Sunday, February 26, 2006

AND NOW OUR NEXT CONTESTANT…
THE PANDEMIC

SAT 25 APRIL 2009: This commentary was first published on 26 Feb 2006 and is revisited for evidence that this has been on my radar screen for quite some time. ORIGINAL POST:

And you thought this was primarily a weather hazards site? As John Lennon says, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Friends, Mother Nature has conjured up and is carrying out a plan that more sooner than you would expect is going to affect each and every one of us, and may very well change the entire fabric of our society forever. If you’ve come to trust this site for an educated analysis of the weather, then I encourage you to extend that trust another step. Since September 2005 I have been conducting extensive and exhausting research on the impact and spread of a particular avian influenza, of which you all are familiar with by now, H5N1 or commonly referred to as “bird flu.”

My research into this topic has been part of the reason why my posts on this site have stopped being as regular as last year, although adding a child to the family and my wife going back to work were equally as influential. Simply put, the time I used to devote to detailed, long-term meteorological analysis in pinpointing the nuances of the next winter storm has been curtailed. That time has been spent researching and preparing for what I now strongly believe will be an inevitable worldwide epidemic (a pandemic) of highly pathogenic influenza. This event will be unlike any natural catastrophe in human history, will happen in our lifetimes, and may even get underway before the end of this year.

If you are totally thrown out of whack by this so far, then look over the US Government website on Pandemic Influenza, and pay special attention to the tab labeled "Individuals and Families." Let me also provide you some reasons behind this seismic change on a weather site. The purpose of this website has always been to provide a well-researched, straight-forward assessment of potential severe weather hazards which may threaten the U.S. East Coast and Northeast Corridor. Well, the times, they are a’ changing.’ From this point forward, the focus of the site will now include an on-going review of the threat posed by H5N1 to North America, in addition to forecasting for hurricanes and winter storms. In fact, I could argue that my study of meteorological and climatological patterns is closely linked to the epidemiology of bird flu, (as defined by Webster's the sum of the factors controlling the presence or absence of a disease or pathogen) because the whole situation revolves around wild bird migration brought on by change of the seasons. I have been following the bird flu situation so closely that, well, you know, I’ve let other tasks falter from time to time. But the reason I’ve done that is probably more instinctive than anything else, because a pandemic directly threatens my family, my livelihood and our future. I’m a scientist and a teacher, so you’d better believe that when something of this magnitude comes along, I’m not going to sit idly by and wait for it to pounce on me. I’m going to find out everything I can about it, and then do whatever it takes to protect my family.

But as a reader of this site, you are in effect, an pseudo-extended member of that family. For a while I have been thinking that it would be nice someday for those of us whom often correspond here to meet, say on an annual basis… just for fun. A “Friends of Foot’s Forecast” Convention, just a fun random gathering once a year to talk, share stories, get to know each other, let our kids play together, etc. I had actually been thinking about making a formal proposal on the site to host something like that starting this May. Your participation on this site makes it a rewarding endeavour for me, and motivates me to continue the challenge, and to continue being a life-long learner. But sadly, I am learning that events may change too fast in the coming months for such a gathering to happen this year. Instead, I felt it necessary to bring you up to date on those things that do keep me up at night, because as of late it has not been “when is the next storm” but rather “how much time do I have left to prepare for this pandemic?”

That’s what this site will try to sort out and identify over the next 3 months. Instead of creating a new blog solely for bird flu, it’s all going to be right here… winter storms, hurricanes, and the mother of all maelstroms… pandemic influenza. If you think I should just stick to forecasting weather, you are welcome to voice your opinions, or do the research I've done and present an opposing viewpoint. What I’m going to present is not designed or intended to be hype or fear-mongering, but the information is now reaching a level that just stating the facts is getting scary. I do this because I know you have families, I know you saw what happened with Katrina, and I know you’ve wondered what would happen if your family faced that kind of situation. So let me start by breaking it down for you this way: An H5N1 Influenza Pandemic now or at any point in our remaining lifetime would be the equivalent of POST KATRINA NEW ORLEANS WORLDWIDE.

There are so many implications and ramifications of this concept that it will take me hours and hours to spell it all out (which I will attempt to do slowly over the next 3 months). But this virus, though it mostly resides in birds at the moment, is a serious, persistent and growing threat to the very stability of every aspect of our life on Earth and has the ability to unravel the foundations of Western Civilization like no other natural event has ever before. Scared yet? Think I'm crazy yet? Are you in denial yet? I’ve been mortified since September so let me wake you up a little more. The following statements are TRUE and are supported with a source link.

