I am working on the FINAL WORD of your snowfall totals and storm track information. Please understand that sometime I am at the mercy of the loading speed of my home network. Sometimes blogger zips it right along, other times it crawls for reasons I do not know. So if it appears to be taking a while, I am not lounging on the coach watching Seinfeld or the Oscars. I am working on the update and will post it in pieces as it becomes available.
THE WHY OF THE FORECAST: I am confident of these numbers for a few simple reasons. The New York Times reported earlier today that meteorologists from HPC stated that initialization data for the North American Mesoscale Model (the NAM) was incorrect and thus the reason why the model has been trending so far west. I learned this from a statement made by Elliot Abrams at Accuweather, who reported the news story this evening. So what we have here is many many forecasters hedging their data and their predictions because they are hinging everything on the NAM because it has peformed so well this year. What they (and Paul Kocin) may not know at this late hour is that the DATA FOR THE NAM WAS CORRUPTED, AND HENCE THE CORRUPTED FORECAST FOR A WESTWARD TRACK. So yeah, the GFS may have scored big time with this storm, but the losers are the public as they have been getting bad information all day long. You notice this because someone earlier today in our comments link said "Wow, the forecast went from rain to a foot of snow in 12 hours!"
My other reasons are outlined on the Observation Map posted above. I think this storm is going to surprise, delight and stress us out in more ways than we can know right now. The major cities could still get 1 - 2 feet of snow out of this, and interior sections from Virginia to Maine could also see that much for different reasons. Overnight tonight, some weird things are going to start happening, and some areas might wake up to a Blizzard Watch with 12 -20" in their forecast. I will hunt down and find that article and post it for you here.
TIMING : This will be a heavy wet snow for all locations, so downed power lines and outages are likely along with strong winds blowing and drifting the snow around. Time of arrival will be, as Eric Clapton would say "After Midnight" from Washington to Baltimore, by sunrise in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, by noontime in New York, by sunset in Boston.
NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND / DOWNEAST MAINE I am looking at this area more closely for the possibility of either a hurricane-like rainstorm or a major blizzard, depending on track of low and speed of upper level system.
THE HOW OF THE FORECAST
1. Storm Grade Totals for certain locations, but not all, as representative amounts will come out first thing tomorrow morning after I see "Baltimore County Closed" on the bottom of my TV screen. I may revise my final numbers up or down an inch or two before settling on straight line call.
2. THREE SCENARIOS...ONE WILL COME TRUE:
A) DAY AFTER TOMORROW, PART 2. The most crippling snowstorm the Northeast has ever known since the post-WW II era. How? The high over NY State, which was not forecasted to be there AT ALL by now, gets squeezed between the west-southwest retrograding Labrador Low, and the northeastward moving Gulf Low. The result is that cold subpolar air is directed out into the Atlantic, swings back around, runs into the Low. This squeeze effect wrings every last drop of water out of the sky and we have 12 to 36 inches in the major cities, with higher amounts in land. School is shut down an entire week from DC to Boston.
B) WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE. Our catacyclismic storm never happens because the low level dry slot of air working into the storm from Texas as seen on satellite is forceful enough to shunt the storm too far out in the Atlantic. We see a repeat of March 2001, where forecasts for 12-36 inches in major cities never materialized, and instead they got 2-3 inches. Extreme coastal areas get blasted with a blizzard, and students are back in school Tuesday asking, "where did the big storm go?"
C) RAINY NIGHTS AHEAD. Our big snowstorm turns into a big rainstorm and The high pressure being squeezed by the Labrador low has the opposite effect, and directs warm moist air in from the Gulf Stream ahead of the storm. The combined effect of the ESE winds plus the high pressure inflow channels the storm back toward the coast, and snow changes to rain with a total washout in the major cities.
SO WHICH ONE? AND HOW DO YOU KNOW?
Obviously if you've been following this site, you know we've been leaning on Option A for weeks now. My proof is...
1. Negative NAO. Go look for yourself. It is unbelievably low, and argues for a massive crippling storm and super cold 10-20 degrees below normal. Think January temps in March and you've just about got the idea.
2. Negative SOI. When the Southern Oscillation Index of air pressure changes in the South Pacific between Tahiti and Darwin, Austrailia crashes in early winter.. history shows that there is a massive storm on the east coast in February or March. The SOI is usually around -1 to -5. Last month? -30. That is phenomenally low, and argues for a big storm.
3. Constipation. That's right, the atmosphere has major blockage, and is simply constipated. The solution to that problem on a human scale, is... well, you know. Do something about it. On an atmospheric scale, when the Azores High near Africa/Spain noses it's way into Greenland, the Icelandic Low is shifted very far west, this in turn sends the Labrador Low over by the East Coast. All this means the atmosphere is constipated. The normal flow odf air currents is totally off kilter, and the only way to fix it is with a big storm, the equivalent of an enema, right? The combination of these factors directs the Northern jet stream toward the Mid-Atlantic. In contrast, all those hurricanes in Florida stirred up the water off the coast, making it colder than normal. That in turn created a large stable high pressure system, which ends up directing the subtropical jet northward over time. Get these two pixies together, throw in cold Canadian air, and you've got yourself....
A BIG KAHUNA, WHICH WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR WEEKS NOW, AND HERE IT IS.
