Friday, February 27, 2004

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"Getting closer... to the truth, but you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love."

- Robert Palmer

Maybe today's title should be "Tiptoe through the tulips" by Tiny Tim? Naaaa, we'll save that for when the tulips finally do make it out of the ground. That is, after the snow that's going to fall on them melts.

Whoa! Got your attention there...SNOW..... S-N-O-W. It is a fun little trick. You can make almost anyone look outside almost anytime of year simply by saying: "LOOK, it's snowing!" Even in July, try it sometime.

This coming week will play out as forecasted below in earlier posts.
For I-95 and Central PA: Awesome on Sunday, Monday. Rain Tuesday. Cooler temps start returning Wed-Thu-Fri. Rain Thursday-Friday.

I maintain my position that all areas covered by this forecast site will see at least one more snow event before the month of March ends. And it may be sooner rather than later... perhaps by next Sunday the 7th. Besides, you all knew that spring can't start THIS early, right? I remind you we are still under a CROCUS WATCH. So if any alert readers out there notice the crocuses starting to poke out by Monday, please post a comment to say where you live in relation to your nearest major city, and when you noticed the crocuses.

Meantime, I'm gonna have to face that I'm addicted to storms. I love storms, not the destruction and pain but the intense complexity of them. They are massive lab experiments being played out before millions of people. Thunderstorms, snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, solar storms, the Great Red Spot, you name it. And the battle lines are drawn now that winter and spring are duking it out for control of our weather. Evidence of the battle is simply... storms and lots of them, coming soon to a residential neighorhood near you.

So get some spring cleaning done this weekend. I'll be busy gardening... I mean working on the "honeydew" you know, honey do this, honey do that. Next post will be sometime Sunday when we take a closer look at the late week storm situation.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

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"Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten... look away... look away,
look away Dixieland."

- Ballad of the old South from the Civil War

If you were in Dixieland right now, you'd be digging out from 6-12 inches of sloppy wet snow between Nashville, TN and Raleigh, NC. By Monday their temperatures will top 70 F, how about that for a reversal of fortunes?

Here's the conversation that would probably take place were one of you to call me right now about the weather....


Admit what?


Any more snow days? Is that all you care about?


Well then, I guess I'll have to just go ahead and say it. You realize I might jinx it by saying anything. Besides I haven't checked with the fruit cup.


Thanks for the suggestion. I think I can make these calls on my own without the fruit cup...


After having a full week of school for the first time in like, 7 weeks, I am feeling a bit crazy.


1. There will be one more snow event for the I-95 corridor between now and April 1. It will not be enough to close schools, but it could squeak out a delay. It will not be more than a couple inches at most.

2. Central PA will see at least two more medium-sized snow events before wrapping up the winter. Medium for them is 3-6" which is a regional crisis for us.

3. March is going to see-saw all over the place. At some point during the month we might touch 20 F and 70 F in the space of one week. I just have that feeling.

4. April will deliver a super-quick warmup early in the month, followed by another reinforcing shot of cold air middle of the month.

And finally, I promise the sun will come out tomorrow, thanks to Annie. Ha, get it.. Annie. Well, I tried.

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"Aruba, Jamaica. Oooh I wanna take ya, to Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama. Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go."

- The Beach Boys

The weather over the next 4 days in the I-95 corridor will get increasingly nice and more sunny. Highs in DC-Bal will top 60 by Sunday, approach 60 in Central PA. It will feel tropical.. the first super-nice weekend we've had since... October or Christmas depending on how you rate it.

No changes to the ideas posted below about practice next week. The site will be focusing on likely conditions for practice and games on a daily basis.

I must warn you all though, that what goes up must come down. It is NOT SUPPOSED to be 60 in early March. The warmer it gets now, the colder it will be later. March will retaliate with a cold blast sometime after the 10th, and it may last for 7 or more days. I am researching the development of this and will post more details this weekend.

Essentially the atmosphere is rearranging itself to mimic what we say during the January deep-freeze, which led to the series of storms we just got done with last week. It won't be highs in the 20's, but once this cold blast moves in, we might not see 40 for a good stretch of days.

Some bad news... I may not be able to post during the school day anymore (ie during lunch or right after school). Baltimore County Schools have experienced a crippling virus recently. Thus they are blocking internet access to anything on the web that has the letters A through Z in the address.

I may try to get our site unblocked in the name of scientific research. We'll see. If not, the only times I can post will be early AM and early evening. Sniffle, sniffle.

Ah technology, it makes our life easier.... or does it?

Enjoy the sun... when it arrives.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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"You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all of the time."
- Author unknown


1. How did the forecast for yesterday's event verify?
- Central PA: 2-4" predicted, Result: State College and Altoona reported 3-4"
- Philadelphia: 1-2" predicted in north/west suburbs. Result: Paoli reported 1" on grassy areas
- Baltimore on north: up to an inch predicted for Frederick, Carroll, Cecil, N Baltimore and Harford.
Result: many areas reported less than an inch, only on grassy areas.
- Baltimore on south: mostly rain and snow mixed predicted, no accumulation. Result: Perhaps one hour when snow was observed mixed with rain, otherwise rain throughout the area.

If you are disappointed there was no delay this morning, remember the adage:
"Storms from the west don't bring extra rest." And yes, the fruit cup was right again.

2. What about the previous long term forecast?
This was the week projected to deliver a snowstorm which would give us the 8th week in a row of less than 5 school days. The storm did take place, but not in the way we expected. Parts of it stayed south, parts came from the north. Overall, this forecast came up short as the elements did not come together at the right time. Virginia on south through the Carolinas are going to see the storm we thought was coming up this way. So with Mardi Gras winding down, many of you in the Baltimore Metro area can celebrate your
first FULL week of school since January 12. Man it's going to be tough.

3. Where do we go from here?
Right now, there's two camps out there. First, I know there are many loyal readers who want to see a stop to the seemingly empty promises of "winter's not over yet" business. Those folks feel jilted and rightly so. This crowd is ready for a full scale shift to spring. Hence, their title is: "Spring-a-lings."

However, I also know there is still a solid block of powderhounds who will take any snow they can get, even in March after blooming has begun. The best I can tell you is that I have something to offer for everyone in the next 30 days or so. But let me address the issue on most people's mind:


There is not likely to be a big storm the rest of this season. However, I do think we are going to limp to the finish line of Spring. Last winter February went out with a bang (5" storm on the 27th), March came in like a lion (upper 20's for highs the first couple days), and then the cold just kept hanging tough through most of March and into April. I remember well because I was one of the spring track coaches at my school.

The next 5 days is a good preview of what you'll see the next 30 days. A couple days of mild to warm weather, followed by rain, followed by a cool down, then a few brief glances of snow or ice, followed by another warming trend. Rinse, lather, repeat. So enjoy this preview of spring... it will get increasingly glorious Wednesday through Sunday.

HOW ABOUT THE FIRST WEEK OF PRACTICE? (for Baltimore and Philly)

Monday: Cloudy, relatively warm. High around 60. Run them outside.
Tuesday: Still mild but showers, getting heavier as the day progresses. Might have to run practice inside, as there could be some scattered thunderstorms from DC north to New Jersey.
Wednesday: Some clouds, cooler, windy. Fields will dry. Bring a hat to practice. Highs mid 40's
Thursday: Clouds hang in, cooler, high around 40. Some wind. Dry fields.
Friday: Another storm moves in, will be a cold, driving rain. High upper 30's to 40.

The next likelihood of even just some flurries or light snow is not until Sunday the 7th, but not enough to disrupt school on Monday.

The week after that promises to remain cooler and unsettled, with rain every other day followed by below normal temperatures throughout. Because it is going to get warm this coming weekend, that portends a big pay-back down the road. If the atmosphere gets out of balance too early, it will over-correct and retaliate with colder than normal later on. Remember how nice it got at Christmas and then January we went into the deep freeze?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

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2/24 LUNCH UPDATE: "Don't go breakin' my heart." (again)

- Kiki Dee and Elton John

THE FRUIT CUP SAYS.......... (drum roll please)......

ALL BALTIMORE METRO AREA SCHOOLS ARE ON TIME TOMORROW. There, that oughta make you feel better.

Later tonight will be the early call for the first week of spring sports practice. Ah ha, now I got the coaches attention.

No comments:

(unless you are in the city)

I think I'm going to hang up this whole weather analysis bit. The fruit cup is obviously has vastly superior forecasting abilities. Why spend the time doing all the analysis when I can just rely on the fruit cup? I mean, really.


We'll see how the forecast for today pans out and then we'll have another Fruit Cup Forecast for the situation tomorrow morning. Check back around 11:15 for those results.

I am interested in some observations from alert readers as to why our friend Marty Bass said for today and tonight. And if any of our Pennsylvania readers could post comments on how the forecasting is turning out for you up there, that would great.

Monday, February 23, 2004

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(projections revised at 9 AM Tuesday)

Sorry for the delay, had family business to do, including cleaning up from dinner. We did get the baby TO SLEEP at 7:30 PM! Yeehaw!

Anyway, back to the forecast. The Dundalk High Science Department Official Fruit Cup Study results say:
Baltimore County teachers are in on time for a full day tomorrow.



