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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

WISN-TV's Jeremy Nelson is predicting snow totals between 42 and 54 inches this winter in southeastern Wisconsin.

Weather forecast: Expect mix of snow, science and broadcasting


We have all become accustomed to winter in Wisconsin. We know there will be snow, days of bitter cold and a nice coating of ice that makes the commute to school and work a ton of fun.

But knowing when those storms and cold spells will come, makes the world of winter weather forecasting that much more important. You see, weather is a universal connector. It doesn't matter your background or walk of life, the weather has an impact on all of us. The better you are at accurately forecasting what will happen with the weather, makes you more knowledgeable and a trusted source of information.

That is what all weather broadcasters in the market are seeking, to earn that trust.

As part of November sweeps reporting – and because it is fitting for this time of year – meteorologist Jeremy Nelson of WISN-TV Ch. 12 presented the station's winter weather forecast last night.

"It takes a lot of time and energy to track what is happening," Nelson said of working on his annual predictions. "You have to know the pattern."

Ah, the pattern. There are many different measuring tools, maps and models available to scientists and members of the public to draw a forecast from. Nelson uses one called Lezak's Recurring Cycle (LRC).

"We use a long-range forecasting method at WeatherWatch 12 that no one else in southeastern Wisconsin uses," WISN chief meteorologist Mark Baden said. "What makes it different is that we can do specific forecasting for snowstorm to snowstorm weeks, and even months, in advance."

Nelson studies the weather conditions in October and November to figure out where the area is in the cycle, then he determines what the cycle says will be coming down the road. Nelson used the storms and multiple tornadoes that hit south of us this past weekend in his calculations.

"While a severe weather outbreak would be hard to duplicate in the heart of winter, this part of the pattern is likely a signature feature in our recurring weather pattern. This will continue to produce ample precipitation in a future cycle including rain, sleet and snow," Nelson said.

"We will have a very close eye on this system come spring for the potential for strong storms. This is a great example of knowing the pattern and projecting forward."

I probably buried the most important information by telling you that WeatherWatch 12's prediction is snow fall between 42 and 54 inches for Milwaukee this season. Nelson also believes that the temperatures will dip to the lowest below zero marks that we've seen in the past five years.

If there's doubt in Nelson's forecasting method – and like anything predicting the future, there is – Nelson provides the science and maps on the WeatherWatch 12 blog on WISN.com.

As for accuracy, the team at WISN was spot on last winter using the LRC. The National Weather Service even had Nelson, Sally Severson and Luke Sampe come in, with Baden on the phone, to give a talk on the LRC and how they are using it.

Nelson said that when he first heard of the cycle, he doubted it would work. By working with the LRC, the University of Wisconsin graduate has convinced others to take notice of it, as well.

"I came into it pretty skeptical," Nelson said. "You have to study it for a full season to really appreciate it."

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