Monday, February 26, 2007

-Porky Pig from the oldtime Saturday morning cartoons

Put it this way, wasn't it nice that your underperformer of a winter at least ended on a snowy note? While I did promise those of you in the Mid-Atlantic a "Very Fabulous February" could say it did work out that way for students and teachers hoping to get some time off. However, it is time to break the sad climatological and meteorological truth... looking at long range patterns (going out beyond 144 hours from now) indicate there is little in the way of a similar snow event. There is the rare occurrance of a March 13, 1993 or March 20, 1958...but the atmosphere's teleconnective signals do not point toward anything of that magnitude the remainder of this winter. To clarify from a geographical standpoint...south of I-80, I believe significant snow for the season has ended, except for the Laurel Highlands of western and central Pennsylvania. There remains the possibility of an inch here or there, but another event such as this one looks highly unlikely given reduced availability of Arctic air moving forward in time. So as you bask in the glow of have one more day to see snow out your window, here are two photos submitted by readers in the Baltimore Metro area:

The Final Snow of the Season

Courtesy of Julee in the Hereford Zone of northern Baltimore County, Maryland

See You Next Year!

Courtesy of Mr. S from Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Forecasting and analysis of the weather pattern will continue into mid-March, and then the focus of this website shifts to the mundane and non-controversial topics of climate change and pandemic influenza in the ramp up to tropical cyclone season. I can give you a tidbit of that by saying that El Nino is now trending to neutral and we may see La Nina by mid summer, I have a sneaking feeling this will be a bad year for hurricanes and could resemble 2004 or 2005 in terms of frequency and severity of storms. But much research on that awaits me, so if you want more information on that topic, please read over Dr. William Gray's preliminary forecast for the 2007 season.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

-Michael W. Smith, in Somebody Love Me from the album Change Your World

The next line is in that song is..."I don't want to wait here forever." While Loudon County, VA has already pulled the plug, those of you in Maryland know you'll have to wait until morning until you know. When will it be? 5:37.58 AM ? No in actuality I imagine most Maryland and Pennsylvania schools are going to make the decision fairly quickly and will be ready to announce first thing starting at 5:00 AM. For those counties and municipalities which did not receive the heavy duty snow (4+ inches) it's all going to come down to a few scientific factors: (1) How much re-freezing occurred overnight? (2) Are secondary roads just wet or icy? (3) Will daytime warming assist in the melting such that a 1- or 2-hour delay seems the most reasonable path to take? To augment your own personal decision making, are three graphics to round out the evening, or to greet you in the morning, whichever time you are reading this. Let's start with the best interactive roadway weather map I think exists anywhere...operated of course by the State of Maryland. If you have not seen or used this system, definitely bookmark it.. this is known as C.H.A.R.T.

Maryland Roadway Weather 2-25-07

Overall this map is indicating most major roads in Maryland are at or above 32*F as of this 9:45 PM update. You can roll over the little dots and see roadway conditions. However, most counties in this image have their snow emergency plans still in place, except for Baltimore City, Prince Georges and Kent. That takes us to the next graphic, current regional surface temperatures.

Surface Temperatures 2-25-07

While some of you are no doubt disturbed by the slot of warm air to your west, keep in mind it has been there for many hours now and has not really advanced much. Also refusing to budge is the wedge of cold air that's deep into Virginia. This is due in part to the recent snowpack that's been established over the past 12-16 hours, and the fact that a large region has essentially similar temperatures. If my facts are straight, that is called a "Baroclinic zone" in that the air mass takes on the characteristics of the area over which it occupies, thus influencing the weather underneath. If I'm off base with my concepts, I encourage the professional meteorologists who frequent this site to please help set the record straight on this. Which leads to our third map of the night: 3-hour pressure changes.

3 Hour Pressure Change 2-25-07

This connects the other 2 maps together. The dark purple shading off the DelMarVa coast is the developing secondary Low, as indicated by 3-hour decreases in surface millibar pressure. This low is forming, but will take a while yet, and by morning the precip should have cleared Philly and NYC with the fringes scraping Southern New England. Point of the map is if that weak Low forms in conjuction with the High to the north and a cold wedge in place, it will help to reinforce the cold over the region even with very nominal counter-clockwise air flow...because it is in tandem with air flow south out of the High. (Many thanks to Mr. TQ for providing the link for this during the afternoon on Sunday.)


Given what observations you've made about the maps I provided, here's a call that hopefully seems reasonable to you:

CLOSED: Frederick, Carroll, Montgomery

2-HR LATE: Anne Arunde, Howard, Harford, Cecil, SE York County PA

1-HR LATE: Baltimore City and County

3-HRS EARLY: Howard County. (Ha just wanted to see if you were attentive)

MY GUIDELINES FOR ACCURATE PREDICTION OF CLOSED THIS TIME: Condition of secondary roads, extent of icing overnight from dropping temps, expected daytime temps. This is assuming most schools will be able to clear their parking lots, sidewalks by 6:00 AM.

That is all for now, see you in the morning for the morning reports.

-Comment made by Kenneth Welsh, playing the Vice President in Day After Tomorrow to paleoclimatologist Jack Hall, played by Dennis Quaid when he suggests the climate is changing.

2:30 PM Update - SUNDAY 2/25

If you reside in the Mid-Atlantic area near the DC-Baltimore-Philly Metro areas, obviously what you see out your window would indicate a few changes to the forecast are in order.
And you would be correct. First, the current radar:

Surprise Snow on least it's not ice

The unexpectedly heavier snow is occuring due to a couple factors. The wedge of cold air was more entrenched across the coastal plain than computer models had indicated. Despite overnight temperatures not falling to far, the orientation of the airmass was more widespread in a north to south arrangement (along the East Coast) than in the East-West setup in the Valentine's Day Storm. As a professional meteorologist dutifully noted in the chat feature last night... we were concerned about the marginal aspect of surface temperatures. He made a point that has rung loud and clear today. Upward motion. The strong onshore flow into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic caused by the tandem combination of the decaying Midwest low and the High pressure ridge setup from Canada down to the south east provided ample moisture. For simplicity sake, let me explain it this way by saying Atlantic moisture is riding in along the coastal plain, striking the pervasive dome of "cool" air, (not really cold) forcing it upward quickly.

