Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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The Transition Arrives

11:30 AM 3/31 - Greeting to all the Spring-a-lings out there who are yearning to see the rains, warm breezes and excitement of a new season. Although we haven't ruled out more flakage in the near future, Spring readers know the next season brings a new round of weather thrills. Thus, for the next few weeks the team and the rest of us will be living somewhat of a dual existence: One eye to severe storms - the other on short term winter weather threats. 

Forecaster Joey in Wakefield.Nebraska, June 2014
on his annual Storm Chase with the Nimbus Storm Team
Check out their 2014 Chase on Twitter  @NimbusStorms
But, as we get farther away from winter, we also begin transitioning toward monitoring and reporting on severe weather potential.

In fact, we even have a regional "heads up" page much like the Winter Stormcast Zone. It's operated by our Severe Weather Team, and lead by Coordinator/Forecaster Joey Krastel. 

If you want to stay in the loop on Facebook whenever we see severe weather potential brewing, add this page to your bookmark list: MID-ATLANTIC SEVERE WEATHER.


UPDATED NOAA SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK GUIDANCE FOR 2015
The maps that we like to share are the NOAA NWS Storm Prediction Center's forecasted outlooks for severe weather risk days as a general overview. In October 2014, the SPC made some changes in the risk categories, as indicated in the following sample (not actual forecast) maps. In preparation for the thunderstorms and outbreaks to come, we wanted to make these changes known to our readers. 




You can read more about the updated procedures for Severe Weather outlooks at the Storm Prediction Center. It is never to early to be prepared for severe weather! 

(Forecaster Joey and the Severe Weather Team)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

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Welcoming Spring At Last

  • IN THE SHORT RANGE: TRANQUIL BUT COOL CONDITIONS IN THE EAST UNTIL THURSDAY, WHEN RAIN RETURNS AS THE GULF REACTIVATES.
  • MID-WEEK: CONCERNS OF WINTER WEATHER EVENT FOR TUESDAY HAVE LESSENED AS HIGH PRESSURE MON-WED WILL KEEP LOWS OFFSHORE.
  • IN THE LONG RANGE PATTERN...CONCERNS REMAIN HEIGHTENED AS NOAA WPC ALLUDES TO WINTER WEATHER THREATS IN FRI-SAT PERIOD FOLLOWING REINTRODUCTION OF THE ARCTIC HIGH / COASTAL LOW SETUP

5:45 PM 3/22 - For Spring-a-lings, we know thoughts are turning to warm sunny days, outdoor activities or just not having to wear a heavy coat. For Sports fans, the time is fast approaching for your return to the ol' Ball game. 

We hope you enjoyed this quiet first FULL WEEKEND of Spring! The long range pattern stilll shows disturbances remain in the Force, which may make for a slow transition away from WinterAmong those is the large area of "above normal precipitation" for the Eastern U.S. next week, still combined with below normal temperatures.

But hey, for now let's celebrate the return of calmer conditions, and the fast approach of OPENING DAY on APRIL 10 at Camden Yards!

New Season, New Lineup


With storms to be absent in the immediate future, we're exvited to introduce our newest style lineup for the Sports season ahead: 

The more formal and stylish Embroidered "flag-in-the-Foot" quarter zips, along with a new series called "Orange & Purple" specially designed for Maryland sports fans. Details and discounts at the FF store for those interested: http://store.footsforecast.org. Some special discounts for fun:


Regarding the Long Range

For those who want to stay alert to long range concerns, we are also watching for a second potentially significant winter weather event in the next 7-10 daysTiming and orientation of the next High counteracted by a Low will provide strong clues to where the pattern takes us. 

While the "March 1958" scenario we referenced in earlier posts now seem less likely, global models are persistent in bringing a new series of Arctic highs into the northern and eastern U.S. the next 2 weeks. 



TUESDAY: Positioning of the High and the Low shown below. While the High looks probable to keep a southern Low suppressed and away from the coast, it is a signal the pattern can arrange both cold air and coastal Lows in favorable proximity. 

Whenever a large High parks in southeast Canada in a wintry pattern, it is reason aplenty to stay focused on how nearby Lows will behave.




FRI-SAT: The second map shows a similar placement, with a series of coastal Lows looking to ride along the Seaboard counteracted by another large sprawling Arctic High to rule most of our weather by the end of next week. If it was mid-April, we'd say slim chance, but even late March can have it's surprises.

Though 6 days out, our point remains the same: Global models will have hinted TWICE now toward formation of a coastal Low with a cold High well within arm's reach.


(Forecasters Foot, Troy A., Connor M. Jason M. and the Winter Stormcast Team)

Friday, March 20, 2015

A day we knew would happen

1 comment:
A Day We Knew Would Happen

Snow falling on a school playground, in Arizona!
(Hint: They still went to school. No one was hurt.)
1:45 PM 3/20 - If you were a student or teacher in a Maryland school system today, chances are you had the unique experience of watching snow fall outside while IN CLASS. At least your teachers didn't ban you from looking at it, right? (Article from the UK Daily Mail about that earlier this year.)

If you felt cheated out of a snow day just because snow was occurring during the business day, consider looking at it this way: Today was glimpse into the way life used to be, in Maryland and most other places.

For decades until the early 2000s, in many parts of the country other than the south, it was rare for school to be canceled for minor amounts of snow. Forecasters and Advisors of our team remember times when roads would be snow-covered, traffic snarled, but the yellow buses moved about the region -- with the old-style chains on the tires. In suburban Philadelphia, a generally accepted rule among some of the township-based districts was that at least 4" had to be on the ground before there was even a consideration of school closing. 

