Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stick a fork in...the forecast!

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7:30 AM FRIDAY 1.22.10  Update by Mr. Foot. The National Weather Service has posted Winter Weather Advisories across much of central and western Maryland, the Blue Ridge mountains and Northern Virginia as well as most of western Pennsylvania. Even so, a variety of disjointed changes occured with the storm which forked our forecast. Despite all this, the team performed extremely well, and I am deeply grateful for them. Our loyal readers anticipating time off today or at least some winter precip are understandably disappointed. Some days you get the bear, and other days the bear gets you!

TODAY'S SYNOPSIS  A batch of scattered wintry precipitation will be moving across Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia until noon today. Any accumulations will be light and intermittent. The only school systems which will dismiss early are those already planned in advance for this day. A brief break from major weather until early next week, then El-Nino juiced rainstorms enter the Mid-Atlantic stage left.

Statement from last night: "We believe the data will match our forecast. If not, we won't explain away the results and make it appear we were right all along. That role is better filled by other forecasting agencies. If the forecast busts...Mr. Foot wears a bag on our facebook page, plain and simple."

A QUICK PERSPECTIVE  It should be noted that the forecasts posted on this site are produced almost entirely by high school, college students and weather enthusiasts. I hope you agree they have performed quite well considering these fine gentlemen are not certified meteorologists (yet!). If they are any indication of our public and private school systems, the future looks very bright indeed. Come to think of it, perhaps the accuracy will improve if we can recruit a few ladies to join the forecast team?

(1) We believed that placement of the Canadian high along with the redeveloping low would draw in colder air as the secondary low got going. The truth?
Another old rule struck again: The primary low stayed stronger longer. Looking back, we incorrectly projected the timing of energy transfer from the primary low. It occured, but actually not when we expected and the system moved off the coast too quickly.
(2) We believed "tropical forcing" from the convective cells along Gulf coast would aid in that transfer. It has, but a lot of the energy is off the coast. Too disjointed to permit efficient throwback of consistent moisture overnight.
(3) We projected that sleet overnight and evaporative cooling later would reduce surface temperatures enough to permit freezing. The sleet occured, but not the evap cooling as we thought, thus our nighttime temperature scenario did not pan out.

BOTTOM LINE?  We were wrong on three counts: Dynamics, timing, temperatures. Someone else in the meteorological community predicted an excessive amount of snow for this region. We'd much rather bear your wrath than what those readers will dish. So for those in the education community, the bag (box) cometh from me. I put the A-1 back in the fridge, refroze the steak, and will prepare for video shortly.

THURSDAY SUMMARY A majority of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest will receive a
disruptive period of wintry precipitation well into Friday. This afternoon, rain and sleet mixed will reach the Blue Ridge, and arrive along the I-95 corridor between 9 PM - 12 AM. This evening, precipitation should begin as sleet and freezing rain. By Friday mid-morning, precip will have changed over to all snow and become heavy for brief periods before ending mid-afternoon. To coin a phrase for Friday: "It's done."

Weather enthusiasts who are also skiers or riders and can provide snow/slope condition forecasts for selected resorts across the Mid-Atlantic & Northeast.

The 2010 Winter Games are fast approaching, hosted by Vancouver and Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia. This is a unique (though unofficial!) educational opportunity for students or enthusiasts alike to apply real-time forecasting skills to predict snowfall and slope conditions for a high media attention part of the world next month. Submit inquiries to if you are a Whistler powderhound.

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