The moisture then falls through the cool air at upper levels, crystallizing into snow. As it falls, the snow slowly evaporates, creating what I discussed yesterday...evaporative cooling. This in turn chills the atmosphere and brings the air temperature near the surface "down with the snow." It is a perfect example of micro- to mesoscale atmospheric dynamics. Proof is in thermometer at your house..dropping all day when climatology this time of year suggests sun angle among other things should send that temperature up. The result? A chilled air mass which can produce a hefty amount of snow in a short time even during maximum daytime heating, overcoming subpar temperatures at the surface.


Surface Observations 130 PM 2-25

Review with me the current surface observations from Penn State's e-Wall. Notiee position of that teensy high around the Delaware Bay? I think that's inhibiting development of the secondary. You cannot have a surface Low forming in the same place as a Surface High. That's the Theory of Reciprocity, right Physics teachers? There can be an upper level low contaminating a surface High, or a weak Low next to a weak High, but not both in the same place at the same time. Momentum from the eastward pivoting dry line behind the cold/occluded front associated with the maturing Midwest low is simply flushing all the moisture to the coast. There it meets enhancement from Atlantic moisture being sent onshore by the double-barrel nature of air flow around both pressure systems. (Counterclockwise for the Low, clockwise for the High). So where is the Secondary Low to form? If it does, it will probably be weak, and have little or no effect on the final outcome of the precip in the Mid-Atlantic right now. Perhaps it will form under the High somewhere in North Carolina, but certainly not along the DelMarVa coast, at least not until pressure falls can indicate the High has decayed enough to allow for a pressure difference.

THE SNOW? WELL, THE BAD NEWS IS IT WON'T LAST LONG. Once that sharp back edge works it's way to the coast, that's probably it for those of you in northern/central Maryland. Redevelopment of a secondary isn't going to happen quickly enough to wrap a lot of energy back around and keep the snow going....there's too great of a north-northeastward motion for that I think. Energy for an explosive coastal low has basically been sapped out. What about the freezing rain that was originally predicted? That may still happen, but I am thinking not anywhere to the extent that was first believed, which is a good thing. There are still many nuances yet to uncover in this drama, and I may have to come back and re-unexplain myself if it changes again. Just remember the headline up top.

If snow ends this afternoon, and air behind it is not cold or below 32, and DC-Baltimore metro areas get cut off from the High pressure source region, I could see this snow starting to melt right away. Crews would have many hours to clean up, overnight temps are not projected to sink into the 20's regionwide, all of which makes me lean towards a delay rather than closed for many schools in affected counties of Maryland.

I'll take a look at things again later this afternoon after I get some snow cleared off the sidewalks. Enjoy it now while it lasts. This time of year it'll start falling off the trees quickly and become clumpy and wet before long. If you have a digital camera, snap some nice pictures from your area and I'll be introducing a photo sharing feature on here using (that is.. if school closes tomorrow!) Meanwhile, our weather spotters across the land of education... I guess it's time we start the traditional scientifically based speculation on school tomorrow. What are your thoughts on it?

-artist and title unknown, maybe the Stray Cats?

The Sickest radar you've ever seen

Ready or not, here it comes. With a projected liquid equivalent of anywhere from .5 to 1.25 inches, this will be a juicy event for Maryland, Virginia, the Del-Mar-Va, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Be sure to check your local NWS sites for changes in the advisories. I have no major changes to my forecast except to say that temperatures today will determine extent of frozen vs. liquid precip. If northern Maryland receives the widespread icing indicated by NWS, (up to 1/2 inch freezing rain) then school Monday is in jeopardy for those areas (Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore, Harford, Cecil counties). More information later. Please post your observations in the comments or the storm chat center. I will not be able to participate in either until this afternoon, so will talk to you all then.

Special note of thanks to Mr. B in Greencastle, PA for providing this link to the neatest looking radar program I've ever seen, the image above of which is a capture from this morning. Bookmark that one for sure and I'll be adding it in the links soon.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

-Enya in Anywhere Is, from the album Paint The Sky With Stars
3:45 PM REVISION: 2/24/07


The IceKahuna Cometh

On, view the Current radar loop for Midwest and Northeast, projected accumulation maps, and a good overview of the ice potential for Sunday into Sunday night. The image above is a radar/satellite/surface pressure composite from Penn State's e-Wall.

FOR EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: Sorry that you are receiving multiple updates of the same post, explanation for this is below. Just delete the oldest version and read only the most current.

The Winter Storm Watch posted for most of Pennsylvania, Maryland, northern Virginia, West Virginia and a slice of Northern New Jersey has been upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning. The key factors coming into focus are "evaporative cooling" an increasing amount of moisture as indicated on radar, and the stubborn nature of the East Coast High Pressure ridge. As moisture falls through dry air, it evaporates, which is a cooling process. This concern has been spelled out in discussions from the DC-Baltimore NWS this morning. The net result is a reinforcement of the cold air in place, allowing what is called "Cold Air Damming" to remain and strengthen. You can see their concern just by looking at the placement of that 1032 mb High to the north and 1024 mb High in the southeast. There are also tornado watches and warnings in Alabama and Mississippi, indicating that the moisture flow is likely to continue into this storm for some time. Once it reaches the Mid-Atlantic, the double dome High pressure will have chilled considerably overnight. Warm moist air advecting over this very large area of cold air will produce extensive frozen precipitation. I know this is stronger language that I have been conveying in the previous 48 hours, but if the freezing rain scenario plays out more this time than the sleet did last time, this storm could inflict greater damage to the DC-Baltimore-Philly Metro areas than the Valentine's Day Storm.

