Thursday, January 17, 2008

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

THU 1/17 - 4:45 PM. SO...ABOUT THAT "CHANGEOVER" IF ANYONE OUT THERE ACTUALLY WITNESSING ACTUAL RAIN? In Dundalk, it was all snow until about 4:30. Preliminary snow reports from across MD are interesting, and considering that Anne Arundel has some of the highest totals in the Metro area, and they weren't even part of the original advisory package. My temp has dropped 2 degrees, now back to 32, when we were supposed to be rising by now. The rain/snow line according to the AccuWx Radar has been firmly established along and east of the Bay all day, and it's only now begun to move west. Could this turn into the "Big Storm That Would?" I think it's becoming clear to most of you that even light rain for a few hours won't be enough to wash away all the slush, and with temps holding near 32 overnight, delays tomorrow I think are IN THE BAG.

THU 1/17 - 1:30 PM As I write this, snow is softly falling outside my classroom window while I enjoy the peace and quiet of seeing our school's front yard glistened over with white. I am sorry to all of you who have to commute and face snarled traffic instead of a tranquil ride home. So in honor of all those commuters out there, I will walk the grueling, downhill trek of my endless 400 yards home, and think of you among the winter wonderland.

FOLLOWUP OBSERVATIONS ON TODAY'S EVENT:

1. My start time was much earlier than news and weather outlets, and I can see why it took until mid morning (at least in southeast Baltimore County). I would surmise the immediate boundary layer was still quite dry, and several hours of virga (when precip is falling but evaporating before reaching the surface), delayed the onset.

2. However, the very nature of what "virga" does is what I believe enabled the snow to reach greater intensity once it began. The atmosphere became sufficiently chilled and moistened to the point that snowfall rates were very high from the start. Combined with the fast moving shield of snow that overspread the area, I knew that once it got started, the snow would make up for lost time by accumulating more quickly.

3. I wore a special tie I reserve for these occasions.. the dark blue one featuring my 2 skiing snowmen. My wife asked what the tie meant this time, and I told her that the 2 snowmen on the tie indicated schools (at least the ones that have some sense to make the right call ...Frederick County...ahem.. Bueller...anyone?) would close 2 hours early. To this she remarked: "Of course, when I bought this tie for you 4 years ago, I had this exact date in mind, January 17, 2008. Riiiight."

HAVE WE LEARNED OUR LESSON FROM PREVIOUS STORMS?

It's obvious now this storm is turning out to mimick it's December 5 cousin, aptly named "The Little Storm That Could" by faithful powderhound Mr. Ligner, the Athletic Director at Sparrows Point High School. That means the 2-4" could end up closer to 5" in some parts of northern and western Baltimore County. I suspect Carroll and out-in-left-field-they-must-have-hired-their-transportation-folks-from-Buffalo-
Frederick County will see amounts on the high end of their Warning criteria... with widespread 6-7-8" likely. Of course I adore my job, my students, my employer and the nice summer 2-month bonus I get every year, so you can be sure that MY COUNTY will always make the right call, no matter what. ;-) I leave all the bad weather related decision making to other places, like Howard and Anne Arundel Counties, for starters. No offense and kudos to my Ho Co colleagues who quickly pointed out they are on an exam schedule this week..so they were scheduled to get out early ANYWAY!

There have been several times in the past 5 years that school systems were burned for making a call based on the BELIEF that dire predictions of weather agencies would come to fruition, and didn't. The one that sticks out in my mind most recently is late February 2005, when NWS had posted a Heavy Snow Warning for most of Maryland. You might have thought it was going to be "Day After Tomorrow, Part 2." Everyone closed from bow to stern. The snow started... at 10 AM. Oh it was heavy all right, and started to stick on the parking lot here in southern Balto County, around 3 PM. I know because I was working in the school greenhouse that day, watching the heavy white clumps land on the grass and MELT. It was so unfortunate how that that storm turned out, because in reality we could have squeezed a full school day out of that. The ground was too warm to support accumulate UNTIL the sun angle decreased, once it did, snow started to stick like glue, but roads were still just slushy and not frozen over by any means.

