National Grid Blames Forecasters For “Underestimating” October Storm

BOSTON (CBS) – One power company feeling the heat after the nor’easter is defending itself, and blaming forecasters insisting they got it wrong.

It’s an argument state leaders and meteorologists say doesn’t hold up.

National Grid executives now say the forecast was “fundamentally missed by meteorologists”, who “really underestimated the moisture” and “missed on the weight of the snow.” The comments were made in a Worcester Telegram & Gazette  article.

WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports

“Maybe the totals weren’t exactly right, but the gist of the snowstorm was,” says MEMA spokesman Peter Judge. “Heavy wet snow, and expect lot of trees to come down, and that’s what happened.”

But National Grid says it would have been better prepared for the storm and restored power to 420,000 customers quicker had the forecast been more accurate.

Among those agitated with the power company’s finger-pointing is the WBZ Weather Department who began talking about the historic storm that Monday, five days before.

“They’re looking for someone else to blame perhaps, but they’re looking in the wrong place,” says WBZ-TV executive weather producer Terry Eliasen.

With the exception of vastly under-predicting the snowfall in Western Massachusetts, the National Weather Service argues it was also fundamentally right, from midweek on using words like “historic”, “unprecedented”, and “extreme”.

  • Willow

    National Grid, you’re kidding, right?

    • gramps

      Evening you ‘Rate Payers’, FYI: ‘National Grid’ is a ‘BRITISH COMPANY’…
      There are people here that have been defending them saying that the American People wern’t prepaired, are ‘Tories’ or the very least “LEMMINGS”.


      • gramps

        They then went on a loosing streak, ‘The Battle of Hastings’, Dunkirk, the failed invasion of Holland aka Market Garden WWII.

    • gramps

      National Grid has a bunch of reasons their British Subjects accept for their lousy service….Reasons that their fellow ‘Limey’s’ would/DO swallow, hook line & sinker…..For those that don;t by the ‘Todd Gutner’ bad weather Guy defense, I’m sure they’ll blame the ‘bogey man’ very soon….

      • gramps

        ‘National Grid’ is providing us with a level of service that the ‘Brits’ found was more than acceptable during the……’Battle of Briton ‘……

        Black-outs were a good thing then!

      • gramps

        We tossed the British out 225 years ago which was started with ‘two lanterns’ that worked! …..

      • gramps

        “They’re back & they’re getting even!



  • Chris

    Dear National Grid Executives, as a meteorologist and customer, I’m absolutely astonished that you blame the meteorological community for your inability to maintain a functioning operational business. Worry less about your profit margins and hire the staff that you need to sustain your business through a critical infrastructure failure. Lashing out at a community that consistently assists you in making money wins you nothing.

  • Julie Richard

    I am so sick of hearing about the people who have been with out power for days.I just love how people and government officials are reacting to the power outages because of the Halloween Nor’Easter. Hello people, you think you had it bad??? Try loosing power for 13 days, 2 weeks before Christmas, in below freezing tempatures. Do you not remember the Ice Storm in December 2008??? The people in the 2011 storm had mild tempatures and were only with out power for a few hours to a week. Unitil was slapped on the hand and paid a few fines for the Icestorm. Unfortunatley, the people it negatively affected got nothing! Attorney General Martha Coakley is investigating N’Star and National Grid because of the Halloween Storm. What makes the people in the 2011 storm more important than the ones in the 2008 Icestorm? Probably because it happened to the more affluent communities and not a blue collar city like Fitchburg.

    • Central MA res.


      The 2008 ice storm was far worse than this, absolutely, I was in Gardner at the time. However, and maybe you can correct me if I’m wrong, Unitil did a far better job of keeping things running, and getting them back running. So I’d argue that whatever happened with the 2008 storm they did at least learn something.

      National Grid on the other hand… during Irene, a decidedly OVERESTIMATED storm Wrentham was without power for multiple days… during this Halloween storm, not more than a few months later, once again Wrentham is without power for multiple days.

      I think the response from the state to the 2008 storm was underwhelming because it was localized to some degree. This storm affected the entire state and was hot on the heels of questions as to why power took so long to be restored following Irene.

  • sjs

    if national grid @nstar knew where,when,@what time their power lines were going to be compromised dont you think the problem would not of happened.they cant fix something until it is broken.

  • Italo

    I’ve been following this story and have to say that i hear what Julie is saying. I lived right by the beach in the Blizzard of 1978. We were the highest street in our neighborhood, and the tidal surge found its way through the yards and street filled with 2 feet of snow to flood our basements and move in two blocks. Everything ruined. We were evacuated by stepping down into knee-high slush and not allowed back to our homes for 4 days — and then we didn’t have power for up to almost a week later. Did we blame the world, the city, or the utility providers? No, they were trying to do the best they could in a major and unprecedented situation.

    Now look at those folks who had those types of events happen this past year almost back-to-back, and you want to say, What do you expect?! Nature happens. We can’t overcome and prevent everything. Wake up, people, who live in this age of “I can get or change whatever I want by clicking a computer screen link” or touching the right icon on your iPad. Life and nature don’t work that way. There will always be people whining that something or somebody didn’t answer them or fix their preoccupations quickly enough. Be thankful to be alive, and if you don’t like the extreme winter storms or basement flooding, either stick it out or move down south and away from the beach.

  • Garry Burke

    What a bunch of bs .