IceKahuna Coating the Midwest

In general this may end up an I-95 special, which means the closer you are to the interstate and it's major cities, the greater variety of precipitation you will see. In the metro areas (DC-Baltimore-Philly) I can envision this event starting as light snow Sunday morning, then transitioning to snow/sleet in the late morning, then sleet/freezing rain by noon. There could be a brief period of plain rain Sunday afternoon along and east of 95 before reversing course back to freezing rain and sleet, ending as snow showers. Areas north and west of that line will see less mixed precip, but are still likely to experience more snow/sleet and less freezing rain or rain. One key difference that stands out between this storm and that of 2/14 is the much larger area of ice shown on current radars. That storm had a snow shield extending from Philadelphia to Nebraska at one point, and had a thin band of ice until it reached the Mid-Atlantic. Look back through the archives to last week and see the differences. That alone should indicate we are in for a very disruptive event.

In central and northern Maryland snow accumulations will be light, less than 2" overall south and east of MD I-81 but the ice potential will be significant and hazardous. The Balto-DC NWS in their Winter Storm Warning text go as far as saying "travel will be difficult to impossible." If you follow storms like I do, I can tell you that's the first time the NWS in this area has used that phrase. What happened in Anne Arundel and Prince Georges counties last time might be the outcome in this region, with widespread power outages affecting thousands of people. With the pre-storm hype this time virtually non-existent, people may be less prepared because it seemed to come out of nowhere for those not closely monitoring it like we do.

In northern Virginia/eastern West Virginia and northwestern suburbs of DC, a freezing rain advisory is in place and this could very well end up a repeat of last week, with the same areas and experiencing power outages and the same school systems closed for more than one day. Lower southern Maryland, which has a Winter Weather Advisory, southeast Virginia and the Del-Mar-Va will see brief periods of mixed precip, starting as snow/sleet before quickly changing over to rain by noon, ending as rain and snow showers Monday.

In central/east central Pennsylvania and New Jersey, snow will primarily be the issue, and areas between I-76 to I-80 will see at least 3 inches mixed with sleet. Freezing rain and sleet will mix in at times south of I-76 holding down accumulations of snow for those areas. I may have to revise these projections based on how storm dynamics unfold over the next 12 hours. Southeastern PA and the Philadelphia region are more likely to have an evenly distributed but "mixed bag" meaning those areas will see a plowable amount of snow (3-4 inches) as well as sleet and freezing rain but all occuring at different times.

Since a Winter Storm Warning has been issued and significant accretion of freezing rain and sleet is expected to up to 1/4 inch by late Sunday night, it is not unreasonable to expect many schools and universities will be delayed or closed Monday morning. The commute will no doubt be hazardous if the current expectations verify. As for speculation on schools being is going to come down to the depth and extent of icing, and whether or not temperatures rise to the point that it is clear to district officials that enough warming would take place Monday morning to warrant a delay. This would occur if the scientific data suggests that sun angle and surface temperatures being right at 32 would be enough that roads will improve by the time buses are rolling for first round of pickups at 8:30 AM. In Pennsylvania schools will run the whole gamut of possibilities..some closed, others open and forced into an early dismissal. Don't try to make sense of how that's going to unfold. In the case of Maryland's large county systems such as Baltimore, Frederick, Carroll, Harford, Howard, etc... I believe it will be an example of the "2/3rds - 1/3rds" rule. If two-thirds of a particular county are under undeniably icy conditions, while the other one-third has changed to rain, then that school system is likely to close. If the reverse is true, I would expect a delay.

Very. We are perhaps 18 hours out from onset of precip in the metro areas, and computer models continue to show inconsistencies, with respect to arrival time, precip type and amounts. I am certain this will be a uniquely different storm from the Valentine's Day event, and could very well be worse from an icing standpoint. From this point forward, our storm becomes a "NowCast" event meaning that as the situation unfolds, computer models may not pick up on all the nuances and changes you see by radar, satellite and surface observations. Real-time upper air analyses (especially 850 millibar levels) become critically important in determining depth of cold air, wind vectors and extent of moisture available as indicated by vertical soundings and dewpoints. This data will be among the key factors in figuring out what these storms are going to do over the next 48 hours. The other interesting factor I have not seen discussed as much in Baltimore NWS headlines is how much the secondary storm impacts the region, whereas this is mentioned more in the PHL warning statements.

Other questions you have which I will address later:

Regarding the email update feature, I have discovered that when a new post is published, the service generally sends you the update immediately. The disadvantage is however that when I return to the post for editing or revisions, the Feedblitz service views that revision as new information, and sends you a second version. This results in your emailbox receiving two or three messages which look like I'm violating my rule of not bombarding you with constant updates. If you are receiving this message as one of three notices, just delete the two earliest ones and the most recent is the final version.

I wish I could just put it all in one update, but Saturdays are a busy time at the Foot weekend childcare center, so that in combination with a complex storm forecast means the update is issued in pieces as child crises or lack thereof permit. For example, in the time it took you to read the first two sentences of this paragraph, earlier this morning the 14 month old, (who is fond of exploring in the trash can,) discovered the paper coffee filter filled with..yes..grounds. And where did the coffee grounds go you might ask? Anywhere they could possibly go as allowed by the Laws of Physics. The trash can is now sitting way up high on a table. As for the complex storm forecast, well it's already arrived at my house in the form of a highly energetic pre-toddler who is about to wake up from her nap.