10 AM - a few sprinkles to some dirzzle
12 PM - light rain mixed with flurries
2 PM - drizzle tapering to flurries
4 PM - lingering flurries
6 PM - partial clearing and windy
8 PM - Temsps begin dropping to just below freezing.

Tuesday - BALTIMORE CITY ON NORTH (Owings Mills, Towson, Perry Hall to PA border)

10 AM - light snow and rain mixed.
12 PM - light snow and rain, accumulating up to an inch on grassy areas, sidewalks, secondary roads
2 PM - precip changes back to all snow
4 PM - periods of light snow
6 PM - light snow continues
8 PM - light snow tapers to flurries
10 PM - flurries linger into the overnight hours. Temps drop to just around 30 outside the city to 25 in the "Zone" (Hereford, that is).


2 AM - Light snow begins and will linger into the morning rush. 1-2" in western suburbs on grassy areas, less than 1" in the city. By 10 AM snow will be tapering to flurries from northwest to southeast. Snow will linger longer in southern areas due to interaction with southern stream moisture.


All y'all are the lucky ones as you'll see a general 2-4" swath of snow from Indiana, PA to Huntingdon, and then lesser amounts as the snow is squeezed out traveling over the mountains.


With the MSA's bearing down on MD districts, I'm going to lean on the side of politics this time and say:

Tuesday: All Baltimore Metro schools will be open on time, with the exception of Frederick and Carroll County, which may have a 1-hour delay.

Wednesday: Despite the MSA's, there will be considerable ISA (ice stuck around) out there so it is possible some Baltimore metro area schools will have a 2 hour delay... including, Harford, and Cecil County. Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel Counties are far enough south and have enough rain to prevent a delay.


The high pressure suppressing the southern system will settle into our area starting Wednesday, and slowly moderate as we head into the weekend. So a nice string of sunshiny, blue skies on tap from Thursday until Sunday. Temps on Sunday will probably crack 60 in downtown Baltimore, upper 50's in Philly, low 50's in Central PA.


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2/23 LUNCH UPDATE: (11:10 AM)
"Be prepared... that's the Boy Scout marching song, be prepared."

- Unknown artist

Consider it a Mardi Gras Special. A little bit of snow here or there to spice up your transition into Lent. So be prepared for annoying weather. This is not a big storm or even a lot of snow, but it will be an unusual and difficult call by some school districts on Tuesday and Wednesday. Highly unlikely that whatever is coming will give anyone a day off, but a delay or early dismissal is possible somewhere along the way. This is mainly directed at the metro areas of Baltimore and Philly. Central PA could get upwards of 3-4 inches of wet snow out of the same system as it pulls east.

Monday overnight will begin with snow showers north and rain south. Remember snow brings the temperature down with it. So the issue Tuesday morning will be, though the roads are going to be warm so as to prevent sticking, but will be slippery. This will be an on-going slippery situation for as the morning commute begins, secondary roads and sidewalks in all the nooks and crannies of Baltimore, Harford, Cecil, Frederick, Carroll counties will be partially snowcovered. Main roads will be fine.
Accumulations overnight mainly on cars, secondaries, lawns, sidewalks around an inch.

SCHOOL: A delay is possible the farther north you are... Frederick and Carroll I think are a good bet for a delay, as well as Harford and Cecil. In Baltimore County it will depend on how the secondary roads are faring.

Tuesday morning as surface temps warm, snow will try to turn to rain in the city and surrounding areas. But north of the city (Owings Mills/Towson/Perry Hall) on north cold air aloft will have worked in from the west. It's this colder air that will keep the snow from turning to rain. There may be enough persistent snowfall that secondaries get snow-covered again, forcing an early dismissal. Accumulations could reach 2 inches north of the O-T-P line, and inch or less south of that. This will be a tough call as districts may not realize how persistent the snow will be until everyone gets to school.
And even then, it is only half of Baltimore County that will be affected.

Tuesday night, as the storm passes, there is the possibility that we see some wrap-around moisture from the southern system as alluded to yesterday. And overnight temps will fall below freezing, so there could be areas of black ice Wednesday morning. Maybe another dusting up to an inch in scattered areas in the north, closer to an inch in the south.

SCHOOL: 1-2 hour delays are likely with this situation as re-freezing of the slush on secondary roads will be a problem. My sympathies go out to the State Board of Education, because Tue-Wed are supposed to be the MSA's (Maryland State Assessments). This is a huge monkey wrench in the whole plan.

This forecast scenario is directed again at the Philly and Baltimore metro areas. So all of their adjacent northern and western suburbs could be facing 1-2 hour delays or (parents cringe) early dismissals.

And remember, we are still under a CROACUS WATCH as many of you know once the Croacuses start peeping their little heads up, that means one more storm is in the offing.

Now I have to go to the Dundalk High Science Department and find out the results of THE FRUIT CUP!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

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"Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. "

- Forrest Gump

The weather can sometimes be that way too. This week, we are getting only the appetizer but we have no choice in the matter, and then being shown the dessert tray but we are not permitted to order anything from it.

What was going to be the precursor to our big mid-week event is going to slop on by Monday night and Tuesday. There will be scattered snow showers north of Baltimore City and scattered snow and rain mixed from the city on south. There may be a few areas which pick up close to an inch, but there is no organized storm system with this.

The southern moisture supply is still there, and I suppose something could still try to come north, but I continue to see the Ontario high pressure system clamping down all across the eastern US. This will supress any northward movement of moisture. Because there is ample southern stream moisture moving east at the same time, there is the possibility that once this clipper nears the east coast, it can more readily tap that moisture and create some wrap around snow. However, we're only talking less than an inch were that to happen.

For those of you in the school system, here is a preview of Monday night's headline:
"Storms from the west DON'T bring extra rest."

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"There is a great disturbance in the force..."

- The Emperor speaking to Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back

It's a good thing I waited until today to come out with the official projections on this storm. As some of you noticed, the Weather Service Offices in both Philly and Baltimore came out full blast on Saturday with a doomsday Special Weather Statement, and then had to totally retreat this morning.

Why? The great disturbance in the force is the arctic high moving southeast. This time around, it appears to be too strong. In contrast, the Atlantic high off the southeast coast is too weak. Thus, the southern stream is not being shoved as far north as you would need it to were you desirous of a big snowstorm. The arctic high is, in effect, squelching the storm by pushing all the precip south of us. The Carolina coast and some of the Virginia capes will get hammered with very strong easterly winds, tidal flooding and coastal erosion.

But overall it does appear the influence of the northern components of this setup are indeed overpowering the southern components. BUT... I've been wrong before. So like the Star Trek movies, there's always a little hint of a potential sequel. I may have to come back in 24 hours and reverse myself. For now, you can put away your light sabre and breathe easier.

There is still light snow in the forecast for Wednesday, but it is intermittent and not enough to cause a school delay. So enjoy the sunshine!


For those of you in the Philly suburbs, you may remember the surprise wet snow dump of Friday, Feb 22, 1987. That was a storm which only delivered 4 inches at the PHL airport, but dropped 20 inches on my house in Paoli, PA. At one point overnight during the storm, it was snowing at 5 inches an hour. I remember, because I was up at 4 am measuring it. And the rest of that weekend, my family and I then measured how much Tylenol it would take to shovel all that heavy wet snow.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

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2/21 UPDATE:
"Gonna take you right into the danger zone..."

- Kenny Loggins, from the soundtrack of Top Gun

5:30 PM - Before we go into an analysis of the storm situation for Wicked Wednesday, let's recap for a moment the evolution of this forecast with an excerpt from when it was first mentioned on the site Monday 2 weeks ago. Then, later this evening I will do a preliminary overview of the storm, and revise that Sunday morning.

9:00 AM SAT 2/21
Here's a special love note for all you powderhounds out there who are clamoring to see snow, just a flake or two. I am in Central Pennsylvania this weekend, we have at least 2 feet on the ground, with light snow falling right now. The way this pattern is shaping up, Grandma Kaye (our daughter's maternal grandmother) may have a total of 3 or more feet out her window by mid-March.

I am working on the analysis for our potentially Wicked Wednesday Weather. Think I'll wait one more day before coming out of the gates full blast with the forecast. But suffice to say, if everything continues along the way it has been trending the past few days, we are headed right into the danger zone.

Drum roll please.........

Friday, February 20, 2004

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What a glorious day it is here in southern Baltimore county. I hope it is as nice where you are.

There are no changes to the ideas posted the last few days. The next few days will be the last nice, calm, snow-free days for QUITE SOME TIME. The next 2 weeks (through March 8) will be very stormy and be peppered with cold blasts of varying intensity. Not super cold, just below normal for this time of year.. say mid 30's instead of low to mid 40's.

Don't put away your shovel and better stock up on salt.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

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"Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, 'till you find your dream."

- The Sound of Music

First, a review of how the weekend is shaping up.

1. The I-95 corridor is now under a CROACUS WATCH. That means in the next several days, especially tomorrow and Sunday, you may notice little flowers poking out of the ground. Some readers has written in to say their lilacs are trying to bud. Those of you who have been around longer than me know that when the flowers and trees try to bloom early, it can only mean one thing:

2. This weekend. Friday will be a another reasonably nice day, with some sunshine, and temps will hang in the 50's ini most areas. Saturday.... Rain. First in Pittsburgh, then Altoona, then Philly and Baltimore. Temps in the upper 50's again. Sunday clearing but still warm.