  • Diana Murphy

    i agree that coment was foolish and untrue however people do not relize what it takes to restore power.when a storm comes in national grid as well as everyother power company call the union halls and have lineman deployed.this storm caused such massive power outages in several states.every single lineman and apprentice in the northeast region was deployed and still out husband is a lineman and is still in conn.they work 18 hour days around the clock.the problem is that it is a verry dangerous job with many men becoming dead or severly injured.theres just not enough people willing to go into the when the weather gets better the work dries bothers me so much the way they are treated they are yelled at cursed and even had eggs thrown at their trucks.theese men are risking there lives everytime they climb the pole and work with live electicle rush a job could cost someone there life

    • retad

      there union says they work 16 hrs on 8 off so u full of bs

      • Diana Murphy

        i know the hours they work.but even if it is 16 hours.there still isnt enough people with the guts to do what the lineman is not there fault it takes so long.if you dont like it than buy a generator.

      • gramps

        Morning Diana/last,

        You stated:…”just not enough people willing to go into the when the weather gets better the work dries up.”

        Your very wrong when it comes to those two points!….

        There’ plenty of work ‘year round’!…..Ever notice those ‘double poles & the partial poles suspended in the air? Our ‘Pol’s in concert with the DPU have been looking the ‘other way’ for decades as far as enforcing pole removal regulations on the power & phone companies!….There was a time, not so long ago, that when a pole needed replacement…..It was replaced, completely!

        As apposed to today’s procedure of them being ‘cut & kicked’ & left on the street or suspended in the air….Back in the day.The utilities had a work force large enough for it’s work load….The ‘utilities’ slowly started to reduce their work force by cutting the # of ‘recon crews’, which intern, improved their ‘BOTTOM LINE’/return to their ‘STOCKHOLDER’S……!


        Making the utilities do the ‘whole job’ by completely removing old infrastructure will bring their workforce back up to ‘snuff.

        There’s ‘PLENTY’ of people waiting, willing & wanting to do this kind of work!……Having ‘Gut’s has ‘NOTHING’ to do with it!…

        You either pass or fail ‘pole climbing school’. You ‘pass’ & you on to making $35 to $60 bucks an hour (after 5 years) depending on weather or not it’s an ‘OVERTIME’ hour….

        On those 16 hour days you referred to these guy’s & gal’s are making , on average, $400 bucks for hours # 9 through 16….&…..$280 for the 1st 8 hours….

        Those are $680+ dollar days!

        AKA….$4750.00 a week, not too shabby!…. ‘THE MOTHER LOAD’!

        I totally agree with your comments on ‘safety’…


        You or your’s must be ‘affraid’ of heights…..there are many people who arn’t!

  • trish

    News Flash to National Grid: It’s New England, we get storms. Regardless of any forecast you feel was wrong, there is no excuse for not having a plan in place that does not put people’s lives in danger. I realize the amount of work it takes to get this done but it seems to me your lack of planning is the problem, not the forecast. Which, by the way, was pretty accurate. Having people lose power for days on end should not be the norm when storms hit.

    • Tsal

      Trash I agree the utilities should be prepared but so should individuals. If you have health concerns or an elderly relative or any special concerns you have to have a plan B

      • Tsal

        I am sorry my iPad auto corrected. It should of course say Trish. Which it just corrected two more time before I could get it to leave it alone

  • Tsal

    On the tuesday prior to the storm Pete Bouchard said we would have a nor’easter of historic proportions. Several days before the storm every sing met was forecasting the same amounts. I have never seen all three major stations in agreement. Several days prior to the storm all networks were warning of heavy water-filled snow creating an event similar to the ice storm with regard to massive power loss. They said it would only take 2 inches of that type of snow to bring down branches that still held leaves.

    If the utilities and people were not prepared they have only themselves to blame. If you think living without power for a few days or weeks is bad, think about the massive flooding in VT and NH after Irene where Communities were lost. Think about Turkey or Japan and so many other places.

    • Willow

      You said it, tsal!! What does everyone want next time, personalized letters in the mail?

  • emom

    OH MY GOD , REALLY ADVANCE NOTICED, What should the president of the UNITED STATES have sent you advanced warning of what was to come ,, OH WAIT no it should have come from MOTHER NATURE her self.. I mean its up to her to inform us of a severe storm. REALLY and what ate the utility companies going to do about it ,SUE THE NEWS STATIONS. are they also going to go after NOAA, Oh I cant wait to see them fall flat on their faces over this , Blame the weatherman for getting a forecast wrong, what a novel idea , If it was over 40 years ago, This takes the cake when I heard this I so laughed, blame someone for their lack of doing their job in the first place…This has got to be a first,,,

  • Frank Davis

    I guess National Grid never heard of the Weather Channel, local news stations, NWS or even reading a newspaper. But hey we live in a time where it is everybody else’s fault but their own. Remember that. Next time you’re in an accident you blame the city for planning that street like they did so you would end up hitting something.

  • JohnC

    Actually, where I live, we recieved far less snow then was forecast. I realize that parts of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts got buried, but the weather forecast was for a Nor’easter with significant snow. All of the ‘BZ forecasters did mentiuon that it would be heavy, wet snow and that the trees still had their leaves. I don’t know what forecast National Grid was listening to. Miami, perhaps?

    • tsal1

      hahahahaha – maybe so JohnC. The amount in the end didn’t matter. All stations – both on weather and in their news areas – repeatedly said that the unusual amount of leaves remaining on the trees combined with a snow we had never seen in October would create countless outages and that it would only take 2 inches for those to occur.

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