Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Upside down weather

7:25 AM 2/21/12 A special report by Advisor / Meteorologist H. Michael Mogil who offers an overview of the forecasting process in the Mid-Atlantic snowstorm this past weekend. 

More than 8 inches of heavy wet snow fell in central Virginia,  leaving thousands without power in the state over the weekend. For those with access to Facebook while reading this, take a look at the local reports provided by our Central Virginia Team as evidence of how the storm played out. Now, if you are wondering about the process of snow forecasting, Mr. Mogil breaks it down in a understandable way that covers why some storms work out, and others do not.
Even more interesting, is that his report was written on February 18, before the storm even got underway in the Mid-Atlantic. His forecasts in the article were, as we say in our team rather "spot-on."  Visit the article and compare for yourself. We offer an excerpt to get you started...
"Close call for Mid-Atlantic snowstorm"                                        2/18/12 Examiner.com article by Mike Mogil

"It has been a mostly snowless winter so far across much of the mid-Atlantic.  In recent days, a developing Gulf Coast low-pressure system gave some (especially students) the hope that their wait for snow would be ending.  That no longer appears to be the case.
For readers who don’t fully understand how snow forecasting is done, let me offer some insights. I caution, however, that this is the proverbial 'tip of the iceberg'  summary.  The forecasting process is much more complicated.
Let’s consider snow forecasting to be a recipe.  Much like kitchen recipes, one needs to have a bunch of ingredients in place in order to make the dish.  In the case of snow forecasting:
  • There needs to be enough cold air through a sufficient depth of the lower atmosphere;
  • An ample moisture supply and something to allow for the moist air to rise (creating clouds and precipitation).  
  • Elevation factors can play a role, as well.  It is typically colder in the mountains than at lower altitudes.  Then the key forecast factor turns into a realtor-based phrase, 'location-location-location.' " 
Visit the article to see what Mr. Mogil actually forecasted, and compare to what actually happened. 

About the author (from his Examiner.com profile) H. Michael "Mike" Mogil, a Meteorologist/Advisor to the U.S. Foot's Forecast Team. is a nationally recognized, educationally-focused, meteorologist with expertise in weather forecasting, science writing, teacher training and forensic applications. He is also able to see how weather connects to other aspects of our lives (e.g., the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf, health and safety, social sciences, geography and math). He has also authored and/or contributed to numerous books on extreme weather, general weather and weather experiments. Mike fostered publication of a set of cloud stamps by the U.S. Postal Service (2004). Mike speaks often at national weather, science and education conferences and writes frequently for the national Weatherwise magazine. 

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