Was Northeast Blizzard Forecast a Bust?

most accurate

The Grand Illusion

With apologies to the rock band Styx – I’m talking about a different illusion here. Recent years have brought a meteorological arms race: new weather models, higher resolution, more petaflops! Here is what I hear all the time:

“Paul, you blinking meathead, you have access to supercomputer and Doppler radar. You SHOULD be able to tell me exactly how many inches of snow will fall in my yard!”

In theory, yes. In reality, not even close.

Private and government (NOAA) forecasters in New York and Boston are under siege for overestimating Monday night’s snowfall amounts. In their defense even the ECMWF (European) model busted. Total amounts ranged from 8 inches at Central Park to 21 at Sayville, Long Island, only 50 miles due east. I’m not sure weather models will ever able to effectively pinpoint such extremes over such a small geographical area.

Weather isn’t an exact science, like economics or foreign policy.

car snow

20-30″ snow for metro Boston. The forecast verified for Bean Town; details from CBS Boston. Photo credit: “Cars are buried by drifted snow along Marlborough Street, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Boston. A howling blizzard with wind gusts over 70 mph heaped snow on Boston along with other stretches of lower New England.” (AP Photo/Dwayne Desaulniers).

snow blower

Snowstorm’s Forecast Was Mostly Right, Even If It Felt Wrong In New York. Manhattan was on the western edge of the heaviest snow bands; 40 miles made the difference between 8″ and 21″. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…One of the difficulties with forecasting major storms, Dr. Sobel said, is that a small error in predicting the path of the storm can cause a much larger error in impact. “The bigger the event, the bigger the bust potential,” he said. In this storm, the predicted snowfall gradients — charts showing how much would accumulate where — were very steep. “So a little bit of track error means a big snowfall error,” he said...”

Photo credit above: “Snow swirls into the air as Ted Diamond operates a snow blower to clear out his driveway on Greenvale Drive in East Northport on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in New York. Long Island was one of several areas throughout the state to be hit by a blizzard overnight into this morning.” (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek).

Partly Wrong With A Chance of Being Right: Weather Forecast. Why do weather models fail? In light of the Big Bust out east I wanted to include a link to a storyy at ScienceDaily; here’s an excerpt: “…For example, they found that in the eastern Mediterranean, particles in the atmosphere were the most important cause of forecast fallacies, followed by land cover change. They also found topography to be the most influential factor affecting weather around the world. “The only tool the weather forecaster has is his model, and the only choice he or she has is to look at different models, each of which has strengths and weaknesses,” said Prof. Alpert…”

What Exactly Is A Nor’easter? Newsweek has a good description; here’s an excerpt: “…A classic nor’easter results when an existing low-pressure system moves across the country from west to east and then spawns a new storm off the East Coast, usually between the Carolinas and New Jersey, explains Keith Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society. The initial storm may not have produced a huge amount of precipitation as it moved over land, but the new storm goes through an “explosive development,” says Seitter, and becomes a “monster storm” that absorbs the original one…”

Image credit above: “A winter storm approaches the eastern United States in a satellite image released January 26, 2015. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for New York City and surrounding areas between coastal New Jersey and Connecticut, beginning 1 p.m. EST on Monday. The storm will worsen overnight into Tuesday morning.” NOAA/Reuters.

Snow Scary. The New Yorker has a terrific article that helps to explain why the USA is a nation of extreme-weather junkies; here’s a clip: “…Edgework” is precisely what extreme weather is. A winter storm—or any storm, really—approximates this thrill. It’s powerful, and even dangerous. But safely ensconced inside, and in front of our computer screens, we don’t think that it will really hurt us. The power might go out, but then we would be able to share a picture of a car buried in a snowdrift. And then, soon, it will be over. You will have had the thrill, and you might have gained control over it by capturing a moment of “danger,” but, in all, it seems a relatively minor risk. We satisfy our inner risk-seeker without going into dangerous territory…”

7 Chilling Stories Of Snow Storms Throughout American History. TIME Magazine takes a numbing walk down memory lane; here’s a clip: “…It was Jan. 31, 1977, when this poor freezing man appeared on the cover of TIME. The story inside, which detailed the effects on the United States of what the publisher’s letter called “the bitterest cold spell in memory.” The first-ever reported snow fall in West Palm Beat, Fla., had shocked residents. Buffalo had been buried under more than 120 in. of the white stuff that season. And, ironically, areas that needed snow — the ski resorts of Idaho, for example — had to rely on snow-making machines despite the cold temperatures

Photo credit: Bill Koch, North Dakota State Highway Department. Credit: Collection of Fr. Herbert Kroehl, NGDC.

