Friday, September 30, 2011

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8:55 AM EDT 10/1/11

THE WEEKEND POWDERHOUND REPORT: As Phillip Seymour Hoffman says in the movie Twister..."THIS is the fun part baby." We love October because it reveals the essence of the winter pattern, provides supporting data from other regions and usually puts out an early season storm or two that gets everybody talking.  Last week's snow in Siberia was accompanied by a sprinkling across Alaska and northern Canada. While you might expect that to be normal this time of year, it's important to note ANY snow cover building up on land above the Arctic circle helps counteract the near-record meltoff of Arctic Sea Ice this year. Graphic 1- National Snow & Ice Data Center: 

The September 30 graphic from the National Ice Center shows this buildup of snow in the Northwest Territories, and down the Coast Range of British Columbia. Even Whistler-Blackcomb is reporting early snow: ( The resulting increase in sunflight reflectivity cools the atmosphere further, allowing southward moving high pressure systems to develop strong surface pressures to the colder ground surface.

We will map out other regions later today, but for the Mid-Atlantic,  given the current 45- to 60-day pattern starting with the Sep 26 Midwestern storm, we see this sequence: 

  1. Late October: Major cold snap, hard frost after a Midwest to Northeast storm; 
  2. Mid-November: "Indian summer" false warmup for a few days;
  3. Around Dec 1: Sharp reversal to significant cold, ending with a brief snow event...yep, you guessed it, in the neighborhood of Dec 5-10. 
We are excited for you to know of partnerships our team has with accomplished forecasters elsewhere in the country. The enclosed Winter forecast graphic is courtesy of our Affiliate CirrusWeather in Kansas. who spells out in nice detail some of the concerns for the winter ahead. Above-normal Gulf of Mexico waters in conjunction with what might be a frequent "clipper" pattern may give rise to the "Ice threat" noted for the Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Lots of Gulf moisture surging domes of high pressure with a clipper bearing down could lead to more Ice than snow storms for some areas. This would make for a winter similar to 2006-2007, such as the infamous "Valentine's Day Massacre of February 2007." 

AFFILIATE CIRRUS WEATHER: and for their perspective on the winter pattern ahead.  

NEW WINTER STORMCAST ZONE: Lead Forecaster Ben Redmon of Michigan Weather Watchers will be leading development of our newest Winter zone for the Western Great Lakes. If you have friends, family or colleagues out that way, let them know our team is on their side! (

Lead Powderhound Mr. Foot, Forecaster Connor and the Winter Stormcast Team.

Happy Powderhound Friday!  

7:55 AM EDT 9/30/11 | SIBERIAN SNOW SURPRISE | Hey everyone, it's Forecaster Connor from Central Maryland, and have we got news for all the Powderhounds out there. As part of our team's  relaunch of popular "Winter Stormcast Zone" for later today, we have breaking weather for you all the way from Siberia! 

For those yearning to get a glimpse of what the winter pattern may hold, this early season event may provide some long range clues. On Wednesday and Thursday, an enormous amount of snow fell over Russia's Far East and southern Siberia regions.  Meteorologists from the area have said that "two weeks worth of snow has fallen over the last two days," This September snow hit left hundreds of people stranded, closed airports, and even shutdown schools...all this in a place that you would think deals well with snow! 

Clear evidence of just how much area was covered can be seen in NOAA's Daily Snow & Ice Chart from the National Ice Center. More details on the story and a video link are in this article.

Why does this matter? One of the many indicators our Winter Stormcast team monitors is how Siberian snowcover builds up in October. This normal climate trend can be a predictor of North American winter patterns. Now that the snow season there has kicked off there early and big, it makes us think hmmm.... an early kickoff here too? Make sure to tell your friends where to find the real scoop on all things snow... right here in the FF Winter Stormcast Zone! Stay tuned for the "Friday Powerhound Report" coming later today. 

