Tuesday, February 17, 2004

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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