3. Early next week. Monday.. clear and still mild. Tuesday... markedly colder as upper level systems in Canada are arranging to bring an arctic high southeast.

4. Wednesday. Lots of things will be happening in lots of places for an extended period of time... the Plains, the Ohio Valley, the East Coast, the West Coast.


In earlier posts I talked about zonal flow. Well what I may not have mentioned is that a straight flow across the country actually helps breed east coast storms when there is lots of moisture involved. Why? Because even if the jet streams move straight across the country (from the west coast directly across to the east coast) over time, say a period of a week, it become a channel or funnel. All the cold air to the north (eastern Canada) and moisture to the south (Gulf Coast), have to been squeezed through this conduit the atmosphere has set up for itself. The big picture with all this is we are looking at another round of cold, stormy weather at least through the first 10 days of March. Storms also have the potential to be more potent this time of year, due to several factors:

- Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic are now warming up... providing more juice to a late February storm than a late January storm.
- Snowcover in Canada is approaching maximum... enhancing cold air.
- A huge upper level low pressure system (called a block) is moving west to a position over northern Ontario, helping to enhance the jet stream flow underneath it. In simpler terms, the counter-clockwise flow around this low shoves the cold air under it, and directly to the east coast.
- Because of the warming Atlantic, it begins to create... you guessed it, the classic Bermuda high. Not the kind that gives us heat waves, just it's early season little brother. But the high acts to funnel storms a little farther north as they approach the east coast. Proof of this is seen in all the recent storms. Although the last one went out to sea, it didn't move out east of Georgia or the Carolinas. It just grazed the Mid-Atlantic. If fact, almost none of the storms this winter ever just marched right out to sea by Georgia. They all had some sort of northern component.


This time, unlike the NO storm, the Atlantic high will be a little stronger, pushing any system moving east a little farther north. And this time, the Canadian high is going to be locked in place, unlike the NO storm, where it kept on moving out to sea. You throw into all this a huge load of moisture coming east from the Pacific due to our zonal flow, and look out. The only sticky issue is how far north all this is pushed by the Atlantic high. If not far enough then it's anothe Carolinas and Virginia blast... if far enough, then:

You may be climbing every mountain (of snow) fording every stream (of snowmelt), following every rainbow (of Skittles) and finding your dream of a ... FABULOUS FEBRUARY.

Twenty-five years ago today was one of the biggest surprise snowstorms of all time in the "corridor." Feb 19, 1979 : Baltimore.. 20" Philly.. 12"

So enjoy the next few days of rest, rain and rays. Cause after that, it's gonna get wild again.

Perhaps there'll be an early or mid morning update on Friday, but we will be traveling Fri night, so no post again until Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning I will come out with my preliminary call on the Wednesday storm situation. After that, I'll post 3 times daily until the storm passes... early AM, mid morning, late afternoon or early evening.

For our readers in the public schools... tomorrow will be the first normal Friday you've had since January 30.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

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"Do you really want to hurt me, do you really want to make me cry?"

- Boy George

I'm sorry, there are probably not a lot of Boy George fans out there, but it kind of popped into my head as the best headline for today.

We're going to take a different tack with the next storm. This will hopefully prevent you from having to experience undue winter-related stress, thus having to invoke the winter stress tips again.

Now, with no intention of appearing smug or anything of the sort, I'm going to tell you that I know some things that you don't want to know right now. It would be like:
"Alex, I'll take the category: 'Too much information' for a hundred."

The only snippet I can give you right now is that aforementioned system moving in next Wednesday has the potential to be significant. But I've been wrong before. It is a complex arrangement of systems (when does that ever happen?) and it would take too long to explain right now.

So I don't really want to hurt you with any promises of anything. My plan is to enjoy the sunshine and rain the next couple days, and do some background research on this upcoming... event. This weekend we'll be going over the river (Susquehanna) and through the woods (Penn State) to visit Grandma. By Sunday I'll have a full, condensed analysis for you.

Until then, you can satisfy your snow hunger by viewing a recap of the March 1958 surprise 3-footer in the I-95 corridor. Check out the accumulation map on this one.


"These are the days, to hold on to. But we won't, although we'll want to.
This is the time...But time is gonna change. "

- Billy Joel

For those who enjoy calm, sunny winter days, this is the time. But for those who are waiting for the next round... time is gonna change.

To help our powderhounds survive the next 7 days of snow drought, here is the next tip for beating winter-related stress:

# 2. If you look out the window and see snow, the odds are overwhelming that it is snowing across a wide area. It is very rare to get snow concentrated within a one- or two-block area, the experts say.
Also, crews will be out salting and plowing in a storm, as they have routinely done for the last 50-plus years. Finally, if the snowfall is heavy, it will have an adverse effect on traffic, causing accidents and slowing commuting times. In other words, it is probably not necessary to turn on the TV to confirm that (a) it is snowing; (b) crews are plowing; (c) traffic is snarled.

Instead, relax and read a book. It will do you a world of good, the experts say.

OUTLOOK FOR THE NEXT 7 DAYS in the I-95 Corridor and Central/Western PA

Thu 2/19 - Warmer (around 50 F) and somewhat sunny for most everyone.
Fri 2/20 – Continued above normal temps, no rain, some high clouds
Sat 2/21 – Showers increasing with the day. But still warm and muggy for Feb. High near 60
South, mid 50’s south.
Sun 2/22 – Clearing but remaining mild, highs in the upper 40’s. Pittsburgh/Altoona area might get a little wraparound snow as the storm exits east.
Mon 2/23 – More clouds than sun and a little cooler, highs back in the low 40’s
Tue 2/24 – Clouds increasing throughout the day, but dry and cool. Highs around 40 F
Wed 2/25 – Cloudy and cool with light snow possible. That's all we can say right now.

So you can see the progression of events as described above. A low is moving east from the Rockies, and crosses the area this weekend. This brings much warmer air from the south along with the threat of mild thunderstorms somewhere in the region Saturday afternoon. The low departs east Sunday. Meanwhile this warmth is allowing cold air to once again start building in Canada. The longer it stays warm now, the colder it will be later, as the atmosphere does not like imbalances, especially during climatologically favored times for cold, like now.


A Canadian high is projected to move southeast by next Tuesday from the Yukon territories and settle near the Great Lakes. This is unlike earlier this week, where the high moved off the coast. While it is too early to say anything definitive, a high parked west of the St. Lawrence River Valley is usually a good setup for eastern snow. It depends on how long that high hangs there.

Although the southern stream is going “zonal” which means it will flow directly across the country from west to east, each system moving across will bring Pacific moisture with it. You will notice this comes Saturday with the soaking rains we are expecting. I cannot say with any certainty this setup will deliver a plowable snowstorm along the east coast. However, it is going to generate some kind of storm in our area by next Wednesday. There will be ample moisture, and the jet streams will be in the right arrangement. The setup looks very similar to the Dec 6 storm…a southwest to east track which took snow through the southern Ohio Valley, along the Mason-Dixon Line, and out to sea. The question will remain…does the high stay in place and deliver enough cold air to keep everything snow, or will it pull another fruit cup trick and we get rain?

Too early to tell, but I can tell you this….because you're reading this Thursday.....TOMORROW IS FRIDAY!
No comments:

"So you're saying there's a chance......?"

- Jim Carrey, from Dumb and Dumber

In the scene described, Jim Carrey asked the actress (not sure her name) the following:
" Whatdya think are the chances that a girl like you and guy like me.... could get together...?"

She replied, "about one in a million."

Today I wore the bag in class for a few minutes as is the usual tradition when my forecast is busted. A reassuring note regarding supervision to teachers... I cut holes in the bag and draw a frowny face on the front. So I can see the kids while I take attendance.

At least most of us in the public school system have a 4 day week so that takes the edge off your sNOw storm today.

However, I am going to make an early call that next week does look like something has the potential to deliver snow. Not too much now so don't go running around the school yelling "Foot's calling for a BLIZZARD!" Maybe a couple inches, maybe just flurries. But some snow at some point next week.

A sidenote comment from Mr. Huryk at the Dundalk Science department, who recommends the name of the site be changed to "Foot's Falsehoods."

That's all for today, now back to sports...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

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2/17 EVENING UPDATE: “Don’t go breakin’ my heart….”

- Elton John

Thanks to Ms. Williams, a loyal (albeit heart-broken) reader in the Baltimore County Schools, for suggesting the title of tonight’s post. Actually she didn’t suggest this, I just thought it would fit well for today. Yes there are a few broken hearts out there… but I remind you of this: Good things come to those who wait. There is still plenty of winter left to get excited about.


I’ll tip my hat to Marty Bass, of CBS Channel 23 this time. For lack of a better explanation, Marty may have seen the dynamics of this storm and in comparison to previous events like this, he may have felt that given the way the low and the high were configured along the coast, it simply spelled no snow for Balto.

So in retrospect, here are some reasons why the I-95 corridor got a NO STORM instead of a SNOWSTORM.

1. The high in Maine moved off to the east faster than I anticipated, instead of staying in place to the west as was the case with the blizzard last year. A “stuck” high ends up tightening the pressure gradient (the amount of pressure change between the high and low), which helps to intensify the storm. Although the high was moving, and we thought the easterly flow should have shoved the storm in towards the coast, since the winds were light and the pressure gradient weak, it prevented rapid strengthening and allowed the low to move along in tandem with the high.

