Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The backyard view from my kitchen door with snow for the first time since February 2006.
I know it's hard to believe, but it's been about a year since the last snowfall over 2 inches.


I figured the headline would be what most of you in the Baltimore Metro area school districts are saying this morning. How funny is this? When I say we'll have a delay or be open, we're closed. Who would have thought we'd see a total clean sweep...all area counties from Frederick to Cecil to many along the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland are also closed. I'm sure there's little objection to this surprise bonus day, except for our friends in Howard County, Maryland.

Their school system does not have snow days built into the calendar (Bad move # 1), AND they had the infinite wisdom to schedule a half day/conference day in the climatologically snowiest part of the entire winter for Maryland (Feb 5-20) which is Bad move # 2. Please note I am not employed by Howard County Schools, so when a district other than mine makes a bad call that is clearly against the grain of common sense and sound science, I have no problem putting that issue front and center for discussion and debate. I wonder why Baltimore County doesn't have one of those half day conference setups? Come to think of it, BCPS also moved their professional development day out of February a few years ago. You don't suppose that was in any way related to the fact that they had 6 days off in February 2003? Looks like someone in Towson studied well for the final exam in Climatology.

WHY WERE THERE SO MANY CLOSINGS? As I explained to my students, it is all about the timing and the temperature. While I doubted there would be much snow at all, it did fall in a short period of time and fairly heavily at that. The extremely low temperatures contributed to enhancing the snow-to-liquid ratio, normally about 10:1 but in this case was probably 20:1. Hence one tenth of one inch of liquid translates into 2 inches of snow. Secondly the very cold ground and road surfaces allowed that snow to freeze on contact, creating slippery conditions as soon as friction is applied, either with tires or footsteps.

AS FOR NEXT WEEK'S STORM I project that those of us in the southern I-95 corridor from Richmond to Philly are going to get blasted with a storm that I believe will closely resemble the President's Weekend Blizzard of 2003. Of course there remains the possibility models will suppress the storm to the southeast and out to sea, or it comes farther north than anticipated as the "PD II" storm did, bringing the northern I-95 corridor into play. When I say "resemble" I am implying the mesoscale synoptics of the storm (pervasive Arctic high to the north with strong pressure gradient/moisture laden low in southern plains) and orientation (general track from lower Mississippi Valley to Mid-Atlantic). Based on early QPF indicators, I project this storm will begin as snow by next Wednesday-continue into Thursday and produce a general snowfall accumulaion of 10 to 20 inches for West Virginia to Maryland and Virginia, including the northern DelMarVa. I will provide you the scientific basis for this prediction later this afternoon. I have a bunch of hand-written notes about this storm I prepared on Friday, January 26 and I guess it's time I translate them to the computer so you know I didn't just conjure up this storm in the past 2 days. As is always the case, if a major projection like this one does not pan out, I consider it part of my responsibility to explain in full public view if the reality does not meet the forecast.

REGARDING TRAVEL AND FIELD TRIPS If by chance you are returning from a field trip EARLY in the week, (Mon or Tue) you will be fine. However if you are planning to travel LATE in the week (Thu-Fri) and expecting transportation systems to be up and running normally, let me ask you this question: Is there a backup plan to transport students home in the event school buses or bus contractors are not available to PICKUP for the return trip? Just something to think about if our next storm joins it's earlier cousins in the history books of 2003, 1996 and 1993.


Foot's Forecast said...

okay needasnowday, you got it. Just make sure you're back here by Tuesday the 13th if you want to be in on the action.

For the oldtimers, this is a deadringer for Feb 2003, I'm telling you. Feb 6 of that year, school was closed for a moderate snowfall. That set the stage for the 15-18 blowout because it chilled the ground and setup a "baroclinic zone" which is a region of the lower atmosphere that begins to exhibit anomalous pressure readings due to the inflence of snowcover over a large area. The snowcover chills the air allowing high pressure systems to become more established and remain over an area longer. That is a key piece of the setup required for a significant East Coast snowstorm.

And now we've got it. With heavy rain heading for Southern California late this week, and a long series of Arctic highs lined up ready to head is only a matter of time before the forecasting agencies and offices start to realize there'll be no escape from the truth:


Anonymous said...

'bout dog-gone time!! Now, I can pack for ORLANDO! We will be back the evening of the 13th Mr. Foot so this year we will be able to enjoy the KAHUNA!

Foot's Forecast said...

How about it. Better get on that plane on time. This storm will be rolling through the southeast bigtime on the 13th, and I expect snow to be falling Tuesday evening when you land.

Mr.B said...

An inch here MR. Foot.

Bring on that KAHUNA!

I still fear that the storm maybe surpressed again however. I see a good over running storm maybe for Tuesday but after that it's going to come down to a stale mate in the atmosphere.

Foot's Forecast said...

