ASK TOM: With today's forecast technology, can weather still surprise?

Dear Tom,
When we were kids in the ’40s and ’50s, we occasionally had surprise, unforeseen storms or snow days. Now it seems that never happens. Is this increase in accuracy because of satellites?
—Bronte Jornod and Joe Guastafeste
Dear Bronte and Joe,
Accuracy in weather forecasting has increased by leaps and bounds since your childhood not only because of weather satellites but through the advent of computer technology that has allowed sophisticated mathematical simulations of the atmosphere to generate an abundance of a plethora of increasingly reliable weather forecasts. Current five-day forecasts are now as accurate as the three-day forecasts in the 1980s. But That being said, the weather can still surprise. While it is highly unlikely that a major snowstorm would arrive unnoticed, snowfall totals could be under-forecast if the storm unexpectedly intensified or stalled.