2. The upper air dynamics were too fast or not fast enough. The southern stream jet was active, providing plenty of moisture. But there was no upper level feature that moved in fast enough to direct the moisture into an organized, deepening storm. The upper level feature acts somewhat like a conductor of an orchestra, getting everyone to follow along together. In this case what we ended up with was a stream of moisture running into cold air, and not driven by anything more than a weak surface low. In contrast, previous coastals had a weak surface low, but a strong upper level low directing the show.

3. The local TV stations don’t want their grocery store stock conspiracy exposed before winter is over. Had this storm ended up being a big one, it is possible we would have found out that there is a secret conspiracy going on. The grocery store chains call up the TV station and tell them they need to predict a big storm to help clear extra inventory off the shelves to prepare for fresh supplies, especially bread and milk. Well, you see, due to all the storms recently, stores are apparently hurting for inventory, so they told the TV station to call this one off so they can restock for next time. Whenever a big storm is forecasted, the TV station will buy up stock in the grocery store before they post the forecast. Then when everyone rushes to the store, their stock price climbs and the TV station makes a killing on the stock.

And you thought this site was more honorable than to entertain such nonsense.

Need some more humor…. How about the next tip for beating winter-related stress?

# 3. When forecasters say: "It looks like this might be a big one," it means they don't know what is going to happen.


For those of you with whom I still have a shred of credibility, you should know that despite the current pattern’s failure to deliver anything of note up the I-95 corridor since early February…. we are not done yet. After a brief warmup the rest of this week, and followed by rain this weekend, temperatures will start trending downward next week. After the 25th, we are heading into a potentially long stretch of below-normal temps, which will lead many people to invoke the well-known saying that “March is going to come in like a lion.”

Computer models are notorious for projecting a big storm way out in the future…. Even 2 weeks away, and then seeming to forget all about them until 2-3 days before. This current storm was projected a long time ago, but the dynamics of it changed as you know. Overall, I predict we are still going to see a more traditional snow event along I-95 from DC to Philly before February is over, although it may not be until the very end of the month.

So quiet and tranquil until Friday… then wetter Saturday and Sunday, then next week we start preparing for another round late in the week.

That’s the call for now. Thanks for sticking by despite the disappointments. In the meantime, you can relive your memories of the greatest east coast snowstorms on the link to the left. Enjoy!

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"The fruit cup says we are in on time tomorrow..."

- Attributed to Mr. Peiser, Chemistry teacher at Dundalk High School

For the past 3 years, we have been running a somewhat quasi-scientific study of the outcome of winter storm predictions based on...

If Mr. Peiser's fruit cup squirts out juice or not when the lid is pried off.

Seriously. This is a highly regarded study by many academics throughout our school. No really, the essence of this study is.. if abundant low pressure is present in the area, the high pressure of the fruit cup will cause juice to squirt out, hence a storm will occur. If there is high pressure in the area, the air is more stable and will prevent the juice from squirting.

So the bad news is... the fruit cup did not squirt today when it was put to the test around 11:10 AM. Thus, I will have to say that someone is going to get a hefty amount of snow from this storm, but it will not be the Baltimore Metro area. Why that is the case I will explain later this evening after I have my chocolate fix to ward off snowless depression. So the fruit cup wins.

There, now you know that all my hyped up analyses of computer models finally came down to if some stupid fruit cup squirted juice or not. Well, you gotta have a sense of humor about the weather or it will drive you insane.

Many thanks to the fun comments today, I appreciate everyone's input. Just imagine if we can get a real storm in here what we'll see posted about the weather in everyone's back yard. That will be fun.


Baltimore Metro Area: From this evening onward you might see some passing flurries in southern and eastern Baltimore county, and eastern Anne Arundel County. But that's it. Ocean City, Crisfield, Salisbury are all in line for several good inches of snow.

Philadelphia Metro Area: Passing flurries to your south. Henlopen, SE New Jersey, Cape May, that whole area will also get up to 4" with some localized amounts near 6".

AND SCHOOL ON WEDNESDAY? Unless there is some huge, unbelievable turnaround that no one catches until it's too late, I think the fruit cup wins here and we will be IN SCHOOL ON TIME Wednesday.

Boy, it hurts to read that, doesn't it? UNLESS.. hmmm hmmm this is going to be a Feb 1967 storm all over again. You just never know with the weather these days.

For all you powderhounds out there, I have lots of tissue at my house. The only solace I can offer is that you'll have to wait another 10 days or so before we can get this pattern reloaded one more time and deliver winter's final knockout punch during the period Feb 27 - March 8. There remains the possibility of another winter weather event late next week, to round out the prediction of no full week of school from January 19 to March 8.

So my wife was right... when it is all said and done, more will have been said than was done. But I'l keep a close eye on things tonight in case we have to do another switcheroo.

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"When all is said and done, more will have been said, than done."

- Attributed to Dana Foot, although she says that was a quote from someone else

8:45 AM - Snow has begun in Raleigh, NC, a full 5 hours earlier than anticipated. And the storm is forming off the GA/FLA coast. I want to reiterate that this could resemble the Feb 1967 or Feb 1979 storms.. where you went to bed expecting 1-3" (4-6" on eastern shore) and woke up to 6 inches in the city and 1-2 feet on the eastern shore. This would be because today's storm changed it's developmental characteristics in the early morning hours after you turned off the news. Otherwise, all the Baltimore TV forecasters are justified in their non-chalance and I am the one eating (wearing) eggs for breakfast tomorrow.

5:30 AM - Last night while looking at the computer models and reviewing NWS forecast discussions from throughout the east coast, I munched on the only appropriate type of ice cream I could think of for this storm situation...Rocky Road. The I-95 corridor is on a rocky road with this storm and could end up with an inch, or 6+ inches depending on which forecaster you believe the most.

Only three things to say this morning as we prepare to see who wins the accumulation challenge posed last night:
1. I have no changes to the amounts and timing as listed in earlier posts.

2. NWS forecasters are having a justifiably hard time sticking to their "most of the precip will be along the shore" call as they recognize there are many factors lining up to shove the Low closer to the coast later tonight. This would result in all the Winter Storm Warning areas being shifted inland 75 miles...right over the big cities of the I-95 corridor.

3. This storm is a battle between those who believe solely in what the computer says, and those who are taking their own experience into account and using the computer model as a guide. I place myself among the latter. This could very well end up being a whiteout in the major cities, and you are hearing the TV forecasters this morning starting to hedge a little on their "eastern Maryland" calls. However, if they are right and I am wrong...Baltimore Metro schools may not even see a delay Wednesday morning.

Last statement for the morning... I need an alert observer from the Baltimore metro area to provide updates on what Marty Bass says. He cracks me up and I am never fast enough in the morning to switch back to CBS and see what he is saying. Marty has a tendency to either way overcook or way undercook the storm. If someone out there could post in the comments what Marty says, that would be a big help.

So a word to teachers... take work home tonight but be planned for Wednesday just in case.

Now the waiting game begins...

Monday, February 16, 2004

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"Well we're movin' on up... to the top, to the deluxe apartment in the sky."

- theme song from the Jeffersons

Just a quick followup to ideas posted earlier. The computer models are starting to "move on up" and several have tomorrow night's Low tracking a little closer to the coast than everyone thought. Two of the primary models used by US forecasters are showing a little more snow than everyone thought.

The only comment I have about the evening weathercasts in the Baltimore area is, they are taking a big chance on the models being totally correct and catching all the details. With the exception of the TV forecasters saying "the way it looks right now..." there was no mention of the fact that IF the storm nudges just a little farther inland, even 50 miles, the major I-95 cities are looking at 6 inches of snow. That's a guaranteed close for most Baltimore metro schools.

I think in these close call situations, you should at least alert the public of the possibility it could be more instead of downplaying it and hoping it all works out.

Roundup of the Baltimore evening TV weather guys early call on snow in the metro area:

Norm Lewis: 1-2 inches
Bob Turk: trace to 1 inch
Tom Tasselmeyer: 1-3 inches
Foot: 2-3 in metro, 3-4 south and east

We shall see who comes out on top. I'll skip a late night post and let the NWS digest the recent model runs. I've seen them, the question is, have they?
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- a quote from the City of Angels, not from mw wife, according to her.

4:00 PM - REVISIONS TO THE FORECAST BELOW are noted in bold.

For you powderhounds out there who are clamoring for a storm, I know it can get distressing and time-consuming to go flipping back and forth between the Weather Channel, the local news and the internet to see what everyone is saying about this storm. So that is the reason for the headline today. I realize I had to flip flop around earlier in the week, and at one point called the whole thing off, but looking back, I should have held my ground because the expected weather pattern finally did come around.

Just a historical footnote being that it is President's Day... I'm sure you all remember waking up a year ago today to 18-24 inches of snow along the East Coast depending on when you live. My back still remembers.. that's why we have a snowblower now. If you want to relive the fun, check out the online photo gallery for the Blizzard of 2003 at the link to the left. Go to the second or third page and you will see the gallery link.

Now back to the discussion. Instead of trying to play "catch me if you can" games with the computer models, I have decided to err on the side of my previous experience with storms like this and simply stick with my forecast, which is outlined below. I caution you that I might refine it slightly later today. But if I were to go solely based on the models, it would drive us all nuts because every 6 hours there would be a different forecast.


