Tuesday, March 29, 2005

ONE DAY OF PEACE, THEN BACK TO NASTY

The loud clap of thunder I heard in Dundalk, MD yesterday afternoon for me confirmed that Spring has arrived once and for all. Once that sun can work on those flowers and lawns, we will have a bloomin' good time. It seems clear the atmosphere has rid itself of a long standing (sitting?) constipation, and the NAO has retreated to neutral, where it should be this time of year, taking the cold with it. Systems are now following a normal progression across the country, with sun followed by rain followed by sun again...and repeating every few days. This will be the pattern now for the next week to 10 days. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine today and Wednesday, unfortunately there is nastiness still lurking for the weekend, as the rain returns Thursday and will hang around into Saturday. Improvements are on the schedule heading into the first week of April.

Monday, March 28, 2005

RAIN AND THUNDER FOR EASTER MONDAY

Easter Monday

As of 9:30 AM Monday, an impressive looking comma-head Low pressure was swirling through the Tennessee Valley, with an advancing line of strong to severe thunderstorms pushing toward the North Carolina-Virginia coast. These storms will drop torrential rain, brief strong winds and hail throughout the Richmond-Philadelphia I-95 corridor and eastern Mid-Atlantic through early afternoon. Later today, a secondary Low develops off Del-Mar-Va, and races northeast, bringing some wraparound snow to northern New England and heavy rain along the coast.

Overall a rather gloomy and wet start to the final week of March. But in classic folklore tradition, and thanks to the NAO trend staying neutral, I believe the month will go out like a lamb as expected, for sunshine and warmer weather is to follow this spring storm for Wednesday into Friday. Check your local NWS forecasts for a glimpse of the nice conditions on the way.

For sports teams trying to make practice a go this week, you already know that fields will remain wet through Tuesday, and still damp Wednesday, but likely that by Thursday enough drying will have occurred to allow field use. Rain returns Friday for the southern Mid-Atlantic, (Baltimore on south) but northeast areas (Philadelphia to Boston) should be able to squeeze out field work before the rain arrives late in the day.

Hope everyone enjoyed their Easter festivities despite the unpleasant weather. Once that sun returns, those flowers and lawns will surely be greenly growing!

Friday, March 25, 2005

BRIGHT AND SUNNY DAYS ARE COMING SOON

100_0021

Yes there is another pesky storm on the way, which will bring some rain late in the day to the Mid-Atlantic, and overnight into Saturday for New England. The whole Easter Weekend looks to be cloudy, rainy and not so pleasant for the Northeast, but the flowers promise that bright and sunny days are coming soon. Accuweather has several graphics to explain how the weekend will shape up for us. I hope you enjoy time with family and remember the "reason for the season." An update later this afternoon on storm potential for Sunday into Monday.

The hyacinths shown above are from the Dundalk Greenhouse, which had a very successful Easter Sale this week. We grossed about $125 which will be used to buy a new round of bulbs and other items to prepare for the Massive Mother's Day Flower Sale.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

NOW WHO'S THE EAGER BEAVER?

Early Spring 1

Heading into the long Easter Holiday Weekend, a few items for discussion:

1. EAGER BEAVERS at the Boston and New York City NWS are cleaning the wood from their teeth and using the branches to paddle each other as they bit off a great big storm which turned into the KaNOna of the year. TV and Internet outlets alike all were calling for 5-10" or 6-12" of snow throughout southern New England. "Well, the models said this or that." Is what forecasters will say. "The storm headed farther south than we expected." They'll say. If you look at the satellite loops and radar animation, you'll notice nothing of the sort. The storm simply DID NOT materialize in the way THEY FORECASTED it would. I've been down this road before, I know. The easier answer is... WE MADE A MISTAKE. The computer models over-estimated the amount of cold air available, and surface temperatures in Boston never got below 34 F. Moisture from the ocean was not wrapped into the storm as extensively as the computers indicated. The mistake came when forecasters trusted the computers more than their own intuition, which I have also done before.

2. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS. I will allow the storm to finish before grading it, but I'm confident that Mr. E.H., Our trusty Director of the Northeast Observatory in Boston, will take care of that for me. Here's an updated look at what actually fell where.

3. MORE RAIN ON TAP FOR FRIDAY, CLEARNING SATURDAY. It will be a changeable weekend with fast moving systems bringing rain to the south of I-80, with snow/rain mixed to the north.

4. EASTER SUNDAY LOOKS TO BE A TOTAL WASHOUT for most of the Northeast. The European model above shows a Low Pressure that will track over the Mid-Atlantic. You all know well enough that means rain for almost everyone. Better hold that Easter Egg Hunt inside, and put a poncho over the Sunday dress. The good news is it should be seasonal temperatures or even a few degrees above normal, around 60 F in Philly, low 60's Baltimore, mid 50's NYC and Boston, with 50's in Interior Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"I'M MAD AT H---, AND I'M
NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
- Howard Beale, in the movie Network

Late Spring 1

EARLY SPRING COASTAL STORM TO DRENCH MID-ATLANTIC
AND DUMP ON NEW ENGLAND TODAY AND THURSDAY

MID-ATLANTIC: Okay, so this is NOT the big snowstorm that I originally thought in early March would end the season right about now. for those of you who read the Dundalk Eagle article and are still waiting for the snow, looks like it is heading to New England. You obviously notice the temperatures even in Baltimore will only reach 45 F today, which is almost 15 degrees below normal. That is significant in considering had all this rain been snow, it would most certainly have been the Ultra Kahuna, with 1-2 feet of wind-whipped heavy wet snow to boot. But it is the Ultra Kahuna-rainstorm that I knew we needed to get the atmosphere cleared out and set back in order. In fact, this will be the first in a series of rain events to take us right through to next Monday. Clearing skies on Thursday sandwiches some sunshine before the weekend storm arrives.

INTERIOR NORTHEAST / NEW ENGLAND: The hits just keep on coming. I indicated this storm was on the books last Saturday, and sure enough it is on time with the heaviest snow expected overnight into Thursday. There are a couple factors which you can see for yourself will influence the outcome of this storm. The most important I believe are the NAO trending toward neutral again. This will allow the storm to nudge a little farther north than currently expected, forcing the Boston, MA and Upton, NY NWS to extend the Winter Storm Watches to include areas north of I-90. The Canadian High is parked in the perfect spot, the Tennessee Valley Low will redevelop a secondary off Virginia. The moist air inflow from the ocean, the overnight timing, evaporative cooling, fresh snowpack...lah de dah dah. All great factors that point to a significant early Spring snowfall. Meanwhile the diehards down here in nosnowland just sit on the couch in total despair. We can't go out and garden, we can't shovel snow, all we can do is watch and weep.

STORM GRADE AMOUNTS: Accuweather seems on target with their amounts. You'll notice Boston is inside their 3-6" range, which would give credence to the idea of a northward shift. It is also possible the High overpowers and sends the storm farther out to sea earlier, but this seems unlikely. So here is the preliminary call, which I will adjust slightly tonight:

Northeast PA: 4-8" / New York City: 2" / Hartford, CT: 5" / Providence, RI: 5"

Boston, MA: 4" / Worcester, MA: 5" / Woburn, MA: 6" / Plymouth, MA: 4"

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

SPRING FOR SOME, WINTER FOR OTHERS

Spring 2


WEATHER FOR SPRING SPORTS AND TRAVELERS THIS WEEK

Tuesday will be a fine day for the Northeast, with abundant sunshine and drying fields. By Wednesday morning, rain will have returned, and may be heavy at times, along with a touch of snow for higher elevations along the PA/NY border. This storm should clear by Thursday, but fields will remain wet or at least damp toward afternoon. A newly unconstipated atmosphere means that a series of storms are going to move through over the next 5-7 days, with more rain to follow on Friday for Easter Weekend travelers, then another significant coastal rainstorm to washout most of the upcoming weekend. Just think about how those plants will take off once the sunshine returns!

