Wednesday, December 14, 2005

THIS ICE WON'T BE NICE

Hey everyone I am sorry for the silence on Wednesday!! I am so frustrated. My blasted comcast cable modem was offline all day and I was totally disconnected from the internet. I had almost had seizures for being so unaware of the outside world, and The Weather Channel was not any help..the loca forecast seemed to conflict all day what the on air mets were saying. I am now clunking along with "super fast AOL 9.0" as a temporary backup at $6.00/hr. Hope to have problem fixed and a more detailed update out tomorrow, especially for readers from PA on north to MA. This post is primarily for first stage of the storm... in MD, VA and WV.

STORM SUMMARY REGARDING SCHOOLS: Most areas in central and western MD will see precip begin as snow between 8 and 10 AM, then quickly change over to sleet, which should continue for a long period... perhaps until 3 PM, when it will become freezing rain. The exception will be areas near the Chesapeake Bay. "Border towns" such as mine (Dundalk) that border water may escape significant icing, but travel just a few miles west of here and I think much of Baltimore City and Washington and all points north and west of I-95 will be a skating rink by Noon. Northern Baltimore County, Frederick, Carroll and even rural parts of Howard County are going to experience homeowner's insurance rate-busting ice accretion of 1/3 to 1/2 inch. Rule of thumb on this storm: It will get worse as day progresses.


I am still leaning toward a 4-day weekend for metro Baltimore schools, and this is NOT hype-casting or wish-casting. Most other districts in affected areas of PA, NY, and NE will be closed or delayed Friday only. This will be one of the toughest calls schools have faced in a long time. However, with half of Baltimore County under an "ICE STORM WARNING" (never seen that in my whole life) and even the Winter Weather Advisory sounds so scary I don't even want to venture out on my front step...Mother Nature might be making the decison for us. However, I see problems with the forecast and here's my concerns/scenarios:

1. First Scenario: As of 12AM Thursday morning, our storm is still way south and will take precip a while to reach and begin coating ground in Baltimore due to dry air factors. However evaporative cooling factor may impede a changeover to rain later in the day even for areas near the water. As a result, schools open on time, hedging against the hope that the atmosphere will warm enough to prevent an early dismissal before 2 PM, and hope that computer models overnight decide to back off the calls for 1/4-1/2 inch ice.


2. Second Scenario: However, an early dismissal would wreak total havoc with parents in that now they are fighting their frustration AND leaving work early AND icy roads AND bad traffic AND reduced visibility as conditions will be real bad county-wide by noon Thursday... and they'll ask "why didn't schools just close today."

3. Third Scenario: Tough spot for Districts ... but they "take one for the team" and close outright on the HOPE that the forecast for all this supposedly terrible ice coming our way actually shows up? Or will it be an embarrassing situation where schools close and the ice never materializes until...say 4 PM? (remember the dire Heavy Snow Warning of late Feb 05, the snow started at 10 AM, did not stick until 3PM). It is a difficult call to make anytime there is inclement weather as you WANT Mother Nature to make it obvious to everyone the basis of your decision. The hard part comes in trying to second guess as to what she will do in order to best protect your families, students and colleagues.


Based on the expected severity of this... I am leaning towards an all-out close for most of the Balto Metro area...incl the city, Howard, Frederick, Carroll, Harford. Cecil is not under a watch or warning so they might eek out a day. Then again, Howard County might just roll the dice like they always do. But I think districts will pull the trigger just for fear that students/parents/teachers may be caught in an ice storm on their way home..whether it is noon, 2pm or 4pm. Friday could end up being a 2 hour delay (expect for places like Frederick County MD on north to Bucks Co PA...you are certain to close on Fri). Read the text of the ice storm warning and it will terrify you if you have small children who normally walk home from school under trees or powerlines. I certainly hope that kids DO NOT go outside during the storm because real bad things can happen real fast in ice storms.

Thursday morning, provided I have been granted "extra time" to forecast, I will post a hourly precip estimate and storm track analysis for phase 2 of this event.. from PA to NE.

8 comments:

Mr. Foot said...

I finally got the internet fixed at Forecast Central.

Visit http://footsforecast.typepad.com for the most current update. Will be back shortly to do a in-progress review of the storm and what is in store for tonight and Friday, as well as next week.

Mr. Foot said...

Hey everyone...don't forget to report your obs. Seems like the snow started on time, but hung on longer and overall the entire event is shifted ahead by 3-4 hours. We have sleet/fz rain in Dundalk and the glaze has begun. I can only imagine what it must be/will be like in northern/western Balto county.

Hey WV..what's happening out there?

Mr. B..greencastle, what do you have?

Am working on a post regarding school on Friday. If parts of Balto Metro get 1/4 inch or ice or more, I think it will be a done deal. What do you all think?

Mr.B said...

Mr. Foot I have 2" of snow but at 3:20 has turned to sleet. I have a question. The precip looks like it is ending quickly out to the west will this fill in as the low pulls up the coast?

Julee said...

Pikesville had some LOVELY snow -- about 3/4 of an inch and now it looks like something freezing is going
on . . . sleet? freezing rain?
JUST heard the Weather Channel guy say that the rain is heading our way, but that north and west of Baltimore the snow will hang on longer and then they will get freezing rain. Didn't give a time frame.
Temp tomorrow supposed to be 42. Close school? I'm not so sure. They'd better give me time tomorrow morning to SCRAPE that ice!

Frank said...

Nothing yet here in CNJ. Temp is about 26 so far. Weather people said it was going to start about 2pm here. I guess they are off by a few hours. Don't know if this will be a good thing or not, good being a longer period of mixed precip.

wvmommyof4 said...

Harpers Ferry, WV (eastern panhandle)started out with snow, about an inch and then light sleet this afternoon. It was quiet for about the last hour and now it appears that the freezing rain has started. temps are about 25. Do you think we will also turn to all rain. Thanks for all of your updating I know you are a busy daddy.

Mr. Foot said...

Frank that could be a big problem as a later start time and now going into overnight hours will take longer for temp to rise. You might have a skating rink on your hands before long.

Julee...we are especially interested in your reports as that area is a key bellwether for what is happening with the ice. Keep reporting every hour on the hour if you can please...stay up all night if you have to, this is serious! No just kidding.

Mr. Foot said...

Mommy of 3... just thinking that scares me. What it must be like to be forever OUTNUMBERED by your kids! Ahhh the terror.

You are in for a big big big problem out there...changeover is unlikely until the very end and not before you've picked up at least 1/4 inch of ice or more. Barracade the doors and keep those kids inside, tell them the ice is evil and nasty!