You can also follow our latest Winter Stormcast regional updates on your mobile phone or tablet in these zones run by different forecasters around the country:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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 "Let's Get It Started In Here" 
-2009 single by the Black Eyed Peas (Video embed below)

10:00 PM EDT 9/29/2011 | If you are new to Foot's Forecast and are wondering what this is all about, it started with a simple idea developed by high school students. Almost eight years ago, this website began by publishing class weather predictions on the internet, makinig collaborative investigations available for educational purposes by teachers and students. Today our team has 50 members in 17 states, and our total site and facebook traffic is a combined 150 million hits from all over the world. We have grown to become a nationally-recognized weather forecasting and information services company, with an education outreach model not seen elsewhere on the internet. Just all started with one 10th grade class from one high school in a working-class community in Maryland. (Photo: The Mid-Atlantic Team gathers for Forecaster Greg Jackson's senior graduation party in June 2011)

Ready to start it?

Yahoo News recently said our concept is "innovative and hugely informative." The Seattle Times wrote that we are a "credible weather source." The Baltimore Sun was the first to famously say back in February 2010 that we were  "uncannily accurate" with storms that winter. With a  new winter looming, we know more than a few powderhounds reading this site are dreaming of all things snow. We think it is time you "get it started in here" and innovate your future by joining our team. Weather is just the starting point for an opportunity list as long as your imagination will permit: We welcome students or enthusiasts from photography to podcasting, in vimeo or volunteering, who live for surfing, snowboarding or saving the environment. Let's cut to the chase and get your name in the pipeline. Send us a brief letter of intent to and you'll get an auto-reply with more details. 

Our story, from then to now

Hurricane Isabel,  September 18, 2003
Photo credit: NOAA
The idea of this website started in a 10th grade Earth Science classroom in the Baltimore County Public Schools of central Maryland. Mr. Foot and his Earth Science students, after several wildly successful snowstorms predictions in the 2002-03 season, thought it would be useful to publish their forecasts on the internet for use by friends and colleagues at Dundalk High School.  The words "Foot's Forecast" first came about in 2003-04, published via handouts for the President's Weekend Blizzard of February 2003, and Hurricane Isabel in September 2003. Eventually students said, "just put it on the internet." The site was launched on January 26, 2004 as the first collaborative weather forecasting blog in the Mid-Atlantic.  

By 2005, visitors to the site were coming from well beyond Baltimore County. After five years of developing forecasting methods, building an audience and recruiting advisors, the team began including college students from Pennsylvania, students from Maryland school systems,  and then college students from other states. A famous front page article in the December 19, 2009 Baltimore Sun by Science Writer Frank Roylance and additional articles in Maryland's Dundalk Eagle by Reporter Bill Gates changed everything. Since then, the site grew from a few hundred visits a day to 1 million just in January 2011. Our facebook page readership reaches over 60,000 daily readers from a third of the states in the U.S. The story is still being written, and we hope you will be among the next writers.  

Our forecasting has been there...through the Mid-Atlantic Ice Storms of 2004 to the historic 2005 hurricane season, the "Valentine's Week" storms of February 2007 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 to the "Beyond Epic"  Mid-Atlantic Blizzard of December 2009 and the "Snowmageddon" double Blizzards (#1) and (#2) of February the present day. Our accuracy? One example is an 80% statewide average for Maryland, published in our Storm Grade Data from the 2/4-6/2010 event. 
(photo: Lead Forecasters Connor and Mike our "Hurricane Alpha" simulation with the Baltimore County Emergency Operations Center in June 2011)

The team is ready...are you?
If you are interested in innovating your future, join our team and become the face of the place for weather in your state or county: info@footsforecast.orgDetails on how to apply to our team are also found on this application page(Photo L to R- Two of our newest members: Forecaster Ross H. of the Cape Fear Zone in North Carolina, and Forecaster Megan M. of the Northern Virginia ZoneBoth are graduates of the Summer 2011 NOAA-funded Weather Camp program at Howard University.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Surfin' U.S.A.
- Timeless 1963 single by the Beach Boys 

12:40 PM EDT 9/27/11  Waves of 15 to 18 feet along the Pacific Northwest coast today, as projected by the Seattle National Weather Service, are the first phase of what our team believes will become a major change in the atmospheric pattern over much of North America. These high surf conditions are being caused by a strong cyclone approaching from the Gulf of Alaska, containing the remnants of Super Typhoon Roke which struck Japan last week. We first reported on Roke's potential impact to the U.S. weather pattern in our "Here We Go Again" post from 9/19. It is a surfin' safari for those skilled enough to brave the rough conditions, or just safely surf Pacific coast web cams. Still dreaming of surfin' summer waves? Hang with the Beach Boys in this Youtube video.  