Overall, if you live along the I-95 corridor, you have already seen the weather service and the TV stations inch the snowfall potential farther west with time. Because that's what the models have been doing. Eventually the TV weather people will have to throw up their hands and say, yes, the big cities will see snow.

All the pieces are falling into place to develop this storm along the Carolina coast Tuesday morning, then move it north to a position off Hatteras by Tuesday night. Then it slows down and move north-northeast along New Jersey and south of Nantucket before exiting east of Cape Cod.

Central PA: Nut 'n' Honey. A few high clouds, otherwise sunny to party cloudy.

DC to southern Baltimore: This region is from DC north along 95 to where it intersects 695, and then northeastward through the city to Route 1 on the other side. Draw a line from Middle River straight west to Route 1, and that is the northern extent of this region. The farther south or east you are of this line, the more likely you'll see heavier snow.

My overall accumulation forecast for this region is 3-4 inches with a few localized areas in Anne Arundel County and southeast Baltimore County closing in on 5" before it is all over.

In this region, the snow should start breaking out in the late afternoon to around sunset Tuesday, and be light and intermittent. The storm redevelops somewhat overnight, so a heavier burst of snow should be seen in the early morning hours, then a gradual taper to flurries by mid-morning. By noon, all snow will have stopped, skies are clearing and a stiff north wind brings in chilly air for rest of the day.

Baltimore to Philadelphia: This is the region starting at Middle River on west to Route 1, and then everywhere north and west of that line, including Overlea, Towson, Cockeysville and western Baltimore County. Use Route 1 as the eastern perimeter, and then travel along 1 to the Blue Route (476) exit in Philly. The farther north or west of you are of this line, the less likely you will see heavy or even moderate snow.

My accumulation forecast for this region is 2-3" with a few localized areas in eastern Baltimore county from Middle River to Joppatowne closing in on 4" There is always a chance this storm slows enough that the clockwise flow of the high shoves the storm more toward the coast. In this region, the snow should start breaking out from south to north, after sunset in eastern Baltimore county, later in the evening in Harford and Cecil, and around midnight in the Philadelphia area. If you live west of 95, you will not see much at all, maybe an inch or so. Snow will be light and intermittment at first, get a little heavier, and then taper off towards morning.


Central PA: Uhh, you're going to school. Yeah, okay.

Anne Arundel County on south: These areas have the greatest chance of a full snowday. As amounts will be at or above the 4" criteria which is usually what's needed for a day off.

Howard County and Baltimore County: No early dismissal Tuesday. Due to the intermittent nature of the snow overnight, I think you will see a 2-hour delay Wednesday. But since the snow may still be falling when they make the call at 5:00 AM, there will be a re-evaluation at 7:00 AM. If snow is still falling and the radar shows it is going to continue past 9:00 AM, then both counties will be forced to close. Baltimore City is going to follow whatever the county will do.

Frederick, Carroll: All y'all are not going to see much, probably not even a delay.

Harford, Cecil: A 2-hour delay seems prudent as you will be on the western fringe of the accumulating snow.

Philadelphia City Schools: A 2-hour delay is likely, but they will probably not close unless the snow moves farther inland than expected.

Philadelphia suburbs: May not even see a delay, perhaps in Delaware County but unlikely in Chester County.

AND TO CONCLUDE... here is your latest tip for beating winter-related stress:

# 4. When weather forecasters say there is a 40 percent chance of snow, it means there is a 60 percent chance it won't snow.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

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- Blue Swede, from the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs

This forecast discussion is for the I-95 corridor. Central PA is still going to watch the fun from a distance.

The arctic express has arrived, and you'll notice throughout today that despite the bright sunshine, temperatures will continue to drop as the wind picks up. This cold blast will hang tough into Monday, and you all know that cold air is denser and heavier than warm air, so it will take longer to "scour out." As the high slowly departs on Tuesday, computer projections show the classic cold air damming signature behind.

That means cold air will continue to filter down the east side of the Appalachians, and the way all the systems are lined up, the incoming warm air is not coming from the southwest and south like previous storms. Thus there is no over-running warm air over cold air, which caused the sleet and freezing rain situation earlier this month. And there are a whole host of other little details that on the first glance are not that serious, but when combined with the cold air produces a significant snow event.



The westward leaning models bring the storm closer to the coast, forming off S. Carolina Monday night-Tuesday and then north on Tuesday. The onset of snow would be from southwest to northeast... starting Tuesday night in DC and Baltimore, early Wednesday morning in Philly, and Wednesday late morning to noon in New York. The commute Wednesday morning will be a disaster from DC on north since the snow will become steadier and heavier throughout the day. It will end late Wednesday with some clearing, and temps below freezing Wed night. Although your NWS forecasts on the left links make it look like we will get buried from Tuesday through Wednesday, in theory they are only calling for a 30-40% chance of snow, which is to say: "It's probably gonna snow, we just don't know how much right now."

The eastward leaning models have the storm forming off S. Carolina, and bring the snow along the Del-Mar-Va, but then take it out to sea from there. The best you would see is clouds and flurries... a busted storm forecast and everyone goes to school Wednesday with a light dusting on the ground. I have a real problem with this projection. My reasoning is that the US-generated "GFS" (Global Forecast System) model, often preferred by the NWS, has been very inconsistent for several days on the storm. This model projects the arctic high over our area now to be shoved off the Maine coast before the storm moves up the coast. This would allow the storm to move out under the high, thereby taking it out to sea. Baltimore-Philly is then grazed with flurries only. However, this was part of the problem with the forecasts for the blizzard last year. Once the snow started falling last February 16, do you remember how the TV stations kept upping the accumulation amounts? The reason for that was the forecasters underestimated the speed of the cold high moving out. Because it ended up "getting stuck" and nosed out into the Atlantic instead of moving off the coast, the moisture loaded low had nowhere to go. The combined easterly flow of the high and low brought in more moisture right into the cold air, and whamo.. you had a crippling snowstorm.

You'll notice the Philly area weather service has come out of the gate with a special weather statement that basically puts it all on the table. Baltimore is calling for snow, but being reserved about it. The difference is in the computer models. One shows a raging snowstorm from DC to Boston Tuesday night into Thursday morning. The other shows a glancing blow with more snow in Del-Mar-Va and nothing in New England. So the best they can do right now is a compromise. The other reason they are holding back is the infamous March 2001 superbust. It was the first week of March 2001, of the 12 or more computer models, 11 were calling for the storm of the century. Massively heavy snow from Richmond to Boston... 2-3 feet, gale force wind, bitterly cold... a winter's Armaggedon. What actually happened? 2-3 inches followed by partly cloudy.

So the weather service sees that we are between a President's Day 1979 major miss and a March 2001 major hit. I have to tell you that as the title for today reads, I'm hooked on a feeling that there are too many atmospheric rules in play that this storm, once it formed, cannot be denied. I think you are going to see gradual uptick in the snowfall forecast from the NWS and the TV stations as we progress through the next 48 hours. My rules for why are listed below.

This storm is demonstrating the factors necessary to deliver a Fabulous February. Consider:

1. A low moving north to northeast is going to bring in moist air from the Atlantic ahead of it due to counter-clockwise flow.

2. A high moving east will also bring in moist air from the Atlantic due to clock-wise flow.

3. Combined these two forces and run that moisture into solidly parked cold air along the coast, and you have a raging snowstorm.

4. The big kahuna is if the high slows down or noses into the Atlantic, you'll have a slowing low that cannot penetrate the wall of cold air in front of it.

The result? What was going to be a 4 inch+ storm, turns into a 8-12 or more. So stay tuned and check back often. The next update will be late this afternoon after the computer models make another run.

To conclude, we go on to Tip # 5 on how to beat winter-weather stress:

5. When forecasters say: "We're tracking the storm," it means they don't know what is going to happen.


Saturday, February 14, 2004

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-David Lee Roth of Van Halen in the album titled 1984

Today's title means that the weather service is resigning itself to the fact that despite their attempts to look for every possible reason why this storm will not happen, it's gonna happen. So we might as well JUMP into the forecast. That is reflected in the recent updates to the NWS links on the left. Philly and Baltimore are now calling for snow Tuesday night and Wednesday.

But you knew that already. Let me issue a "gee, aw shucks" alert and say that the nice comments are very encouraging, I appreciate everyone's input and fun blurbs. Your stories about how people have reacted to this site are so interesting and diverse! I did want to reassure my department chair, Ms. Evans...that yes, Mrs. Foot and I, along with her brother and his wife are going to have an evening out, now that Grandma is here. The fun of this is that with Grandma Kaye here (my mother-in-law), she can watch the baby, my wife helps her, and I'm secretly in a corner blogging. What a great arrangement!

But I digress. A special word of caution to teachers out there, especially those at block-scheduled A-B day schools. Next week is going to be, shall we say, convoluted. Teachers, you had better take work home Tuesday night just in case... but I would be planned for Wednesday if things don't work out where you live. For Baltimore County teachers, remember the general rule of thumb on snowday closings. This is not a BCPS policy, this just seems to be the guideline over the past few years...
4 inches = 1 day out, 8 inches = 2 days out, 12 inches = 3 days out.