This website focuses on two primary seasons: Winter Storms and Hurricanes. The "quiet period" on the site is Spring and early Summer, from April to July. Forecasting does ramp up if there is ever a risk of a large scale tornado outbreak for the Northeast, and of course..by early August all eyes and ears are tuned to the tropics until November. Then we head right back into winter storm season. Thus April, May, June, July are the quietest periods for this site. I write this in case you may have thought I lost interest in the weather, heavens no! Just been busy with "Hakuna" preparations.

Besides, it's amazing what one can get done when you're not on a ski trip! I had a formal observation on Monday, have been doing a lot of greenhouse work at my school, and with warm weather coming we like to take our daughter outside as much as we can. Public interest in the site wanes at this time, because when the weather gets nice, everyone goes outside, as they should. So get out there and do that garden, stop reading the internet!

I do a weekly to twice weekly forecast in the Spring to keep specific readers appraised of severe weather, especially coaches and Athletic Directors whom are most concerned about interruptions to practice and games. There is also the occasional late season snowstorm for New England, which I will monitor until mid April. If it is nice and sunny, good! I don't care nor do I forecast for it.

For a glimpse into where I will be spending a good amount of time this spring..head on over to the Dundalk Greenhouse

For the most up-to-date post, check every Sunday and Wednesday for the weekly forecast.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

MARCHING INTO SPRING

Spring 1

It's finally here, and due to an astronomical glitch in the calendar,
it's a day early. Now the important questions are:

1. WILL THE WEATHER STAY WITH THE CALENDAR? For coastal areas south of New York City, that is a good bet from this point forward. Interior sections of New England, New York and Pennsylvania still have a risk for frost as well as some accumulating snow over the next 7 days leading up to Easter.


2. WHEN WILL WARM WEATHER ARRIVE IN FORCE? The Northeast has to endure two more coastal-type storms before the warm weather can really take over. This is the much-anticipated "pattern shift" that's been explained on this site for a few weeks now. It will take a series of large storms to reset the atmospheric imbalances caused by the negative NAO and Greenland/Canada High pressure block. The first storm comes out of the southwest on Wednesday, as shown on the graphics above, heads for the East Coast, bombs out and delivers some wrap-around snow to mainly higher elevations. The second system will take a more coastal track, from the Gulf up to the Mid-Atlantic over Easter weekend. Following this storm, I expect the Polar Vortex to retreat, taking the cold air with it and allowing the Sub-tropical Atlantic ridge (the pre-Bermuda High) to begin influencing the eastern third of the country by the first week of April.

SPRING SPORTS WEATHER FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

MONDAY-TUESDAY: Dry and seasonal temperatures in the 50's through the Northeast. Some wind will help dry fields from Sunday's precip.

WEDNESDAY: In VA, MD and PA...Rain arriving from a storm moving toward the Mid-Atlantic. The rain will arrive before afternoon practice begins and continue through the evening, but clearing overnight. Later in the day, snow and rain mixed is likely along the PA/NY line and into southern New England including the Boston Metro area. A low risk for thunderstorms or lightning.

THURSDAY-FRIDAY: Clearing but still seasonal with temperatures in the low to mid 50's south of NYC, and in the 40's in New England. Fields will be wet from the Wednesday precip.


LOOKING AHEAD TO EASTER SUNDAY: There is a "Wet and Muddy Easter Sunday Dress Alert", as the potential still exists for a rainy coastal storm to arrive Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

"SAY IT ISN'T SO."
- Hall and Oates

Welcome to Spring Everyone! I have a few things for powderhounds to salivate over, and for Spring-a-lings to boo and hiss. Winter takes a bow and exits stage right on Sunday, but it will be a while before he cleans up his dressing room and leaves the building altogether.

1. WEEKEND WEATHER: Rain arrives late Saturday afternoon from central PA east due to a clipper system cutting through PA and northern Maryland. Though temperatures are in the 50’s daytime, I expect some changeover to snow along the PA/MD border late night, and especially in southcentral and eastern PA. Accumulations would be limited if any due to warm ground surface. Sunday brings clearing and cooler, windy conditions behind the storm, which has the potential to develop once reaching the coast. For northern New England, light snow accumulating perhaps an inch or two at the most, until the secondary develops at the coast.

2. HEY NEW ENGLAND! Keep your eyes on this one. Boston was hinting last night that a turn up the coast overnight Sunday could lead to accumulating snow, especially given an NAO trending toward neutral (means Canadian high pressure block is drifting northeast, allowing coastal storms to nudge farther north). Model variance on this means someone will have to make a call, so I guess it is me. The tightening of the jet gradient in the Northeast and the upper level Low in California will serve to put pressure on the Polar Vortex, causing it to ease north and east into Baffin Bay. I believe this will allow our coastal Low to trek farther up the coast than currently anticipated.

3. SAY IT ISN’T SO. Concern is building for a series of early Spring storms that could deliver wet snow to the I-95 cities on Wednesday and a more significant, plowable snow to the Northeast cities overnight into next Thursday. Following this would be one or more rainstorms on Easter and shortly after to wreak havoc with Sunday worship services and create mud puddles for little children to stomp in wearing their new Easter Sunday dresses. Again, the Boston NWS is already coming out of the gates with indications of an all-snow event. This is usually a sign they believe a southern storm will track along or up the coast. I have a few graphics to explain this and will effort to get them online for you. If I can't, please visit Accuweather to see them.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

HAKUNA MATATA...
IT MEANS NO WORRIES
FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS
- From "Hakuna Matata" of the Lion King Soundtrack

This is the official announcement that with arrival of St. Patrick's Day, the weather in the Northeast will be going green for the foreseeable future. As the lyrics from our headline song above indicate...instead of a Final "Kahuna" (which is a big snowstorm or perhaps an equally big rainstorm), we will be relishing in a "Hakuna." This means no major storm in the near term of a 5 day period, replaced by a gradual warming trend with some rain late in the weekend and a welcome return to spring conditions by Monday, the first official FULL day of Spring. Outdoor sports activities or competitions planned in Baltimore County (and most of the Northeast) on Saturday the 20th are IN THE CLEAR until about 3 pm Sat. After 3 pm, rain is likely from DC to NYC.

NEW TO THE SITE? Welcome! This site provides a detailed and long range analysis on when big storms are likely to affect the Northeast. I strive to pinpoint the major patterns in the atmosphere which can lead to major storms (whether a snowstorm, hurricane or big outbreak of thunderstorms/tornadoes). When the weather is calm and mild, I am happy and don't forecast much, especially temperatures. I just stick to storms. Now that we are coming off winter storm prediction and heading towards forecasting for spring sports, as well as looking ahead to Hurricane season, you will notice the site undergoing the seasonal transition to prepare for the next phase of weather.


If there is any threat of a surprise snow event or hard frost in the next 2-3 weeks, you can bet I will be on it like hair on a gorilla. Overall, predictions and big analysis for snowfall are only made for a storm which has the potential to deliver 3 or more inches of snow.

FOOT'S FORECAST TERMINOLOGY The terms posted below were created over time to make forecasting the weather more fun for you and me, and not rely on the common descriptions used by everyone else.


1. The Headline: Usually a song title or phrase from a song that matches the weather concept of the day. Sometimes a quote from a movie or a folkore saying is used.

2. Big Kahuna: Defines a big snowstorm that could deliver up to 12 inches of snow for the forecasted area, i.e. a nor'easter with strong winds, heavy rain or snow.

3. Big KaNOna: This is when one of my winter storm forecasts completely busts, and little if any snow falls or the amounts are much less than originally predicted.

4. Big Hakuna: Opposite of a Kahuna, this would be a nice long stretch of warm, sunny weather, which means you'd have no worries for the rest of your days.

5. Powderhound: A diehard snow enthusiast who wants snow on the ground from December 21 to March 21, snow falling out of the sky almost every day during that time, and snow caused by great big storms that bury the northeast in 1-2 feet of it at a time.