A second influence in the long range pattern should also be the remnants of Hurricane Hilary, shown as the little red and orange ball on this Northeast Pacific enhanced satellite image (Flash loop). The National Hurricane Center, and our Long Range Team,  expects Hilary to turn north and send upper level energy and moisture into the U.S. southwest. We believe downstream impact of both Hilary and the energy from Roke will fuel a significant pattern change across the entire U.S. for the first 2 weeks of October. Possible outcomes, as indicated by the Climate Prediction Center, include major amplication of the ridge-trough arrangement. In the week ahead, the western U.S. trough should sharpen, leading to a major ridge developing in the central U.S. By October 10, a large area of the Eastern U.S. could be facing a major post-summer warmup with possible above normal precipitation in the Northeast U.S. 

ANY EFFECT ON THE WINTER PATTERN? Plenty, my fellow powderhounds, plenty. For starters, a major fall warmup may wreak significant havoc on the development of Arctic cold reservoir.  It could delay the buildup of the reservoir, holding back a kickoff of winter in the Eastern U.S. or it may end up fueling a "blocking" regime over northeast Canada to Greenland. Granted we are very concerned and closely monitoring the near-record melt off of Arctic Sea Ice (TIME) reported to be the second lowest since NOAA began tracking the data in 1979. However snow and ice will reform as winter approaches, and cold air will build up over the Arctic. An imbalance of warm and cold out of season could create another  "Rubber Band Effect" our team refers to in times of changing patterns. A rapidly arriving warm-up in mid-October could snap back like a rubber band with a sharp cool down by late October and early November. See what is happening? The upper level pattern would get thrown out of balance again, creating an earlier arrival to winter despite Arctic sea ice. 

SO HOW MIGHT ALL THIS PLAY OUT? We hypothesize the influence of Hurricane Hilary and the Pacific Northwest storm may produce a long term change in the pattern, and re-energizing the apparent 45- to 60-day sequence of high impact events which seem to be in place. A major cold outbreak by late October may allow a mid-November warmup at a time when cold air is beginning to build across Canada. One or two traditional Alberta clippers right around Thanksgiving could easily unlock all that cold air-- and the Eastern U.S. receives an early winter drubbing similar to the famous White Thanksgiving  and subsequent Arctic invasion of December 1989.  

LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT: You all are saying a September Hurricane in the East Pacific could lead to a White Thanksgiving in the central and eastern U.S.? No, not exactly. We are saying that the long range impacts of two major systems influencing the pattern, plus La Nina similarities between this time of year in 2011, 1995 and 1989, are possibilities to be considered. That's what we do on this site...we map out the parameters and possibilities, then we analyze the data stream and see how things play out.  We think a new cycle is about to start, so go ahead and mark your calendars and we'll watch it happens together. (Forecasters Foot, Nic R. and the Long Range Team)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Impact risk (satellite debris): 1 in 20 trillion
Landfall risk (surprise storm): 2 in ten

11:15 PM EDT 9/24/11  (UPDATE) The National Hurricane Center has lowered the probability for development of the system to 20% as shown in the graphic. However, our team remains on alert for the possibility this situation develops into a surprise soaking for areas that need it the least. Consider what took place almost one year ago. Though we don't expect a situation akin to what NOAA called an "Unholy Matrimony"it bears close monitoring just to make sure.

September 30, 2010 produced a surprise soaking in the eastern Mid-Atlantic many will not soon forget. Those along the I-95 corridor and Mid-Atlantic coast may recall that remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, which only lasted 6 hours as a named system, but became embedded in a similar looking frontal boundary. In a matter of 12 hours, all the moisture feeding into this boundary swept over the Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia metro areas, dropping 6-9" of rain on millions of people... and the news media was befuddled as to what it should be called. It wasn't a Tropical Depression, nor a Tropical Storm, but the pouring rain sure did act like it. In a matter of hours, hundred of roads were blocked, schools were closing early and frantic parents could not even get to the schools. (Image: NOAA's GOES-13 Satellite capture of the 9/30/10 event)

The difference between then and now? In September 2010, the Mid-Atlantic had just come off a glorious 2 weeks of sunshine and blue skies when the remnants of non-Tropical Storm Nicole struck. Much of the region was in a drought from the Carolinas to Maryland. This year, those same areas have received 10-14" of rain for all of September. Mind you, that is not counting Hurricane Irene, which was August! 

