Tuesday, February 3, 2004


- Engelbert Humperdink (thanks to Ms. Evans at Dundalk High for the tip)

A few readers have asked if it is possible to post comments. I am trying to make that happen as soon as I can, as it would be a useful way to gauge your reaction to the validity of the forecasts. Hey, if there's something you'd like to see posted in the "links" section or you want a particular topic discussed, please email me anytime.

So you're wondering when we will get "released" from the grip of this this stormy pattern? Not for a while my friend. Wednesday and Thursday will be a brief but welcome respite from the parade of storms.

And...before we move on to the NEXT storm, some lessons learned from Baltimore’s February 3 FlopStorm:

1. Computer models are having a tendency to speed up the arrival time of these storms. With that in mind, I am scaling back the onset of precip for the next storm until 6 AM Friday. This timing issue is essential. The later arrival time of precip causes the early morning sun to warm cloud tops a bit, which in turn results in cutting back on the storm’s ability to deliver sleet. Surface boundary layers remained cold as forecasted on Tue 2/3, but the late arrival is what made this more of a rain event for the southern areas of Baltimore County due to the enhanced warming in upper levels, which translated into a rise above freezing in lower levels.

2. There is a delicate balance to be found between how much warm air intrudes and how much cold air can be “scoured out” by it. The same setup looks to be in place for Friday morning… cold air filtering down the valleys and coastal plain, while warm, moist will be driven up the coast. The difference this time is the lack of an Ohio Valley “cutter” which cuts up through the lakes and robs the eastern storm of it’s power. This is forecast to be a basic Tennessee Valley low that aims for SE Virginia by Friday afternoon.

3. The high pressure on 2/2-3 was not located in the best spot to deliver enough cold air, although we did see periods of sleet and freezing rain as forecasted. Thursday night, the high is projected to be farther west, and colder than this one. That difference of a couple hundred miles makes for continental polar air versus maritime polar air

The big winners: State College and Altoona are on track to receive 9 to 12 inches of snow, and schools are closed, including Penn State. At one point, State College area reported 4 inches of snow IN ONE HOUR. Feast on that, you powderhounds.

The scrimmage: Baltimore Area…we didn’t see as much ice or snow as expected, but at least you got the day off. Don’t complain when July 4 rolls around and we are still in school.

The big losers: Philadelphia Area… later onset of the storm allowed schools to open before precip began. So some students up there sat in class while is snowed outside. Now that is depressing.

With all that said…

Here is a preliminary look at the next storm scheduled to arrive early Friday morning. This is my estimate for the Baltimore Metro area based on current computer model projections. I am using the GFS (Global Forecast System) which is generally the model of choice by the NWS. The computer wants to bring the precip into the BAL area Thursday night... I disagree.

Friday 2 / 5
3 AM – Cloudy, a few flurries
6 AM – Light snow and sleet begins
8 AM – Snow changes to sleet and freezing rain
10 AM – Freezing rain turns to all rain from southeast to northwest
12 PM – Rain for everyone
2 PM – Rain changing back to snow
4 PM – Snow tapers to snow showers.

Given that Baltimore County (and Howard County too?) have now used all their snow days, I’ll predict school officials will try a two-hour delay first and then see how things go from there.

There are a few issues with this storm that may result in the Friday night-Saturday forecast changing a bit if we see this multiple low situation developing. Meanwhile, Baby Jayla is having her own wintry mix for lunch... a blend of apricots, plums, carrots and cereal. The real storm will come later this afternoon when we change her diaper.

Later this evening, I'll post a forecast report card, out of respect to my esteemed colleague and fellow Earth Science teacher, Mr. Fantasie... who called the snow amounts on this one much better than I.

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