1. The British Government ordered 200,000 body bags last week and is planning to create 15 temporary mortuaries around the U.K. to handle an overload of corpses should a pandemic occur. Source: UK Times-Mirror

2. Marriott International is ordering gloves, masks and protective gear for it's employees in Asian hotels worldwide. Source: San Francisco Chronicle

3. The National Academy of Science is hosting a conference in Washington, DC March 6 and 7 on the topic of developing “re-useable face masks” to help the public protect themselves in the event of a pandemic. Source: National Academy Public Meeting

4. The U.S. Chicken Industry in January began implementing plans to test every flock of commercial poultry in the entire country for H5N1. Source: MSNBC.com

5. Virologists have recently established that if a HIV-positive person in Africa also contracted H5N1, the unique reassortment of those two viruses might enable that person to become a more efficient “transmitter” of a human bird flu strain to others for months or years before themselves becoming ill. Source: AIDSmap News

In short, bird flu is not going away anytime soon, it is going to become a part of our life just like dealing with the events of 9-11 have, and may arrive in North America as early as this spring or summer, as explained by in an International Herald Tribune article written by Laurie Garrett from the Council on Foreign Relations. If you are new to this topic and think I have completely flipped, then spend some time looking through the links I have posted to the right. Another eye-opening assessment of the situation was written by Dr. Michael Osterholm in the July 2005 edition of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Osterholm is one of the nation's premier experts on this virus threat, and is Associate Director of ‘CIDRAP’ the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

If a winter storm comes blowing up anytime soon, you can bet I'll be on it. But the bigger fish (or bird) for the foreseeable future is going to be getting a handle on, and understanding the bird flu threat as it pertains to your family and our society. The US Government website says it best... "Get Informed, Be Prepared." That's what I've been doing and I hope you will consider doing the same, for the sake of your friends and family. Your comments and opinions are welcome, and I will post again on this topic after it is clear we are finished with winter storms for this season.

Flyways Map 1

The yellow regions shown on this Wild Bird Flyways map show there are at least 4 major regions in the world (2 in North America) where migration paths cross over, creating a persistent and growing ability of infected birds to cross-infect new flocks which can then carry the virus to a major nesting area, hence the recent spreads to Africa and Europe as reported in the news.

Monday, February 13, 2006

AND NOW FOR THE POSTGAME

Feb 1I

From L to R, top row to bottom row: Tis the season for LOVE, for powderhounds and cupids alike, unless you have "a better idea," or does the snow excite you so much you're like a dog after a stick. Though it is a Happy Monday for most of us, definitely not for that cab driver. Maybe you've "been for a walk on a winter day' (with the Mamas and Papas), but when you get back, be sure to clear off Mama and Papas car. Photos from: Philly (top row), NYC and Boston, bottom row.

HOW DID MY FORECAST NUMBERS FARE?

This will be presented as Location, first accumulation forecast, plus second, plus final. Remember that I divided the storm into three time components...

A) Noon Saturday to 10:00 PM Sat, B) Then 10:00 pm Sat to 6:00 AM Sun, C) 6:00 AM Sun to the end of snowfall. So the final forecast number is based on added those three numbers up, then dividing by the actual observed amount as reported by NWS spotters or offical locations. Note that if there are zeros in the equation, it means I did not forecast additional amounts or left alone what I originally forecasted. In case you were wondering how it is I suddenly have all this free time with 2 children at home, one is watching "Little Einsteins," Mommy is showering and baby is sleeping, so I rushed to the keyboard as any father would naturally do. Oop, spoke too soo. I hear muttering in the baby's room.

FOR PART C OF THE STORM, THE FORECAST CRITERIA I USED IN THE 2-12 POST:
1. From DC to Balto to Frederick MD west to Harper's Ferry, WV... 1 more inch.
2. Along a line from DC to Balto to Philly and east to Del-Mar-Va, another 2-3 inches by noon 3. Along the extreme Eastern shores of Del-Mar-Va and New Jersey, another 3-4 inches

NOW FOR THE RESULTS:

Richmond, VA: 4 + 0 + 0 = 4.0 / actual 3.0 = 75% (25% over) Grade C

Charlottesville, VA: 7 + 0 + 0 = 7.0 / actual 8.0 = 87% Grade B

Martinsburg, WV: (actually Harper's Ferry) 8 + 4 + 1 = 13.0 / actual 14.0 = 92% Grade A

Baltimore, MD (BWI): 6 + 4 + 1 = 11 / actual at airport 13.2 = 80 % Grade B

Dundalk, MD: 5 + 4 + 1 = 10 / actual at my house 11 = 90% Grade A.