So what could happen? Our multi-state Tropical Team has analyzed the situation and has prepared this PRELIMINARY OVERVIEW in a  "Low/Medium/High" breakdown of the possibilities. Invest 91L will be impacting the coast of the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic early this week as either as energy embedded in a frontal boundary, a Tropical Depression or weak Tropical Storm. Here's our Team's "FootPrint" on the storm (Forecasters Daniel, Jason, Ross, Greg; Advisors Mr. Foot and Mr. Krichinsky)

Least Case Scenario: 91L makes it's way north, slightly farther to the east, dropping a maximum of 1.5'' of rain in a concentrated area around the Outer Banks and Southern VA.

Mid-Range Scenario: 91L follows the NHC track (brushing the coast), but does not develop into a named tropical system, but still dumps up to 2.5'' of rain along the Outer Banks of NC and over an inch along the DelMarVa peninsula and southern New Jersey. We see this as the most likely of the three scenarios.
Worst Case Scenario: 91L tracks a bit more to the west, over the Gulf Stream and intensifies into a  ~40mph Tropical Storm, bringing rain amounts up to 3.5'' along the Carolina coast and over 2'' into the DelMarVa peninsula as well as strong gusty winds.

(FIRST REPORT) 6:30 PM EDT 9/24/11 While the media and sky watchers have been concerned about the risk of a 6.5 ton satellite falling to Earth today, our Tropical Team has been keeping tabs on a far greater risk that may surprise A LOT more  people. No, this is not unfounded hype over newly minted Tropical Storm Philippe, but an issue much closer to home.  U.S. computer model guidance shown by Colorado State University indicates an area of disturbed weather north of the Bahamas is may reach the North Carolina coast within 24-36 hours. This system, identified as "Invest 91L" is denoted by the National Hurricane Center with a 30% chance of development in the next 48 hours. Take a look at the enhanced satellite imagery and see if you detect some unusual activity in this system, which might be behind the NHC's rationale for bumping this up.

What we think this means.  
If CSU model plots, Day 1-3 rainfall projections from NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, and this surface analysis from the Ocean Prediction Center are taken 48 hours, areas from Eastern North Carolina to the southern Delmarva could be facing a surprise dose of heavy tropical rain. Let's hope it stays just that. Recent storm history is replete with famous sayings of "it's just a tropical depression" (Gaston, Richmond, 2004); "Was not even a hurricane" (Isabel, Baltimore, 2003); or "A minimal hurricane" (Irene, New York City, 2011).

What happens next. 
The bigger issue for public safety and emergency management officials will be become what comes after this event. Fresh off another "Lee-like" deluge this weekend, the East coast's tropical river of rain may actually get worse. For the week ahead, the triple squeeze of (1) Above-normal sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico; (2) A westward push of the Atlantic ridge; and 3) Eastward push of several low pressure systems in the Midwest could fuel another round of widespread inland flooding rain, severe storms and coastal flooding. If Invest 91L decides to go against atmospheric conventions (tropical systems NEVER do that!) and develop prior to landfall, it would surprise a LOT of folks who are not even expecting a tropical system near the U.S.  

Our Tropical Team will be collaborating on the situation this evening, check back later tonight on our threat assessment for  this system in the 48 hour period ahead. (Forecasters Foot, Salter and the Tropical Team) 

Monday, September 19, 2011

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So that was summer
5:50 PM EDT 9/22/11 A summer-like sunset from Southeast Baltimore County taken last week, shown here to commemorate the final day of Summer 2011. The Autumnal Equinox arrives at 5:05 AM EDT Friday 9/23/11, and with it we expect a classic, cool early fall pattern to take us right into October. If you are part of a snow sports resort or a snow removal company, things might be looking up: A recent bump in Arctic Sea Ice extent, though on track for a near-record melt off, does show interesting signals for what may come in the winter ahead. 

