Wednesday, December 5, 2007

WELL, THAT WAS A BIT WAY OFF

The eldest Foot girl helping Daddy realize there's a bit more than 1.5" of snow.


There's a lot of snow Daddy!


But for 2 little girls...the amount did not matter, just the fact that it snowed!
Our first snow pic of the winter


From reading the NWS Public Information Statements on snowfall reports from this storm, you would think we're back to the good ole' days of weather forecasting. (Actually our TV and Weather Service Meteorologists did a fine job, it was a tough storm to nail down throughout). On a lighter note, this event reminds me of a story from yesteryear I saw once in the humor section of Reader's Digest. The story was about a telephone call that an elderly grandmother in the midwest had placed to the TV station one wintery day. She wanted the meteorologist in charge to know she was particularly displeased with his forecast for the overnight hours. The woman is reported to have told the operator:(insert authentic midwestern twang accent here) "I'd like your weatherman to please come down to my house and shovel away the 6 inches of 'party cloudy' from my driveway.") I'm guessing there's someone in Glen Burnie, MD tonight who might be able to relate to grandma here, since they got a whopping 6.2 inches and were only expecting 2-3!

SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?

While I'm not a licensed meteorologist, I have solid forecast training from the Penn State Weather Center, interned at the National Weather Service in Philadelphia, and have been "doing this kind of stuff" now going on 22 years. I'm also certified by Pennsylvania and Maryland to teach Earth Science, with an degree in that field to boot. So with all that background and training, you'd think that I and others in the forecasting arena would have caught on to what turned out to be the simplest observation of all... Oh the wind.


I realized around noon that surface and low-level winds across Central and Eastern Maryland were nothing but southerly all morning. There were other factors at upper levels that I know played a major role in the late day enhancement and evening banding which we all witnessed from 7 to 9 PM. However, my students and I were noticing on the radar a simple observation that could not be ignored. Yes, Virginia, there were breaks in the precip on west side of the mountains, but we started to wonder why the precip was redeveloping so quickly and even more heavily on east side of the Blue Ridge. My answer: low-level transport of moisture from the bay and ocean directly into the clipper's path, due in part to clockwise motion of a weak high pressure off the Carolina coast. Both the high and low were somewhat weak, so pressure gradient was not too intense and even though both systems moved out into the Atlantic, they did so in tandem for a few hours. The high then continued to provide a source of moisture on the backside even as a very minor secondary low was developing.

Overall, I believe southerly surface and low-level winds I believe are what did the trick in the end. The snow started at 9AM in Dundalk, and never looked back, and even at the onset, I realized something was up. As the flakes were very very numerous and extremely small.. leading me to consider that moisture content was going to be higher than we expected, and the liquid to snow ratio possible higher, say 1:13 versus 1:10 or 1:12. That's my theory, I hope it makes sense to you, and appropriately fits the facts of the case.

WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?
You just had to ask, can't take an early dismissal and be satisfied with that now, can you? Never mind the benchmarks and short cycles that are looming, or that observation that got rescheduled, or the sports games that were canceled, or the meetings you wanted to get out of the way... no just throw all caution to the wind (in this case, a southerly one, right) and go way out on a limb and say what you really feel...

Because you know you want "it" but you just can't see how it might happen given the circumstances on the ground. What is it? I know what you want... forget a delay, a 2-point conversion or a 50 yard field goal... you want the Hail Mary Triple Overtime Game Ending Touchdown. You want the whole day off, don't you? I can even sense some of our loyal administrator readers out there are angling in their mind.. "Well, I could go in half day, get some paperwork done, then make some calls, clear a bunch of email..."

FOOT'S FORECAST FOR THURSDAY 12-6 DELAYS AND CLOSINGS IN CENTRAL MARYLAND: "THE MORNING ROUNDUP": this is based on impact that the final 3 hour band of heavy snow had on the area Wednesday night, dropping an unexpected additional 2-3 inches)


Cecil County: 2-Hour Delay
Harford County: 2-Hour Delay or Closed
Baltimore County: 2-Hour Delay or Closed (stranger things have happened...)
Baltimore City: 1-Hour Delay
Howard County: Opening 2 hours early for mandatory professional development
Anne Arundel: Already pulled the plug, 2 hour Delay
Carroll and Frederick County: 2-Hour Delay


I'll be expecting to hear from many of you, oh about 5:15 tomorrow morning when we see who is going to dance and who will be sitting out this one. Please continue to post your observations in the comments below.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

ahaha! You arent gonna pick on poor lil HoCo this winter are ya!? We have that 2 HR DELAY.. loved the PD comment! How true how true!!!

Mr. Foot said...

yes but they're going to make up for it by keeping you two hours LATER next week when it's 60 degrees.

Darn good thing we had a delay, 'twas a rough night in at the Foot ranch, the snow must have gotten the littlest one so excited she kept waking up herself and us, multiple times. SO we did what any sleep-deprived, responsible parent would do in that situation:

We put her out in the snow

and went back to sleep. Sure was quiet after that!

OH JUST KIDDING.

