Saturday, February 11, 2006

10:40 PM evening update
Feb 1D

This is what walking on sunshine is like in the Foot household, when I can watch my little girl participate in her first big snowstorm. Ironically this is arriving on the 23rd anniversary of my first big snowstorm as a child, the Feb 11 Blizzard of 1983. (The date says 2/12 because the camera is set incorrectly, but trust me this was around 7 PM Saturday).

So here we are about to turn the corner and go into the long night of what may be terrifically heavy snow for some (DC to NYC ) or a long night of anticipation for others (Boston on north). Heck I even heard that Tampa NWS is calling for flurries tomorrow. At the current rate of snowfall in the Baltimore region, it appears my 4" is going to verify and probably go over. This might sound wishy-washy, but my original forecast as posted in earlier statements and on the email distribution list was 4" in Dundalk by midnight Saturday. That looks to be right on. But the storm is no where near over. I can now see on radar the long expected "pivoting" of the comma head and the Low now deepening off Albemarle Sound in coastal NC. It seems likely that bands of heavy snow will continue to redevelop over the I-95 corridor into the night as moisture rotating in from the Atlantic gets "wrapped around" by the return flow on the NW side of the storm. I also see that our old friend NAO has slowly trended from slightly negative to neutral in the past few days and I have said many times before that is an essential piece of the puzzle needed to get a Nor'easter to turn up the coast ever so gently in order for the Mid-Atlantic to get blasted.

The next graphic shows what accumulations I expect to occur over the next 8 hours... from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. This assumes that all of my numbers posted earlier verify and you would add on top of those to get your storm totals. For our friends in the North...specifically Southern New England, I will do a separate forecast for you Sunday morning. The numbers you see here are supposed to represent the locations of our frequent viewing friends and what I think will fall at your house between NOW and 6:00 AM. So please post your observations first thing tomorrow so we can compare notes.

Feb 1C

I am not going to pretend that I was right all along and change my story to make it sound like I really nailed this one. I do think it is fair to say that I accurately predicted 3 days in advance the amount of snow that would be on the ground by midnight in my backyard. On Thursday 2/9 I said 4" by midnight. But in all fairness, I underestimated the ability of the storm to maintain a large snow shield when it was still in developmental stages. I also did not expect the storm to hug the coast as much as it did, and seeing the NAO now makes me realize that was probably going to be the case from the beginning. It will be interesting to see what the storm does once it moves out of the above normal waters of the Gulf Stream and into the below normal waters south of Long Island and off the Jersey Coast.

So the Final Word on this Storm, I think it will be ranked a 3 on the newly established NESIS (Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale) created by our buddy Paul Kocin of TWC and Louis Uccellini of NWS in 2004. I compare this most closely with the Jan 22, 1987 storm which has a special place in my heart for a few reasons I'll explain later.

How Big Kahuna #1 of 2006 may end up a Boston Blizzard and a Baltimore Bust

Feb 1B


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1. While I believe parts of this storm will not deliver the predicted 8-14" for some areas, I did call the onset of this storm back on January 25 when I said, "Major East Coast Snowstorm in the February 10-20 time frame" that is for anyone who thought I was slipping in my old age.

2. I have been skeptical of the forecasts for this storm from the beginning, and since Thursday, 2/9 I have been flatly stating to colleagues in the Baltimore region that this would not deliver more than 4-5" all together. I am going to hold firm to that forecast UNTIL I see with my own eyes a solid 4" on the ground in my backyard. Then I will adjust amounts.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS A TRANSCRIPT OF MY EARLIER FORECASTS POSTED IN THE EMAIL LIST ON THU 2/9 AND FRI 2/10 for those who have just joined the distribution list today, so you know the basis of the forecast.

