As a mom of a school-aged child, I also appreciate the certainty of knowing whether schools will be closed or open a night in advance. I don't want to spring last-minute surprises on my boss any more than I want last-minute surprises sprung on me. Advance planning is good overall.
A false positive (overly cautious) forecast is not as severe as a false negative. Fewer people hit the roads. Fewer lives were lost. People continued shopping, but just shifted the time or method. The earth continued to spin around its axis while many took a snow day.
I spoke with a colleague about how a pretty good forecast came to be dubbed a failure. Could we have seen a different forecast than the rest of the public?
No, it's just that we are used to seeing nuances and uncertainty in forecasts. Maybe we meteorologists could have communicated it better. Maybe the lay public could have listened better.
When I see spaghetti plots like this
|NY Snow: NCEP ensemble forecast initiated 12Z Jan 25|
|NY Snow: NCEP ensemble forecast initiated 12Z Jan 26|
Prepare for the worst. And be happy when it doesn't happen.
h/t Jeff Masters and Cliff Mass