For our frequent readers, we should activate the "evening news roundup" and if you can please post later tonight in the comments our usual spread of reports on what the evening news weather forecasters are conveying to the public. I will not have time to catch the news tonight and an interested to hear their prognostications.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

slight revisions Thursday evening 2/22


Since the title of this site is "Basic Weather For Busy People" I'll get right to it. Please note to those in school systems receiving this message that your servers will likely block the computer model image I have above. You can instead go to the European computer model link to see it yourself.

Any talk of a big warmup in the news media has been swept away by a big cold front and accompanying Alberta Clipper which chargec into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Thursday, 2/22. As you probably already noticed, your Saturday-Sunday local forecasts have been flopping all over the place and are now trending colder. A few days ago, my Weather Channel Local Forecast for Saturday in Dundalk, MD was Rain, 65*F. Now it is "Wintry Mix" with temperatures in the 30's. Well what happened? Quite simply, US-based computer models were trying to send the Ohio Valley Low right into a sprawling High in the Hudson Bay. That would have allowed tremendous warm air to surge northward ahead of the storm. Thanks to the Laws of Physics, computer models have finally caught on to the fact that the primary low will have to stay farther south, introducing the wintry mix scenario you now see in your forecasts. My concern is the colder trend could continue, to the point that Sunday night we might be looking at a sleet/freezing rain situation along north and west of I-95 from DC to Philly into interior Maryland, southern/central Pennsylvania. Plain rain south and east of I-95.

I see two distinct possibilities with this weekend system:

1. The NWS forecast holds up. Here's an example forecast from suburban Philly. What prevents this from becoming a big surprise ice/snowstorm is location of the High. The cold air is not in the right place, as indicated by the bright pinks surrounding the High way up in Hudson Bay. The low moving into Ohio Valley develops a secondary along Del-Mar-Va, but enough cold air is left over, and ample moisture is fed into the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast from onshore flow in advance of either low, the precip starts as snow/ice Saturday into Sunday. However the secondary tracks too close to the coast (as with the Valentine's Day Storm) and by Sunday evening the metro areas end up as rain, with some snow in interior sections (Appalachians, southern/central/southeastern PA). This will no doubt prompt "Winter Weather Advisories" from DC up to Philly along with the regions associated with those cities.

2. Surprise, Surprise. The secondary low develops farther south off the Mid-Atlantic coast than we expect, and tracks a few more miles out than what is currently believed. This allows the secondary to pull in just enough additional cold air from the "improperly placed High" that would the changeover is delayed or barely occurs. What starts as sleet/freezing rain/snow mixed stays that throughout Sunday and into the night. I am leaning away from this scenario due to location of the High.

If you can see the map above, the Euro is projecting the "zero line at 850 mb" to be in the I-95 corridor. (This is essentially a lower-level indicator of whether or not precip would be frozen at the surface based on where this line is located geographically). Look for the light-bluish/whitish band of color in the Mid-Atlantic. You can see that by 8PM Saturday night, most metro and interior sections are well within the 0*C line. Question is how long does that line remain, does onshore flow push that line back (north) allowing the changeover to rain? You can also see how there is a bit of a battle being setup between three pressure systems. The Canadian High seeming to want to nose it's way down, the Maritime surface Low in the right corner helping to funnel cold air down the Eastern seaboard, and the approaching Ohio Valley low seeming to send warm air into the mix from the south. What an interesting setup this is going to be.

The saving grace for everyone is Monday air behind the storm should be milder so despite either scenario, that might prevent schools in the metro areas from being closed or delayed. Interior schools could face delay issues Monday morning. I really doubt this can turn out as an unexpected big snowstorm in case you were wondering, but it will make for travel and scheduling headaches Saturday and Sunday.

Is winter over? Not exactly. There is potential for 1-2 more storms over the next 10-15 days. I am skeptical either storm will become a major snow event for the Mid-Atlantic, due in part to higher sun angle as we move into March. There could be some snow and ice from either storm, but sun angle could eat away at most of it. The exception of course would be storms like March 13-15, 1993 and March 20, 1958, but don't get your hopes up that this winter goes out in a white blast.

The comments feature will return this weekend after I make a few modifications. Thank you to the 275+ of you whom have made the switch to the Feedblitz program. This greatly streamlines the updating process directly to your e-mailbox. I sincerely appreciate your continued support and readership of this site.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Please read below and switch your email update account over to Feedblitz.

To continue receiving email updates when high-risk weather events threatens the East Coast, such as a winter storms, tropical cyclones or other phenomena, it will be necessary for all members of the "Foot's Forecast Distribution List" to re-register using the “Feedblitz” feature found in the right column. I'm sorry to make you jump through a few electronic hoops, but this is a critically important adjustment which must be made.

The Foot’s Forecast Distribution List was a temporary program designed to provide busy professionals such as yourself with “as needed” access to impending weather events, without having to check this website frequently. However, as you know mass emails clutter your inbox with the full list of addresses attached to the original message. Although no one has been critical toward or complained about this format, I wish to change the current format because is not the most professional approach in my view. In addition, I recently reached the maximum allowed number of contacts allowed in the list, and had to create second one, manually entering all the new addresses. This ultimately delays the process of conveying storm forecast updates to you.

That’s a good idea, but unfortunately the data must be in a format which the Feedblitz server can upload. I experimented with this several different ways and besides, I'm not comfortable registering you up for a service you did not request. The only option is to re-register, which requires perhaps 2 minutes if that, and in return you get a rich and diverse supply of storm information along with unmatched meteorological entertainment.

None. Like you, I am bombarded with email at work and home all day, and not weather-related either. I have taken great pains to assure myself and you that the Feedblitz program does not allow undesirable communication to occur in addition to the update, such as junk mail, advertising, spam, phishing scams. I have tested the update feature for several days and all you receive is the text and images of just the most recent update. This list is not up for sale, nor will you be receiving boring off-season minutae about the weather, requests for you to "forward this to all your friends!" or anything else not directly related to a storm that may impact your life in the near future.

