Thursday, January 20, 2005

SOME THINGS ARE TRUE
WHETHER YOU BELIEVE THEM OR NOT

That would be the line for the National Weather Service this morning. These people do work very hard and are very good at what they do, it is just a matter of interpretation. Who among us is interpreting the computer models the most accurately? Only time will tell. If I am wrong and this is a major bust, I will be glad to post for all to see a picture of me wearing my bag, which I have worn a couple times so far this winter. Today's post will be the last detailed analysis on this storm, as I go into trip mode for a departure to Seven Springs Ski Resort in western PA. I will post from out there sometime Friday night. Read over the previous columns to understand the evolution of the storm.

Here is the morning picture show to drive home my point that this will be in the top ten or twenty all time big snows for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, similar to January 1996, though not as much snow. I still see the signs that could turn this from a pesky 12" snowfall into a monstrous 24" wipeout for much of the battleground zone I have outlined above. The best indicators of how this will play out in your backyard are going to be:

1. QPF results (Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts) Bookmark that site and check it about every 6 hours.

2. Surface and upper air temperatures. If you notice Saturdays temperatures start out much colder than the forecast, prepare for a lot more snow.

So let me lay it out this way:

HOW THIS COULD BECOME A BIGGER MONSTER As discussed in detail Wednesday, if the liquid equivalents end up a lot higher than we expect, due to enhancement from the Gulf and the Coastal low being slower and closer, then this can easily double to a 24" storm for "the zone" indicated above. If the expected handoff from the Midwest Low to the Coastal low occurs quickly, that allows for faster development and solid 24 hour period of snow. This is where you get the big prizes of 38 inches in York County such as in the 96 Blizzard as reported by an alert reader.

HOW THIS COULD BECOME A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT Though this is not as likely, it is possible that for some unknown reason, the western Low stays stronger, and burns out all it's snow on the Appalachians. It's happened before, and powderhounds should always be on guard that western origin storms are suspect for not panning out as we think they will. The eastern moisture never gets into the act, and the coastal Low is weak, forms too far out to sea, or never forms. What was going to be 12-18 inches ends up just 3 or 4 in the big cities and the real story is the lake effect snow in western PA and MD. Again this is highly unlikely.

So now is the time to begin preparing, for the snow will arrive in western PA Saturday morning, central PA and MD by noon Saturday, eastern PA and MD by Saturday afternoon.

A quick early evening post tonight, another brief morning picture show Friday AM, and then it is off to the races!


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