Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Did Fortune Favor The Bold? 
(You Decide! ;-)

8:20 AM EDT 3/25 (Winter Stomcast Team) Why bank on winter, when the best snow waits until Spring! Thanks to Forecaster Connor of our Maryland Team for the 4-panel of conditions from around the Mid-Atlantic.

WHAT HAPPENED? Despite our expectation that warm surfaces would hold back snow from accumulating, a stronger influence of dynamical cooling (where the storm manufactures its own cold air supply) produced heavy snow rates. The timing of this occured late at night when enough residual heat had escaped the surface. The result was that once snow began falling, the initial "pull down" of temperatures dynamically was helped further by evaporative cooling. As the snow falls, some evaporates and cools the surrounding air, thereby allowing for more snow to be produced over time, and reach the ground.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? As the sun rises, solar radiation will heat roads, making it more difficult for treated and paved surfaces to have accumulation. The September equivalent sun angle will help this, but the bigger issue will be visibility. Expect heavy wet snow to make for difficult driving conditions as temperatures will hover near or slightly above freezing for the next few hours.

The coastal low pressure center is starting to strengthen, then it will pull out Monday afternoon. Snowfall will continue across the region with some rain mixing in possible later, especially closer to the Bay. 

(Forecasters Mike N, Connor M., Meteorologist Alex D., Advisor Foot)

Audaces Fortuna Iuvat
(May Fortune Favor the Bold, Part 2)

5:15 PM 3/24 – TEAM STATEMENT #1 - As we close out this Palm Sunday and the first weekend of spring, another winter storm is approaching. 

The latest from the local National Weather Service offices in the region can be found at (www.erh.noaa.gov). 

There are a number of factors that could easily alter the outcome of this storm in the final hours. The result could be either a surprise early morning snowfall along the major metro areas-- or yet another under-performing event that leaves public safety officials, schools and parents alike wondering what happened to the forecast. Below we have outlined what we believe is the MOST PROBABLE OUTCOME, although a variety of factors outlined in each section could cause changes. 

A. I-95 CORRIDOR & CENTRAL MD: We think that easterly winds and warm temperatures will prevent a major snowstorm. This will force warm air onto the shore, and keep temperatures warm, and possibly forcing some regions from snow to rain during the day on Monday. 

Additionally, temperatures hovering at or just above freezing could result in a situation like March 6, where lots of snow falls, and barely anything sticks. 
For the area outlined in pink on the map, snow will mix with rain at times, and snow may have trouble sticking given the sun angle equivalent of mid-September. 
However, accumulations in this area may reach a slushy inch or two mainly on grassy/colder surfaces or side streets. 
Accumulations will be elevation dependent in that higher elevations will stand a much better chance of seeing snow, and sticking snow at that.
The one factor that could change this is when the wind shifts to be more northerly and northeasterly. If that occurs, cooler air from the Northeast could be pulling southward east of the Blue Ridge mountains. If this occurs early Monday morning, snow could begin to stick in areas along I-95.

If temperatures drop quickly or dip below freezing, especially before sunrise, it may be easier to get sticking snow in these areas. We believe it is MOST LIKELY that snow has trouble sticking. 

B. CENTRAL/WESTERN PA, WV, & WESTERN MD: If the storm accelerates and arrives sooner than we currently think, heavy precipitation may occur before sunrise, and before the high March sun angle has a chance to take effect.  Please visit the Three Rivers or Central Pennsylvania zones for local updates from those forecasters. This storm is very elevation dependent as well so the higher elevations could see more significant accumulations. 

C. MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL AREAS: This storm involves a transfer of energy from a primary low pressure system in the Ohio Valley to a coastal low offshore. 

If the secondary coastal low takes over sooner, and gets stronger than expected, then heavy precipitation rates could initiate dynamic cooling. The bigger impact on these areas, as noted earlier by our Surf & Sail Team, will be strong winds, 1-2 foot storm surge and heavy waves.
This could produce heavier "snow falling" allow more of it to stick, especially in the early morning hours of Monday. 
One thing to watch closely is the backside of the storm as it pulls out to sea. There is the potential for some bands to develop, which could drop some noteworthy accumulations on coastal areas like the Foot's Forecast | Northern Bayshore and Foot's Forecast | Central New Jersey, but it will again be difficult to stick after warm grounds with the sun angle. 
An Early April Fool's Storm? 

10:40 AM EDT 3/24/13  
(Mid-Atlantic Winter Stormcast Team) For those concerned about the possibility of another potential snow bust in the Mid-Atlantic, we share that challenge with you. 

There are a number of factors that could easily alter the outcome of this storm in the final hours. The result could be either a surprise early morning snowfall along the major metro areas-- or yet another under-performing event that leaves public safety officials, schools and parents alike wondering what happened to the forecast. (Image left: National Weather Service Eastern Regional HQ)

Here's what we think is the MOST PROBABLE situations for the Mid-Atlantic, with links to our local zones in those areas:

ANOTHER Nor'Easter??