Directly across to the right column you'll see the input field “Request Updates By Email.” Enter your email address, and this will direct you to a new pop-up page requesting confirmation. Once you register, the Feedblitz program includes your email address in a site scan every 24 hours. You may even receive this same post again. If the program notices an update has been published, the text and images of the most recent post are forwarded to your email account. IF HOWEVER, there has not been an update since the day before, you receive nothing. This is to prevent you from receiving the same post multiple times. If you've already made the switch and are receiving this message IN your email account, then no action is required. You could forward this to someone who's inquired about how to register for the updates.

It will appear as a normal message appearing in this format: "[Mr. Foot: FOOT'S FORECAST: {title of the update} . Body of the message will be identical to how appears it on the actual site, but contains images from just that post. Please note that some educational institutions restrict or prohibit images in email, mainly to prevent server overload. Those of you who register for Feedblitz using a school email address may not receive the image, which may unfortunately hamper your understanding of the message. I will take this into account when preparing the update. At bottom of the message is a link directing you back to the site, however please refrain from clicking this if your school server already blocks the forecast site. You will be able to receive the text at the very minimum.

Good question. The short answer is every 24 hours when in storm mode. Let’s say you register today at 3:00 PM EST. You will not receive any information right away. Then I post an update at 9:00 PM the same day. Again, your email version of that post will not appear until just after midnight, when the Feedblitz program scans for revisions. If we're in storm mode, you'll get regular updates each morning, and if no storms, no updates. The purpose of this feature is to let you go about your life, and not have to check this site unless you suspect something brewing. When the long range potential for a storm starts to appear, I begin posting again. Meanwhile, you’re happily going about your everyday life, not even suspecting there's something going on with the weather. Then, out of the blue, you get an email containing my most recent post. This alerts you that something is up, and directs you to the website for more details.

Keep in mind, there are two long period of silence on this site: (1) From end of the East Coast winter storm the start of threatening Atlantic basin tropical cyclone activity [from about March 15 to mid June or July] and; (2) From end of hurricane activity to first indications of a winter storm [about Nov 1 - Dec 1]. During those times, I don't forecast the weather, and sorry to say but I generally don't cover Tornado season, it is too changeable and hard for me to accurately track.

Plenty. You can do this today or wait a few months. I will send a reminder message to the original distribution group about once a month, and then the last message will be sent once we see a tropical system start to gather in the summer. Before start of the next school year, the old list will be deleted once I'm confident everyone has navigated to Feedblitz. I do not anticipate having to change this again, as the new program is highly regarded around the internet for it's consistency and integrity.

IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS, please feel empowered to direct them my way: If you encounter problems with your Feedblitz registration, please let me know. In conclusion, I enjoy making this site versatile and interactive so it enhances your understanding of the weather and enables me to convey information in an efficient and appropriate manner. Thank you for your continued support, readership and participation, I remain..

Sincerely Yours,
Forecaster Foot

About this picture:
Recorded in August 2005 on the last day of a 2-week family trip to Armenia in the Middle East. We were visiting the 11th century Fortress and Church of Amberd. Some thunderstorms began building on the horizon and I quickly had my sister-in-law snap the picture before we headed back down the mountain to Yerevan.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Come On Admit It - You Miss This

26.4" in Burlington, Vermont from Valentine's Day SuperKahuna #1. Yes, those are cars. Enough to make a Mid-Atlantic-bound powderhound cry. View the rest of this gallery from Vermont's biggest one-day snowfall ever. Can you believe the absoutely perfect timing of this storm, arrives just days before one of the biggest ski weekends of the year? Just imagine what it must be like on Castlerock in Sugarbush, Chin Clip at Stowe, and Ulee's Gold way up at Jay Peak. Heck, if you're going that far north, might as well stop over to the double-black diamond bonanza at Celestial in Sunday River, Maine. Come to think of it, wonder how Whistler is doing?

Sunday River

True East Coast powderhounds will always hold solemn remembrance of this weekend, when 4 years ago, the snowstorm of your dreams moved from fantasy into the pages of history.

The event now known to the ages simply as "PD II"


I'll never forget this as long as I live. After 8 hours on the PA Turnpike in PD II (pales in comparison to those poor souls on I-81 and I-78 though), I arrive in Dundalk to this on Sunday afternoon 2/16/03 at 3PM:


And the next morning, looking up my street toward the school, was this:


(and my wife thought we'd be in school the next day!)

Friday, February 16, 2007

"There's a big blue sky waiting right behind the clouds."
- Brad Paisley, from Disney's Cars soundtrack song of the same title.

European Projection For Feb 22

There'll be a big blue sky out there today, and nary a cloud in the sky, but it doesn't mean a big warmup is coming, at least not until next week. When conditions do begin to moderate, it will be in advance of a great big rainstorm that according to the European will take aim on the East Coast, dumping heavy wet snow in the interior. I'll post more details on this over the weekend, but this looks to be a SlopKahuna for I-95, ending as brief snowshowers. West of I-81 however it could be another SuperKahuna if it draws in enough leftover cold air from eastern Canada. The issue will be one of ratios. It should be cold enough for snow, (and I'm just making a crapshoot here..) but with a 8:1 or 6:1 ratio in the interior Appalachians from West Virginia to Upstate New York... you know what that means. I know many will say it's too early to make a call on accumulations, but with a high pressure ridge sitting off the Southeast coast pumping abundant moisture into a system already loaded with Pacific punch... well let's just say Oswego, NY had better get those roofs cleared off mighty quick. When this falls, it won't be light and fluffy.