(Emailed Thursday 2/9/06 to the Distribution List)

SNOW: Yes.
WHEN: Saturday noon to Sunday morning
HOW MUCH: 4 inches on the ground by midnight Saturday in Dundalk, MD
COLD & WINDY: Yeah sort of... highs around 35 with winds of 15-20 mph
EARLY DISMISSAL FRIDAY: No. Didn't you read the part about the storm starting SATURDAY.
DELAYED OR CLOSED MONDAY: No. Crews will have enough time to clear lots by Monday AM.
WHY? Because National Weather Service computers project roughly .5-1.0 inch of "liquid equivalent" to fall out of the sky over the Baltimore Metro region. See this link: (The purple is about .50 inches)

In a normal storm situation, 1 inch of rain is 10 inches of snow at 30 degrees. Since the Saturday temp will be closer to 35, you have to knock a few inches off the possible 10", and a few more inches due to higher sun angle and a later start time, however the ground will be plenty cold for any precip to stick on contact. Factor in that this storm is likely to be a quick mover, and strong winds behind it will blow the snow around, hence 4 inches is my final answer. (Sat PM comment, actually the ground ended up being warmer than I thought)

My forecast accountability procedure dictates that I am graded on how close to the predicted number on either side of the equation (whether over or under). Thus, if prediction is 4" and we get 5" that is 80% and a B. Or if we get 3" of the 4" = 75% and a C.

(The following was emailed to the Distribution List on Friday morning 2/10)

If you read Thursday's comments on this storm, then you know everything there is to know about what will happen in the Baltimore Metro Region.

"BUT... BUT... THE NEWS SAID 6 - 12" !!!"
They're wrong. Ain't nobody in all of Baltimore County gonna get 12 inches.

All y'all will have 4 INCHES on the ground by midnight Saturday from
Towson on south to DC, and MAYBE 6 inches MAX from Towson on north
to the PA line. (Okay, Hereford gets 6.2) Here's why:

1. High Pressure in Canada is NOT in an ideal location for a big Baltimore storm.
That alone makes me discount this storm somewhat.

2. It's Cloudy right now (8AM Friday). That's baaadd, because the clouds act as
thermal insulator, and hold any heat at the surface in. Sun shines through clouds,
creating a wintertime greenhouse effect. Any heat generated today will be trapped
overnight, making more difficult for the early stages of the storm to produce heavy snow.

3. Though the sky is cloudy, the air is dry and this forces the storm to work harder
because it has to "moisten the column" of air in order for snow falling up there to
get down here before evaporating. Granted this phenomenon of "evaporative cooling"
will chill the atmosphere, but not so much that 4 inches turns into TWELVE! sheesh.

4. The orientation of the polar and subtropical jets are such that as the storm develops,
it will get squeezed by the jets as they amplify and come together, ejecting the storm
out by the Virginia capes. This will be a thump, dump, done storm.

5. To get the "12 inches of biblical porportions", any location would have to see at
least 1 inch per hour for over 10 hours. This storm will not have the staying power required
to sustain such consistently high snowfall rates over a long period of time.

Happy Friday!

Forecaster Foot


Frank said...

Started snowing in CNJ about 1 hour ago. Now it is getting pretty steady with it starting to stick everywhere except the streets at the moment. About 33 here right now.

Mr.B said...

31.5, 1" and light snow right now.

Foot's Forecast said...

I'm sorry everyone, it looks like the 58 fun comments from earlier today were deleted by the new post. And now all the links on the right are gone. Weird and frustrating. Am trying to fix.

Snowing well here in Dundalk, after a 2 1/2 month hiatus.

hoco md elkridge guy said...

Snowing decently here in Elkridge. A dusting on the ground, but not sticking to the road yet. Interesting you only predict 4 inches Foot. Everyone else besides you and Davis is saying close to a foot. Accuweather, Weather channel, WJZ, NOAA, and other too. The reason is they do think that 1 inch an hour rate will fall for many hours tonight. I'm just kind of taking it like we will only get 2 inches because I haven't gotten anything yet.

Andy, Southern York County PA said...

Moderate snow falling and covers all sidewalks and roads now in Shrewsbury PA at 4:35. Temp 30.1 degrees. 2 inches on the grass and deck with thick coating on all other concrete surfaces.

Mr.B said...

31.2, light snow not sure how much somewhere over a inch will check in a hour after a heavy band hits. Snow on sidewalks, driveways.

kristine said...

Not an awful lot here in Sparks...under trees still grass...roads wet- not white...lets hopw=e it picks up tonight as I have an anxious 6 year old just chompin at the bit to sledd...

terpguy said...

1730 local

Fallston @ 31.8F. Light snow covering everything except the streets...and just starting there.

John said...