The Baltimore-Philly area:
There are more and more indications in the atmosphere that the storm is going to do more than just graze the coast. The problem the forecasters have realized is that if the computer models have already projected a fairly hefty storm rolling up the east coast for Tue night - Thursday, and it is still 5 days away.... what are the chances that the models miss the actual track of the storm by 50 miles? Or 150 miles? That difference turns a coastal grazer (flurries, wind, rain) into a coastal dumper (5-10 inches or more). The current liquid equivalents are again in the .50 to 1.25 range, which is why I can say with confidence that overall snowfall totals from DC-Baltimore-Philly will range 5 to 10 inches depending on how fast it moves. A quick mover is going to drop barely 5 inches, a slow mover will deliver 12 inches in some areas.

Central PA? Sorry charlie, your song title for today would be "From a Distance..." by Bette Midler. Because that's all you're going to get from this one, the chance to watch the storm from a distance.

And to conclude... here is today's tip for beating winter-related stress:

6. For the rare times stores cannot open during a storm, use all those canned goods you've been keeping in the back of the kitchen cabinet. If you go online, you can find many interesting recipes for garbanzo bean and tuna salad, red beet and pumpkin puree. Enjoy those ramen noodles you bought at the 4-for-$1 sale. Remember: Pitted black olives make excellent snacks straight from the can - or you can stuff them with garbanzo beans. Improvise and have fun, the experts say.

Tip # 5 is coming Sunday morning. By tomorrow we should see a Special Weather Statement out by the weather service for the Tuesday night-Wednesday event.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2004

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- Jim Lovell, Apollo 13

This is being written Friday late evening as the newest computer models have just come in and are being digested by forecasting agencies around the country. When Paul Kocin (the guy with the gravelly voice) goes on the Weather Channel to say there is a risk of a significant event with frozen precipitation, you know it's serious.

I will not have a chance to analyze the situation again until Saturday afternoon. So if you are reading this then, it's a good bet the cat will be out of the bag by that time. I hope this does not become a case of double reverse negative, where I have to back off on backing off. But here's what is shaping up... it's a classic case of Dejavu all over again.


1. I am going to have to re-un-backpedal on my earlier statement that there would NOT be a big storm this week. It looks as though what I said below about "I hope I don't have to come back on this site and throw out everything I just said" is true. We ARE probably going to get a big storm this week.

2. We may be looking at a classic 1979 style storm setup, only this time, we know it will happen instead of being a surprise for millions of people. After the warm weather on Saturday, it'll probably still be a surprise anyway. Three of the major computer models are now converging on a solution that produces a major winter storm on the Mid-Atlantic coast Tuesday night. The reason why is below:

3. The northern stream is delivering a super cold arctic high on Sunday. As was projected on this site, the high is not going to move out as fast as originally thought. Secondly, the remnants of the high that was sinking into the Gulf is helping to create a ridge of COLD air from the south to the northeast.

4. What I didn't realize until today was that when you get the effect of an arctic high to the north and a modifying cooler high to the south in Texas, the Pacific stream coming across Mexico is deflected under the Texas high. But when the northern high begins to depart, it not only is going to leave behind that classic signature of COLD AIR FILTERING DOWN THE APPALACHIANS, but the clockwise flow coming off the ocean noses the jet stream back in towards the coast.

5. As that happens, moisture is drawn into a wedge between the two highs, naturally producing a low. This follows the old adage we use in my classroom all the time... "air always flows from high to low."

So the official word is that everything I had discussed in earlier posts is being resurrected. Go to the archives on the left and read the post starting after "FABULOUS FEBRUARY" and the description for "Storm #1" also please my analysis of this storm as compared to February 1979. It looks as though it all may come true after all.


- If it is snow, areas from DC to Philly are looking at 5-10 inches Tuesday night and most of Wednesday.
- Snowfall rates will be several inches an hour at the height of the storm.
- School will be closed Wednesday and possibly Thursday depending on snow amounts.
- A brief warm up will follow the storm, accelerating snowmelt but causing refreezing at night.
- If it is rain, it will be .5 to 1.0 inches of fast-falling, wind-driven rain over 12 hours.

So to lighten the mood a bit as we head into the next winter adventure, here are more "Tips for Reducing Winter-Related Stress"

7. Despite what you may hear on TV, if bad weather is approaching, there is no real need to stock up.
Granted, people had to stock up in the past - say, in 16th-century France - because there were no 7-Elevens. There weren't even any Giants. Today, a wide selection of food stores are usually close by. This explains why folks today don't have root cellars and why they don't keep 50-gallon barrels of salted cod tucked under the stairway. Fresh food is readily available, the experts say. A warning: In isolated instances, due to inclement weather, you may have to leave the car at home and walk to the store.
On the bright side, it's a story you'll be able to tell your grandchildren.

6. To be posted on Saturday.

In conclusion... here's a roundup of what area NWS offices are saying behind the scenes. And oh by the way, we are at the proverbial 5 days before the storm. Guess what the NWS forecast is for Philly or Baltimore on Wednesday? Partly Cloudy, 40 F.




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- Doctor Zhivago?

I only have a few minutes as I have several things going on this evening... but suffice to say... hold on to your seats. The computer models are really having a tough time trying to resolve the rapid warmup coming Saturday followed by a supercold invasion of arctic air. Meanwhile the southern stream is still going NUTS... just loaded with moisture. And now the weather service is HINTING as rain/snow Tuesday night, which is when we said it would originally happen in the first place. Check your NWS link to the left and click on the location nearest you to see what I mean.

I would like to err on the side of not hype-casting and say that the computer models are more advanced than they were in 1979, so it is likely they will catch this storm before it blows up.

But in honor of Valentine's Day... there could be a big snowstorm lurking out somewhere my love. I remind you that in 1979, 1983, 1993 and 1996... the forecast even 3 days before those huge storms ranged from partly cloudy to flurries. I am not kidding.

I especially liked a newspaper article I saw years later from the 1979 storm, where it wrote that a woman called the TV station and asked the weatherman to come to her house and shovel the 6 inches of "partly cloudy" off her driveway. Gosh let's hope that doesn't happen...remember most schools are out of snow days.

I have to do more research on this tonight so check back later in the weekend. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

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- Frank Sinatra

A summary of what will and will not happen over the next 7 days in the I-95 corridor.

1. Be unseasonably warm Saturday, tricking the croakuses (sp?) into an early bloom.
2. Become extremely cold Sunday and Monday. Highs in the 10's north (PA) to 20's south (MD). Folks in PA are go to approach 0 by Monday morning.
3. Stay relatively dry throughout, with at most some flurries here and there.
4. Warm up a little as we go into next week.

1. A big storm next week as previously forecasted. The northern and southern stream both have the capability to deliver a massive storm, given all the elements discussed below. But they are not going to merge off the east coast for a while due to the interference of a High sinking from the Rockies into the Gulf Coast.

2. A major computer model blunder that misses all the signals like it did for the February 1979 blizzard (remember that one folks?) For those of you born before 1970, we all went to bed Sunday night thinking it was cold and there'd be a little bit of snow. We woke up to 12 or more inches.

3. I come back on this site in 24 hours and tell you everything I just told you has to be thrown out because the strangers in the night (northern and southern streams) decided to link up after all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

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- Seven, by Sting in Ten Summoners Tales

This may be good news for some, bad news for others, and no news for many. The next seven days will determine for sure if we are safer to rely solely on computer modeling, or to trust our gut and keep a close eye on the computer in case it "misses the big one." I am not running away from my forecast. I will always give you the straight scoop, but it is important to understand that I will, from time to time, back off a forecast some if I think it needs more analysis. This is one of those cases. There are a few monkey wrenches being thrown into the atmospheric setup for a big snowstorm next week, thus delaying the development of this storm. The elements are still present to create a fairly massive storm in a matter of a few days, however those "few days" could be next week, or in two weeks. This time of the year, when big arctic highs charge southeastward and park in the Northeast, it is usually a tell-tale sign that something is rotten in Denmark. History is littered with huge storms that seemingly exploded out of nowhere, and with no accurate computer modeling to back up their formation. My concern is that I (and Accuweather forecasters) see too many mischevious games being played by the upper air systems to warrant an "all clear" signal that next week will be storm-free.

So first, let me review a little history about one such storm that the computer models blew... and when you read, you'll see how similar the setup then is to what's happening now. I'm talking about the President's Day Storm of 1979. Read on...the source is a private forecaster like myself in Virginia. The numbers in parentheses represent how many elements present then will also be present this coming weekend and into next week.

On the evening of February 18, 1979, the National Weather Service issued a forecast of a minor four inches of snow for the D.C. metro area by the following day's end. This forecast, which was largely based off of operational numerical forecast computer models, would later prove to be anything but accurate.

The last few weeks leading up to the President's Day holiday were exceptionally cold. (1) An extreme arctic anticyclone had established itself over the eastern two thirds of the nation. Numerous record low temperatures were established during this period. The anticyclone reached a maximum high pressure of 1050 mb. (2) Cold air began to bank up against the eastern slopes of the Appalachians by early the morning hours of February 18. A critical ingredient for a major East Coast storm was initiating as arctic air filtered down the seaboard. By 1200Z (700 AM EDT) on the morning of February 18, a very weak low formed along the northern extent of an inverted surface trough axis near Kentucky. This was the primary low. As this low, with its (3) apparent lack of respective air advectional features neared the Eastern Seaboard late in the day on the 18th of February, rapid secondary cyclogenesis occurred. The major winter storm formed off the Georgia, Florida coast and tracked northeastward. Exceptionally heavy snow developed from Richmond to New York City. Especially hard hit would be the Mid Atlantic states. The heavy snows would soon be accompanied by high winds and blizzard conditions.