You can probably see what happens following this storm. It rolls up into the Canadian maritimes, and sends that final piece of Arctic air back in the Yukon screaming down to the East Coast. There are rumblings in the long range of March coming in like a lion, in the 3/1-4 time frame. Any big storm occuring into March has got to have all the elements perfectly perfectly aligned, because higher sun angle can negate snowfall and turn calls of 6-12" into 3" real fast. Suffice to say both systems will be closely watched, and this time we'll use a bit more human input than total reliance on the computer models.

Happy Friday everyone! Remember to register for the automatic email feature with Feedblitz in the right column so you can receive updates whenever a new post is published.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Looking Towards What's Beyond The Forest

"Trees and Cliffs of Eagle Peak" by Ansel Adams

...A somewhat misty but intriguing view of what is to come over the next 7-10 days. My family taught me the value of holistic thinking...that is, "seeing the forest through the trees" and now we take that one step further. We're certain of what's in front of us: A serene landscape, even if frozen and bitter. The questions are: (1) Will this turn into a 6-day weekend for some? (2) How will the current snow day tally affect the end of the school year? And, (3) Are there any more storms in our near future? The answers to both remain elusive, and will be subject to much speculation over the next few days. This much of which I can be sure: Nothing is certain. How's that for a professional-level response to perfectly reasonable questions? So let's get your input on these pressing issues:

(1) For those of you in schools which have been closed several days now, who among you believe that local political and economic issues will be great enough to offset safety concerns to reopen for just one day in advance of a 3-day weekend? This is not to say that I believe re-opening schools on Friday is a bad idea, I am simply interested in your viewpoint. Personally, I'd be perfectly fine with school reopening as my students and I have lots of vegetable and flower seedlings to transplant. If you're new to the site, a refresher on our purely speculative "hidden reasons" for schools being open or closed are (in no particular order):

A. Safety; B. Scientific Evidence; C. Economics; D. Politics and Perception; E. Historical Trends

(2) Ahh, June. The month has so many meanings for different people. For me, I enjoy it not because school ends for the summer, but rather that the glorious time period from June 21 to about July 1 there is maximum daylight, enabling me to go full blast in my garden. It is also generally pleasant and warm. I can sleep in until 6:00 AM then go right outside to work on the plants in the same shorts and tshirt I wore to bed, really. I know, that's an unnecessary visual, sorry. However, many others think of only ONE thing when you say "June." They say: "Freedom!"

I have heard from sources I trust that some county schools are tabulating makeup time according to how many hours are missed. By that method, for example, Baltimore County has missed the equivalent of 4 "days" which means the system at this point must make up at least 2 of those days. The last day of school was originally Tuesday, June 19 and assuming no more inclement weather cancellations, the last day should now be June 21 (the day on which climatological summer begins). Can anyone verify this is the case now, hours being counted?

(3) Several computer models well known for pegging a storm many days out are hinting at a Wild Card scenario for Saturday-Sunday along the East Coast. Among them are the UKMet and the European. The JMA, NAM and GFS are just showing a clipper with perhaps light snow. Granted, I still have to write the after-action report on SuperKahuna # 1, but am going to wait until later today it has completely departed the United States so I can report accurate final snow totals, especially in New England. As promised earlier, I have to pay the piper for some of my call that did not pan out as expected.



I apologize to the many readers who were expecting an email update and never received one in advance of this most recent storm. The distribution list is still operational, but I did not activate it this time. I really wanted to, and feel bad in retrospect that I didn't. Instead, the time was spent adding a new feature that essentially automates email updates. It has been tested several times and works wonderfully. Each time a new post is published, Feedblitz scans the site and sends just that post all subscribers, free of charge. Before announcing this service, I wanted to make sure it would not be accompanied by annoying spam, ads, pop-ups, weird other bizarre things that could junk up your email accounts, or sell them to a third party. Another built-in feature is if the site has not been updated in weeks because there are no high-risk weather events, you will not continue to receive the same update multiple times. Basically, by signing up with Feedblitz, you can happily go about your life, and if "something wicked this way comes" again, as soon as I latch on to the possibilities and post about it, you receive that post in your email within 24 hours.

If you are a current member of the "old" distribution list, please take a few moments to register with Feedblitz using the signup field in the right column. Thanks for continuing to read and participate in the best part of winter by being a "Friend of Foot's Forecast."


During major storm events, readers frequent and post comments in our discussion board. If your educational institution prohibits you from seeing a website such as this from a school computer, it is for a couple reasons, one of which is a comments board. Frequent and loyal commentors have been assigned own local weather link in the "Foot's Forecast Friends" column. While identities and sensitive personal data, home addresses, phone numbers are not shared or even known, those members represent the range of metropolitan areas from which this site draws consistent readership.

Having this wide range of readers provides us all with a sense of real-time "IMOYBY" (In My Or Your Back Yard...) conditions during a storm, and we are always looking for new members that can expand our cadre of weather observers. Last year, members of the Foot's Forecast community felt the value of having the comments for interaction during a storm outweighed the benefit of eliminating them to comply with telecommunications policies of schools around the Northeast.

If you are new to the site and wish to join the discussion feature, it is very easy to create a Google account so you can participate. Don't feel you'll have another other email account to constantly check, or you'll be receiving a lot of unwanted email advertising/spam. I can't stand that stuff myself and have expended great effort to see that I don't get it as well as anyone joining the site.

You create a simple account with Google and use only the login info (user id and password) to login into the comments. I haven't checked the Google email account I use for this in weeks, and it does not seem to be a problem. Registering to join the discussion group requires a few minutes, and in return you get a lifetime of enjoyment bantering and speculating on about storms and the like, learning about how weather affects the lives of others, and making new friends. It really is quite fun and it has made forecasting storms more valuable to me.