6. Spring-a-ling: Can be a powderhound who also enjoys Spring and the changes which accompany it. However, they would prefer a consistent stretch of sunny, normal to above normal temperatures interspersed with some rain showers to water the plants. Cold blasts are not welcome, but a thunderstorm with the possibility of a tornado does, provided that it only swirls about in a nearby field and does not impact people or property.

7. Summer Lovers: This person likes it HOT all the time, and happier the HOTTER it is. 90 F? Okay. 95 F? Now we're talkin'. 100 F? Bring it on baby! This person likes to work in the heat, doesn't mind the sweat and would prefer a big long nasty heat wave more than anything else. They also enjoy the occasional surprise big bang and crash summer thunderstorm.

8. Tropicons: These people can't wait for Hurricane Season, and despite the destruction these storms bring, they are fascinated with the power and immensity of tropical storms. They love to track the storm's every movement and hiccup, and are the most excited when it is about to make landfall. You can easily identify these types because you'll notice them drawing little hurricane swirly symbols when they doodle from July to November.

9. I can't remember the term to describe those who enjoy the days I call "Golden October"... those crisp, beautiful days in late September to mid-October when the weather is peaceful, college football is king, and on Saturday mornings you can smell firehouses holding pancake breakfasts while you are raking leaves.

ALTHOUGH SNOW IS STILL ON THE AGENDA, it is now most likely reserved for Northern New England. We move into Spring-A-Ling mode and forecasting for conditions relevant to Spring Sports practice and game time weather.

THE HURRICANE SEASON PREVIEW will be prepared and posted during Spring Break, which in my neck of the woods is March 25-April 2. I have already put together my basic forecast, but it will include a comparison of how my prediction from last season stacked up again the actual, and a look into the June-September period for tropical activity along the East/Gulf Coasts.

So Happy St. Patty's Day everyone. Hope the Luck O' The Irish is on our side and we have truly turned the corner towards Spring once and for all. This weekend I will post an analysis of any downstream rumblings that might interrupt our dance into Spring over the next 2 week period.
HOW ABOUT AN ALPINE ADVENTURE IN 2006?


For some reason, bright sunny and quiet days get me in the trip planning mode. This weekend was no exception. Mrs. Foot was busy with her teacher training course, the baby was sleeping, so I opened the magical trip box and... off we went. Actually the tour I finalized this weekend has been in development for 2 years already. When the calendar reaches the 1 year mark prior to a major trip is when I get the planning engines humming.

Why am I telling you this? Because in my other life, when I'm not teaching, or forecasting the weather, or watering the Greenhouse plants, I am the advisor of the Dundalk Adventure Club at my school. Lo and behold, they also have a series of websites (would you believe it?) that highlight and advertise our trips. The most recent major trip was our Spring Break 2004 Adventure to Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia.

Do you recognize that mountain in the picture? That's the one from those Ricola commercials. You remember: where the herdsman standing on the pristine Swiss hillside is blowing a big long trumpet... he coughs, interrupting the music. His friend hands him a Ricola cough drop, and there perched in the background is the Mighty Matterhorn. If the cards are played just right, a place my family and I haven't visited for nearly 20 years will be back in our spotlight again. Zermatt, Switzerland and the beautiful mountain valleys of the Jungfrau Region in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps.

Plans are now underway to make looking at that picture a reality for you in April 2006. The Dundalk Adventure Club is making this trip available to anyone who has the money and motivation to see Europe before rising oil prices put such a journey beyond our reach. Isn't it time you escape to the fresh air and gorgeous vistas of the Alps in early Spring? Wouldn't you thrill at the opportunity to ski fresh alpine powder in some of the world's largest resorts? Haven't you been waiting a long time for something like this to come along?

If those feelings apply to you or someone you know, please visit the Zermatt 2006 website. If you would like more information, feel free to request it via email at rdfoot@comcast.net

A packet can be mailed to you upon request. Please note that the Dundalk Adventure Club does not operate for profit and is not affiliated with any travel agency. Our trips are designed to be family-friendly and not driven by a commission-based agency.

Regular weather forecasting returns to this site on Monday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY ?"
- Janet Jackson, from the album Control

That's probably accurate for today's headline since there has not been a "new" post since Saturday night. Sometime earlier today, you probably happened across the Weather Channel or your local NWS forecast and discovered that the "Rain/Snow" with a high of 38 for Baltimore disappeared. In it's place is now "Chance of Showers with high of 53." For our northern clients, please pardon the emphasis on the southern areas, as I am using it to illustrate a point.


I CAN FIND NO MODEL SUPPORT for this forecast. I saw this and thought, "Hmmm, GFS must have done a real role reversal or something for the NWS to go totally the other direction." So I checked the GFS, and the European, and the NAM, and the DGEX and the UKMET and NONE of them depict a scenario which would lead to showers and 50's. In fact if you check local NWS forecasts for areas very close to Baltimore, like Cecil County MD or across the Chesapeake, there is barely a mention of rain... mostly cloudy and 40's.

SO WHAT'S GOING ON? The models are having a hard time resoloving the imbalances in the system caused by the Polar Vortex, the building southern stream in conjunction with the Atlantic Ridge, as well as the persistent Canadian High that has and will dominate Northeast weather through the weekend. What's happened is that the computer sees a zonal west-east flow and thinks "Hey, warmth is coming... let's warm things up." The Philadelphia office put it best by saying in their forecast discussion "Most long range models seem to be in disagreement over the details."

IS OUR BIG STORM HISTORY BEFORE IT WRITTEN? No, the window for a final snow event in the Mid-Atlantic is still open for Saturday-Sunday-Monday. I can say that beyond that the window appears it will close for good on this winter. Andy, our designated skeptic in York County, PA maintains that no more than 4 inches of snow will fall at BWI the remainder of the season, and he may end up to be the most accurate on that forecast. If the skeptics win and I lose on the Final Kahuna, you can be sure I'll be the first to tell you why.

AND THE WEEKEND? I believe we (the Northeast) will see cooler temperatures than are advertised, and that the storm coming east out of the Lakes by then is going to get squeezed between the southern stream/ridge and the northern Highs. This will force a piece of energy to zip out towards the Mid-Atlantic and travel through Maryland with potential for development once it reaches the coast. Now storms from the west don't bring extra rest, so snow falling out of this system will not be enough to disrupt school on Monday, especially if it is on the order of 4 inches or less as predicted by Andy. New England should continue to see below normal conditions and tranquil weather through Sunday. The final forecast outlining the weekend storm and any potential for snow will be posted Thursday.


WHERE'S THE 'TRAIL' WE ARE BLAZING? DID WE LOSE IT? Still trailblazing, just a different trail...this time tracking if the weekend storm will be our Final Kahuna or not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

SADDLE UP YOUR HORSES,
WE GOTTA A TRAIL TO BLAZE
- Steven Curtis Chapman

TUE AM UPDATED SUMMARY FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the Sun over the next 4 days may look and feel more like Spring but at the ground, winter refuses to let go of a persistently cold and windy pattern as shown by the "example forecast" for the Baltimore area. By St. Patrick’s Day, the only indication that spring is still on the calendar is the new grass beginning to make it’s appearance from Pennsylvania and New Jersey south. From The PA/NY line on north, deep snow cover will continue to reinforce the below normal temperatures. For all areas of the Northeast from DC on northward, temperatures will remain 10 or more degrees below normal this entire week. A high pressure system moving in to from central and southeast Canada to the Northeast and Great Lakes will be a key factor to set the stage for a significant winter storm to affect a very large portion of the East Coast by the weekend. A series of smaller storms will give rise the "Final Kahuna" and this storm may very well be the largest winter weather event of the season for the Mid-Atlantic. (Summary was posted on Saturday 3-12, and modified on 3-14)

TRAILBLAZER UPDATE: For those who are willing to be trailblazers and just want the quick rundown, it appears the Canadian High will keep storms below and away from the Northeast I-95 corridor and Mid-Atlantic Interior from DC north. The trailblazing will have to go on a few more days to get us to the weekend, which is where the Final Kahuna lies waiting.


