Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Preparing for "Peak Season" ?  We are...

9/14/14 - As we celebrate with Baltimore the blue-sky glow of the Star Spangled Spectacular this past week, our Long Range Team is keeping watch on a decidedly more chilly sight o'er the ramparts...

Arctic Sea Ice. 

We love September for many reasons: Fall Football, start of the harvest season, college applications...  

But most importantly, in honor of the Powderhounds out there, September provides the first whiff of indicators for the winter season ahead. 

So if you're a school official, snowplow operator, mass transit coordinator, or anyone whose enterprise is impacted by winter weather conditions, here are some early numbers we find significant as you plan toward your "peak season."


  • ARCTIC SEA ICE: Although the 30-year trend of sea ice concentration and thickness is understandably much lower in the 2010's than it was in the 1980's, the key is to know where things stand at END of the summer melt-off period. First, Sea Ice up yonder is at least 700,000 square kilometers GREATER than it was in September 2013. Second, the levels are nearly EQUAL to where data was observed in September 2009.  
Long time Foots readers quickly realize that number means we are presently on par with ice levels from the September leading up to the snowiest winter in recent memory for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast: 2009-2010. 

It's simple: The influence of upper level westerlies coming from a growing El Nino in the eastern Pacific have steered or sheared most tropical systems, dampening the Atlantic Hurricane season. Thus, Gulf and western Atlantic waters have warmed to noticeably high levels, such that the jellyfish have had a heyday along northern beaches where they normally are not seen. What does it mean for winter storms? 

The counterintuitive reality is: If coastal waters are WARMER heading into winter, this provides a more easily accessible evaporation source for "Nor'easters" to tap as they develop along the coast. If the hurricane season is weak, waters along the coast are not "stirred up" by passing storms and thus, can continue warming unabated until the calendar clicks to winter. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The fast, clean version of our early projection:
  • A much wetter, snowier winter for the Mid-Atlantic, resembling 2009-2010. 
  • A cooler summer in the Arctic, Canada and eastern US could signal an earlier start to winter weather - with the first significant accumulation of snow for the Mid-Atlantic by mid November.
  • In contrast to 2013-14, the eastern U.S. should see less ice storms and major cold blasts, courtesy of a slightly warmer influence from El Nino. 

WE'RE READY WHEN YOU ARE  If your business, agency or organization would like to stay well-advised and prepared for the winter ahead, consider contacting our team for a on-site consultation or entertaining Q &A this Fall: team@footsforecast.org or call 443-220-6863



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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Why Oceans Matter: Heat Capacity & Climate



By Meteorologist/Oceanographer Alex Davies and Forecaster Mike Natoli

Did you know the heat capacity of the ocean is four times greater than that of the atmosphere? That means it will take four times longer to heat and cool a volume of water compared to volume of air under similar environment conditions. 

This is why it takes a while to boil a large pot of water when your make pasta, even though the heat coming-off the stove top burning is extremely hot. So why does that matter in terms of local or global climate? 

The ocean acts as the great regulator of our land surface temperatures, especially near the coast, and help to re-distribute heat from the equator to the poles through large-scalar surface current like the Gulf Stream, and through deep-ocean currents known as Thermohaline Circulation (meaning "heat" and "salt") or the "Ocean Conveyor Belt." 


"Ocean Conveyor Belt" from Oceanmotion.org
Have you ever noticed that on hot summer days in mid-summer, it is more pleasant in places along the coast like Bethany Beach, Delaware or Fenwick Island, DE compared with inland locations like Salisbury, Maryland, Dover, Delaware, and Richmond, Virginia? 

This was because the ocean temperature during that time was only in the upper 70s, while the inland air temperatures were topping-out near 100 degrees, or more. The same thing happens in the early winter as places near the ocean or along The Chesapeake Bay or Delaware Bay often have a tougher time getting "all snow" events as the air temperature is being impacted by the relatively warmer water temperature.
So if you are looking for a snowy winter ahead, ironically you would want a COLD Chesapeake Bay and a WARM western Atlantic! We will soon take a long range look at that possibility in a future post.



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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