To give new (and frequent) readers a sense of the reponse this site has generated, there were over 4,000 unique visitors to the site on Monday, February 13. In the one week period leading up to devastating Katrina, over 10,000 people viewed and read portions of the site. This is not to say we are trying to make this the next Drudge Report. Definitely not. I say this because for those who do post comments, you also have a very and highly educated professional-level audience spread across the Northeastern United States. However many of those people just prefer to read the comments but don't have time to join the discussion. For those who comment frequently, don't be alarmed that way more people are reading than what you may have expected. Simply just talk (write) to us normally and in plain language if possible as if we're just having a regular conversation. Many of us, myself included have learned SO MUCH from the wisdom and insights of other people on here, it feels like family at times. I know that sounds campy, but this innocuous feature makes our little corner of the world special, fun and something to look forward to before, during and after THE NEXT BIG STORM. Please consider joining us!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Radar 2-14 PM

Current radar indicates that SuperKahuna 1 is making it's way into Canada, to become an UltraKahuna for the maritimes no doubt. There will be a post storm wrapup on how the predictions on this site compared to the results. I am pleased about the fact that the initial call made on Saturday February 3 for a major winter weather event in the 12-16th time period verified. While I did say it would be a Fabulous February back in December, it hasn't been "all that" in the DC to Philly region, although it has in many other parts of the Mid-Atlantic. Yes the 10-20" initially pegged for the Maryland-Delaware-Pennsylvania region was only 1/3 accurate in that it verified in central and northern and east central Pennsylvania but not in Southeast PA. But at least everyone in the I-95 corridor has received some snow this month to prevent it from being a total bust for powderhounds.


ACT ONE started with the snow on the 13th as planned. Here is a quiet and serene Dundalk High with 1.5" of snow shortly after the early dismissal cleared.


Wednesday morning featured ACT TWO with a crystal clear wonderland that was beautiful at first, then treacherous, and finally unnerving in it's weight.


Now we're at ACT THREE..the "wrap around" squalls I alluded to in a post earlier this week that might add to snow totals on the back edge of the departing storm.


This might seal the deal for those hoping to have Baltimore Metro schools close. We shall see in the early morning. Meanwhile attention turns to the NEXT STORM. Could there be a President's Day III: The Final Insult? I shall investigate that and report back to you soon depending on the outcome of school tomorrow. Our thoughts and prayers go to the New Englanders now bearing the brunt of the storm now, may it depart soon and leave you a powderhound's dream, that is if you're heading to the slopes!




6:30 AM 2/14/07 | Isn't it lovely out there. Our hearts go out to all those commuters who have to brave the elements to keep the local economy and essential services operating. Those of us who don't have to can do them a favor by staying off the roads to minimize traffic as much as possible. 

This graphic below is a compilation of current weather advisories in the Mid-Atlantic as of 7:00 AM. Focus of this forecast will now shift to the Northeast and New England for remainder of the week. 

The SuperKahuna

For a very thorough overview of the situation in the DC-Baltimore region, please visit, a Washington-area focused weather blog. For latest closings/delays in the Baltimore Metro region, WBAL Channel 21 has the best site in view, and in the DC-Northern Virginia area, I always go to NBC 4. 

Thanks to our alert rader John of Rosedale, MD, you can also check status of power outages in Baltimore via, DC via and Philly regions. I have updated the Traffic and Travel section and if there's any websites out there you rely on during inclement weather, please let me know in the comments.

Though the storm is now moving into New England, and they have a long, long way to go, as indicated by the Natl Weather Service's current warnings and advisories map.



The Foot Girls celebrating a Valentine's Day Kahuna

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


It may be pretty but it will be nasty

But it will be nasty



.5 - .75" ICE + 30-50 MPH WINDS +

Radar 2-13

Hence Monday's headline.."Something Wicked This Way Comes." We just hope it goes some other way but ours. If your location is at risk for losing power, you have about 12 hours before those outages begin once winds start to increase tomorrow morning. This is going to be wickedly bad so I hope you will take necessary precautions to protect your family and property. I am very concerned that in the overnight hours, starting in southern Maryland/DC by 11PM and reaching the Philly area by 4AM, there will be an intense line of thunderstorms that will cross the DC-Baltimore-Southern-Central Maryland-DelMarVa-Philadelphia regions.

These storms are capable of producing .25 to .50 inches of "freezing" rain in a few hours, causing catastrophic and instantaneous icing over a population area of at least 10 million people. Make no mistake about it, this rain will freeze on contact at the surface, combined with brief strong winds, thunder and lightning.

The National Weather Service might in a surreal kind of way, be thinking about issuing a Severe Thunderstorm Warning concurrently with an Ice Storm Warning in the middle of a Winter Storm Warning. Don't believe me? Look at the radar yourself. That massive line of "yellow" in the Carolinas as of 8:50 PM Tuesday is going to rotate up the Chesapeake Bay and over this region, picking up tremendous moisture as it does. And you'll know when it happens, because you'll hear the rain pounding against your windows. Except that the ground temperatures will be in the 20's across the area. Recipe for a week off. You'd better hope there's a sudden, inexplicable and steady rise in temperature across the region, or else it might be a while before we can all chat on this website again.
Surface Temperatures 2-13-07

I will turn in early tonight to rest up because tomorrow will be even more challenging. Please continue to post your observations, especially if you see big changes in conditions at your location. It is interesting to note in the recent observations posted in the comments, that as the large area of rain gets closer, temperatures reported in by readers have been DROPPING. Makes my heart sink to wonder what will await me in the morning. Talk to you all then.