WEATHER FOR SPRING SPORTS

The first part of the week will feature a cold and windy pattern enabling fields to dry. Coaches, AD’s and players are advised to take advantage of this week leading up to the first round of scrimmages and competitions after the 20th. The ‘Final Kahuna’ of the season is likely to cause a wide range of disruptions to the practice and game schedule from Thursday until early next week. The “aftermath” of this storm could continue to cause significant rescheduling problems in the week following the 20th. This will be the calmest week of the month regarding the weather, and an opportunity for teams to catch up on missed field time.

WHERE DID YOUR 'BIG STORM' GO MR. FOOT? COME ON NOW, GIVE IT UP.


Hey, be nice or else. I have made adjustments to the forecast because it appears that the Canadian High at the moment is going to hold it's ground and overpower the storm track along the East Coast. I'm not going to say "see I was right all along, I said the storms would stay south" etc. I will say that there is NO WAY OUT OF THIS PATTERN without a big storm to correct the imbalances in the atmosphere, especially the Blocking High problem in Canada/Greenland. A series of strong Canadian High argues for more cold air to influence the nation for the rest of the month. A suppressed polar jet being so close to the subtropical jet means that the danger remains for a big storm to develop with less than 48 hours notice on your local forecast is still on the table.


There continues to be a lot of disparty and inconsistency in computer model projections for the period from Wednesday to Saturday. The first of a series of smaller systems is tracking east out of the Southern Plains and will follow a Shreveport, LA – Knoxville, TN – Richmond, VA line. At the same time, a large and expansive Canadian High pressure is forecasted to nose out into the Atlantic in advance of this storm.


The current European model has waffled a bit on this idea, and has now changed it's tune to follow some of the other models suppressing all storms this week to the Carolinas. Keep in mind that every significant storm this winter, with 2 notable exceptions (last weekend and the Sunday-Monday light snow in VA) started out suppressed far to the south in computer models. Forecasters said, "it will miss us to the south" and the "US" being anyone from Richmond north. The Feb 24-25 storm was supposed to "miss Baltimore" to the south in the 3 day forecast prior to the event. Result: We had 5 inches of snow in my bacykard at Dundalk, MD from a storm that was going to miss us to the south. So this week, there are a lot of valid concerns on the table from either side of the aisle. On one side , a trend to the north will find forecasters hastily revising their outlooks to make it appear they were calling for this storm all along. On the other side, there are reasons to believe the suppressed flow could keep storms to the south. Either way, I will break down the overview on this storm into 3 sections:

1. THE ROUGH GUIDE…Timing, Snowfall, Impacts.
2. METEOROLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PATTERN that will create this storm
3. A PREVIEW OF MODEL MAYHEM AND FORECASTING FUMBLES


First, the Rough Guide.

This is designed for those who just want to know how much, when and where. Keep in mind that I understand your skepticism with this forecast, but in Foot’s Forecast tradition I have to put out the call now, so that when the weather service and TV stations start jumping on the bandwagon, you’ll understand why.

TIMING: The "storm" to which I am referring is now looking to be a (groan) weekend event in the Saturday timeframe. No matter how it ends up, this will be a long duration event with the classic multi-day buildup, media madness and subsequent supermarket pandemonium. If the European model is right, then the timeframe for snowy and windy conditions for the Mid-Atlantic could begin as early as Saturday morning. One important factor that was alluded to last weekend on this site, and has now come true is...."the strength and movement of the High pressure which could delay or speed up the storm’s arrival." A saying used at Accuweather is: “Predict the High and you predict the storm.”


AREAS OF IMPACT: The "Final Kahuna" storm has the potential to deliver heavy wet snow in a large portion of the Mid-Atlantic from central Virginia to the the Del-Mar-Va north to central and eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and more likely now southern New England. Whether northern New England gets in the game is not clear yet. However, many of our "southern storms" trended much farther north than anticipated. With the North Atlantic Oscillation forecasted to rise toward neutral after the 16th, this is a telltale sign the forecast could be changing as the week progresses. As always, I will be refining the geographical area to be impacted by this storm as it gets closer.

SNOWFALL: I have made a comparison to the March 1958 storm in the Mid-Atlantic as a guide for this event, which closed schools in Chester County, PA for 2 weeks due to the 4 feet of heavy wet snow. Some of the ‘seasoned’ teachers at my school recall that storm from how high the snow got ABOVE their first story window. I am NOT saying that 4 feet is in the cards, I am making reference to a late season storm which dumped a lot of snow in a cold and stormy March. For the past few days, the European model showed an arrangement which would have easily delivered 1-2 feet of heavy, wind-whipped wet snow for many areas south of I-80 to Virginia. Now those models are sending the storms south, which at first glance seems disappointing or great depending on your point of view.

Next, the Analysis.

The purpose of the on-going headline “Saddle up your horses, we gotta a trail to blaze” is to point out that this forecast, as compared to what you will read or hear in the next 3-5 days, will be blazing a trail into uncharted territory. Please note that if the elements I describe in the my storm evolution post do not come together, and this storm all goes over to rain, or stays south and never happens, then I will be the first to explain why that happened. I see that some computer models are having a hard time resolving the many anomalous features in the atmosphere over North America. However...it’s been TWELVE YEARS since our last major March storm to affect the East Coast. We are due. The 3 major climate indices for North America have made condition favorable for a major storm to develop, it will take a couple days for there to be some agreement reached by models on how to handle this system now moving out of the southern Rockies and into Texas.


I realize that the NWS and TWC forecasts have been waffling all over the place. What do you expect? Yesterday it was snow showers, then earlier today it was rain AND snow, then plain SNOW on the NWS forecast, now it is partly to mostly cloudy with no precip at all. They are pretty much tied to the GFS..so whichever direction the wind is blowing on that computer model any given hour will govern how your local forecast advertises this event. By tomorrow morning, it'll be back to rain mixing with and changing to rain... I...I mean snow, er uh, partly to mostly rain/snowy, or something like that.

MAJOR PLAYERS TO INFLUENCE DEVELOPMENT OF FINAL KAHUNA These are the atmospheric and oceanic influences currently in place all of which have a hand in creating our storm. A graphic posted by WxRisk.com maps this out nicely. I will explain in detail each of these players in the next day or two so you understand the big picture of how this storm can develop, as well as how the forecast can bust if these players do not put their cards out in the correct sequence.

1. RECENT SERIES OF NEW ENGLAND STORMS
2. GREENLAND HIGH PRESSURE BLOCK
3. WESTERN ATLANTIC HIGH PRESSURE RIDGE
4. ABOVE NORMAL WATER TEMPERATURES IN GULF OF MEXICO
5. UPPER LEVEL LOW FROM SO. CALIFORNIA TO MEXICO
6. PERSISTENT WESTERN U.S./PACIFIC HIGH PRESSURE RIDGE
Again, please check back later today for more details on the storm evolution analysis. I have actually hand written the whole idea, but have not had time to type it yet.

Update on the Sunday River Snowfall Contest: We are trying to get a firm accumulation number. It is somewhere between 12-24" but not sure on the precise amount.

BRIEF COMMENTARY ON WEATHER BLOGGING

The popularity of "weather blogs" throughout the country has risen from barely noticeable to very noticeable this past year. There are many high quality sites out there with a plethora of information to satisfy the appetite of any weather enthusiast. It is a veritable feast out there on the internet nowadays for what one can discover about the weather, and I appreciate the time and energy which countless thousands have put into making this interest for all of us more than just a "fun little hobby." I believe I can accurately speak for many like myself in saying that those of us passionate about the weather view this as a serious and life-long commitment to understand and appreciate the complexities of Mother Nature. For many of the people who put in a considerable amount of their own personal time which could be spent doing something else, following and forecasting weather is an important undertaking for them. I for one appreciate their passion, regardless of if they are a professional meteorologist or merely enjoy posting comments about the weather on discussion boards. So if you have found this site just today, or have been following it for a long time, you should feel welcome as a member of this unique community where all viewpoints and input are equally respected.