Snowing here in Pikesville. Trees are covered with snow. The grass is covered, and outside the roads are just wet. The sidewalks over at Old Court Middle haven't even begun to get covered.

Foot's Forecast said...

Not sticking at all to roads or sidewalks in Dundalk, but covering grass and cars nicely.

I'd love to see 12 inches. That would be our largest accumulation since Feb 03! I'm sure many of you remember the Feb 83 Blizzard, now that was a whiteout, with thundersnow and all.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you're on about Mr. Foot. With all due respect, I trust the likes of Rob G (Fox 29) and Hurrican (NBC10) more....granted im in SE PA (Montgomery County) and not in your 'bust zone'...

I'm counting on 8-13+ inches, with no work on Sunday

I believe DC will def get 6-12...

I completly disagree with you. The storm JUST started (well first flakes at 3pm, but that was flurries), the storm isnt suppose to get heavy until MIDNIGHT. 1-4am should be the target of heavy heavy snow.

The storm 'started' at 3pm, and is due to end around 1-2pm on Sunday....thats a good 23hrs or so of light-moderate-heavy snow (should the timing verfity)....


Julee said...

Just saw Norm Lewis capitulate and say 6 - 10 inches, but this storm has been all over the place, so I think it's anybody's guess.
About an inch and a half of fluffy stuff on my back porch in Pikesville.

linda said...

Starting to cover the streets, My doubting Thomas son says that well only get four inches at best. I think I'm going to win this one! Reporting from Bucks County till next time!!

Katie said...

Heavy, wet snow in Belcamp! It's still not sticking to roadways, but the grass is decently covered!
Can I be the first to complain about weekend snow!? As a teacher I count on at least a couple snow days to get me through the year!
;-) Come on THUNDERSNOW!!!

Foot's Forecast said...

Mr. Anonymous:

If you are new to this website then you wouldn't know that I often have a different viewpoint than the media outlets and other forecasters. I have my reasons and 25 years of forecasting experience to back up my logic.

I know my forecast is different than others. If you saw my earlier snowfall predictions, I said 8" for Philly, so when there is a verified 8" on the ground at PHL and it is still snowing, then I will adjust my numbers. I don't waffle with every change of the models, and I don't adjust my numbers with each hourly news cycle.

In fact, if I predict 8 and your range is 8-13 and you get 8, then I get the A and not Hurricane Schwartz. If not, I'll be the first to admit my forecast was wrong AND I'll explain why. Will they?

Anonymous said...

Haha fair enough Mr. Foot.

I've been reading your posts since late 2004...I find them very insightful, and they do indeed add a more depth than the media.

I just personally think that 4inches is v low in DC/MD, but we'll long as I get a minimum of 8inches, and out of work tomorrow, I don't really care...haha

keep us updated!!

Anonymous said...

Love it that you are back Foot.

wvmommyof4 said...

Eastern Panhandle of WV (Harpers Ferry) has 3 inches on the ground and currently 30 degrees.

terpguy said...


2052 local 31.6F

3+" on non-road surfaces.

Roads covered (rural)

Mr.B said...

Mr. foot when will the snow start to get heavier?

Foot's Forecast said...

almost 9pm and barely 2 inches in Dundalk. Started to stick nicely to parking lots and secondaries around 7 PM. Snowing madly but consistently now since dark.
My original 4cast for Baltimore Metro was 4 inches by midnight Saturday (go back and look at previous posts if you don't believe me).

I can't stay up late and watch every flake but what I will do is post an accumulation summary for the second period of the storm (midnight to daybreak). This is one of those great times of life when you go to bed knowing it's snowing and can't wait to wake up and see how much fell overnight. So I will predict what awaits me in the AM in the next post coming soon.

Mr. B you are on the NW fringe of this so sadly I don't know if you're going to get the heavy snow out of this one. Better chance of lake effect once that wrap around wind kicks in off the lake.

Mr. A. Nonymous. I do hope you get at least 8-10. I'd like to get a passing grade for Philly in this storm.

Personally I would be thrilled to see 12 beautiful inches bury my town and any chance of school on Monday along with it. Sure is nice to look out my window and see heavy snow for a change and not bland brown.

Hey Mommyof3.. another one on the way? Congrats that is incredible. If I had four, I doubt I would even have time to watch 39 and 1/2 seconds of the weather channel any day of the year

Anonymous said...

