Saturday, August 29, 2015

Snow day: Bring back Rob Guarino?

The homesick meteorologist did a heckuva job calling yesterday's snowstorm from 1,750 miles away -- and launched a media campaign to boot.

Snow day: Bring back Rob Guarino?

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Meteorologist Rob Guarino, whose Fox29 contract was not renewed 13 months ago, is alive and well and working in Albuquerque, N.M.

And from 1,750 miles away, he's claiming victory for his forecast of yesterday's snowstorm. On the early evening news last night, all the pros in town -- TV, Accu-Weather, the National Weather Service -- were saying that the snow was ending.

It was Guarino who told readers of his blog about a second part of the storm that started after 7 p.m. and seemed to catch plow crews by surprise. (While at Fox29, Guarino launched MyWeatherLive.com, collecting forecasts from meteorologists and weather hobbyists around the country. It's bright, fairly well-written and easy to understand; such terms as "troughs" and "mesoscale banding" come through clear in context. He claims 1.5 million page views since Jan. 1.)

Tom Thunstrom, the hobbyist from Royersford who independently scores the forecasters on Phillyweather.net, says Guarino did a "good job of setting it up in the evening." Thunstrom added, however, that Guarino's total forecast snow total -- 3 to 5 inches -- was short of the official total of 8.4 inches at Philadelphia International Airport.

This storm was a tough call for anyone, Thunstrom says.

Guarino this morning acknowledged that his snowfall total was off, but took credit for calling the "backbuilding" storm because only he used a computer model called WRF. The forecasters in town blew it, he says, adding that Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz, as recently as Sunday night, was calling the storm a non-event.

"They're forecasting to be not wrong, not forecasting to be right," Guarino says, suggesting that NBC10's 2001 "Storm of the Century" blown call had made local meteorologists gun-shy. "It's defensive forecasting."

In addition to forecasting weather in his hometown, Guarino is trying to get back to Philly, where his kids and girlfriend are.

Flush from victory, Guarino launched a letter-writing campaign, headlined "THE QUEST TO GET BACK TO PHILLY TV STARTS NOW !!!!! (I NEED YOUR HELP)," urging his readers to e-mail me as well as TV news directors.

So how are the local stations doing on weather this season? Thunstrom just posted the results of his most recent "Snow Challenge." According to standings after this storm, the sixth of the season, Channels 6 and 29 are in first place, followed closely by NBC10. Three points behind is CBS3, followed by the National Weather Service.

By Thunstrom's scoring, the NWS got fewer points because it forecast a closer range of snow (3-5 inches) compared with CBS3 (3-6 inches), even though CBS3 came closer to getting it right. 

Philly.com
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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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