By Meteorologist & Oceanographer Alex Davies & Advisor Jason Isaacs

9:40 AM EDT 3/24/13 
As many of us are still recovering from the Nor'Easter a couple weeks ago, but yet another storm will impact the coastal communities Sunday through Tuesday. This storm has already spawned significant severe weather in our Southeast zones, including North Georgia & Metro Atlanta. It is  expected to produce a winter blast of snow elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, such as our Three Rivers Zone surrounding metro Pittsburgh into central Pennsylvania. 

It seems like winter just will NOT let go! Who is #readyforsummer!? 

For our readers along Mid-Atlantic coastal areas, we offer this breakdown of the storm below. Additional updates are pending for the Severe Weather and Winter Weather portions of this event, from those respective teams.

TRACK & TIMING The "inland" storm will begin to arrive Sunday morning, after dumping a pile of snow on the upper Midwest over the last couple of days. As it approaches, the energy will transition to a coastal storm during the pre-dawn hours on Monday, and move-up the coast. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

So, What's The Deal? 
(with this storm...)

9:25 PM EDT 3/23/13 (Winter Stormcast Team) If you're like Forecaster Christy-- and wondering what to expect for the upcoming "winter-like" storm moving across the country, here are some questions our team is investigating:
  • Will this storm be a "repeat bust" of the March 5th storm?
  • Even though it may be cold right now, will it be cold enough by Sunday night in which did see snow last time?
  • If the metro areas from Philadelphia to Washington remain in a northeasterly flow, will temperatures cool sufficiently before moisture is pulled away from the coast as the storm intensifies?
  • Is it possible for areas expecting rain Sunday afternoon and evening, with temperatures in the 40's, to receive accumulating snow overnight with lows in the lower 30's?
  • Could rapid intensification near the coast produce additional high impacts in areas that currently are not expecting significant effects?
Pennsylvania Team: 
Forecasters Andrew Barney, Zach Fasnacht, Christy Reuille, Amber Liggett
Maryland Team: 
Forecasters Mike Natoli, Advisor Rich Foot

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Winter That Wasn't...Won't Leave

9:45 PM EDT 3/22 (Forecaster Mike & Winter Stormcast Team) The calendar may have flipped to spring, but the weather is stuck in winter. With highly unusual cold for this time of year, across  much of the U.S., all it takes is a storm to form and rare spring snows may start. As a result of this chill and wintry pattern, there may be another winter storm in the works at the end of spring’s first weekend to impact the Mid-Atlantic Sunday night into Monday. The good news? We currently do not expect a major, high impact snowstorm is at this point, but some inland areas are likely to receive accumulating snow. 
(Photo credit: Fusion Photographer Emily R., Carroll County MD)

WHY SO COLD? - This excessive cold pattern of late has been caused in part by a near record low value of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). When the AO goes so negative like it is currently (shown by the sharply decreases on the graphic to the right)  it creates an upper level “block” in the atmosphere at high latitudes, and this displaces the cold air. In response, the cold air has nowhere to go, so it floods southward into the United States. 

We have limited the possibilities down to two scenarios that we believe are most likely. At this point, we think that Scenario A is the more likely of the two, but we cannot eliminate Scenario B just yet. 


Source: NOAA Weather Prediction Center
  • SCENARIO A Most Probable: "The Warmer Storm" In this scenario, the low pressure center would take a more northerly track, and flood warm air in off the ocean. Since the storm has access to only marginal cold air, it would be forced to create its own, but due to low precipitation rates, more rain would dominate. 
POSSIBLE RESULTS?  Coastal areas of the Mid-Atlantic would be all rain. For those along the I-95 Corridor, this scenario would bring rain, with snow mixed in at times, but little accumulation. In this case most of the snow would be confined well NW of I-95, and at higher elevations. 

  • SCENARIO BLess Probable: "The Colder StormIn this scenario, we would have the storm staying a little further south. Instead of pulling warm air off the ocean, it may have access so some cold air being fed from the north, but the set up is marginal for that as well. 
POSSIBLE RESULTS? With more cold air available for the storm to work with, we would be looking at snow reaching the I-95 corridor and the major cities. Accumulations would NOT be extreme, but given the time of year, even light accumulations are noteworthy. For the coast, this scenario would bring rain with snow mixing in at times. 

Check back later tonight for an update from the weather graphics team that will visually depict these scenarios, and thanks for your interest in our information. (Forecasters Mike N., Connor M., Jason M., Zach F., Meteorologist Alex D., Advisor R. Foot)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring? Winter? Are we still sure?

7:25 PM EDT 3/21/13 
(A special report from our North Georgia & Metro Atlanta Team) 

Good Evening! As we stated yesterday... the system that heading our way for tonight into tomorrow is a very complicated system. 

With the newest information we have made significant changes to our map and accumulations amounts. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update if it needed through the evening.

  • Cooler air is expected to effect the entire region with temperatures that will be at or
  • below freezing area-wide.
  • More moisture will affect the western portions of Georgia.
  • West Central & Southwestern Metro Atlanta: Up to a Dusting
  • Northeast Georgia Mountains: Up to a Dusting
  • All Other Sections of North Georgia: No Accumulations Expected
We will continue to keep you up to date with any changes...