(However, my colleagues and students at Dundalk High School and elsewhere in Baltimore County will want to see the bag since I originally said NO MORE than 4")

Towson, MD: 4 + 4 + 1 = 9.0 / actual 16.0 = 56% Grade E

Elkton, MD: 4 + 4 + 2.5 = 10.5 / actual 15.0 NWS = 70% Grade C

Malvern, PA: 7 + 5 + 1 = 13 / actual 17 = 76% = Grade C

Philadelphia, PA (airport): 8 + 2 + 1 = 11 / actual 12.0 NWS = 91% Grade A

Bucks Co, PA: 7 + 3 + 0 = 10.0 / actual 16.0 News = 62 % Grade D

State College, PA: 1 + 0 + 0 = 1.0 / actual 2.1 NWS = 47% Grade E

Ocean City, NJ: (actually Atlantic City) 10 + 3 + 3.5 = 16.5 / actual 4.2 = total bust, Grade E

Rutgers Univ, NJ: 8 + 4 + 3.5 = 15.5 / actual 19.0 = 81% Grade B

Central Park, NYC: 11 + 6 + 0 (gave up) = 16.0 / actual 26.9 = 59% Grade E

Hartford, CT: 12 + 0 + 0 (gave up) = 12.0 / actual 27.0 = total bust, Grade E

Providence, RI: 13 + 0 + 0 = 13 / actual 12.0 NWS = 9% over Grade A

Boston, Logan Apt: 11 + 0 + 0 (gave up) = 11.0 / actual 17.0 NWS = 64% Grade D

Woburn, MA: 14 + 0 + 0 = 14 / actual 15.0 NWS = 7% over Grade A

WHAT'S THE FINAL GRADE POINT AVERAGE FOR THE STORM FORECAST?

Oh you had to ask. Well grading this on a 4.0 scale means E is 0, A is 4 and so on. I get a grade point total of 38 and 18 locations, thus 38 / 18 = 2.11, a basic C. So my score is average, Maybe someday I can grow up to be Pesident since he had average grades too! Hey, at least I hit some of my targets, unlike the Vice President on his hunting trip.

The remainder of this week, updates will be via the email distribution list. Mrs. Foot returns to work the middle of next week after her 12 week maternity leave, so only expect this site to be updated when there is a big storm on the horizon. Think of it this way, you'll hear about storm developments on email first, which will direct you back over to the site when the time comes. Until then, make sure those storm drains are CLEAR before the rain!

(If you want to be included on the email distribution list and have not already sent in your name, please send me a message to rfoot@bcps.org)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

WHAT WENT WRONG (OR RIGHT)
AND WHAT'S COMING NEXT

Feb 2B

Before every big storm is even over, there is always speculation about another one lurking out there, just waiting to pounce before your back has had a chance to recover. This time, the crystal ball is more murky and there are big changes going on in the atmosphere, it will take some time to get the pattern aligned again to produce something on the magnitude of what we just had, if at all. A quick glimpse at the computer models shows two events following February Kahuna # 1. Storm # 2 seems likely to cut up west of mountains, which means rain for the East coast and possible flooding due to snow clogging storm drains. On the heels of this storm will be brutally cold Arctic air, the coldest of the season, arriving Sunday and dragging into the week after. With an active Subtropical Jet turning up in the face of a large Arctic high parking over the eastern 2/3rd of the country, one would surmise that this setup has potential to deliver another snow event for the Northeast sometime NEXT Tue or Wed. The other interesting factor is our old standy, the North Atlantic Oscillation, is scheduled to stay flat the next 7-10 days. This bodes well for storm development because a stable NAO in the neutral position would allow a big system to move gradually across the country from the SW to the Gulf to the Northeast while gathering lots of moisture on it's way. A strong negative NAO might overwhelm the pattern and push the storm out to sea along the Carolinas. A strong positive NAO would cause the storm to drift too far north as it comes up from the south, and you'd see snow change to rain. This much is certain:


1. There will be plenty of cold air in Canada that has to make it south sometime soon.


2. Each day we approach Spring the SubTropical Jet gets climatologically more active.


3. If the snowpack over the Northeast survives this week, that will only enhance your chance for another big storm in the February 18-22 time frame.