Mr. Foot, my work's website just posted that they will open at 12 tentatively...

my shift starts at 12 to begin with...

what do you think the chances are of me having completly off?

Plymouth Meeting, Mongomery County, PA


Foot's Forecast said...

well it depends if you are considered "essential personnel" which my pastor always thought was an oxymoron. He said in a recent sermon:
"So if I work here, but I'm not considered essential, what does that mean?"

I see that Balt-DC NWS extended the Heavy Snow Warning to 10AM.. maybe Philly will follow suit. As I always tell the teachers, be prepared to go in no matter what, so you are pleasantly surprised if you do get the day off. I think it also depends on how big your parking lot at work is, and how quickly the company contracted to clear it can get there. If this becomes an overnight monster with 12"+ realized for many areas, then perhaps you would get a few extra hours before you had to go in.

I'd get your rest now just in case you have to work, or have to stay home and shovel 8-13+ ;-)

Tootles everyone, going off to snowdreamland, to dream of myself getting Monday off. Looking forward to your obs tomorrow morn.

Anonymous said...

6 inches on grassy areas and about 4.5" on sidewalks in Timonium! Moderate to heavy snow and windy. 31 degrees.

Frank said...

about 3.5" in cnj by Rutgers, moderate to heavy snow. Hoping we can see that 12" mark!

wvmommyof4 said...

Harpers Ferry has 6" on the ground and temp. is 29. HEAVY SNOW:)

linda said...

Snowing Hard in Bucks county 3/4inch an hour, and the heaviest is not here yet.

Anonymous said...

8"(5.5 on sidewalks) at 12:15 in timonium. 1 foot of snow is now in reach!!!

E.H. Boston said...

Still moon and stars out starting to get covered here in Boston. Temp is a chilly 24 and it smells like snow. And it is moving in from the west and coming up from the south. Blizzard conditions from 9AM-3PM tomorrow. Blizzard Warning in effect for much of eastern MA, RI and south CT.

Hey just another typical day in New England.

This is what we call a "DUSTING" of snow. No I lied...we refer to 6" or less of snow as a dusting. It doesn't close schools. Need at least 8"+ to close any schools around here and at least 18"+ on the ground after a weekend storm to close these hard New England schools. Probably classes on Monday in Boston. Most definetly.

Really ain't that big a deal.

Enjoy the snow everyone.

terpguy said...



Coming down like gangbusters.


It has to be 10"...maybe more.


Foot's Forecast said...

11:00 PM...abut 2.5/3 inches
2:30 AM...about 4.5 inches
5:45 AM...yikes, about 9.5 inches
6:25 least 10 and pouring like mad. Haven't seen it like this since Feb 03. When I went to open my storm door, there was snow blocking the bottom, then I said:

"Houston, I have a problem.

Preparing the morning update and that'll be the headline. This is the first time in my life of forecasting that I have to wear the bag for being UNDER!

In defense of myself though.. I think my numbers did verify well for some areas in the time frame I set out. For Foot's Forecast Headquarters, I said 4 more inches between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM, and that's what we got.

I saw 7.2 at BWI airport. I also saw this lump in the backyard which is my snowblower. That sick feeling of dread now starting to descend.

linda said...

WOW!!!I can hardley see out my windows. They are almost completly covered!!I let my dog out, and it certainly was the quickest that she ever went.What a storm!!Wake up everybody, and enjoy. Also everyone be careful with shoveling, and or snow blowing.
From: Blown away in Bucks County!!

Foot's Forecast said...

Linda! How much we are dying to hear.

linda said...

Thunder snow, and lightning, this is awsome.Look out Boston, if it's this bad here, and you are in a blizzard warning, WOW!

linda said...

It looks like about 11 inches and snowing really hard, but its hard to tell with all the drifting. At my garage door, when I opened it I could have used thigh high boots. Just kidding, but almost!

linda said...

When I said that my windows were covered I didn't mean in deep snow, I meant from the snow blowing they are almost completely covered.the news just said the rate of snowfall is 1 to 3inches per hour in my area, When I get an official reading I'll let you know.

wvmommyof4 said...

Well, it is just light flurries now. I believe it is winding down. We have approx. 14 inches. The kids are loving it:)