Friday, March 11, 2005

GREETINGS EVERYONE FROM SUNDAY RIVER, MAINE

I am taking a brief break from life in general and spending the weekend skiing with my brother, my father and friends from church. We are at Sunday River Resort where as of 8 PM, the temperature is 21 F, and the snow is absolutely pouring out of the sky in the most beautiful six-sided flakes I have ever seen. All the kudos for such great timing on this trip go to my brother Jeff, known throughout the modern world as "Footy." He did all the legwork and research to make this trip possible, and given the amazing snow we are now experiencing, it is really a nice payoff that makes all his hard work worth it.

We are the happy recipients of the latest New England snowstorm. (Seems like I’ve written about this before?). Our location is on the west central side of Maine, near the border with New Hampshire. Local forecasters were calling for 20-30” in this area earlier today, which seems a bit high but given high snow ratios and an abundant amount of moisture, that is possible. So in keeping with the tradition of posting snowfall amounts, first I give you the Foot-Krueger-Moody-Parypinski Sunday River storm grade contest:

This is for the period 5PM Friday to 8AM Sunday as measured by how much will fall on top of our Ford F-150 rental. (Now that thing is a Big Kahuna.)

Jeff Foot (Footy) = 10” (my brother)
Mr. Foot = 18”
Don Foot = 19” (my Dad)
Larry Moody = 22” (founder of Search Ministries [www.searchministries.org] and Dave’s boss)
Dave Krueger = 23” (my brother’s father-in-law, and my father's personal pastor)
Nick Parypinski = 26.45” (Larry’s son-in-law)
Josh Moody = 28” (Larry’s son)

The winner will be treated to a full roasted lobster dinner at the base lodge.

NOW ON TO THE REAL STORM FORECAST

If you’ve been following this storm, you’ve noticed it is a “triple point” of three Low pressure systems that are apparently going to converge off Cape Cod and move slowly northeast, throwing a considerable amount of moisture back over northern and central New England. I have seen a wide range of predictions for the area in which I am located, about 90 minutes north-northwest of Portland, ME. Sadly this event will or already has missed most of the Mid-Atlantic, although there was some snow in Central PA.

I would like to read about your observations, especially in Baltimore, Central NJ, New York and Boston. Josh Moody in our group is reporting that his family was out for a walk in the Baltimore area Friday afternoon, and a line of thunderstorms swept through, with a very sharp drop in temperature but no snow this time.

My original forecast for the weekend was that there would be snow flying from Central New Jersey to New England. I did not have ample time Thursday morning to go into more detail, so I figured a broad statement would cover it. A number of times this winter we’ve seen innocuous looking systems reach the waters near New England and just explode. The only concern I have with this storm is that these three systems have to combine at the right time in the right arrangement to deliver the amounts being bantyed around. Since the NAO is trending toward neutral, this would enable the storm(s) to make the turn up the coast, tap the polar vortex, and deliver another white whopper.

So, that having been said…on to the STORM GRADE SNOW AMOUNTS

MAINE: Portland…11” Augusta…14” MASSACHUSETTS: Boston…9” Woburn…10” Worcester…8”

RHODE ISLAND: Providence…7” CONNECTICUT: Hartford…4" NEW YORK CITY: 3.5” in Central Park

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER NEXT WEEK ?

The Final Kahuna is still on the books for last next week…in the Friday-Saturday timeframe. Due to my dialup internet connection, I have limited access to computer models. It sounds really geeky and corny, but a couple times today sitting on the ski lifts, I starting thinking about this next and likely final snowstorm. I have developed an explanation of the pattern and how I think this last storm will be the event that signs the death sentence for this late winter cold regime once and for all.

A historical note that this weekend is the 12 year anniversary of the March 1993 Superstorm. See if you can find a good link that looks back at that colossal event. Check back tomorrow for results of our storm grades and a look at next week.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

LIVE IN YOUR WORLD, PLAY IN OURS
- PlayStation slogan

This will be the shortest post in the history of Foot's Forecast. I have three main points for the evening, with an update Thursday morning to explain my reasoning.

1. There will be snow flying from Central New Jersey to New England this weekend. Period.


2. There will be ONE more storm next week, there IS NO WAY we can avoid it, there IS GOING TO BE lots of computer model madness, there WILL BE snow on the ground from DC to Boston by next Saturday, and it SHALL BE an Ultra Kahuna to be long remembered as the grand finale blockbuster event of the winter. As always, I forecast, you decide. I study the patterns, I analyze the data, and I see that there is no getting out of a great big storm to blow out in a blaze of snowy white glory. Just wait and see WHO TURNS OUT TO HAVE THE FINAL WORD ON THIS STORM.

3. "Your overconfidence is your weakness." - Luke to the Emperor. "Your faith in your friends is yours." - Emperor to Luke. As for me, I have faith in my overconfidence.


You can live in your world that is talking about spring, but for a little while longer, you will have to play in ours. And play we shall this time next week. Play we shall.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

WINTER STRIKES BACK WITH A VENGENCE

FOR THOSE OF US IN THE NORTHEAST, WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES! Monday afternoon I was resting comfortably after school in my "captain's chair" in the corner of my room as the wonderful sunshine filtered through the blinds. I am looking out over green fields and blue skies. The temperature is 70 degrees in downtown Baltimore.

24 HOURS LATER...I am sitting in the same chair, looking out the same window. A near blinding mini-blizzard has just ended, the fields of green are white again. The temperature is 26 F and wind is howling something fierce. No doubt all of you experienced in some unique way how Winter hit back hard today. The winds beating against my door makes it feel as though if I were to open it, I would find myself back on Killington Peak in Vermont in -30 temperatures.


SO THIS IS WINTER'S LAST BLAST? Oh no no no. I know it seems that weather people keep saying this, but it continues to be true....the WORST is YET to come. If you thought this was bad, wait until you see the weekend storm that will be a bonafide coastal and not a bomber that drops and moves on. Behind that storm is more cold air and wind that will test even those with nerves of steel. And after that is the potential for the grand finale blockbuster event of the winter I've been indicating now for weeks and weeks. The ULTRA KAHUNA that will once and for all end this whole charade and get the atmosphere moving toward Spring again.

WHAT ULTRA KAHUNA? It's been 12 years since the last one, and there are many lined up in history that were the final great event of the winter and served to once and for all kill the polar vortex pattern and send it back to where it belongs... THE POLE! The timeframe for this very significant East Coast event looks to be in the period from St. Patrick's Day to the 20th. The Ultra Kahuna of March 1958 dropped 4 feet of heavy wet snow just west of the major cities from DC to NYC. The pattern we are in favors this whole game to go out in a blinding white squall of glory that will challenge even the hardiest powderhounds and make them cry uncle.


UNTIL THEN, THE FOCUS IS ON THE SET OF MAJOR SNOWSTORMS TO IMPACT THE NORTHEAST...the Tuesday-Wednesday event and the Friday-Sunday event.

Current Storm: An overall 6-12" was a reasonable forecast for areas from Boston on north and west into interior New England. Local amounts in excess of 12" are likely from central Vermont into central and northern Maine. Other forecasts that verified fairly well was the 2-4" in New York City and 3-6" in Connecticut and Rhode Island. As you already know, incredibly strong winds of 50-60 mph and blizzard-like conditions raked most of New England yesterday and today, as a sub 970 mb low continues to intensify and charge northeast. These are the kind of pressures we usually see in tropical systems. The last storm to have a pressure nearly this low was... the March 1993 Superstorm. All this from a glorified cold front. Makes you wonder what the next storm could end up doing.