Since that time, I believe school systems have been following a Revolutionary Era to making the call. You've heard the old saying from the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.. "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" I think we are seeing proof of that proverb here in Maryland. We can identify 3 storms tied to the dubious distinction of being a "Whites of their Eyes" Storm:
- Feb 12-14 Valentine's Day Massacre of 2007
- December 5, 2007 Little Storm That Could
- January 17, 2008 Frederick Co. Honorable Mention "What's a Winter Storm Warning?" Storm

GET TO THE POINT WILL YOU?

Oh sorry, got carried away with reminiscing about climatology. Okay, the point is for tomorrow:

If two-thirds of your geographical scope of authority receive at or above the projected snow amounts, and a changeover to rain is delayed or denied, the likelihood of your school system calling for a delay or closing is inversely porportional to the decision made the day before and the parent reaction to that decision. Without delving too far into the political gooeyness (sp?) of this, let's break it down like such:

IF YOUR SCHOOL SYSTEM WAS.. TODAY YOU RECEIVED... TOMORROW YOU WILL BE..
a Winter Storm Warning area... No early dismissal... Closed, for various reasons.
a Winter Weather Advisory area... A 2 hour early dismissal... 1-2 hour late opening
a Winter Weather Advisory area... No early dismissal... On time, No late opening
Not in any warning or advisory area... Snow but no dismissal... 1-2 hour late opening

WHEN'S THE NEXT STORM?

There is potential for a coastal system to surprise the Mid-Atlantic yet again on Saturday. With cold air in place and models continuing to back the shield of precip more westward with each run, I could see a Special Weather Statement coming out on Friday for the Saturday system which has the potential to deliver the same amount or greater than what the Mid-Atlantic saw Thursday.


And then there's Kahuna potential lurking in the near future, as early as Tuesday and perhaps again on Friday. I will endeavor to stay on top of these developing winter weather events and bring you the latest scoops of truth as time and family permit. As I said in the heading, those of you who were honking for snow, be careful what you wish for, because Mother Nature is about to make up for lost time.

As always, please post your observations in the comments, and feel free to send me a snow pic that I can use to beautify the site: rdfoot@comcast.net. Enjoy the snow while it lasts!

Sincerely,
Forecaster Foot

28 comments:

mshistory23 said...

Ho.co. had a half day for students already in the works due to exams and end of second quarter. No early dis. needed.... I live in Frederick co. I arrived home at 1 pm, after being stuck in the neighborhood, after a small crash of another car sliding into me in the neighborhood, and leaving my car and walking with my infant to my house, (my husband pushed my car with a neighbor to safe resting place until the snow is melts)(tomorrow?)...and it is still two more hours before my daughter's bus will even attempt the same neighborhood roads...bad call Frederick county...4 inches here.

Julee said...

My 25 - 30 minute drive home from the Hereford Zone took 45 minutes. Congested on 83 South and we never went faster than 10 mph, even though it was fairly clear. BIG cotton balls of snow were falling on the windshield the whole way. The beltway was clear-ish, but as soon as I got off at my exit ... uh oh ... snow covered roads everywhere.
Close to three inches now in Pikesville.

Prospero said...

Drive home from Sparrows Point was uneventful, but slow. It looked as if the roads had not been treated yet.

Spent an hour outside with my two sons. I saw the precip change in form. Now I'm hearing the same sound as I did during last year's Valentine's Day storm. I know the precip is supposed to change to rain, but it seems as if it's re-freezing on its way down.

We'll see what later brings...

Anonymous said...

Whoa!! Tough trek home from HoCo to Lutherville-Timonium... was way worse out there too!!

Good call Mr. Foot!!

hey, you plan on putting the chat up on "snow days" again?