Here we go again...Part Trois

5:30 PM EDT 9/22/2011 | With today as last full day of Summer 2011, Star Wars aficionados, upon seeing NOAA's latest 5-day precipitation projections, might be compelled to say "there is a great disturbance in the force." Is it  Tropical Storm Ophelia? Not yet, no worries there for at least another 5-6 days. But as Baltimore's ABC-2's Meteorologist Justin Berk reminds us, "the atmosphere has a 'memory' " and after all, don't bad things usually go in threes? (Let's hope it forgets about this whole idea outlined below)

The Eastern U.S. situation is simple, but troubling: If you experienced flooding rains in Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee, it might be wise to prepare for the third installment (but perhaps not last) installment of this prolonged heavy rain pattern. As outlined in the previous post, the atmospheric arrangement from the Northern Pacific, across North American and into the Atlantic has locked into a more fall- and winter-like "trough-ridge-trough" pattern. Evidence of this is clear on the precip projections: Virtually no precip in the west from now to Saturday, with all the action confined to places needing it the least... Eastern North Carolina, the Delmarva, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, New York and southern New England.  

SO WHAT GIVES? Why can't Mother Nature just donate all the rain to Texas and balance things out?  While that would be nice, the laws of physics are just not going to cooperate so amicably for you. The unfortunate possibility of the current pattern can be best summed up by the famous line from 1942's Casablanca: "Here's lookin' at you kid" (Youtube). For the foreseeable future (read: To Halloween), we think you'll be looking at weather headlines that sound  like a corrupted remix  (millennial version of broken record): Flooding rains in the Mid-Atlantic, Drought and wildfires in Texas, cold pre-season air in the Northern Plains, and near-tropical warmth in the Pacific Northwest. 

We think the causes of this pattern could include warmer-than-normal waters in Gulf of Mexico and along the Eastern seaboard, enhancing moisture transport along fronts, an active storm pattern in the Pacific locking in the trough and the return of La Nina in the equatorial central Pacific, locking in the southern U.S. high.  

Hey, for all the powderhounds out there, at least winter is still on the way, right?
(Forecaster Foot)

Here we go again?

12:30 PM EDT 9/19/2011 | On this day after the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Isabel's trek across the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic, our Tropical Team is watching not only Tropical Storm Ophelia developing in the Eastern Atlantic... but also some mischievous atmospheric activity in the Pacific. Our Winter Stormcast Team recently released a preliminary statement on the expected trends and teleconnections we believe will be influential for the upcoming season (Facebook). If the future climate patterns of the next three months were a mystery to be unraveled, the atmosphere is about to deliver a significant set of clues on how the pattern may play out. While many focus on the Atlantic, the real driver of events this year has been changes in the Pacific, and specifically, a resurgent La Nina as reported by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.  

SO WHAT'S GOING ON? The energy from two typhoons in the western Pacific are, over the next week to 10 days, expected to be absorbed into a strong cyclone in the of Alaska, as shown in this satellite image of the Northwest Pacific. NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) is monitoring this possibility in their Preliminary Extended Forecast Discussion. The significance of this "synoptic" or large-scale atmospheric process cannot be understated:

1. The Gulf of Alaska Low, by ingesting energy from the Pacific systems, may "lock in place" the current pattern in place across much of the U.S.: A strong western ridge responsible for the late season warmth in the Pacific Northwest, little or no break from the drought in the southern U.S. and a persistent trough in the Eastern U.S. This arrangement would lead to continued dry conditions in places which don't need them, and a cool, rainy, wet pattern in places that don't THAT either. 

2. The potential long range implications: Although conditions are supposed to begin "cooling" with the approach of Fall,  amplification of the long range pattern could drive more chilly,damp weather into the Eastern U.S. sooner and longer than expected. This could throw off the usual step-down into traditional cool weather, making for a much colder and stormier early- to mid-October than we might expect. After all, it was less than one year ago, October 26-27, 2010 that a record Extratropical Cyclone across the Great Lakes (NOAA report) became so strong it was dubbed the equivalent of an "inland Category 3 hurricane" due to the historically low pressures observed.  We believe that system was an influential factor which may have led to the January 26, 2011 "snow monsoon" among other extreme events of the past year. 