2-13-07 Radar 600 AM

5:27 AM 2/13/2007 - ABOUT SCHOOL: This impact statement is directed at public and private schools, colleges, universities and adult and child daycare centers most affected by first stage of the storm. Western and Central PA are already receiving snow and those schools will have to close early if they have not already.
Due to the severity, extent and duration of this winter storm, many Baltimore and Washington area metro schools will be facing their biggest logistical nightmare of this decade if they open today.
The concern is that a few districts may decide they'll take the chance and open on time, then as the buses start rolling things really deteriorate quickly by 9AM, and we have a massive logistical nightmare:
  • Open must switch to closed, then we would have grades 6-12 to take home first, and as things progress, by the time the elementary kids are picked up, conditions are worse and those students are at greater risk. 
  • Let's hope our officials take this into account in making the call. If you're a teacher or administrator, hopefully you already got your shower, drank your 2 cups of coffee and are dressed because it is going to be a long challenging day. Very long and challenging.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Something Wicked

LATEST 60-HOUR PRECIPITATION FORECAST BY THE NAM MODEL (North American Mesoscale) which is the currently preferred solution by the HPC, an agency that provides general forecast guidance to National Weather Service Forecast Offices.
NAM 60-hr precip

As you already know, this is an extremely complex storm that will affect a large portion of the United States, as clearly indicated on the current enhanced satellite image. What amazes me at this early stage of onset is that at 7:30 PM Monday, we already have "front-runner" precipitation in Baltimore, MD from a low pressure system organizing near Austin TEXAS! I do in large part agree with Accuweather's current take on the systemI believe they are doing an effective job of conveying how dangerous and disruptive this storm promises to be. 

The extent of this monster is enormous even at this early stage, there's a long way to go before it's over, and a lot is going to happen along the way. We can agree on this much: Something Wicked This Way Comes. For example, an interesting satellite perspective on our developing storm from about 3:00 PM Monday.

Once we reach the point of onset, one of the more reliable computer models becomes your eyes, the radar and observations of the storm in progress. Radar imagery at 8:00 PM 2/12 is featured below so you can see how this beast stretches from Louisiana to the Dakota to New Jersey. View the most current national radar loop.

Radar 2-12


OVERVIEW: A complex and slow moving low pressure system in Texas and Oklahoma will have reached the Ohio Valley by midday Tuesday, spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain in well in advance across the Mid-Atlantic states. From Monday evening into Tuesday, cold air from a high pressure system in the Great Lakes will wedge down through Pennsylvania and into central Maryland and Northern Virginia as well as along the Appalachians in this region.

  • Temperatures will lower from morning to evening as cold air sinks southward. Snow and sleet in overnight hours Monday will mix with and changeover to freezing rain on Tuesday as warm air aloft intrudes over the cold surface layer due to increasing onshore Atlantic flow from southeast winds generated by the approaching primary low. 
  • By mid-morning, pervasive freezing precipitation will have reached the Philadelphia and New Jersey metro areas. By early afternoon, all areas near and along I-95 inland will begin to experience significant accumulations of ice in the range of 1/4 to 1/2 inch or more. 
  • Areas affected include central Maryland, eastern West Virginia, and in Virginia from east side of the Shenandoah Valley area to the Washington, DC and Baltimore Metro area northeastward to Cecil County, the northern DelMarVa and along a line from Harrisburg-York-Lancaster-Philadelphia.

TRAVEL: The Tuesday morning commute throughout affected areas will be reasonable, tricking smaller private schools and similar institutions into believing they can adequately carry out a full school day. By afternoon, sidewalks, bridges, overpasses will become ice-covered and extremely hazardous. Tree limbs will begin to fall on roadways as ice begins to accumulate. By the evening rush, with ample frozen precipitation still falling, temperatures below freezing and likely in the 20's across the region, secondary and untreated roads may be impassable even with 4-wheel drive vehicles. If freezing rain accumulations continue into the night, extensive downed trees and powerlines will make some rural locations unreachable.

SCHOOL: This impact statement is directed at public and private schools, colleges, universities and adult and child daycare centers most affected by first stage of the storm. Philadelphia/Southeastern and Central PA area schools will be more impacted on Wednesday.

  • Due to the severity, extent and duration of this winter storm, I firmly believe all Baltimore and Washington area metro schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday at the very minimum. Closings will also include most of northern, central and western Virginia, central/southern West Virginia, including the eastern panhandle. 
  • Southern and southeastern Virginia in the counties bordering Charlottesville and Frederick on south and east to Norfolk may see some delays or early dismissals but are not likely to be closed.

(1) The Baltimore/Washington National Weather Service has issued a strongly worded Winter Storm Warning that will automatically make the decision in minds of some parents not to send their children, even if schools are open and the morning commute does not appear hazardous.
(2) It is now widely known by school officials how extensive this winter weather event will be. Nowadays, most schools will not knowingly put children and staff at risk when it is clear to the general public a potentially life-threatening and long duration weather event is imminent.


OVERVIEW: As the primary low in the Ohio Valley fades northeast, a stronger, more potent secondary low will develop east of the Carolinas to around Hatteras. This system will then move to a postition southeast of Long Island by evening.
TRAVEL...yeah, okay. You'll be traveling from the living room to the kitchen back to the living room. Seriously though, I expect Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to declare a state of emergency by Wednesday morning due to wind and ice.
SCHOOL: Closed Wednesday due to continuing impact and accululation of ice. The greater the ice amount, the more likely most schools in the affected area of the Mid-Atlantic will be closed remainder of the week. With widespread power outages affecting millions of people, I suspect this will be one of the determining factors in when schools decide to reopen.

Extensive details for this section will have to wait until Tuesday once we see how the primary low behaves and where the secondary forms. Suffice to say in Southern and Central New England there could be brief but heavy and rain snow mixed along the coast, heavy accumulations of ice inland and very heavy snow well inland, with winds in excess of 40 mph and gusts to storm force (55 mph) or above combined with extremely cold air once the storm departs the U.S. mainland. As Jim Kirk would say, "Sounds like fun."