Little To No Accumulation….
I'm about to do something that is really outside of one of my core beliefs, but I'm about to make the case for more government spending. I know, it's way outside my comfort zone, too. But after spending more than thirty years observing the weather patterns here in the area, I've come to the conclusion that there needs to be a National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office somewhere in Utah other than the one in Salt Lake City. And, of course, my choice would be in Cedar City.
Cedar City is a region characterized by diverse weather patterns, ranging from high temperatures in the summer to cold winters with occasional snowfall. The establishment of a NWS forecast office in Cedar City is not only prudent but also essential for the safety and well-being of the community.
As you probably know, on Thursday we got a pretty good dumping of snow here in Cedar. Had I stayed on the NWS script of the “zone forecast” for our area, all day long we would have been telling people “little to no accumulation” for the day. And if I had read the forecast specifically made for just Cedar City, I would have been saying “less than half an inch possible” for the day. Well, we went beyond that for sure. I even sent the picture you see at the start of the article to the NWS Forecast Office in Salt Lake City, hoping that would prompt a forecast update. Nope. And all the other forecast sources I checked that day had it wrong, too, so it's not just the NWS.
And to be sure, yesterday's snow storm pretty much had Cedar City's name on it. As I looked at the UDOT webcams in the area, south of Hamilton Fort the roads were turning to be wet as opposed to snowy. Up north in the Beaver area the roads were almost dry every time I checked. Even I-70 from Cove Fort over to Richfield didn't look to have any major issues. But here in Cedar, we got walloped.
If this was a one-off experience I wouldn't make a federal case out of it. But I can think of at least one other time this winter when we were being told the weather was no big deal when, in my opinion, a Winter Weather Advisory would have been a prudent idea. And, in the thirty one winters I have had, and reported about, in southern Utah there have been many times we were left flat footed. One time, the forecast said Cedar was going to get a lot of snow but of course not much down in Utah's Dixie. My friend had to drive from Cedar to St. George that day and called me to say “there's eight inches of snow down here!” Cedar basically had flurries.
In addition, Cedar City's economy, which relies heavily on agriculture and tourism, is vulnerable to weather fluctuations. Accurate forecasts from a local NWS office would empower farmers to make informed decisions about planting and harvesting, while businesses in the tourism sector could better prepare for weather-related challenges.
Cedar City, like many other areas, faces the risk of natural disasters. A dedicated forecast office would enhance emergency preparedness by providing early warnings for events such as wildfires, flash floods, blizzards, and extreme heatwaves, though this last event would make a better case for St. George. This is crucial for saving lives and minimizing property damage.
Establishing a NWS office in Cedar City would foster community education and outreach programs. The office could collaborate with local schools and organizations to enhance weather literacy, ensuring that residents understand the risks associated with various weather events and can take appropriate precautions.
The region's unique weather patterns also present an opportunity for scientific research. A local NWS office would facilitate collaboration with research institutions, providing valuable data for studying climate trends and contributing to a better understanding of broader meteorological patterns.
The folks up at the Salt Lake Forecast Office do the very best they can, I get it, and this is not meant as some kind of rant against them. But the weather here is just so variable. I really don't want to spend the money it would take to establish an office here. Still, it would be nice if we had a local office to have a forecaster there be able to look out the window and say “oh, CRAP!” and update the forecast.
Winter Storm Preparation
Gallery Credit: Dr. T