SO WHAT WRONG WITH BIG KAHUNA # 1 ? WHY DID IT TURN INTO SUCH A MONSTER ?
I am working on my storm grade numbers among other tasks around the house. But here is a synposis of what happened (and is still happening in this storm). I will add to this with a few links and some graphics later.


1. Conventional wisdom about storm dynamics did not work well. The waters off New Jersey and Southern New England are below normal. This should not have enabled the storm to explode the way it did. It is possible the above normal waters near NC provided more rapid evaporation and the transfer of moisture from the ocean to the storm to the land was faster than expected. Thus you read amazing reports of 11" in 3 hours at New York City.


2. The lack of "cold air damming" at the onset of this storm obviously did not impede it's ability to hammer us. There was enough thermodynamic energy in the right places (in the ocean) to allow the storm to quickly tap the reservoir of cold air in eastern Ontario. This cold air was drawn into the storm a lot quicker than I expected, resulting in a rapid conversion of moisture to snow and the strong upward motion which resulted from this produced the thunderstorm like effects of thundersnow and lighting. It was a classic clash of cold and warm in a dramatic way. I was real skeptical Saturday afternoon when the temps in Dundalk were 42 F and the sun was shining. Yet 5 hours later the snow was falling heavily and sticking to roadways. There was enough cold air drawn into to overcome the brief warmth.


3. The wide disparity in accumulations (8 - 21 inches in Baltimore Metro region, for example) was simply a wintertime example of what summertime thunderstorms do. In summer, one part of town can be drenched with a huge downpour while the other side of town is basking in the sun. Same thing with this storm, except that the thunderstorms developed inside a raging snowstorm, and when they popped, up went your snowfall rates almost instantly. Areas that did not see the crazy amounts of snow were simply missed by the little mini-thunderstorm cells that briefly materialized inside the snow bands, dropped their extra 3-4 inches and then fizzled. Had I thought ahead that the upward motion effect would produce thundersnow, I would have upped my totals. However, predicting where and when a random thunderstorm is going to strike, especially when the storm itself is buried inside a blizzard no less, it just about impossible. There were only a few rumbles of thunder in Dundalk, and we were on the low end of snowfall.. 11-12 inches. Other areas like Timonium have 18" and there were many reports of thundersnow for at least an hour last night. So there's the connection.


DON'T I HAVE TO WEAR THE BAG NOW THAT THE STORM IS OVER ?
Yes, friends I will be wearing the bag, and having Mommy take a picture for all of you to see. I challenge my news media counterparts to do the same when their forecasts bust, up or down. The pic will be posted here shortly, along with a pic from our local bus lot to show you how much work they have up there. See you later tonight.





"HOUSTON, I HAVE A PROBLEM..."
Take a look at this satellite loop if you don't believe me.
Feb 1G

As of 7:45 AM...at least 11 inches in Dundalk, MD at Foot's Forecast HQ

Feb 1F

Okay, I admit it, there is a teensy bit more than 4" out there at the present time.
Hey, quit complaining my forecast was off the mark, because the next statement
will make it all worth the hassle. My new name is Captain Obvious, and I want to say:

NO SCHOOL MONDAY FOR THE ENTIRE BALTIMORE AND DC METRO REGIONS,
AS WELL AS SUBURBAN PHILADELPHIA AND WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK

We have crossed the 8" barrier necessary to make it impossible for school bus parking lots to be cleared in time for regular opening time on Monday. I will march myself the grueling 1/3 of a mile up the road later today and take a photo of our local bus parking lot to demonstrate proof of my theory.

Am working on an analysis of my snowfall amounts for the first 2 period of the storm (12 noon Sat - 12 midnight Sat, and 12AM Sun to 6AM Sun) now I have a third period to assess for how much more and when it will stop.

A reminder to anyone who has joined us since midnight today, if you wish to be added to the email distribution list, please send me a message at rfoot@bcps.org Note that I will not reply to your message, just be assured your address will be added to the list. This feature will be used when there is a developing situation and I cannot post to the site during school because our filtering system blocks most blogs from being viewed by school computers. If you already sent a message in the past 24 hours, you are already on the list.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE...WHEN WILL IT BE OVER AND HOW MUCH BY THEN?