The Next Storm: Since you asked, I'll explain it. This second event has the potential to be a very heavy snow producer for the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England again. It is a system coming east out of the Lakes which will incorporate upper level energy from a shortwave in the southeast, and then "bomb out" once it reaches the coast. New information makes it more likely that the Lakes system will head across Pennsylvania, reach the Jersey coast, and then intensify heading north-northeast. This would make it another major storm for most of New England into the weekend.


SNOWFALL AMOUNTS: This will be a hit and miss storm for areas from Philadelphia on south and west. The slowly rising negative NAO will allow for this system to lift north and keep accumulations in the PHL to DC corridor less than 4 inches overall. However from northern New Jersey to Maine, be on the lookout for another potentially explosive storm that could EQUAL OR EXCEED amounts from the current storm. A general guide this time around would be another 6-12" forecast from N NJ to Maine, except that most areas should be at the 6" mark or above it.


More evidence this will be a Boston and north event is the current Day 4-5 QPF. It shows a moderate amount of precip .25-.50 in the southern I-95 corridor from Friday morning to Sunday morning, with .5 to .75 in northern New England. Higher snow ratios farther north in the drier air will mean a 15:1 conversion, and perhaps 20:1 in far northern areas above Burlington and west of Portland, ME.


TIMING OF THE STORM: In the southern I-95 corridor, (PHL on south) snow showers will be on the increase Friday and taper off by Saturday morning. Central and eastern PA could easily get 3-6", more the farther east you live. Again this has explosive written all over it as a sharp temperature contrasts between the Gulf stream and coastal waters will allow this Low to really crank up as quickly as the current storm did. From Central and Northern NJ to Boston, expect snow to break out by Friday night, and move up the coast by Saturday morning, with snow throughout the day Saturday, tapering with gusty winds behind it late in the day.


SPRING SPORTS FORECAST: Strong March sun will melt the light snow covering today in most areas in southern PA and Maryland. Breezy and cold winds will dry fields off quickly, but make practice very unpleasant, especially for coaches who have to stand still and tolerate the wind whipping through your coat. Snow showers returning Friday makes for another day indoors. Next week, some warming back to seasonal temperatures is expected, highs getting back to the low 50's in advance of yes... another big storm late in the week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
- Headline recommended by loyal reader "Terpboy"

1. Computer models now on to the idea of rapid coastal development on of the system coming east today. After seeing the idea a week ago, most models backed away from it in classic GFS fashion. If you remember, the potential for a big coastal storm to develop THIS Tuesday was indicated on this site a week ago. Go back and check the March 2 posts for proof.

2. Wickedly cold and bad weather will trounce the East Coast warmth and send it packing. Expect a 25-35 degree temperature drop in 12 hours along major cities Tuesday. Rain early in the day will changeover to snow, and accumulations are likely in the same places that 24 hours previously had temperatures in the 70's. Strong gusty winds nearing 40 mph will accompany the frontal passage in the early afternoon, and a rapid changeover to snow is expected behind the front. Visibility may be difficult by the evening rush with wind-whipped wet snow. As I said earlier, there was a great disturbance in the force, and any ONE or ALL of the clippers coming east in the next 7 days had the potential to become a surprise snowstorm. I am concerned that the strong winds may prompt an early dismissal for some schools in the DC and Baltimore Metro Regions, and likewise the snow mid day will do the same for some PA schools. In Central PA the snow will move east quickly enough to prevent major problems, but in northeastern PA the Poconos may get a solid 4-8" out of this storm.

3. Temperatures overnight into Tuesday will head towards record low levels...how about 18 F for Baltimore Wednesday morning? How about 13 F for Boston? That's not factoring the wind. There is concern for "flash freezing" of water on roadways, and the possibility of delay Wednesday morning in many schools throughout the Northeast due to icy road conditions. This may interfere with the Maryland MSA testing scheduled for this week. Test coordinators, be ready. Metro areas in Boston will see heavy rain today, causing considerable snowmelt, then a rapid re-freezing of all that standing water tonight, making for major travel problems.


HOW MUCH SNOW? Not unreasonable that Boston sees 4-6" out of this, with 2-4" in NYC , 1-2" in Philly and perhaps an inch in DC-Baltimore but mostly on non-roadway surfaces. Much heavier snow on the order of 6-12 inches for central Massacusetts as well as interior and northern New England. Travel will be challenging this afternoon and evening due to visibility problems and then an overnight refreezing on bridges and overpasses, then to secondary roads.

4. Ready for more? Super cold and windy Wednesday, then another storm with "coastal" written all over it comes charging east from the Ohio Valley. A lot of variance in computer model outcome of this one, but it is reasonable to say the potential exists for this system to also undergo rapid development once to the Mid Atlantic coast. Snow would break out overnight Thursday, and concern is already evident this could hang closer to the coast and throw snow back over the I-95 corridor as well as Eastern PA. This system will go ballistic as it deepens heading northeast, creating the threat for heavy snow and strong winds once again into southeastern New England on Friday and Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine on Saturday.

SPRING SPORTS WEATHER: With heavy rain changing to heavy snow, outdoor practice is a wash. Fields will freeze over tonight and probably be snow-covered tomorrow morning. Weather will be dry and windy on Wednesday and Thursday, promoting quick drying. Friday rain/snow south and snow north will once again disrupt outdoor practice.

GOING SKIING THIS WEEKEND? Conditions from Pennsylvania to Maine will be the best they may have been all winter with loads of fresh powder waiting for you.

PLANNING A MAJOR EVENT ON SATURDAY? If you are south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it is probably OK to go ahead with it. Since the system will be developing off the Jersey or Delaware coast on Thursday night-Friday, it is doubtful this will throw back enough snow to impede travelers going to a sports event on Saturday. Road crews would have 12 or more hours to clean up any snow that accumulated on parking lots.

NEXT WEEK...MUCH COLDER WITH A CONTINUED THREAT OF ANOTHER STORM BEFORE ALL SAID AND DONE.


Monday, March 7, 2005

"THERE IS A GREAT
DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE"
- The Emperor in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back


TOPICS FOR THE MONDAY UPDATE:
1. A recap of the Feb 28-March 1 storm
2. Weather for the week ahead..."MSA weather" for Maryland Schools & Chalktalk Forecast
3. Evidence for East Coast snowstorms in the next 2 weeks
4. Early indications for the weather during Easter break in the period March 25-31

1. A RECAP OF THE FEBRUARY 28 STORM

Another blogsite which forecasts for the DC-Baltimore metro region, DC Capital Weather, has posted a thorough recap of the observations and forecasts for the February 28-March 1 snowstorm. Scroll down to the post for Tuesday, March 1. There are a lot of good points made in their editorial about TV stations either "hype-casting" or down-playing a storm, as well as the issue of school closings based on forecasts and not actual conditions. Based on our experiences of this recent storm, it will be interesting to see how schools react to another dire prediction of heavy snow given that winter is making it's last stand. Will remaining snow days be used since it is unlikely to have a snow event after March 20, or will districts hedge and trim by using early dismissals and 2 hour delays instead?

2. JUST THE WEATHER

This weekly breakdown is for the Northeast from DC north to Boston. "South" or "S" means from the PA line south to the DC area. "North" or "N" means from the PA line/Phila area north to Boston.

MONDAY: WARM EARLY, BREEZY LATER, SHOWERS IN EVENING. The second in a series of clippers will cut through the Great Lakes, sending welcome and warm southwest winds ahead of the cold front. Temperatures may actually reach 65 in Washington, and crack 60 in Baltimore, but as you would expect, warming is muted farther north due to a refreshed snowpack. New York will flirt with 50 and Boston not getting out of the mid 40's. Still this is a nice respite from a rude March thus far. Later in the evening, the cold front sweeps east and ushers in rain with an isolated thunderstorm along the coast.

