Winter Storm Downgraded, But Why? Scientist Explains

Bernie Tafoya
February 25, 2020 - 7:14 pm
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(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Wonder what happened to the forecast that included the possibility of a monster snowstorm this week in Chicago?  A weather expert says the answer is simple and yet complicated.

Scott Collis is an atmospheric scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and leads the Geo-spatial Computing, Innovations and Sensing Department.

He said Tuesday a lot of information was fed into weather simulations from Sunday's 55-degree temperatures to the oncoming sub-freezing temperatures. The way the air was moving in the atmosphere made it a real "challenge" to forecasters, especially because the weather system was relatively small, only a couple of hundred miles wide.

Collis said the axis of unstable air actually moved farther to the south.

On the plus side, scientists will take the info from this weather system to further tweak future weather simulations, he said.

"We’re constantly improving weather simulations both here and abroad and events like this can actually really help inform us,” Collis said.

He personally is disappointed the region won’t see as much snow.

"I’m a weather weenie. I’m a meteorologist and someone who is thrilled by seeing atmospheric physics at play so, when I saw the forecast and I dug into the intricacies of the weather data, I was very excited and I wanted to see a very heavy snowfall because it’s scientifically interesting to me."