22 F and parking lot/car/sidewalk frozen solid here in Dundalk. I think it will take me 2 hours just to get the vehicle dislodged from the ice.

Thank the Lord for cartoons

DC-DUB said...

If we are getting a surprise 5+ inches of snow in early December, what is ahead for us? Precipitation was dismal during the whole of the year, which during the summer, made me think that winter is just going to be lame. Now I am thinking a little differently. I was just in Rochester, NY for Thanksgiving and I thought it would be cool to rub the 2" of snow that they had in everyone's face down here, but now I got nothing. Could this trend continue? Could we see that big city-halting blizzard that we haven't had for a while? Hmm, I wonder...

-Daniel C-W

terpguy said...

Fallston- 0843 local

4.5" of fluffy snow, 1.9" of liquid.

Currently 17.1°F.

My son enjoyed his sleep-in!

ANDY Southern York County, PA said...

A general 6.7 - 7.0 inches of snow on the ground on the Freeland, MD border with New Freedom PA. Took a couple of samples with a ruler this morning and they all fall in that general range. SO much for the 1-2 they called for. Nice 7 inch surprise for the Mason Dixon line.

terpguy said...

edit:

4.5" fluffy snow

0.19" of liquid

duh...

Julee said...

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy, driving home just now I heard the weather person say freezing rain and snow for tomorrow morning!
Snow?
Twice in a week?
In DeCEMber?
Are we in a time warp?

Mr. Foot said...

I agree Julee, what in tarnation is going on? I just saw "Wintry Mix" for Friday... whaaaaat?

I'm working on this and trying to "figger" out where it's coming from.

E.H. Boston said...

Welcome back Mr. Foot!

I'm happy you guys got your nice snowstorm yesterday...

I've maintained my 3" snowpack all week long and Boston has a -11.3 degree dept. for the month!

Snowcover from Maine to DC on December 6th...Nice.

Anonymous said...

Figger faster.. figger faster Foot! (laff) A day off would allow me to put up the tree!! I was pretty amped up when I saw Julee's post...

Is good to see the "gang" all gathering again!!

Julee said...

HOLY CATS!
Just looked at D.C.-Baltimore Weather under "Mid-Atlantic Weather." NOW they've issued a Weather Advisory saying snow, freezing rain and icy mix until 1 p.m.
As our Middle School girls say (they can make this word three [or more] syllables) "Waaaaa ayyyyy iiiiit?"

Better bring your little girl in from the front yard Mr. Foot!

There was also a Black Ice warning and I can personally attest to this. Took one step from my car onto the Giant parking lot at about 4:45 this afternoon and WHAP! ... both feet went out from under me.
Be careful everyone!

playastyle said...

Ok. so we got to go in 2 hours late today here in Howard county. i loved the extra 2 hours of sleep i got, but i could defiantly use more and since I'm a senior, i could care less if we get snow days because i don't have to make them up! so how about tomorrow? i heard about snow/sleet/freezing rain mix. when will it come? when will it end? closings/delays? i love you?

keep coming at us man. thanks Mr.foot.

by the way my names Matt. i go to Howard high

Sharon said...

Mr Foot, you have two of the most beautiful little girls I have ever seen. You are a lucky man.
My question is...What do you think will happen tomorrow? What type of precip do you think will fall and will it close or delay schools? (My son is asking)

Mr. Foot said...

Hi Sharon, thanks for the nice comments. The situation tomorrow is trending more and more unusual with each passing minute. I'm frankly not sure what the heck is going on down at the National Weather Service, but this is sure going to surprise a lot of folks tomorrow morning.. I know we all (those of us crazy science teachers who talk about weather when it's on going) left school today thinking this was looking to be rain and 40's. Now we've hacked like 6-8 degrees off that in less than 24 hours, and added frozen goodies to the mix.

I've have to say that given the timing of the current NWS forecast, we could well be looking at a surprise delay.

I'm working on a quick analysis and will be posting that before 11 PM I promise. Been trying to figure out how to move comment to top of the post. Anyone know the secret code for that in blogger?

Mr. Foot said...

Hey Matt in HoCo, welcome to the group. Sure was nice to get a few extra zzzs this morning, my crew slept in all the way to 6AM! woo hoo!

I'm watching tomorrow's situation closely as it smells of surprise in the air.

Feel free to pass the site to anyone out and about in Howard and I'll be sure to keep you all in the forecasting zone when I know we have a storm brewing (which we do, in fact 2 between now and Xmas break). As your President would say...bring it!

Side bar comment... welcome back to the bridge Captain E.H. Glad to see you are still holding forth in Boston. Better get that blower greased, and have on hand the metal type shovel with curved blade. My wife used to be a dairy farmer and she says those shovels are good for removing certain materials on the farm, ahem, and for scooping away lotsa lotsa freezing rain.

Why do I say this? Cause you have 2major major major events in the offing. The next 2 weeks are going to give us all snowicerain whiplash.

Anonymous said...

TWO!? TWO!!! hmmm....Looked at the map... saw the BLOB (my technical term..lol) headin our way... plus another one out west... those the two you mean!?!?