Karl said...

Mr Foot -- if you are wondering about Stingy Ole Howard County in this storm-- they had a half day today and are off tomorrow anyway

snmbmx said...

i hope baltimore county gets off tomorrow i need a 4 day weekend

bell86 said...

2 hours was one of the worst calls. Elementary got out close to 2 today and most buses were late. The drive home from Dundalk to White Marsh was HORRIBLE. Once again Baltimore really put people in a dangerous situation.

Mrs. Burke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Foot said...

Ouch everyone, sorry to hear about the bangs and bruises on the way home. Glad you got there finally mshistory23.

Maybe the bad decision making karma from the past few years has shifted from Ho Co to Fred Co? I remember an ice storm where readers reported totally ice covered parking lots, teachers and students slipping and falling all their way in the door, everyone else had 2 hour delays, but you-know-who.

Or maybe Ho Co has finally listened to climatology and decided best to plan 1/2 days in January.

I highly doubt anyone but Fred and Carroll are closed tomorrow, (the former licking their political wounds, the latter playing gleefully in the snow). East winds and rising temps will make for easier cleanup of the slush tonight. I do anticipate 1-2 hour delays however. With the VD Massacre, colder air behind the storm froze everything over hard. Sorry, not this time.

34 F and light sleet/rain in Dundalk.

Mrs. Burke said...

It would certainly be nice to not have inservice tomorrow in HarCo.

This afternoon, Route 40 was a disaster . . . the commute home for most will be cruddy!

It would be really nice to get another snow soon! I want a real snow day! Anything in the future, not predicted to come on the weekend?

Julee said...

JUST started to hear the familiar
*plink*plink*plink* on the windows in Pikesville ... will it really get warm enough to change to RAIN?

Anonymous said...

HoCo finished up midterm exams this week and closed the past three days at 11:10... no school for kids tomorrow.. but like Mrs. Burke, some teachers would prefer to work on grades from home instead of trudging into their buildings tomorrow!

:)

Mr. Foot said...

Well ahem, I'm out building a set of snowgirls on the deck,and the "rain" changes back to big flakes, then the flakes began decreasing in size... hmmmm.

That R/S line does not seem to have budged all day. I'm starting to wonder about any changeover at all, especially here in Bayside Dundalk...you'd expect us to go over first and I'm not seeing it.

Back to work on the sidewalks.

snow lover said...

Hey here in north west bmore county we have a little more then four and still coming down nicely. Looks like it will snow for a couple more hours roads covered. Saturday I am getting excited.!!!!!!!!!!!

snow lover said...

hey so what about school tommorow. If we get an extra two inches. No school!!!!!!

JT said...

I have not checked in 1-2 hours but was over 5 inches (Montgomery County)...but we did few times where light sleet mixed in.

Russ L said...

mr. foot,
thanks for the honor of letting me name this storm. This was the best day for a snow event. NO GAMES scheduled for today so--nothing to re-schedule. Just sitting back and enjoying the HEAVY WET SNOW. I was out shoveling, and man was that snow causing bushes and tree limbs to hang low!!Been looking at some of the latest models and seems like snow is covering all the I-95 cities on Saturday. Looks like this storm will have artic air to work with. mr. foot, when do you seeing this event starting--If it does. I have two wrestling tournaments and one cheerleading tournament Saturday.

Tom like you, my drive home from good ole SPHS was uneventful but SLOW--1.5 hours to get home. I didn't leave until 2:00. Hope to see you around 10:00 tomorrow!!

Julee said...

After the plink plink, we got beautiful cotton ball snow again, then at the verrrrrrry end, it was mixed with tiny clear ice pellets, but rain? NIMBY!
Should I clear off my car tonight? Will we get more precip that will freeze? I'd rather clear snow than ice.

Mr. Foot said...

