Let me tell you something that might surprise you: People who read the "Weather Watch" at the back of the Classified section are really observant about it. In fact, I'd say it's among the three or four regular features in the print edition that generate the most feedback at my lines. In fact, I just received a piece of postal mail with a copy of a recent page that a reader has marked up with his suggestions on how to improve it.
Much of what I hear about it from readers is idiosyncratic, with requests to add various cities to the lists of U.S. and world weather being the most frequent. I've also learned that editors are loath to make any changes to the page, as every one I've seen has generated a lot of complaints.
I also frequently hear from people questioning the data in the page's charts. Three readers yesterday noted that the precipitation table said KCI reported 0.65 inches in the previous 24 hours. Since KCI had just been blanketed with six inches of snow, that must have been an error, right?
Not this time. I asked Weather Central, the company that prepares the data for The Star. This is what their representative told me:
I asked forecasters on my team to take a look at the numbers. The 6 p.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday liquid precipitation was reported for the Kansas City International was 0.65", this is the melted liquid, with a total snowfall of 9.6" over the same time frame. This results in a snow-to-liquid ratio of 14.75 to 1. That's a bit higher than normal, but not unreasonable.
So that explains the unexpected number. I don't blame anyone who was confused by the chart as published, because I was surprised as well.