After harshly criticizing the National Weather Service and others in the industry for their forecasts leading up to the lake-effect event snow around Buffalo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Monday, Nov. 24.
"To the extent any forecaster felt that they were criticized, that was not the intention," Cuomo said in a Western New York press conference.
"It's not that the National Weather Service failed us. It's that the NWS has a certain number of weather stations and they get that information from those weather stations and they perform the best they can with the information that they have," he said.
The NWS issued several winter weather advisories leading up to the lake-effect snow event. An urgent message on Monday, Nov. 17, forecasted snowfall of rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour in the most intense portions of the snow band within Buffalo, Batavia, Warsaw, Orchard Park and Springville, New York, through 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The warnings indicated the threat for blowing snow, impossible travel at times, near-zero visibility and deep snowcover on roadways.
An NWS-issued winter storm watch forecasted additional significant amounts into late Thursday night.
Despite the clarification, Cuomo did not back down on his plans to develop the state-run weather forecasting network that he announced last January.
"If you want to have a more accurate prediction of weather, you need more weather stations. You need more centers that are detecting changes in weather and communicating it," he said.
Additionally, Cuomo says that the system will be, what he believes, the "most sophisticated weather detection system" with hundreds of stations across the state.
According to an interview with syracuse.com last June, the project, headed by SUNY Albany and the state Homeland Security Office, would consist of "125 stations, each outfitted with 30-foot towers studded with instruments to measure rainfall, wind, soil moisture and other data. Seventeen of those stations would also have laser equipment to peer 6 miles into the atmosphere."
"[The National Weather Service does] the best they can and they do a good job, but they only know what they know from their weather detection system," Cuomo said Monday.
Though the expected cost of the project is not readily available to the public, it was originally reported to cost $18.7 million. By late June 2014, the anticipated cost had risen to more than $23 million.
The National Weather Service has responded to Cuomo's states in defense of their forecasts.
"Certainly many of us here at the National Weather Service were surprised because we did issue timely and accurate forecasts of the lake-effect events in fact that buried the Buffalo area," Chris Vaccaro, director of communication for NOAA, told a local Buffalo station.
"The National Weather Service issued timely and accurate forecasts for not just one but two heavy lake effect snow events... and for the rain and potential flooding this week," Vaccaro said.