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BOOM OR BUST: Winter Storms a Ratings Bonanza Either Way

Winter Storm Stella crawled up the eastern seaboard Monday into Tuesday… did the weather teams get it right?

DC Snowstorm

As DC residents awoke this morning, the massive snowstorm that was expected to snarl morning commuter traffic and shut down the government turned out to be a bit of a bust.

The National Weather Service predicted 4-6 inches of snow; NBC4 said 4-8 inches; ABC7 predicted 3-6 inches (with a the northern portion of DC in the 6-10 inches band); WUSA-9 said DC would get 4-8 inches; and FOX5 forecasted 2-6 inches of snowfall.

At 9:30am, the Washington Post’s Capitol Weather Gang pegged the total accumulation at 1.4 inches, though more snow could fall this afternoon. For their part, the Capital Weather Gang predicted just 1-4 inches, as most identified the freezing rain as a limiting factor for snow accumulation.

The Office of Personnel Management stopped short of closing the government altogether, but did institute a 3-hour delay policy and urged federal workers to work from home in some cases. Was it the right call?

“I’m 100 percent on board,” one federal employee texted NTK.

Still, many are left questioning the wall-to-wall coverage by local media outlets (many of whom, as you can see above, predicted for their viewers a much bigger storm than what actually materialized) and national networks and weather services. Though some areas were hard hit, the drama of the storm seemed to override accurate reporting. And to what end? One former Weather Channel fan opines:

There are worse things than being over-prepared. But yellow weather journalism has consequences. The National Weather Service is rapidly losing credibility with the public, who may eventually cease to heed its warnings when it matters, which is worrisome.

NTK’s team caught glimpses of the “devastation” in various DC-area neighborhoods:

Capitol Hill:

Capitol Hill Snow

Southern Arlington – Crystal City:

Crystal City Snow

Northern Arlington – Rosslyn:

Rosslyn Snow

But Stella wasn’t a bust everywhere. Some locations in New York and New England got hammered with more than 10 inches of snow. Here’s a shot from Garrison, New York, just across the Hudson River from West Point Military Academy:

Garrison NY