Yeah I'm with you Mr.B. Suppression is definitely going to be a concern, both in the models and reality. I clearly remember the PDII forecast was for it to stay south of DC, and then overnight Saturday...ka-chow. I believe that happened because the NAO backed off toward neutral just as the storm moved in,and the strength of the SSJ won out. In this case,we have a 1048 high which is huge. What's driving my forecast is the onshore flow throwing more Atlantic moisture into the mix. That can take a 12" snowfall and turn it into a 20" one.

I notice the ripping has begun on easternuswx. Just so you know, I generally don't participate in those debates. Too time consuming and distracting, especially when I'd rather spend time with my 2 little girls on a snowday. If any of those flamers find there way here and get indignant, I'll delete them off the comment board.
Please don't copy my comments over to that board either, we want to keep this little piece of our weather community pleasant and respectful.

Unknown said...

I sent you a message.

Mr.B said...

Mr. Foot

Your the man.

Russ said...

Wow Mr. Foot--I guess I may start looking for open dates to reschedule athletic events!! I guess Peiser's fruit cup is really starting to get ripe!!!

DerbsATerp said...

University of Maryland- Open for business
May next week bring the rare university closing.

terpguy said...

How's this for a snowfall?

We got 1.1" of the fluffy stuff in Fallston. The melted liquid from my raingauge was 0.03"

Granted that small amounts of measure may lead to large degrees of error, my snow to H2O ratio was 36:1!


ps- I totally agree with Mr. F on the EUSWx issue. I've been a member for several years now, and there are some very, very well written posts concerning Wx by both pro, as well as accomplished amatuer, Mets.

Unfortunately, there is a cadre of "How much for Philly?" jerks who will second-guess an accomplished forecaster as fast as their grubby litle fingers can type.

The bottom line is these weenies have driven off a number of contributers who were worth reading.

anonymous21 said...

Ah it is on a beautiful snowy day that i realize college sucks.... Im hoping for a big enough one next week that i can enjoy a mid-week weekend here at college park!

Foot's Forecast said...

Thanks for the vote of support terp. The immaturity and lack of respect over there is unbelievable. Did you read some of those comments? I promise never to post there again (at least in a reply) what a waste of my time that could be. As I told Andy, I don't mind if someone else posts a section from my blog, but I am not going to get involved, it is a black hole of vitrol.

Anyway, I told a number of teachers in our school (and students) back on Feb 13, 2003 that my call for Dundalk was 18-24 inches based on QPF and the snow-liquid ratio. In my backyard, there was 23.5

I hope I can repeat that success but do it with more science at my disposal this time.If my call for 10-20 inches does not pan out, I will go on public record and explain why.

Rebecca said...

:( Mr. Foote, I'm getting married in Pasadena on 2/17. Please make the snow go away . . . (fingers crossed)

Foot's Forecast said...

Oh Rebecca, you had to pick one of the historically snowiest time periods ever! :-( Hey you could make snow your wedding theme, just think of the possibilities. A snowball toss instead of the maid of honor's bouquet. Instead of a garter you could have the groom put snowboots on you! I'll keep an eye on the situation and give you the heads up as best I can.

terpguy said...

Dear Rebecca,

Just move the wedding to Pasadena.....California!


Good luck!

Julee said...

FA LA for Foot's fabulous February fluffy flakes forecast! Fantastic Foot!


Foot's Forecast said...

Hey Mr. B.. I'd like to post that QPF map from the 6Z GFS, can you send me the link? I am seeing each model run trend a tad bit more north although we are talking something that's 7 days out.

E.H. Boston said...

Based on the GFS today, the storm would not make it up into Boston.

Mr. Foot, if it did, would it be here at 6:55PM Valentine's Day, Wed. 2/14, because that is when my plane is taking off for Zurich, Switzerland then taking a connecting flight to Venice.

Its with a company and the tour starts 2/15 and missing a day to cancelled flights would just be a huge headache.

Can we get this Kahuna in for Tuesday and wrap it up by 2:00 PM Wednesday. I don't want to miss it.


Feb. 23 we all return to temperatures in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

wvmommyof4 said...

Here in Inwood,WV we received about 2 1/2 inches of snow. Enough to cancel snow for the kids:) They love a snow day!!!!!and so do I. I used to teach so the prayer for a good snow day will never leave me:)

wvmommyof4 said...

Mr Foot I would love to be added to the friends space. Inwood,WV or Martinsburg would work. I used to be mommyof3 but we had an addition last spring so now I am mommyof4.

Foot's Forecast said...

I am going to throw this computer out into the snow and let it freeze to death.

I just somehow deleted a full post on the storm that I spent at least 90 minutes writing. Now that the girls are up from nap, not sure if I can recreate it. Extensively powerful and inappropriate expletives running through my mind right now. I'll be back later when I calm down

TKC said...

Hee hee hee!
I've taken Monday-Wednesday off.
Two snow days due to 10-20 inches of the white stuff might just get me the whole week off!

I hope you're right!

Anonymous said...

STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER FOOT!! :) Will be anxiously waiting for any update... uhh and then flyin out to ORLANDO in the morning!! Wondering what I will come home to.........