Carrie Rengers

Mother Nature wreaks havoc on Wichita meteorologists

As frustrating as it can be to mess up at work, it’s that much worse when it’s in the public eye.

Just ask a Wichita meteorologist. Pick just about any of them today, since no one nailed the forecast of the supposed snowmageddon.

“I’ve been doing this for 49 years (!) and, without a doubt, this was the most frustrating winter storm that I have ever forecast,” a somewhat chagrined Mike Smith of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions wrote in an e-mail.

“Mother Nature certainly had a mind of her own on this one.”

Smith said none of his forecasting tools seemed to work as they should, at least for the Wichita portion of the storm.

“The area we missed was Wichita,” he said in a follow-up phone call. “And because it’s our home, that’s what’s so frustrating.”

Vanessa Pearce, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita, said Benjamin Franklin’s quote about the only certainties in life being death and taxes isn’t quite right.

“I think that if you had to add something on to that, it’s that the weather changes.”

Smith said where it most counted, though, AccuWeather was spot on.

“We did … a heroic job with the tornadoes. I mean incredible.”

Smith said AccuWeather was able to warn one client outside of Dallas 22 minutes before a tornado struck.

He said there was similar success with the blizzards in New Mexico and western Texas.

“Where it was most critical, we not only got it right, we did an exemplary job.”

Smith isn’t focusing too much on what people might think right now anyway. After working for days and days, including Christmas, he’s really just hoping for some sleep.

“Oh, God, that would be nice.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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