Previous post from this afternoon is below:
- Han Solo, as he approached enemy ships in Star Wars
WILL THIS PICTURE BELOW REPEAT ITSELF? Or will we be writing a new chapter in storm history as March roars in with the Mother of all Lions and a Big Kahuna strapped to her back.
This photo was taken Sunday evening February 16, 2003 by the author, around 10 PM at Dundalk High School in Baltimore County, MD during the height of the 2003 Blizzard. While millions more are obviously impacted by storms than just the schools, many customers of this site are members of the school community.
It was the start of an incredible week that will live on the memories of many teachers, students and administrators for the significant ripple effect that storm had on the rest of the school year. Everyone up and down the East Coast had their plans altered in many ways as a result of this storm, spring break plans were canceled or changed, graduations moved, rescheduled, finals were affected, the school year extended. Summer work crews had one LESS week to prepare buildings for the 03-04 school year, it was a mess.
We might be looking at a repeat of that, or worse, a SURPASSING OF IT. I am working on as simplistic of an explanation as I can make it for what might turn out to be either:
A) The most crippling snowstorm the Northeast has ever known since the post-WW II era
B) Scenario A plus the beginning of the worst 2 week period of winter we have seen since the post World War II era, replete with storm after storm to pretty much cancel spring right out of March altogether
C) A big busted storm forecast this time that simply sets the stage for Scenario A to play itself out again in about 7-10 days.
I am very concerned we are going into a weather pattern that is going to make the disruptions of the February 2003 storm look like a holiday. So if you are a teacher, administrator, athletic director reading this... ask yourself: What adjustments to the schedule would need to be made if we (schools from DC to Boston) are out for an entire week starting tomorrow?
If you are a family with children reading this, ask yourself: Based on your experiences of the last blizzard, what small ot medium preparations should you make so this time around it is not so difficult or you are more ready for the storm. Note that I am not talking about buying milk and bread, we are beyond that now and into the realm of safety for your family.
Here's what the Foot Family will be doing if necessary come Monday morning:
- Marking the sump pump drain opening to our street with tall metal stakes in case there is heavy rain following the storm later in the month.
- Clearing gutters of leaves, debris. Our basement steps to the outside are covered so I dont't have to shovel 2 feet of heavy wet snow out of them, it took 2 hours last time.
- The snowblower is outside and covered. We have water frozen in bottles in the freezer in the event of power outages.
- Cell phones are fully charged, we also have a non-electric phone that will still work if there is no power.
- I know by now you think I am a little OCD over this, but believe me, I was too busy being excited about the last blizzard that I did not pay attention to the real needs of the home. Thus the whole week was spent playing catchup and fixup of the problems I could have prevented.
OK, you're not really concerned about work or home preparations, you just want to know how much snow? Well if you've been watching anything relating to weather the past 2 days, you know that every weather media outlet has been either been hedging all day long, or starting to lean towards the unfathomable...a crippling snowstorm in the I-95 major cities as well as most interior sections of all the Northeast states from North Carolina northward to Maine. The concern for this is evidenced by the National Weather Service having posted Winter Storm Watches from NC to Maine.
HOW MUCH SNOW?
I know you're going to scoff at this, but 12 to 36 inches is not impossible in the major cities if you consider how will have I arrived at that figure. It seems totally unrealistic but I have a scientific basis for both how that could occur AND how it could all bust and school is open for business Monday as usual. I will post those two scenarios for you before 5 PM. Then I am out for a few hours and will be able to answer your comments around 9:30 PM. I remind you this is my worst case outline, and NOT my FINAL WORD. That will have to wait until early tomorrow morning or late tonight. My EARLY WORD is at least 5 inches in the I-95 corridor, at least 8 inches north and west of the cities, but those numbers are going to change. Please don't holler and scream asking "HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THOSE NUMBERS?" because I will explain it to you. It is scribbled on a piece of paper right now, but it will take time to transfer into coherent thought and words on the screen with pretty graphics to boot.
SCHOOL? No changes to the ideas posted in the previous post. I will present both options...(SNOWSTORM, NO STORM) but I think no school Monday is a done deal.
HOW MUCH SNOW AGAIN? I already told you, 5" minimum in major cities, could be up to 1-3 feet in worst case scenario. Don't go bonkers, just be prudent and prepared for it, so you can enjoy it.
HOW BAD WILL IT GET? Could be very strong winds, downing trees and power lines with the heavy snow on it, coastal and tidal flooding, beach erosion, reduced to limited visibility, etc. Basically what I forecasted about BIG KAHUNA 2, oh about a month ago. Check the archives back to January 31. OK, so I missed on the dates by a couple weeks, but at least it is fun to consider that we knew the atmospheric pattern would end up delivering the ultimate storm.
And here it comes, ready or not. I notice the Baltimore NWS has just issued a 'HEAVY SNOW WARNING" Hmmm, wonder where that came from, must be a typo. Gotta go check that out, and continue with family preparations. Forgive me for the scarcasm, it seeps out from time to time. My back still hopes this does not come true, guess I better add Ben-Gay to the shopping list.
If you are already a consistent reader, then I will include your hometown in the snowfall forecast lineup. If you would like a forecast for your town, request this in the comments with the name of your town. The snowfall period will be from midnight Sunday to midnight Tuesday (early Wed AM).