3. What about the Atlantic tropical system?  Long range tropical forecasts are notoriously difficult to pinpoint with any precision. The best we can tell you at present is the Atlantic pattern suggests this system as shown in the Tropical Cyclone Guidance from Colorado State University, is a westward track for the next 5 days with slow development. After that, it is anyone's guess what clues the atmosphere will let us be privy to by for the next analysis. (Forecasters Foot, Long Range Coordinator Nic R. and the Long Range Team)

Friday, September 16, 2011

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Building opportunities

8:45 EDT 9/16/2011 | On this Fusion Friday, we celebrate more sunshine in the East, a final breaking of the Texas 100's, the first frost in the upper Midwest and Northern New England, and the third Atlantic hurricane of 2011... all in just 24 hours.  Throw in the freak waterspout/tornado in Ocean City, MD (WBOC-16) yesterday and there is a lot of weather to talk about. Before some other bizarre weather event recaptures the headlines, we want to showcase a special event from last Friday with one of our forecasters.

Remember Lead Forecaster Matt Bolton of our Florida Team? He's the one who appeared at the NBC Universal Studios with Al Roker back in July, was later able to meet Dr. Greg Forbes (shown left) and Meteorologist Jen Carfagno of The Weather Channel. Well it is September and Matt is back in force!  Last Friday, he was able to visit the National Hurricane Center, accompanied by Advisor and Meteorologist Mike Mogil from How The Weatherworks and the NOAA-funded Weather Camp program. Matt's tour of the NHC was conducted by Director Bill Read, (above, left) and Miami NWS Meteorologist-in-Charge Pablo Santos. Those of you able to appropriately access facebook  (read: do at home, not at school), can take a look at the album on the Central Florida page.

Our sincere thanks to the National Hurricane Center, Director Read, Mr. Mogil and Mr. Santos for demonstrating by their actions to all of us the value of investing time to provide students with authentic, collaborative experiences that transcend traditional classroom learning. Our team was founded on the philosophy that "all students can make meaningful contributions to society" ... if we just take the time and give them a chance to shine. 

Well done, Forecaster Matt... you and your own education outreach activities are an inspiration to more people than you know. We hope that teachers and students reading this will find the spark inside to innovate their future, and build an opportunity for the next "Fusion Friday" story. If you can dream it... we can do it.  (Mr. Foot and the U.S. Advisory Team of Foot's Forecast) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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Benchmarking the Winter

Stopping by a woods on a snowy Parkville, Baltimore County, MD submitted by long time powerhound and Senior Ambassador Ms. Williams. See original context of image, 1/20/08 

7:15 AM EDT 9/16/2011 | THOUGH IT WAS WARM YESTERDAY... | High temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic on Wednesday ranged from 88 at Baltimore-Washington Airport and 84 at Pottstown, PA's Limerick Airport to a snow-person melting 96 at Alma, Georgia. Meanwhile the first big push of semi-Arctic air of the season is plowing across the Upper Midwest. Forecaster Robert in our Southeast Wisconsin zone (facebook) reports that "a dramatic temperature change is on tap for the rest of this week" and the cool-down is coming east. Although mid-September warmth or early season cool shots are not out of the ordinary, while all y'all have been relishing in football, field hockey and fall festival season... our team has been battening down the research hatches for could turn into a real white-knuckle winter. 

STARTING IN WINTER 2006-07, members of our forecast team have began a pre-winter process of identifying specific climate teleconnection indicators and associated trends. In September 2009, this technique produced strong indications that the multi-sphere data (trends from ocean, polar and atmospheric inputs as shown by location on the image below) was pointing to a potentially very significant winter. Read what we wrote back on August 30, 2009 ; November 11, 2009; November 29, 2009 and this historic post on December 17, 2009, which was fully 48 hours before the first flakes began flying in the Mid-Atlantic.  

WHAT'S THE POINT? Using a synthesis of these climate factors, Foot's Forecast has developed over time a data-driven, research-based model utilizing climate teleconnective inter-relationships and patterns, in conjunction with a lesser known forecasting concept called the Long Range Cycle. This technique has worked best in recent years when  implemented by high school or college students. They're not bound by the same liabilities or ratings rules of either TV broadcasters or NWS Meteorologists. We can all co-teach and co-ordinate research across state lines, dig into the data unrestricted by school bells and internet filters and generate a collaborative forecast read by tens of thousands a day. (That is, if it's ok for students at your school to investigate government climate data unsupervised... risky I know.)  