TUESDAY: MUCH COLDER WITH RAIN/SNOW MIXED SOUTH, SNOW SHOWERS NORTH. With ground temperatures higher due to the Sunday-Monday warmup, any precip in PA and MD that falls behind the cold front could be as snow, but will not survive upon reaching the ground. From NYC northward it is a different story, as accumulating snow is possible after the Low lifts NE, with the ever-present "Ocean Effect" adding to Boston's record winter snow totals of 78" Boston NWS indicates "Heavy Snow" is on tap Tuesday night for a brief period as some backlash occurs while the storm lifts into the Canadian maritimes.

WEDNESDAY: SNOW LINGERS IN THE NORTH, COLD AND WINDY SOUTH. This is the important transition day as a portion of the polar vortex begins another dip southeastward behind the clipper. Stiff north to northwest winds will return the Northeast to a 15 degree below normal temperature regime. Normal high in Baltimore would be 53, but will actually be 38. Wind chill in the upper 20's. Boston by contrast has an overnight low in the teens, and the high not cracking 30!

THURSDAY: UNSETTLED AS MATCH IS LIT FOR COASTAL STORM DEVELOPMENT. The next clipper coming from central Canada may link up with moisture and energy coming out of the U.S. Southwest. A broad area of low pressure over the Northeast provides the gasoline in which the match will light if there is phasing of the northern and southern jet streams over this area. Given the cold upper level environment, this could lead to a rapidly intensifying coastal snowstorm by Thursday night-early Friday morning as depicted on the maps below. This storm would have most of it's impact felt from Eastern PA-New Jersey northward to Maine from Thursday into Friday. I think that computer models are having a hard time resolving some of the variability in pressures due to the influence and behavior of the nearby polar vortex, which is why you see your local forecasts changing so much day to day.

FRIDAY: SNOW SHOWERS SOUTH, INTENSIFYING STORM MAY DELIVER HEAVY SNOW AND WIND NORTH. As shown on the European model map below, indications are that a strong coastal storm will affect the northern I-95 corridor, with strong winds and considerable backlash snow filtering possibly as far south as Philadelphia. From Southern New England into eastern New York and most of Maine, this will be another significant coast and inland snowstorm that could deliver 12 or more inches of snow if the elements come together as outlined here. However this is a preliminary look at what is possible, not an outright forecast.


SATURDAY: With a coastal storm departing northeast, this day will be very cold with strong north winds and backlash snow down to DC.

MSA WEATHER: I believe there is little to no risk of weather interrupting this week's rescheduled Maryland State Assessments. Any snow/rain mixed on Tuesday is not going to impede travel. The possibility remains of some snow Thursday night into Friday that could cause a delay Friday morning.

CHALKTALK FORECAST FOR ATHLETIC DIRECTORS: Fields may be getting close to dry by Monday afternoon, but a new front arriving overnight will quickly moisten them. Much colder air Wednesday-Friday accompanied by windy conditions will make outdoor practice brutal once again. Strong likelihood of that some snow on Thursday night-Friday will accumulate on fields, sending practices back to parking lots for the following week. Looking ahead to the 20th...continued cold, blustery and stormy weather will rule the pattern, with the outside possibilty of a late buzzer blockbuster storm in the March 19-21 time frame.


3. EVIDENCE FOR MORE STORMS OVER THE NEXT 2 WEEKS

The period starting Tuesday and ending around St. Patrick's Day is going to be replete with storms and cold weather, making you wonder if perhaps we have simply have the calendar months out of sequence. The welcome warmth of Sunday and Monday is going to be short lived, and by Wednesday morning some parts of the Northeast will be digging out from more snow, with rumors of even MORE snow coming after that. And after that? More snow. What about after that? Uhhh....more snow. Call it the winter that never ends, which may challenge even the more die-hard powderhound into crying uncle and waving the GREEN spring-a-ling flag. Some computer models have projected widespread snow to be on the ground even by the 21st. The "Great Disturbance in the Force" is any number of things...the Polar Vortex in SE Canada, the upper level low in the U.S. Southwest, the fact that we have clipper systems lined up clear out to the Gulf of Alaska. This is where March Madness gets its name, as there are a lot of factors in play which could easily consolidate into a great big storm on the East Coast with very little notice.

EXPLAINING THE COMPUTER MODELS

The map posted above is the European Model's version of the week ahead as of 12 Noon eastern time today. You have probably noticed the whip-sawing going on with your local forecast on The Weather Channel today. This is because most TWC local forecasts are tied to NOAA's Global Forecast System, the GFS. This computer model completes a "run" or analysis of observation data and prints out a forecast every 6 hours. There are actually 12 different computer models, called the "ensemble members" each of which make their own individual analysis. The output of these 12 members is blended into the GFS operational model, which is what I view when making my analysis. Sometimes the computer interprets the data differently, and thus prints a different outcome with each run until it resolves a variety of data anomalies and begins to present consistency from "run to run." That is when you notice the percent of probability of precipitation increase for a specific time period. So if you get annoyed with a situation like today, when your local forecast just blowing all over the place, it means the GFS is having a hard time trying to come to an agreement on the timing and placement of the next set of weather events.

HOW STORMS TEMPORARY INFLUENCE LOCAL CLIMATE

Our last big storm from Monday the 28th pumped heat northeast into the combined double barrel air flow of Labrador Low and Azores High near Greenland. This warm air enhances both systems, creating a continous stream of air flow into far northeast Canada. When this warm air intrudes into higher latitudes, it has the logical effect of redirecting the polar vortex usually located much farther north down into in SE Canada or even over the Northeast US. When that happens, the vortex often gets "locked in" as shown by the Accuweather graphics in the previous post. This is why we have observed Negative NAO values as low as they have been in the past 50 years. As shown on my graphics, the PNA is already heading for the stratosphere, and forecasters at HPC as well as those from Baltimore to Boston are becoming noticeably concerned in their discussions that the -NAO and +PNA setup cannot go on much longer without a major phasing event on the East Coast.

DOWNSTREAM CONSEQUENCES. Each subsequent Low pressure system which passes on by uses it’s counterclockwise motion to enhance the double barrel effect which puts increasing pressure on the 500 mb Polar Vortex swirling about. Meanwhile a strong west coast ridge forces the split jet stream to ridge up over the Rockies and Canadian Coast Range and into far northwestern Canada. A Low pressure system off the California coast, and a sharply digging trough in the Gulf of Alaska helps lock this pattern in place as these two work in conjunction with a persistent high over the Rockies to continue directing the Pacific Polar Jet northeast. Any cold air lurking way up there in the Northwest Territories can also be tapped, as well as create the setup necessary to even have "cross polar flow" from Siberia. The polar jet then comes charging southeast across Canada, approaches the vortex in Quebec, and that continues to direct the jet south and underneath it...right across the Northeast U.S. This setup will continue to rule our weather for at least the next 7-10 days if not longer.

4. WHAT ARE EARLY INDICATIONS FOR SPRING BREAK?

This over-abundance of cold which should have been spent in December, January and February is now being worked out of the system. I would not expect a consistent return to normal temperatures until at least the weekend AFTER St. Patty’s Day. But I do think March will follow it’s traditional route… in like a lion, out like a lamb. It is not impossible to see much-above normal temperatures by Easter or even a few days prior to it. I believe many of us in the Northeast will see 70 F by then, and even 80 F before the month is out.

The way I see this pattern breaking by month's end is actually how it started. I believe the NAO is going to do itself in. As more and more systems get pushed southeast by the vortex, this inadvertently sends High pressure southeast as well. It is the Highs which can have the longest lasting effect, as once one gets parked in the Gulf of Mexico such as in what is happening right now...it tends to pump heat northeast. Although the cold gets reinforced by the strong vortex, the clash between cold and warm enhances. Another high is sent south or southeast behind a clipper, that high lingers in the Gulf a few days. Eventually we reach a point where the upper level low in the Southwest and a Gulf High have the combined effect of lifting the northwest flow out of the midwest. I can see this would put pressure on the vortex to lift northeast, especially if the NAO begins trending toward neutral. The last straw is if there is a brief letup in the storm parade. That enables the southern systems to overwhelm the pattern with southwest winds. When that happens, we will see a rapid return to spring and temperatures in the 70's throughout the Northeast, and probably by month's end.

