What happened to the Tech weather forecast?

(Michael C. Weems)
(Michael C. Weems)
Reported by: Matt Ernst
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Updated: 9/08/2013 2:31 pm
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No one actually complained to me about the weather delay, maybe you wanted to. A few people joked in good spirits with me as we waited in line outside Jones Stadium. I just wanted to run through what changed from the forecast of "a few clouds, near 90 at kick" the days before to a thundershower that led to the first weather delay at Jones Stadium since 1998.

For a few days before Saturday the forecast guidance had shown a few isolated showers or weak storms were possible. Some model runs were consistent on there being no rain, a few others showed isolated showers or storms. But we see this pretty often in West Texas and nothing develops.

By early afternoon there were more clouds going up over the Rolling Plains, so during the afternoon I posted on facebook and twitter and mentioned during the forecasts on Double T 104.3 that a brief shower would be possible. Caitlin also posted an update in the Weather Blog before 3 p.m. Sure enough, a few showers developed. Here is radar at 5:43 p.m. around Lubbock County:

 
 
 


Expanding it wider this is what a few means. Almost all of the area was missing the rain:

 
 
 


There was no measurable rain at the airport, none at the TTU Mesonet site just NW of the campus. But we definitely had a brief shower at the stadium. More importantly, there was lightning close.

Tech officials made the right call to delay the game, it's standard for games at all levels. It may seem inconvenient but you have to do it. Lightning killed one person, injured two near Miami last week. National Weather Service stats show 53 people are killed a year, on average, by lightning. If you can hear thunder you're close enough to be hit by lightning.

This is an example of low-chance, high-impact weather. Any other day of the week this thundershower might go unnoticed. You might hear that rumble of thunder outside your office, a few sprinkles. This is nothing like severe storms in the spring that cause lots of damage here. But that small shower was a big deal for the record 14,915 students, the roughly 30,000 other fans in attendance, the players, coaches, officials, everyone watching at home.

It's actually a struggle for us to explain these kinds of setups. If it's going to definitely be hot, windy, rainy or snowy we can say so. But the mention of "a stray shower" may not work. Let me know if you have an idea on how to better explain it...our goal is to get better at giving you the forecast you need for each day of the week. You can email me mernst@fox34.com.

In the grand scheme of things this probably ranks about as low as it gets. Just wanted to give some input. Isn't it great that football season is back?

One more thing...the spelling is lightning. Back during the weather delay at Mile High Thursday I saw a lot of traffic on twitter with lightening. That means a few things, one being something medical, none of those meanings are tied to weather.
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