Snowstorms Then And Now“. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency has a look at how adults have ruined snowstorms. It’s a worthy (and funny) read.

-Meteorologist Paul Douglas


Aeris Weather iOS SDK 2.0 Now Available

We’re excited to finally be releasing our new, completely rewritten Aeris Weather iOS SDK officially to the public! We highlighted some of the exciting changes in part 1 and part 2 of our preview blog posts last summer, but there are also many more additions and improvements with the next major release.


To get started with 2.0, just review our usage documentation and download the example project that shows off many of the new features and changes in the SDK. This download also contains the core SDK files you will need to use within your own applications.

If you are migrating from our previous 1.0 version of the SDK, make sure to review our migration guide to make your upgrade process a little smoother.

If you have any issues or feature suggestions with 2.0 of our SDK, feel free to contact us with them either through support or our Twitter account @AerisDeveloper.

Aeris Pulse
Introducing Aeris Pulse: An Interactive & Customizable Weather App

“Be prepared for ever-changing weather with Aeris Pulse.”

Announcing Aeris Weather’s newest mobile weather app: Aeris Pulse! Aeris Pulse gives you weather, in color. From sky conditions to temperatures to time of day, the colors in the app match the current weather.  Aeris Pulse is always fresh and exciting because its aesthetics change just as frequently as the weather.

Aeris Pulse is powered by the Aeris Weather API, so you have constant access to the most reliable weather data. Instantly check current conditions to determine whether you will need sunglasses or an umbrella. View future radar to see if the snow will hold off until after the morning commute. Aeris Pulse uses your GPS location, so current conditions and forecast data automatically update whether you have traveled 10 minutes or 10 miles from your starting point. Enjoying a weekend at the lake or an afternoon at the ballpark? Aeris Pulse will alert you if severe weather threatens to interrupt your day.

Upgrade to Aeris Pro within Aeris Pulse for $11.99.  This one year subscription gives you access to the complete set of advanced weather map layers, multiple forecast models, and an expanded timeline.

Find Aeris Pulse in the iTunes App Store!

Download here!

Find Aeris Pulse in the Google Play Store!

Download here!


  • Alerts to Approaching Weather Threats Specific to the User’s Location
  • Current Conditions, Hourly Outlook, 7 Day Forecast
  • Interactive Weather Map
  • Multiple Data Layers, including Radar, Storm Cells, Future Precipitation, Advisories and many more
  • Ability to Save Favorite Locations
  • Notification Center Widgets for Local Conditions, Approaching Weather Threats, and Radar
  • Fully Powered by Aeris Weather API

Aeris Pulse Layers

aeris wear
Aeris Wear Update 1.0.6

After reviewing user feedback and requests, we’ve worked hard to update our latest app, Aeris Wear, by adding new features and increasing user ease and convenience.  Here’s what’s new and updated in Aeris Wear 1.0.6:

We’ve added more data sync interval options to help optimize your device’s battery life.  Choose how often you want Aeris Wear to update, from every 15 minutes to only 4 times a day.

You may now choose to turn notifications off.  Aeris Wear will still update, but your device will not alert you when it does so.

Current and forecast weather are now more precise with the addition of numerous weather observation sites. Aeris Wear gives you the ability to choose between only official data or multiple other data sources so you can get the most accurate weather.

Pick which location you’d like to receive data for by either using your device’s GPS location or manually setting a desired location.  Check out the weather at your vacation resort before you hop on the plane!

Data now automatically updates when Aeris Wear is launched from your Wear device.


Visit the Google Play store to download Aeris Wear today!  Once you’ve experienced the convenience of having your weather just a glimpse away, upgrade to Pro for $0.99 to enjoy all 9 available cards, including satellite and advisories.

Discover more about Aeris Wear Weather, including a list of compatible devices, by visiting http://www.hamweather.com/apps/aeris-wear/.

Find Aeris Wear on Google Play.