It has happened before, and this March I believe will go to the extremes for both sides of the aisle. As for the rest of spring and into summer, a overly cold March would argue for a warmer April, a cooler May, and a warmer June according to the theory I use for how the months see-saw the variables until temperature anomalies balance out.

ABOUT THE GRAPHICS: I have learned that the graphics program I use is having programming problems and the company will hopefully fix this soon. It is unnerving not be able to show you some of the evidence in a graphical sense, but I trust you will be patient.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

HEY NOW, HEY NOW...DON'T DREAM IT'S OVER

HEADING INTO THE WEEKEND, THERE IS MUCH TO TALK ABOUT AS THE ATMOSPHERE IS ALIGNING ITSELF FOR ANOTHER PERIOD OF COLD AND STORMY WEATHER NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND. The first in a long series of clippers will dash across the Southern Mid-Atlantic on today delivering 1-3" of snow in higher elevations from western PA to western MD to the Virginia mountains. Beyond that things get very interesting, and I have updated the Storm Analysis and Week Ahead Sections below. I will be away skiing today so no updates until later tonight. I am very sorry however that I cannot seem to get my graphics on line. This is the second day it has happened and I have no idea why. I am using Picasa/Hello as my image upload programs, so if you have any advice on this, please let me know.

FIRST, JUST THE WEATHER

SATURDAY: This clipper has changed it's tune as you notice I am doing also. The GFS WAS right in that it would head farther south, in fact VERY much farther south...to the Carolinas. As you can plainly see on TWC, there is no high pressure system nearby thus the reason you see hardly any snow at all on the map. Snowfall will be limited to higher elevations, and a dusting to 1" at best.

SUNDAY: A welcome respite from the cold as west-southwest winds in advance of the next cold front sweep in much warmer air. Highs near 50 south of Philly, in the 40's north.

MONDAY: that cold front and accompanying system approaching the Great Lakes will continue to surge warm air on the heels of southwest winds across the Northeast. Temperatures could actually crack ABOVE normal for a day. For example DC is normally 54 by now, and could see 60. Baltimore is normally 52, and will push into the upper 50's. It will be a delightful two day period during which I hope the plants in our school's greenhouse can get recharged from the warmth and sunlight. Showers are expected late in the day as the front sweeps to the coast.

TUESDAY: Now it gets interesting. The second in a long series of clippers heads for the coast, and moisture left behind the front clashes with a new surge of cold air coming SE from the nearby polar vortex in Ontario and Quebec. I notice over the past few days that the Tuesday forecast has been jumping all over the place, from rain to cloudy to now rain/snow showers. It is a good bet that the reintroduction of fresh cold air will turn anything left over behind that front to snow. However warm roads and ground surfaces will limit or negate any accumulation.

WEDNESDAY: Proverbial calm before the storm. The third clipper coming east from the southern Lakes is being depicted by a variety of computer models as intensifying as is revolves around the south side of the Polar Vortex. This is known as "surface reflection" of the upper level Low. This storm will undoubtedly be the first of several that may make a permanent mark in your memory as one of the great March snowstorms of the past 10 years or so. If not, it only raises the stakes for the next system

THURSDAY-FRIDAY: This is the current timeframe targeted for development and impact of Kahuna 3, as indicated on this site almost a week ago. This system will likely be the Coastal version of the Wednesday system, arriving in the evening, and lasting into Thursday. Cold air having recharged behind the Tuesday system will allow for snow to quickly break out along the I-95 corridor. Liquid equivalents being pegged for this event are .75 – 1.25 for the major cities. With a snow ratio of 10 to perhaps 15:1…the potential exists for 12 to 18 inches to fall out of the SKY. The difference between our last big storm is that there much colder air is expected to accompany this storm, so snowfall rates will be higher. However sun angle and warmer road and ground surfaces may negate 3-4 inches or more. What would appear to be a 12-18 inch storm may be cut down to an 6-12 inch storm. Temperatures on Wednesday 3/9 will start out mild, but will head lower as the cold air encroaches.

Remember the March 1993 Blizzard occurred on 3/12-13, and despite higher sun angle and several days of 50 F in advance of the storm, every major city from Atlanta, GA to Portland, ME got many many inches of snow, ON THE ROADS. While that scenario is unlikely in this particular storm, it does serve to remain naysayers that March can produce BIG TIME snow in a short period of time.

WHAT EFFECT WILL THIS HAVE ON THE MONTH IN GENERAL? This over-abundance of cold which should have been spent in December, January and February is now being worked out of the system. Hence the statement, "Welcome Back to January." I would not expect a consistent return to normal temperatures until at least the weekend AFTER St. Patty’s Day. But I do think March will follow it’s traditional route… in like a lion, out like a lamb. It is not impossible to see much-above normal temperatures by Easter, maybe 70 F? Maybe 80 F ? It has happened before, and this March I believe will go to the extremes for both sides of the aisle. As for the rest of spring and into summer, a overly cold March would argue for a warmer April, a cooler May, and a warmer June according to the theory I use for how the months see-saw the variables until temperature anomalies balance out.

ANALYSIS OF THIS PATTERN

Our last big storm from Monday the 28th pumped heat northeast into the combined double barrel air flow of Labrador Low and Azores High near Greenland. This warm air enhances both systems, creating a continous stream of air flow into far northeast Canada. When this warm air intrudes into higher latitudes, it has the logical effect of redirecting the polar vortex usually located much farther north down into in SE Canada or even over the Northeast US. When that happens, the vortex often gets "locked in" as shown by the Accuweather graphics in the previous post. This is why we have observed Negative NAO values as low as they have been in the past 50 years. As shown on my graphics, the PNA is already heading for the stratosphere, and forecasters at HPC as well as those from Baltimore to Boston are becoming noticeably concerned in their discussions that the -NAO and +PNA setup cannot go on much longer without a major phasing event on the East Coast.

Now think about the downstream consequences. Each subsequent Low pressure system which passes on by uses it’s counterclockwise motion to enhance the double barrel effect which puts increasing pressure on the 500 mb Polar Vortex swirling about. Meanwhile a strong west coast ridge forces the split jet stream to ridge up over the Rockies and Canadian Coast Range and into far northwestern Canada. A Low pressure system off the California coast, and a sharply digging trough in the Gulf of Alaska helps lock this pattern in place as these two work in conjunction with a persistent high over the Rockies to continue directing the Pacific Polar Jet northeast. Any cold air lurking way up there in the Northwest Territories can also be tapped, as well as create the setup necessary to even have "cross polar flow" from Siberia. The polar jet then comes charging southeast across Canada, approaches the vortex in Quebec, and that continues to direct the jet south and underneath it...right across the Northeast U.S. This setup will continue to rule our weather for at least the next 7-10 days if not longer.

There are about 4-5 distinct clipper type systems on the map, lined up clear out into the Pacific that will follow the Polar Jet according to the setup described in the previous paragraph. Any one or more of these systems has the potential to become a major Northeast snowmaker over the next 10 days.

I believe the “front runner” low on Tuesday is going to be little boy who pulls his finger out of the dam, allowing the Polar Vortex air to come charging in behind that system right into the face of the newly energized southern stream riding along the southwest winds ahead of the front runner cold front. The Tuesday storm is not going to be the major event, but rather will deal the cards onto the table that the Thursday-Friday system is going to play. You would have to agree that many, many of the best possible cards are already on the table, the Queen of Spades is safely buried at the bottom of the down pile, and the game is about to get real fun real soon.




WELCOME BACK TO JANUARY

Water break during Thursday afternoon lacrosse practice in Dundalk, MD

Conditions: Winds northwest at 15-25 mph. Wind chill 25 F.