Wednesday, December 5, 2007

YOU'RE NOT GETTING OUT EARLY
(oh, I meant to say that was only for Howard and
Anne Arundel Counties in Maryland! Sorry I didn't clarify sooner ;-)

WED 12-5 EVENING POST GAME COMMENTS AND ANALYSIS IN BLUE. Text in black was written at 5:30 AM on 12-5. As a fast moving Alberta clipper races east across the Mid-Atlantic, students and teachers in West Virginia, Northern Virginia and Central Maryland will be noticing the light flurries at lunchtime increase to light snow throughout the day. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED: 8:00 am - 9:00 am start time across the Baltimore Region. By last period or mod, with snow becoming steady, teachers will no doubt be pestered with the same question over and over and over and... you get the point. I don't even have to post the question. Students started up with "the question" even before the snow started.. prior to homeroom no less.

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, enough snow will have fallen across central and northern Maryland, and Northern Virginia to coat the grass, untreated sideroads and sidewalks, but not enough to disrupt traffic, main roads or secondaries. Reports started coming to me by late morning that secondaries were becoming snow-covered in northern and western parts of Baltimore County. The daytime arrival of the snow is such that roads will get a little slick, but movement of vehicles will warm surfaces enough to prevent a glaze from developing. Highway and school grounds crews working have ampletime to salt or clear roads / sidewalks and keep up with any changes in snow intensity throughout the day. Although there is plenty of cold air in place the approaching clipper system has less than 1/2inch of liquid equivalent moisture with which to generate snow. As my Earth Science classes calculated on Tuesday analyzing the latest computer models, our projections came to this:


Available moisture: .30 " x a liquid to snow ratio of 1:12 given colder air = 1.56 inches across the Baltimore metro region. Well, that was, like, a tad way off. I measured 4" in my yard, which seems slightly higher than 1.5" That's the amount I'm pegging for accumulation at BWI airport, and we will grade the clipper on that number. Ouch this is going to hurt, gonna be an ugly grade, possibly the worst ever, because 4" on a call of 1.5 is a 62% deviation from the forecast, which nets me an accuracy rating of 38% = E-----
I believe lesser amounts the farther north you go toward Pennsylvania. (Wrong: Bands of snow streaking across the PA-MD border had dropped up to 4" by mid day.) Slightly higher totals of 2-3 inches are likely on the Eastern shore as aptly pointed out by one of our loyal readers, Mr. Justin Berk of ABC2 News. Justin also made important mention in some emails we exchanged yesterday about the possibility of several bursts of snow in the evening hours before ending. His point is well to be considered that this could leave wet roads following the evening rush with the potential to refreeze overnight. Given that idea, there is the outside chance of some school delays Thursday. Update: Anne Arundel County already submitted a 2 hour delay as of 9:12 PM.

As for today, it seems prudent to expect that schools WILL NOT dismiss early (Wrong again..only Baltimore City Schools, Howard County and Anne Arundel were the holdouts.) but WILL LIKELY CANCEL AFTERNOON AND EVENING ACTIVITIES considering the snow should be increasing from afternoon into the evening. (That was easiest call of them all overall. Okay enough rhyming.) The biggest problems will occur in the evening traffic period due to slick roads and reduced visibility.

The only possibility I can see for an early dismissal is if snow intensity starts earlier and stronger than expected, and by 12 pm it is clear roads are becoming snow covered... prompting a 1 hour early call. (Well, that's exactly what happened, I just didn't think it had that good of a chance of really panning out the way it did.) But I think that's still highly unlikely given the timing of the heaviest snow to be arriving when elementary students should already be home. (Good thing most counties called a 1-2 hour dismissal, helped reduce potential for accidents given that moderate to heavy was occurring while I was driving at 3:40...about the time some elementaries would have normally dismissed.)


Previous December 5th's have delivered better snow season kickoffs, so the best part to take away from this year's event is that it will look nice on your holiday decorations, assuming you took advantage ofthe dry weather in previous weeks to get it done. You could take some pretty pictures for your screen saver or greeting cards, and prove to your distant relatives that it really does snow in Maryland, occasionally. (Justin Berk of ABC2 News pointed out that snow has fallen in the area at least 4 of the past 6 years on this date, including Dec 5'ths in 2002, 03, 04, 05 and now 07.)

18 comments:

terpguy said...

I think this is a good call, Mr. Foot. It may leave some pretty, but that should be about it.

Have a good day, all!

Oh, yeah for our "new" drivers:

If this might be your first winter weather driving experience, remember this- there are two speeds for driving in snow.

Slow

and

slower.

Mr. B said...

Mr. Foot 3" here so far. I forecated 5, almost there.

citygal23 said...

In Howard County, at one HS, the students took it into their own hands, and pulle dthe fire alarm. Too bad that didnt get the results they wanted, they stood in the snow for 10 mins and then returned to class.