Free Download
aeris wear
Introducing Aeris Wear: Weather & Radar for Android Wear

“With Aeris Wear, your weather is just a glimpse away.”

We’re very excited to announce our first app: Aeris Wear! This app gives users simple, clean weather information and is also optimized for Android Wear devices. We’re also proud to feature regional and local radar imagery for both mobile and wearable devices.

Aeris Wear is driven by our powerful Aeris Weather API, putting the best possible weather data directly in your hands. Users can quickly access their current weather conditions, as well as short-term and extended forecasts. Do you need a jacket on your way out the door? Will the weather slow down your evening commute? How long until that thunderstorm arrives? Aeris Wear provides straight-forward answers in a clean, simple app.

Move seamlessly between your wearable device and your mobile phone with Aeris Wear’s customizable cards. Pro users (Aeris Wear Pro: $0.99) have the option to add additional cards with a variety of map views and data sets, plus re-arrange the order of their cards on their wearable device.

Try us out! Free download from Google Play here:

Find us on Google Play


On your mobile device:

-Current conditions for your GPS location

-Detailed short-term forecast information

-Extended outlook

-Interactive radar map (includes animated satellite, radar, advisories, and storm-cell tracking)

-Instant severe weather alerts

On your wearable device:

-Current conditions for your GPS location

-Instant weather warnings/advisories alerts

-Detailed short-term forecast information

-Extended outlook

-Local/regional radar images

-Local/regional satellite images

-Local/regional advisory maps

Aeris iOS Weather SDK 2.0 Beta 1 Released

We have officially released the first public beta of the next major release of our Aeris iOS Weather SDK. As we’ve previously reviewed in part 1 and part 2 of our preview blog posts, there are many new features and considerable improvements to not only performance but also working with the SDK.

 Aeris iOS Weather SDK 2.0


Aeris iOS SDK
Aeris iOS Weather Framework: 2.0 Preview – Part 2

During the week of Apple’s WWDC, we gave a preview of a few of the additions and improvements in the upcoming 2.0 release of our Aeris iOS Weather framework. This time in part 2, we’re going to preview some of the exciting new features and changes to the mapping component of our SDK that we’re sure will take your own weather applications to the next level.   Read more… »

Aeris iOS SDK
Aeris iOS Weather Framework: 2.0 Preview – Part 1

Our Aeris iOS Weather Framework has been in the hands of developers and Aeris users for about two and a half years already and has received a lot of positive feedback from everyone who has been using it within their own iOS applications. Our goal with the iOS framework has always been to make interacting and integrating with our core Aeris API quick and painless so you can focus your time on building great applications instead of worrying about fetching, parsing and displaying weather data. Now, after months of planning and development behind the scenes, we’re excited to give our first public preview of what the new 2.0 version of our iOS weather framework will bring! Instead of trying to build new features on top of old legacy code, we decided to start from scratch using modernized Objective-C code, new Objective-C literals and new iOS APIs with a huge number of improvements. As a result, we went straight to 2.0 with a complete rewrite, so let’s preview some of the major changes and improvements.


Video: Installing the Aeris Android Weather SDK in Eclipse
Android Weather SDK

How to install the Aeris Android Weather SDK in Eclipse

The Aeris Android Weather SDK provides many great features for adding weather information within your Android application, such as the AerisMaps library. This library provides the ability to add a fully functional interactive weather map into your application, including map overlays (e.g., radar, satellite), point data (e.g., observations, storm reports) and other features.

Integration examples of using the AerisMaps library are available within the AerisDemo application, included with the SDK.  Importing and setting up the AerisDemo application requires several steps as outline in the documentation.  This video tutorial expands on this, stepping you through the installation of the Aeris Android Weather SDK within Eclipse. Be sure to review the Getting Started section and the AerisDemo project.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for a free Aeris Weather API account when you are developing your weather application!


Video: Getting Started With The Aeris.js Library

Aeris.js is an open source javascript library for developing rich interactive weather maps and weather widgets. Access the latest release via the Aeris.js GitHub. Today we’re going to walk through the steps on how to create a weather map using Aeris.js. You can see working demos at demo.aerisjs.com.

In this tutorial, we walk you through:

  1. Embedding the Aeris.js library in our webpage.
  2. Signing up for an Aeris Weather API account & configuring our API keys.
  3. Creating a base map.
  4. Adding & manipulating weather tile layers.