WHAT'S THE SECRET? Using an integrative and cloud-based collaboration, we are able to teach our high school and college forecasters old time forecasting techniques, some of which are no longer taught in standard Meteorology or Atmospheric Science programs at accredited four-year institutions. In fact, some of our best and most controversial forecasts were based off a single piece of paper containing data 12 hours old! In the past two years, our techniques permitted us to predict the arrival or departure of snow down to the minute, the amount of snow down to the TENTH of an inch for dozes and dozens of cities, several times in a row. It wasn't an accident, it wasn't a bunch of Baltimore kids who got lucky with a couple snowstorms... it was collaboration across county lines, passion for scientific data and innovative forecasting techniques, led by students just like those reading this page in their classroom today, right now.  

WHAT'S OUR RECORD? What did we REALLY say two years ago about the Winter of 2009-2010? Take a look for yourself at posts published as part of the Dec 19, 2009 post-storm recap, in which we said in this section on 12/23/2000:

We saw the potential for a significant winter pattern as early as August 2009, and refined those ideas in October. On 10/19/09 the following projection was made: 
"A rapid onset of persistent and disruptive winter weather is expected by December 5. If this unstable pattern continues, as was observed in October - December of 2002, areas of the Mid-Atlantic region could experience widespread school closings for 2 or more days this December. This may equal or exceed the cold and snowy period observed in the Baltimore region from December 4-11, 2002."
HOW ABOUT SOMETHING MORE SPOOKY? In that same post on 12/23/2009, we said:
"What does 2010 have in stock? Good news and bad news! If you are a powderhound, make arrangements to be safely nestled at your favorite ski resort by New Years. If you are a teacher or student, be ready to roll quickly into instruction the week of 1/4 - the atmosphere has more "plans" for us.  If you are an HSA planner in Maryland, we hypothesize conditions in mid-January will turn around and warm up - just in time to get state testing completed. After that? Let's just say the Empire Strikes Back - as in the empire of Old Man Winter. The January 20 to February 15 period might be a time that tries men's souls* (and ladies too of course!) 
*All you powderhound types out there-- did ya' catch that last little piece? 

HOW WILL WE "BENCHMARK" THIS WINTER?   Using the same techniques of synthesizing teleconnection patterns along with historical analogs and the Long Range Cycle, we can tell you the data points we'll be tracking in the coming weeks, in collaboration with students from several high schools around the country. Those data points include expected changes in a Nina, lack of upwelling in the western Atlantic, above normal Sea Surface Temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, noticeably lower Arctic Sea ice extent this year as compared to 2009, changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (a North Pacific version of El Nino/La Nina) and watching for how Siberian snow cover develops come October, along with the usual suspects of the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Arctic Oscillation and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (note: No relation to John Madden or the NFL. We can't have them learning these tricks.)

GREAT...WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR WINTER?  Well you had to ask, so we can give you a preview. We think the atmosphere is stuck in a repeating pattern of major events every 45- to 60-days.  It may even cycle all the way back to the February 2010 Blizzards, but for discussion purposes let's go back about one year. Remember the October 24, 2010 mega-storm over the Great Lakes? Ok good, now using the 45- to 60-day Long Range, go forward 60 days to... the December 25-27, 2010 East Coast Blizzard, then go forward about 60 more days to the President's Day Surprise of Feb 21-22, 2011

Getting weird for you? Now go forward another 60 or so days to the April 13-19, 2011-- the mega outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast, followed by the Joplin, MO event on May 22. If we pick a mid-point of May 1 and go forward about 60 days, we get to the start of the mega-heat wave in the Central U.S. in early July, during which Dallas last saw it's sub-100 degree day on June 19, a record that just broke this week. But wait, there's more... go forward about 45 or so days from early July and you reach the start of the Hurricane Irene/Tropical Storm Lee period, which ended last week. What's our prediction based on the proposed trend?