The roads were good is some areas and horrible in others around 11 am...maybe they should have called it off for the afternoon.

ANDY Southern York County, PA said...

4 inches of snow on the ground at 2:30 in Freeland MD right on the Mason Dixon Line in Northern Balt. Co.

Julee said...

Mr. Foot,

I caught that heading typo ... I know you meant to type "You are NOW Getting Out Early."
And ... you were RIGHT!

3 inches in the Hereford Zone when we left at 1.
Back in Pikesville, we have almost that much. Still snowing steadily. Neighborhood roads snow covered.

Mr. B said...

3.5"
LT. Snow continues. Roads once again covered.

snow lover said...

hey i have been observing the clipper system that is comming through and where i live in BAltimore county we have around 4 inches and it is still comin down very good. Roads covered and it looks like more snow is coming. Any ones thoughts on the snow coming from west virginia???

Anonymous said...

How 'bout delayed openings Mr. Foot!?

Sharon said...

Mr. Foot,
Instead of late...how about closing tomorrow due to freezing. I read that it is not suppose to get above freezing until after 11:00am. What do you think?

Mr. Foot said...

well, everyone, I was kinda way off for this one.

took some measurements in the yard..seems that 4.2" is a tad bit higher than 1.56"

Mid morning today, Mr. Henry and I at DHS were chuckling about what would happen if this storm ended up like the one in January 03.. across the region everyone was calling for maybe dusting to 1/2 inch. It was a Sunday afternoon, the snow started much like it did today..with intensity that increased throughout the day.

That 1/2 inch turned into 5" and was such a surprise to the Baltimore area that many schools closed Monday the 5th, 2003.

So the punchline of the story is.. Mr. Henry and I are walking out of the library looking at the light fluffy snow and he said:
"Wouldn't it be a hoot if this turned out to be 3-6 ?!"

I said, "it would end up just like the Jan 03 storm."

I come home tonight after a long afternoon and evening of doctor apppointments in White Marsh, and check the weather channel. Sure enough are the words I never thought I'd read: Total storm accumulation 3-6 inches.

What a day. Another December 5 curveball.

wvm said...

We ended up with about 5 inches here. SO far there is a two hour delay tomorrow, but if the temps get down in the teens tonight like they are calling for I will be surprised if they have school tomorrow.

Mr. Foot said...

Sorry for not getting to you all sooner, as I mentioned in last comment, have been on and off the road since 3PM today, got in at 8PM. Girls now in bed and I have snowlash. That's whiplash from more snow than expected.

A delay seems quite possible, but we'll need Chip to still get his 5AM shower just to be safe.

Am checking on temps and roads. If skies clear, temps can drop quickly and that will freeze over any standing water. The other side of this is daytime warming. Though temps may not crack 32 before 10 AM, crews have at least 10 more hours to get roads treated and parking lots cleared.

If anyone is still out there reading this evening, would be great to get your observations.. how are secondaries, parking lots, your snow totals, temps, etc.
Be sure to include your location.

Lorax said...

Mr. Foot - What do you think about a delay in either Baltimore County or Baltimore City tomorrow? I would love some extra ZZZ's!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Lightly snowing in Timonium area and sidestreets havent been cleared yet. Just like Lorax I would appreciate the extra sleep, but would really love to put up the tree!!

snow lover said...

hey where i live northwest of the city we recieved 5 or 6 inches and the temps are around 27 side roads covered. Finished flurring half hour ago. this was a real fun storm!!!!!!!

Julee said...

4 1/2" on my back porch in Pikesville.
JUST stopped snowing.
29 degrees.
Streets not cleared.

Not very trusting, so I'm off to get ready for school tomorrow.

This adds another day to the December 5th record, doesn't it?
Strange.

Mr. Foot said...

snow lover you are off the charts, as the kids would say. 5-6" incredible. I would have been accused of hypecasting had I made a call for that early on.

Are you in the city or county? Either way, that seems to suggest there's greater potential for some closings tomorrow given the time it takes to clear lots with that amount to move.

Lorax.. in your honor, I am going to hang my hat on a 2 hour delay for both city and county. No delay, I'll wear the bag. I just can't see "all on time" with roads more treacherous tomorrow morning than they were on a dismissal this afternoon.

In fact, I could even go out on a limb and say there's a greater than average chance of closed due to the unexpected nature of the last snow band that pummeled through from 7-9 PM. That kind of rapid accumulation is what throws crews off sometimes. The 7" storm of December 4-5, 2002 bought us 2 days off (a 4-day weekend) because it was simply too much snow to clear from buses and parking lots in the short time it fell (overnight Wednesday into Thursday AM... I was told this years later by grounds crew workers from BCPS).

Would love to see some reports from Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Towson. Mr. H are you there?