Mr. Russ..what was that you were saying about tournaments on Saturday? How about you bring them down and instead of the competition, whatever team can clear off the parking lot first after the Sat storm wins the tourney, thus saving the SE area crew from doing it on a weekend! Authentic learning, team building, physical activity and weather awareness all in one event.

wvm said...

We ended up with close to five inches of snow before it changed over to light freezing rain. That is what we are getting now. We were out of school today so who knows about tomorrow:)

Mr. Foot said...

I am working on a brief post to take us into the weekend... and am resurrecting the old catch phrase for stormy and snowy times:

"LLLLLET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLEE!"

Why? Because there's THREE more snow events on tap over the next 7-10 days. Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday. Teachers, are you ready? Hope you closed grades or can do so soon. I had my grade scans this morning, so bring it, because my admins are on the ball.

and they read this website.

snow lover said...

should I be getting excited about the next week? So about how much snow do you think that we will get in next week

Mr. Foot said...

Sat looks decent, another 2-4" maybe more.

Tue looks iffy, hit or miss, will depend on how much snowpack is put down by Sat system.

Thu-Fri of next week looks realllllly nice, great setup and potential for serious snow. If it all comes together just right, a 5 day weekend for students. The operative word there is IF. IF.

Amanda said...

hey.. i go to hereford high and i was wondering. honestly, do you think we will at least be two hours late tomorrow?? it stopped snowing here like an hour ago and we have at least 5 inches.

i know everyone is excited for next week (so am i!), but what about tomorrow? obviously im hoping for a 4 day weekend =]

Sarah said...

Crazy day at Perry Hall Middle in Baltimore County. Our entire 8th grade was scheduled to go on a field trip to the Science Center. No snow, but at 9 am when the buses were loaded, BCPS cancelled all field trips due to the forecast. So all the 8th graders had no books or pencils but had to go to classes.
Then it finally started snowing and we got out 2 hours early. Roads were horrible. I got to my little boys' bus stop and waited for 90 minutes. No bus. It had tried to drive down Harford Road from Kingsville and couldn't make it! I had to drive to school to get them which was very challenging at 3:45 today... we didn't get home until 4:30, after I left my work at 1 pm!
I am grateful we didn't drive into a ditch, like at least 10 cars I saw on my travels.

BCPS, many of us live/travel on rural curvy roads... help keep us safe and keep us home!

Russ L said...

mr. foot,
reading your post about the athletes clearing the parking lots, tells me that I better make some phone calls to put plan "B" into effect!! Does temp's go below freezing tonight?

Mr.S said...

Hey all its still freezing rain and sleet here in AA cty! Pretty darn icy !Here is to hoping for a delay or maybe a 4 day weekend?

Hey Mr Foot -my only concern is I still have finals to give tomorrow and next week!! No worries about quarter grades

Mr. Foot said...

Well everyone, I know you're gunning for a 4 day weekend, and I guess it's possible, but given that the high tomorrow will be 43, and crews will have spent 12 hours+ clearing lots... as well the bus lots are already clear. I'm really thinking that an outright close would be excessive. The only chance to make amanda's dreams come true would be if your conditions are prevalent in more than just the top third. If fully 2/3rd of the county have major problems with icy roads, and the sun does not warm things up, then I guess a closing is possible.

However, if skies are clear tomorrow and the sun comes out, you know it'll be 40 in a flash, hence why I think a system wide 2 hours is the most likely call.

Oh poor ms. sarah, I run a lot of field trips also (or used to before the rules changed).. how terrible for you and the kids. So sorry to hear about that, but interesting that they made THAT call based on the FORECAST, but COULDN'T GO THE EXTRA .000987" and help out all the rest of us little people with a tad bit more advance notice on the dismissal.

Hey Mr. S, from now on you need to follow Ho Co's lead as well as climatology.. and get your exams out of the way earlier in January. I did mine last week because I knew what was coming. Come on, those semester exams are that bad, you can give them a week early right?? ;-)