THE NEXT PATTERN OF MAJOR WEATHER EVENTS IN THE U.S. should follow this sequence. Please note these are generalized regional projections, which do not replace our data-centered overall winter forecast products developed by the Winter Stormcast Team.
  • The Midwest's first significant winter weather event in the period from November 5 to 10.  November 5 will be assigned as benchmark date for accumulating snow at Cleveland Airport (1" or greater) or significant rainfall (.50" or greater)  to initiate the winter pattern.
  • The Mid-Atlantic's first significant winter weather event (defined as an event with accumulations of 4" or more) may not arrive until late December into early January. Sharply lower Arctic sea ice readings as compared to 2009 are more resembling that of 2006. La Nina is currently cooling further and may head for a double-dip bottom out. In 2006-07, many Mid-Atlantic ski resorts struggled to maintain trail coverage from December into January due to lack of snow from storms. We sense a similar pattern may be setting up.
  • However, we also believe the overall Eastern U.S. winter pattern may be sprinkled with short duration, high impact events similar to the January 26, 2011 "Snow Monsoon" debacle.
OUR WINTER STORMCAST TEAM directed by Lead Forecaster Connor M. of Central Maryland and Lead Forecaster Jason M. of the Capital Region, along with  a dozen other collaborators, will be digging into the climate data and projections to generate a quantified PRELIMINARY winter forecast in the next several weeks. Check for blurbs about the forecast in our Mid-Atlantic Winter Stormcast page on facebook, and enjoy the calm weather now before the next 60-day cycle comes to a close!

Forecast Advisors Mr. Foot, Mr. Krinchinsky and Mr. Lear

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You have got to be kidding...

TROPICAL ZONE Latest team analysis and NHC updates in facebook
MID-ATLANTIC SEVERE Watching over the remnants of T.S. Lee
WHEN WILL IT END?  NOAA projections for Fri-Sat are encouraging.

1:20 PM EDT 9/7/11 | IRENE RECOVERY, MARIA PREPARATION? As downpours from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee make for a soggy recovery in many communities this week, the recent naming of Tropical Storm Maria has heightened concerns of another "here we go again." At first glance it might appear that Maria, identified in this morning's NHC advisory with winds of 50 mph, is projected to follow the same path as Irene. While long range 5-day hurricane track forecasts can have up to a 300-mile variance, there is a difference between Maria's future and Irene's past:  The weather pattern since Irene has changed significantly along the East coast. 

A major driver of recent pattern changes was, believe it or not,  influence from a  cyclone in the Gulf of Alaska that originated as a typhoon in the far western Pacific about two weeks ago. The remnants of that Gulf of Alaska low can still be seen on the Northeast Pacific satellite imagery. The resulting upper atmospheric kick in the flow has generated a deep trough in the western, strengthened a ridge in the southern U.S. which fueled the tinder-like conditions over Texas, and has allowed a trough to take shape over the eastern U.S. NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center shows that within 96 hours (4 days) the eastern trough may retrograde (back up) over the central U.S. This trough arrangement may provide the East coast with enough downstream flow to deflect the approach of Maria late in the weekend.

Maria's projected path does not take the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico or the Bahamas out of harm's way, so our multi-state Tropical Team remains on the task to forecast for impacts in these areas. For the U.S. mainland, our Tropical and Severe Teams concur that atmospheric dynamics, and the next cold front, may help steer Maria along a similar path Katia is following. 

So this time, the best spin we have is to say Mother Nature is the one kidding us with Maria's path. We sure hope it's just a joke, for folks in the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast need all the dry weather they can get. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

1 comment:
If wishes were horses

3:30 PM EDT 9/6/2011 | Even though many places in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were able to squeeze in a sunny Labor Day Weekend, there will be a lot of wishing that the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee will gallop away like a horse... and not stall along a stationary front. The bullseye of heavy rain from this system has been progged for west central Pennsylvania by NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center for several days now. Flood Watches cover most of Pennsylvania, from Harrisburg to State College to Pittsburgh, and keep plenty busy our Three Rivers and Central PA Forecast Teams. 

OUR PENNSYLVANIA TEAMS: If you are heading that way for travel in this tropical downpour Tuesday, please visit and like these forecast pages in facebook to stay better informed of what is ahead on your trip: The Three Rivers Team, led by Forecaster Greg Jackson at the California University of Pennsylvania, and the Penn State Team led by Forecasters Dakota Smith and Patrick Ritsko in State College, PA. 

BAD WEATHER GOT YOU DOWN? Head on out to the sunny shores of Southeast Wisconsin! The U.S. Team of Foot's Forecast is charged up to announce our newest forecast zone, led by Forecaster Robert P. of Sheboygan County. Robert is a summer 2011 NOAA/NCAS Weather Camp graduate of the Howard University program and joins a fine crop of grads who have already dove head first like he did with their forecast zones. Please visit and like the page or spread the word to family, friends and colleagues which reside in the Metro Milwaukee area...that Foot's Forecast has come to town!