Snowy walk to the bus stop (in Colorado)
The author remembers many days like this.
Photo credit: Swern.com
In the mid 1990's, as old time Baltimore County teachers may recall, one particularly snow-hardy Superintendent was famously reticent to cancel school, even when parking lots were unplowed and streets barely passable. He did acquiesce once in 1994, when heavy snow was burying the schools and roads alike -- legend has it that as buses arrived in parking lots to drop off students, administrators were out waving them away and telling drivers to take the kids back! I think our communication and public safety strategies have improved a tad since then. 

The difference that we grant is a major factor in weather hazard management is simply population growth: Millions more people reside in areas that were once farmland. More people means more roads and a larger scope of responsibility for the counties and states charged with maintaining those roads.



But, for now, consider today a brief look into the way things once were as a matter of regular life. Snow fell. Kids went to school. Life went on. We recognize that since those days before the internet and social media, people frustrated with something a school district did or didn't do had only a couple options -- call the district, write a letter or attend a school board meeting. Then as now, there has always been the fourth option: Resiliency.  

Having once taught in non-air conditioned schools for many years, it was always nice when the school year ended on a Friday, so we all didn't have to trudge back in the humidity for one more day. This year, if we all can stay strong and resilient even when it's snowing during class, maybe-- just maybe you can avoid celebrating the first day of SUMMER... still in class.

From a fellow Powderhound,
Mr. Foot


Thursday, March 19, 2015

"No, there is another."

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2:45 PM 3/19 - MOISTURE WORKING NORTH WILL BRING LIGHT RAIN OVERNIGHT TO THE PA LINE, MIXING WITH SNOW BY SUNRISE FRIDAY, LASTING TO 12 pm.
  • UP TO 5" EXPECTED IN EASTERN / SOUTHERN PA AND BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, 2" IN NORTHERN MARYLAND, UP TO 1" IN BALTIMORE/DC METRO.
  • AVERAGE OF CURRENT MODEL DATA IS 0.30" LIQUID AS A GENERAL AMOUNT FOR CENTRAL & NORTHERN MD, WITH 10:1 RATIO YIELDING THE OVERALL 3" FORECAST FOR WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES. (GFS IS 0.13", NAM IS 0.56")
  • ANY DELAY IN ONSET OF PRECIP DUE TO DRY AIR AND LOW DEWPOINTS MAY SLOW THE CHANGE TO SNOW, AND WARMER GROUND COULD NEGATE ACCUMULATION ON PAVEMENTS BUT IS EXPECTED ON GRASSY SURFACES.

PROJECTED PRECIPITATION / FRONTS AND PRESSURE FOR 8 AM FRIDAY


EARLY LOOK AT MONDAY'S SURFACE MAP PROJECTIONS




"No, There Is Another..."

  • EARLY FRIDAY AM SNOW FOLLOWED BY JANUARY-LIKE PATTERN INTO NEXT WEEK.
  • STRONG WINDS AND HIGH PRESSURE IN WAKE OF DEPARTING LOW WILL REINFORCE COLD AIR WHILE MOISTURE FROM A REACTIVATED SOUTHERN JET STREAM WORKS NORTH BY MONDAY.
  • LONG RANGE INDICATIONS POINT TO A SECOND POTENTIALLY DISRUPTIVE WINTER WEATHER EVENT MONDAY INTO TUESDAY.

3:45 PM 3/18 - By now, most are aware of forecasts for a return of snow to the Mid-Atlantic region by early Friday morning. This minor event alone is not reason to be overly concerned. However that which will rush in behind this system from the weekend forward into next week sets up a reinvigorated wintry pattern that may delight only the hardiest among us. 
  • IN THE SHORT TERM - We have no major changes to the expectation for accumulating snow in the central and eastern Mid-Atlantic by the Friday AM commute. Temperatures look to trend colder the next 36 hours, and an overnight change of rain to snow suggests rapid accumulation will be observed on pavement and grassy surfaces until the higher sun angle can go to work. 
  • The image below is for 8 AM Friday showing a large area of "Snow Likely" noted in the dark blue. A blend of the GFS and NAM liquid for BWI shows about 0.35" by 9 AM Friday, which at a general 10:1 ratio translates into the 3-4" range posted by the NWS parts of northern and central Maryland as a representative area.

  • IN THE LONG TERM - The 6-10 day temperature and precipitation outlooks have been showing for several days now the classic arrangement that even in late winter can still yield significant snow. What arrangement? One where precipitation is projected to be above normal, and temperatures to be well below normal. If this was April, we'd say it just means a cold Opening Day. But in March, pattern pandemonium can produce madness of a different kind. 
In late March 1958, a pattern like this led to one of the heaviest end-of-season snowfalls on record, as recounted in this archival newsreel from the era.  If this prospect makes you jittery, you're not alone. A writer to the Baltimore Sun in 1991 retold the tale in ways that would challenge any Powderhound for their love of snow.
 

  • WHY THE CONCERN? Each year around this time period, our Long Range Team looks closely at current and historical upper level charts for clues indicating if the specter of a "March 1958" has any possibility of resurfacing. For each of the past 11 years, thankfully the pattern was not conducive to produce a blockbuster event. This year, the situation may be different, and long range global models are already showing troublesome scenarios that suggest our "There is Another"  headline could end up with a different meaning than originally intended.
 If something like this is in the offing, we want to make sure you 
have as early a heads up as possible.