Feb 1E

Let me use Dundalk as my guide for what is left of the storm. I estimated 4 inches would fall by midnight Saturday, and we had about 4. Then I said another 4 inches by 6:00 AM, and we have about 5.5 for a total of probably 10 at the moment. For Dundalk, MD I estimate another 2 inches will fall between 7 AM and Noon before the storm finally winds down to flurries. Looking at the Northeast radar, you can see the back edge is starting to approach, but as Andy from southern York County has pointed out before, that back edge sometimes keeps redeveloping further west as the storm rotates through. Appears to be about a 5 degree backing tilt every 15 minutes, and each tilt is shifting the axis of heavy snow from a SW-NE orientation to a more S to N orientation. Though the dark blues are heading south and east, the rotation may bring some of what is north of you on this map (wherever north of your location is) back down on top of you. Hence the reason Philly extended the Heavy Snow Warning to 1PM.

I am going to apply that rule to everyone from Central and Eastern PA south to DC, Virginia and NC who is under the blue region of the radar. I believe you'll see 2-4 more inches between now and Noon, less towards the west, more toward the East.


1. From DC to Balto to Frederick MD west to Harper's Ferry, WV... 1 more inch.


2. Along a line from DC to Balto to Philly and east to Del-Mar-Va, another 2-3 inches by noon


3. Along the extreme Eastern shores of Del-Mar-Va and New Jersey, believe it or not another 3-4 inches due to an ocean enhancing effect as the snow shield rotates with the departing Low.

SO WHY DID THIS STORM END UP BEING SO MUCH BIGGER THAN I THOUGHT?
Oh so you want the part about me wearing the bad, do you? Well as soon as Mommy wakes up, I'll get her to take a picture and then I'll the tail-between-the-legs commentary on what went wrong.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

"I'M WALKING ON SUNSHINE..."
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.




IS IT TIME TO EMBRACE THE HORROR
OR REJECT THE HYPE?
How Big Kahuna #1 of 2006 may end up a Boston Blizzard and a Baltimore Bust

Feb 1B

RED ALERT CHANGES TO THE WEBSITE FOR THIS STORM EVENT
COMMENTS HAVE BEEN ENABLED TO ACCEPT FROM ANYONE WITHOUT REGISTERING
PLEASE POST OBSERVATIONS WHEN YOU HAVE ONSET OR MEASUREABLE PRECIP

PICTURES OF THE EVENT WILL BE POSTED AS TIME AND CHILDREN PERMIT
If you wish to be added to the email distribution list, send a message to rfoot@bcps.org

If you already submitted your name, I added about 30 names just since 8AM. Thanks.

FOR THE BASIS OF SCIENTIFIC DISCUSSIONS, LET ME REMIND OF TWO THINGS:

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
BLIZZARD: No.
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.
ANY CHANCE THIS COULD BUST AND GO OUT TO SEA OR BECOME ALL RAIN: Yes
CONFIDENCE INTERVAL OF THIS FORECAST: High
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:
http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/d13_fill.gif (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


"IT'S TIME TO EMBRACE THE HORROR"
- The Character 'Rockhound' in the 1998 science fiction film Armageddon


7:45 am UPDATE
RED ALERT CHANGES TO THE WEBSITE FOR THIS STORM EVENT
COMMENTS HAVE BEEN ENABLED TO ACCEPT FROM ANYONE WITHOUT REGISTERING
PLEASE POST YOUR STORM OBSERVATIONS STARTING WITH ONSET OF SNOW
PICTURES OF THE EVENT WILL BE POSTED AS TIME AND CHILDREN PERMIT
If you wish to be added to the email distribution list, send a message to rfoot@bcps.org

6:45 am COMMENTARY
I wake up this morning unable to sleep further, not because the ladies are up, but rather that I just had to look out the window. Nothing yet, so I wonder.. hey maybe the storm did back off after all. Good, that would mean my forecast has a good chance of verifying. So I stumble downstairs trying to stay quiet in order to have at least 39 and 1/2 seconds of private time today before, well, you know... the Golden Girls wake up. I really do love all of them and I enjoy nothing more than spending all day playing and watching them grow. But when Golden Girl Jayla wakes up (oop, I just heard pitter patter of feet upstairs) and sees me on the computer, she will say... "Good Morning Daddy... (pause) get off the computer." Sure enough, there she is... okay, so there goes the morning and my update. I'll try to get back to the forecast after breakfast.

