National Grid Next In Line To Make Excuses

From the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

“They really underestimated the moisture content of the cold weather pattern that was coming in,” said Ellen Smith, National Grid’s chief operations officer.

That doesn’t even make any sense.

“All of those decisions are based off of forecasts that were fundamentally missed by the meteorologists,” Mr. King said. “They missed the amount of snow, and they missed the weight of the snow.”

I can’t exactly comment on this since I wasn’t forecasting for central Massachusetts and didn’t see any forecasts released by Boston TV stations but I have a hard time believing this claim. If the private forecasting company they used missed the forecast then say that – but don’t lump us all in together.

The amount of snow is somewhat irrelevant, to be honest, as most of the damage occurred with the initial several inches of snow that fell that was the heaviest, wettest, and clung to everything. In fact the towns that received the most snow in the Berkshires and Litchfield Hills (20″-30″ in some cases) had the least amount of tree damage. Those areas higher in elevation had the “fluffiest” snow while the valleys were stuck with the paste. In addition the leaves were gone from many of the trees up above 1000 ft.

Widespread tree and power line damage has happened in many areas of the country during freak early season snowstorms. 6.5″ in Kansas City on October 22, 1996 in October crippled the power grid there. 6.5″ in Albany on October 4, 1987 turned the city into a “war zone”. The October 2006 Buffalo lake effect event is another example.

Leaves on the trees and early season snow is a bad combination – it seems that utilities continue to learn this the hard way. This was no doubt an exceptionally rare event for New England but these exceptionally rare October events have happened in other parts of the country before. The damage wasn’t a surprise to me and it shouldn’t have been for the people who deliver electricity to millions across New England.

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