob Maxon and I were forecasting up to a foot of snow that was “record-shattering and historic”. 36 hours out it’s not everyday we use words like “record-shattering” and “historic”.

In addition we were playing up the “impact” more than the actual amounts. With leaves on the trees and the heavy, wet type of snow expected we knew power outages could be a huge deal. It happened in greater Albany in 1987 and was most certainly on our minds.

Here’s my blog post from Friday morning 10/28:
“One of the reasons I’m unusually concerned about this storm is that the amount of leaves on the trees make them particularly vulnerable to damage. If the snow is of the heavy and wet variety we could have major and widespread power outages. We’re in uncharted territory here in terms of this type of storm this early in the season.”

This is from Thursday 10/27 (a full 48 hours before first flakes):
“A major snowstorm is on the way and will likely be a historic and unprecedented early season snowstorm. All the parameters and models are showing significant snow totals across the state.

Obviously the time of year gives me pause. The biggest October storm in the greater Hartford area was only 1.7″ back in 1979. The biggest storm in the entire state was 9.5″ in the town of Norfolk on October 4, 1987. Still, records are made to be broken and I am quite confident that in many areas this will be the biggest October snowstorm in recorded history.

It’s possible, but at this point not likely, that the storm will trend west and bring more rain as opposed to snow. It’s something to watch. The big concern for this storm may be damage to trees and powerlines given the amount of trees that are still fully foliated!”

The NWS was banging the drum too on Friday. Here are two discussions from Friday morning and Friday afternoon from the NWS in Albany. Notice the use of the word catastrophic!

“WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY CHANCES WITH THIS STORM. THERE COULD
BE A MAJOR SOCIETAL IMPACT ACROSS A LARGE PORTION OF THE FCST
AREA. LEAVES ARE ON THE TREES IN THE VALLEYS /ESPECIALLY FROM THE
CAPITAL DISTRICT SOUTH/…AND ACROSS SOME OF THE HILLS. 3 TO 6
INCHES OF HEAVY WET SNOW COULD BE VERY PERILOUS BRINGING DOWN
NUMEROUS LIMBS AND POWER LINES. WE HAVE TRIED TO EMPHASIZE THIS IN THE
WATCH STATEMENT ! POTENTIALLY…THERE COULD BE NUMEROUS POWER
OUTAGES. DESPITE NOT HITTING THE 7 INCH OR GREATER CRITERIA…WE
FEEL THIS WATCH IS NECESSARY DUE TO THE POTENTIAL SOCIETAL IMPACT.”

“POWERFUL WINTER LIKE STORM WILL DEVELOP ALONG THE MID ATLANTIC COAST
ON SATURDAY AND AFFECT THE REGION THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT AS IT MOVES
QUICKLY NORTHEAST. MODELS ARE GENERALLY IN AGREEMENT THAT THIS WILL
BE A HISTORIC OCTOBER SNOWSTORM FOR MUCH OF THE REGION. THE HEAVY
WET SNOW WILL LIKELY PRODUCE MAJOR TO CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE TO TREES
AND POWER LINES IN THE AREAS WHERE WARNINGS HAVE BEEN ISSUED AND
EXTENSIVE FOLLIAGE REMAINS ON THE TREES.”

I understand the need to make excuses but this should not have been a surprise. For one of the most anomalous storms of our lifetimes this was exceptionally well predicted 36-48 hours out.

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17 thoughts on “Surprise Storm for CL&P?

  1. I totally agree, Ryan!

    Hey! I’ve got a question for you. Prior to this storm, you were discussing how this could be the wettest year on record if we get even normal rainfall for the remainder of the year. Now with this snowstorm, does this percipitation count toward that total, or is snow counted in another bucket?

  2. It has been really awkward watching CL&P’s representatives on TV. There are probably a lot of reasons why the restoration isn’t going well, but claiming that they didn’t realize the storm was going to be so severe, is not one of them.

  3. cl&p certainly dropped the ball… but the non-stop hype about every weather event that takes place in this state certainly has the effect of numbing the public ear to every “record-shattering” or “historic” storm that comes along.
    that’s not finger pointing at you ryan, simply calling out those who choose to tease the heck out of 3″ of snow, go on the air an hour early, and pre-empt programming whenever it can be remotely justified – in an attempt to grab a ratings point from the next station. i wonder if news director Mike St. Peter or general manager Dave Doebler ever read “the boy who cried wolf,” because they and those like them should shoulder some responsibility for the repeated alarmist nature of weather reporting in this market.

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  6. Cl&p has replaced cust service with bottom line service. With the money they have spent repairing lines they could have spent in up front pre storm maintenance and had fewer overall outages to repair and a lot happier customers. What is an expense of $100+ million going to do for your bottom line now Mr Butler?

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  10. I too was there for the only memorable comparison – the 1987 storm in Albany also in early October. I was thirty at the time and as I recall there were not quite as many trees down but washington and western avenues were a cats cradle of power lines crisscrossing from both sides, dipping so low that car traffic was all but impossible. Niagara-Mohawk was all over it and power was restored quickly, CL&P not so much.

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