(4) The area of low pressure did not attain an incredibly low central pressure, however its associated winds were enough to produce blizzard conditions overnight on the 19th in the Washington D.C. area. By dawn the next morning, residents were shocked to find well over a foot of snow on the ground with snow periodstill falling and drifts several feet high. Many people were reported to be trapped in their homes as high winds had drifted snow banks into their front doorways.

The National Weather Service missed this one big time. In fact, at the time, it was classified as the "one of the area’s worst forecasting disasters in recent history." Nearly everyone failed to accurately predict the incredible snow accumulations. As a result, this storm has been heavily studied by the nation's top winter weather analysts. The storm rekindled memories of The Knickerbocker Storm of 1922, which deposited 28 inches of snow in the Washington area. The President's Day Storm of 1979 is the last true blizzard the Northern Virginia area has experienced to date. The Superstorm or Storm of the Century of 1993 came very close to producing blizzard conditions in the extreme northern, mountainous regions of Loudoun and Clarke counties, but would prove unsuccessful in terms of meeting the temperature requirements.

A summary of the situations indicated above from the 1979 storm that are in place today:

(1) An extreme arctic anticyclone had established itself over the eastern two thirds of the nation. Numerous record low temperatures were established during this period. This same scenario will be in place this weekend...a very cold arctic high is going to dominate the weather from the Rockies to the East Coast by Sunday morning.

(2) Cold air began to bank up against the eastern slopes of the Appalachians by early the morning hours of February 18. A critical ingredient for a major East Coast storm was initiating as arctic air filtered down the seaboard. This is again forecasted to be the situation come Sunday morning from Maine to Georgia. It will be so cold that snow is expected in Dallas and Houston.

(3) apparent lack of respective air advectional features That is another way of saying the low responsible for the storm was weak and disorganized. Again, identical to what we have today. The computer models have been demonstrating great difficulty in resolving IF there will be storm next week. One day, the models show a monster off the Virginia coast, the next day they show nothing. That continued reversal of the forecast by the computer is highly suspect that something is indeed brewing. The fact that there is no discernable strong low pressure anywhere to speak of IS the reason why the computer keeping flipping back and forth.

(4) The area of low pressure did not attain an incredibly low central pressure This is a classic signal of past snowstorms on the East Coast this time of year.. they usually do not "bomb out" and become these hugely intense low pressures. The 2003 storm was very weak, pressure wise, it simply had a lot of moisture running into cold air.

February 11, 1983, which was 21 years ago Wednesday, is another example of one of the largest East Coast blizzards of the 20th century, where the computer models MISSED the whole thing until about the day before. That was the storm which got me interested in weather. Even three days before this monster which dropped 21.3 inches on Philadelphia... the weather service was calling for flurries. Baltimore had 23 inches, where 5 days prior the call was for partly cloudy skies. So you can see why I am nervous about just saying next week will be no big deal. It's this time of year, it's snow month, it's the middle of February, which has me concerned. This is when big storms blow up out of nowhere. Despite the fact that it is not an El Nino year, we are still at risk for a major winter event. It will just take some time to get all the players back together again... like the song says above: "Seven days, so many ways...."


I am saying, don't bank on a big storm yet, but don't rule it out. Two of the six major computer models do show a major event brewing for the east coast. But the US model, (the one that missed the 79 and 83 storms) is surprise, surprise, NOT showing a storms for next week... and that's why all your local and internet forecasts, including the weather channel, don't show anything either.

In conclusion... here is Tip #8 for beating winter-related stress:

8. Prolonged watching of Doppler radar has been known to cause cataracts in laboratory rats, the experts say. Just keep that in mind.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

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- last four lines of "Anywhere Is" by Enya

That's the challenge with late winter forecasting... we might be just beginning, we might be near the end. More and more indications in the atmosphere are lining up to say that we are headed for a very stormy and cooler (not necessary brutally cold) pattern to crash the February party the second half of the month. This little warm spell in the Northeast right now is just that... little, and a spell. I love warm weather anytime you want to send it my way, but I know in my bones that the warmer it is now, the colder it will be later. And the major players up above are entering their dressing rooms now and preparing for the stage call the middle of next week. The southern jet stream is just LOADED with moisture. You look for yourself on the NWS sites to the left and take a glimpse at the satellite. The southern stream these past 3 weeks has been busier than a rooster in a henhouse, and it shows no signs of letting up.

BOTTOM LINE? NO CHANGE TO THE STORM PROJECTIONS OUTLINED BELOW The atmosphere is setting up for a major East coast event Tuesday night into Wednesday of next week. The computer models do a "run" about twice a day, depending on the model. Their output is based on weather data observed from all over the world. The computer crunches the numbers for a few hours, and presto! out comes a detailed world-wide forecast complete with temperatures, precip, storms and more. The result? Almost every successive model run of the NWS GFS (Global Forecast System) is trending colder and snowier for the Mid-Atlantic next Tuesday night into Thursday. In fact, I could scare you with some of the data it is throwing out... like another 2 foot blizzard for Boston, 3 inches of snow an hour for 6 hours for Philly... all kinds of bizarre weather. But remember, this far out in time, the computer sees only the extremes. Once the event nears, it can refine it's projections and generate a more reasonable estimate.

But hey, at least it is fun to consider what could happen, ike DC-Baltimore snowfall estimates ranging from 4 to 12 inches, but I digress. So to conclude, I am going to feature a little humor piece provided by my weather-alert Mom up in the bustling metropolis of Paoli, PA outside of Philly. These are excerpts from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer a couple weeks ago, and it is hilarious.

A shovelful of tips to beat snow woes by Inquirer columnist Tom Ferrick Jr.
Experts have identified two great stresses we must face in the winter: (a) the weather, and (b) weather forecasts. Not necessarily in that order. To help you avoid stress, I have consulted experts - psychologists, psychiatrists, priests, ministers, personal trainers and one guru - and have come up with a list. (Experts and journalists always come up with lists. In fact, it's No. 1 on "The List of Things Experts and Journalists Always Come Up With.") so here is my patented and copyrighted...


10. Don't channel surf between stations during the weather segment. It will only make matters worse. Stick to one forecast, even if it's wrong. Trying to determine the average of accuracy among five or six forecasts could do serious neurological damage, the experts say.

9. When in doubt, use the weather forecast in the newspaper. It may be wrong, but at least it won't get you excited and upset. Besides, it's nice for a change to look at a weather map where the isobars don't move. If they do start to move, consult an ophthalmologist, the experts say.

Tune back in tomorrow for #8. Each day will feature a new selection, and they get funnier with time.

Monday, February 9, 2004

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That means just what it says:
- The Baltimore metro area will experience one of the longest stretches of less than 5 days of school in recent memory... Jan 12 was the start of the last full week of school... and the mayhem will not end until Monday March 8 or later.

- The next two weeks will feature a rapid return to winter, with 2... COUNT EM, 2 SNOWSTORMS for the Mid-Atlantic States. Yes, that includes Philly and Baltimore. Oh I can hear the powderhounds howling now. This is not wish-casting, this is not hype-casting, this is the real McCoy.

For those who want to think winter is over and it is time to start spring cleaning… please, by all means, begin now. We will never squelch hope and inspiration on this site. But for those who have decided on the sobering reality that is it barely the middle of February, you are better off accepting (or at least trying to believe) that the worst of winter may have not yet arrived.

Let’s deal with a few questions that many of you have first:

1. WILL WE GET ANOTHER BLIZZARD LIKE LAST YEAR? The answer is probably not. The reason is simple. The big storms of the 2002-03 winter were strongly influenced by El Nino off the west Mexican coast, among other factors. El Nino is the term used to describe what happens when the temperatures of the Eastern Pacific are warmer than normal over a several month period. What ends up happening in an El Nino year, if the right conditions are in place at the right time, is that the warm waters can more readily evaporate moisture. If the southern jet stream is active, meaning that it is moving quickly across Mexico and the Gulf Coast, it can rapidly move that moisture into regions which are favorable for storm development… the southern plains and Mississippi valley. The last piece of the puzzle is an arctic high pressure sinking southeastward from Canada… but not moving too fast. If a strong low pressure forms in the Gulf, brings that Pacific moisture with it, and rides the jet right into the arctic high…BANG you have a blizzard. Well, this winter, temperatures of east Pacific waters have been generally where they should be…not too hot and not too cold. Although the southern stream has been very active for 2 weeks or so, it does not have the high moisture content we saw in 2003. So the likelihood of another great big mongo 2-3 foot snowstorm is very, very slim.

2. SO WHY ALL THE ICE STORMS THIS YEAR? Once again, blame El Nino. I’m not sure I fully understand this part myself, but something weird happens in non-El Nino years. The lack of warm water off the Pacific coast somehow influences the movement of the southern jet stream. It is not as constant, and fluctuates from week to week, as we have seen this year. The result? Instead of every storm moving across the country delivering plain old snow to the northeast, (like in 2003) the southern stream will occasionally “cut up” through the Ohio Valley, so the storms we get are more ice and rain than snow. It would seem weird that a LACK of warm water in the Pacific would somehow turn into WARMER storms for the I-95 corridor. But that is one of those variables of the atmosphere. Figure that one out and you could run your own weather business.