Basically it looks like my original forecast needs some serious dressing up, as Rockhound said, it is time to embrace the horror (and the hype), because a total storm accumulation of 10-15 inches along the I-95 corridor is a serious serious problem that will without a doubt cancel most schools on Monday from DC to Boston. So Yes Virginia, I am raising my totals and will do that soon. Thank you to many who sent a message requesting to be added to the forecast update list. Be back later.

Friday, February 10, 2006

CAN YOU SAY K...K...KAHUNA ?

Finally, the Mid-Atlantic gets a storm they have long deserved, and if all goes as planned, even Richmond, NYC and Boston will get into the act. Thus, I am naming this Big Kahuna # 1 for the 2005-06 winter. Let me just issue my storm grade forecast for accumulations and leave it at that for now. From south to north...

Richmond, VA: 4 / Charlottesville, VA: 7 / Martinsburg, WV: 8
Baltimore, MD (BWI): 6 / Dundalk, MD: 5 / Towson: 4 / Elkton, MD: 4
Malvern, PA: 7 / Philadelphia, PA: 8 / Bucks Co, PA: 7 / State College, PA: 1
Ocean City, NJ: 10 / Rutgers Univ: 8
Central Park, NYC: 11 / Hartford, CT: 12 / Providence, RI: 13 / Boston, Logan Apt: 11
Woburn, MA: 14


I may add or update these numbers Saturday morning.


It is nice to see that a forecast I made some 15 days ago is coming to fruition, even if it was short on details. I realize that many viewers have long given up on checking this site because of the persistent lack of posts, so thank you to the both of you, whomever you are...for continuing to check back from time to time. I'm sure those of you who do check are tired of the apologies and just want to see a forecast. I knew that adding a child to one's family might slow me down at home, but it has had the effect of virtually halting all efforts to interact with the outside world once we go into the 4PM to 10PM realm. I know many of you are parents or have worked with youth extensively and have been through all of this so much you could even design a website and offer parenting advice. But nowadays, with a wonderful little baby girl clinging to my shoulder gazing into my eyes, it is just about impossible to do much else at home in the evenings aside from caring for and spending time with my three ladies. I have been skeptical of this storm since the beginning, and am still for several reasons, but I don't have the brainpower to explain it all right now.

So here's my solution, which seems to be working thus far:

1. I have limited time in the early AM to actually write a post, all I can do is review my maps and data at home on the high speed line. When I used to post, from 6-6:30 to 6:45 am last year is now the time I am with my first daughter getting her breakfast and ready for daycare, so I have to be off the computer by 6:00 AM.

2. When I get to school, I usually have a few minutes during my email checks of my planning period, which I am blessed to have first period. This enables me to do all of my computer work, grading, lesson planning, copies and other crisis management tasks before students walk in. This is also my most productive time of the day and when I can most quickly write a forecast.

3. Here's where you come in. I send out the forecasts on an email distribution list (just started doing this the week of Feb 7 so it is new). I am embarrassed to say we haven't checked our HOME email account in days.. too busy with family. But I check school email at least 10 times a day. If you or anyone you know wants to get an instant update that is not going to be blocked by a filter (as blogspot and typepad are), then do this:


SEND A REQUEST TO ME AT: rfoot@bcps.org that you want your name and address added to the distribution list. I can do it in a flash and then we'll always be connected. I promise that you and your emails will not be ignored or overlooked. What you can't do is start corresponding with me on school email, as that will slow down my ability to focus on my job and could be interpreted by the school as personal use for which I can be penalized. My administration appears supportive of this approach and the email updates I send are right to the point.
I will continue trying to post to this site, and unfortunately I may let the typepad site go for now until summer. But if you don't add yourself to the email list, you may never see an update again! If this site goes silent for long periods of time, it means that family responsibilites have bumped everything to the bottom of the list, and forecasting is usually the first to go.

So I hope I can win you back with the email idea, and we'll try to resurrect the special community we once had going on here. Enjoy the storm and I'll post again soon when I can. Thank you for your support and understanding.
Cheers!
Mr. Foot

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

NOW WE'RE TALKING...
(or rather, feeding, burping, changing diapers...)

MAJOR "I-95 SPECIAL" BREWING FOR THE WEEKEND
Trying to post a forecast while feeding an infant and typing with one hand.
More details after the children are asleep.