3. SHOULD I RUN OUT AND STOCK UP ON BREAD, MILK AND SALT NOW? I think you can hold off with the bread and milk. Salt, you should definitely reload on that. And while you're at the store, pick up some chips and salsa so you have something to munch on the next few days while you curl up by the fire and read Foot's Forecast.

4. WHAT IS IT YOU ARE SAYING THEN? It takes a while for the atmosphere to finally get it’s act together and come up with a discernable pattern we Earthlings can detect and understand. You know us humans, always looking for a pattern. In November it was the “way warm” pattern, in early December it was the “early winter” pattern, followed by the late December “what winter?” pattern. January delivered what I call the “From Russia With Love” pattern as we saw classic cross-polar flow, better known as the Siberian Express. The last ice storm was basically the dying breath of that pattern, and now this little calm and partly cloudy interlude is simply the atmosphere reorganizing and RELOADING for it’s final extravaganza. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, as once the southern stream, the northern stream and an arctic high get into the act….well this is why some of us love storms so much. And this is why I personally love THIS time of year on par with sunny May, sultry July and glorious October. The next three weeks are guaranteed to be a full-fledged live concert event featuring all your favorite players from the entire winter wrapped into one big 3 week long mega, multi-storm pattern I can only call…


So here we go kids, put your seatbelt on and close your visor, cause as old Doc Brown would say “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” And come next week, you’ll see what I mean.

Storm # 1 – The stage is being set later this week and this weekend for a significant snow event to take shape in the middle of next week, either a Tue-Wed deal or a Wed-Thu deal which if it is enough would deliver a knock-out punch to the end of the week and turn Wednesday into a Happy Friday (especially for 12th graders… who could care less about how many snow days we get, they don’t have to make them up!). The synopsis is that you will see temperatures trend downward later in the week, and get quite cold this weekend as another arctic high begins settling into the region. But wait! There’s more…. This is NOT your father’s arctic high. When I look at the computer model projections… the setup for next Monday is sneakingly similar to the setup for the blizzard, minus the big time moisture as we talked about above. So the high basically parks over New England and is one of those extenders. It extends all the way back to the central Canadian provinces. That means this high will have a fresh supply of cold air being redelivered… mmmm…right into the hands of a low pressure coming out of the Gulf, being charged up by… you guessed it...southern jet stream laded with moisture. The northern jet stream is meanwhile being tightened by the fact that it can’t go OVER the high, it can’t go THROUGH the high, so it has to squeeze UNDER the high… oooh, look, right into the hands of the southern jet stream which is sending on up to the Mid-Atlantic a….. BIG LOW PRESSURE.

So the point with Storm # 1, it is a classic southern storm caused by the tightening of the two jet streams, one delivering the cold air, the other delivering the moisture. The key element is the tightening has been projected to occur over the Mid-Atlantic.

How much snow and when? Early indications based on what is called QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts) are roughly .75 to 1.25 inches of liquid for the Baltimore-Philly area. So you do the math… 1 inch of rain is 10 inches of snow at 30 F, which is a 1:10 ratio. But if it is 20 F at the surface, the ratio becomes 1:20. The computer models are going to go through several incarnations of this storm for at least 3-4 more days before the weather service will begin paying serious attention to it. If the models remain gung-ho by Thursday, then by Friday the weather service will issue a Special Weather Statement saying ‘WINTER STORM POSSIBLE TUESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY.”

Storm # 2 - Will be similar to #1 but will feature a more westerly component, but that is well over 10 days away, so can't be too sure of it. Especially considering that computer models may not be incorporating a much denser and more southerly coverage of snowpack by then, which tends to change the ultimate output of their projections. Time frame is still a Feb 24-25 period.

I can be sure of one thing, only God and his weather department are the ones who truly know what will happen. But for now, we’ll take advanced computer modeling as our little piece of divine inspiration for those looking to have a big snowy grand finale to this winter.

Hence the title for this post....

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- Kenny Rogers

When everyone else has turned away, at least I know my wife will stand by my forecasts. So here is a BIG FIRST CALL from Foot's Forecast:

Baltimore County Schools will not see a FULL WEEK of school until the SECOND week of March.
Now part of that forecast is a no-brainer, consider the calendar recently:

Week of:
- Jan 19: Martin Luther King Day, no school Monday, half day Friday 1/23
- Jan 26: No school Mon-Tue-Wed, 2 hour delay Thu 1/30
- Feb 2: No school Tue, 2 hour delay Wed, No school Fri 2/6
- Feb 9: No school Fri (teacher inservice)
- Feb 16: No school Mon (President's Day), school at risk on 17th or 18th (possible storm)
- Feb 23: school at risk middle of the week (possible storm...just in time for MSA testing!)
- Mar 1: No school Tue 3/2 (primary day)

That is probably the longest stretch of disrupted school time since the infamous winter of 1994.
Mark your calendar with my projections and we'll see how accurate it turns out to be.

Sunday, February 8, 2004

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The pattern of snow and ice storms is over for the next 7 days, however we are not likely to see the "February Thaw" take it's place. Temperatures are expected to remain at or a little below normal. That means highs in Baltimore and Philly in the upper 30s to around 40. In Central PA closer to the low-mid 30s.

The next earliest indication of a major storm looks to be the week following President's Day. Sometime after Feb 18. The middle of February is well-known for ... big crippling snowstorms. If it does happen, this looks to be a fast moving, moisture-laden system. Liquid equivalents are well above 1 inch, so if it is snow, it'll be a whopper. But there is an equal enough chance for this to be rain. The reason is due to the storm track this winter has trended through the Ohio Valley, which has delivered 3 successive ice-rain storms in a row for our area. However, computer models are famous for changing their tune daily on something this far out in time.

But there is plenty of time to study this situation if it does develop. It also appears that there will be no repeat of the President's Day Blizzard.

Thank God the quiet weather arrived now. Mrs. Foot and I both got whipped by the flu this past weekend, first me, then her. It gave us new appreciation for single parents, for we both admitted it would be doubly hard for them to manage, especially when they are sick. So I suggest you all rest up and recover yourselves, because one thing we can all be sure about...winter is definitely not over.

Much colder temperatures are set to make a comeback around the 15th, so this quiet, mild period will be short-lived. Hence the title for today's post. So enjoy the peaceful days now.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

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- Smashmouth

This storm definitely broke the mold as it defied all usual expectations of a winter storm this time of year. By February, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are taught to accept big snows as the traditional storm type. We all should thank God and our lucky stars this storm did break the mold. Had the temperature been a few degrees colder for a few hours longer, it would still be snowing. When it finally would have stopped, anyone from DC to Philly would have 2 feet or more of heavy, wet snow to dig out. So I consider it a bonus we've had several days off that did not involve back-breaking shoveling which leaves you drained anyway. Then you need another non-snow day to recover from the snowday.

Looks like everyone got anything they wanted at Alice's Restaurant.

Friday, February 6, 2004

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We've just accomplished a clean sweep of the Baltimore Metro Area, all counties in the immediate area have closed. Some history for you:

1. Three months ago today, November 6, was the end of one of the warmest first week in November in mid-Atlantic history. High temperatures from the 1st to the 6th ranged from 81 F on 11/1 to 78 F on 11/6. This huge imbalance in the amount of heat and cold in the Northern Hemisphere, I believe set in motion the "backlash pattern" was responsible for causing the extreme and extended periods of cold air and snow we've seen in December, January and into February.

2. Six months ago today, in the early morning hours, our baby daughter Jayla was born on August 6. So it is a triple happy Friday as we get to celebrate her birthday, we get the day off, and we have Grandma and Grandpa who arrived last night to join in the celebration.

3. One year ago on this day, the first Friday in February (the 5th in 2003) schools were closed in the Baltimore and Philly areas with 7 inches which was the beginning of a 10 day pattern that resulted in the largest snowfall in the history of Baltimore, followed by a week off school. Then snow returned 10 days after that with another day off Feb 27th.

4. Ten years ago this winter was the infamous ice storms of January 1994. Some schools in Chester County, PA only saw a TOTAL of 4 days IN SCHOOL for the entire month of January. One district in particular (where my brother and I attended as kids) was Tredyffrin-Eastttown, which ended up extending the school year to June 30. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. I know all our readers in PA remember that winter. In State College one day that winter, the high temp did not get above 0 F, and the low was -27 F one morning on the way to class at Penn State.

So enjoy your day off, again. But remember, the school calendar remind us... "either pay me now or pay me later." For most of us along the I-95 Corridor, we will probably not have a full week of school for the entire month of February. The southern jet stream locked into a pattern in mid-January that will deliver snow and ice problems for schools over the next several weeks. Consider the pattern in Baltimore:

Jan 26-29: Closed due to snow, delay on Jan 30
Feb 3: Closed due to ice
Feb 6: Closed due to ice
Feb 11-12: Another snow/ice storm in the pipeline, which will may delay or close schools for one day
Feb 16: President's Day, but another storm arriving on the 17th