7:00 PM EDT 3/20/13 (Forecaster Isaacs: Special Report from our Surf & Sail Team)

Good Evening Everyone! As we stated earlier in the day...welcome to Spring! Are you ready for the warmer temperatures? Well...this will not be the case for us tonight going into tomorrow. Look at the picture...what do you see?  Even though it is from a few years ago, if the winter weather advisories hold true... well, there could really be SNOW...on the first day of Spring-- and on the beach,  believe it or not!

Photo credit: marylandonmymind.com from the Boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland

  • SNOWFALL AMOUNTS: We believe that the ADVISORY area has the potential to receive 1 to 1 1/2 inches of snow with some isolated amounts up to 3 inches. Most of the snowfall will occur on grassy surfaces and should not cause major impacts on area roadways due to the recently warm temperatures.
  • HAZARDS: As with any snowfall event, the potential for some slushy roadways during the pre-dawn hours on untreated side roads are possible and precautions should be taken if you plan to travel during this time. 

We hope that you enjoy this minor snowfall event! Please share some pictures on our page!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Who's down for an early Spring warmup?


3/18/2013 (Forecaster Nic Roberson and the Long Range Team) 

If you are ready to be "done" with the recurring cold spells, our team is with you on that! We have been looking down the road to pick out signs for what could lead to a nice warm up in the east toward late March and early April. We offer this analysis of the pattern going back from early December, and moving forward to present day. these indicators. 

(Image: 8-14 day temperature projections from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center) 
  • A DECEMBER START Using the "Lezak Recurring Cycle" hypothesis (LRC) helps us find a starting point to the seasonal trends, in this case we go back to Dec 10 2012 as shown below. This image   shows much above normal temps can be seen across a good portion of the south east US into the Mid Atlantic. 
  • A JANUARY REPEAT Going forward 51 days from that period brings us to Jan 30, 2013. Take notice of how the orientation of the upper level troughs in both situations led to more above normal temps in parts of the East -- for both mid December and end of January. 
  • WHAT IS NEXT? Going forward from late March into early April, we expect to see this trough arrangement to repeat once again, giving rise to another warm up ahead of it, propagating East with time. The warm spell will likely start in interior sections after Easter, and reach the coast by start of April. However, one area that may yet escape this warmth may be upper portions of the Northeast, which could still be under heavy snowcover by then. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Celebrating St. Patrick's Weekend With You!
Connect with local forecasters in these Featured Zones across 30 states, UK  & New Zealand: 

Zones Listed By Region 
Another Storm That Just...Wasn’t 

7:00 PM EST 3/6 (Mid-Atlantic Winter Stormcast Director Zach Fasnacht)

Today, many meteorologists, Foot’s included, were wrong on their forecasts as a major winter snowstorm turned into no more than a rain and snow mix for most areas. Although some places did receive decent snow accumulations today, many other regions, including areas of our highest readership in Baltimore and Washington D.C., this storm was a major bust. The Winter Storm Warnings that were issued, disappeared quietly and some  students were making mud angels in puddles rather than snow angels.

SO WHAT WENT WRONG? Going into this storm some of us worried that an easterly flow could keep things too warm, but the models disagreed and so we put a little too much faith in the models in predicting the precipitation type. 

  • It turned out that a mixture of cloud cover Tuesday night and an easterly flow kept surface temperatures too warm for snow in many places. Other areas saw snow, but due to the lack of intensity it did not accumulate as the high sun angle this time of year wreaks havoc on accumulation. 
  • Without the cold air in place or heavy precipitation, we lacked the ingredients to create a widespread major snowstorm. When making our forecast we outlined some of the factors that could affect it, but in the long run we did not assess this as much as needed and they came back to beat us:     (http://www.footsforecast.org/2013/03/just-when-you-thought-it-was-safe.html).

LIFE LESSONS Without making any excuses for the forecast, meteorology is still an imperfect science. Many of us at Foot’s are currently studying in college to improve the science whether through computer modeling, atmospheric science research, or other related fields of study. 

Unfortunately, despite that dozens of team members collaborated for hours on end in this this storm, the forecast ended up wrong. We aim to continue earning your trust and readership, and hope you will not turn away from our authentic local weather source due to this one event. Earning your loyalty is key for us, as we seek to always put our best Foot forward trying to improve and provide you with the best forecast possible. 

Enjoy the rest of your week and hint hint, some warmer weather could make some smiling faces this weekend!

Yours Truly,
Winter Stormcast Team
(Director Zachary F., Advisor Rich F., Meteorologist Alex D., Michael M., Connor M., Jason M., Nikki B., Greg J., Dakota S.)
A Series Of Unfortunate Events?
- Headline derived from the 2004 Disney film starring Jim Carrey 

What turned out a "Nomageddon" for some places along I-95 
in Maryland was a winter wonderland for others farther inland. 
(L: southern Baltimore County; R: Carroll County, MD)

3:50 PM EST 3/6 (Winter Stormcast Team) STORM MESSAGE: For those who saw snow today, among the reasons were simply geography and sun angle. Your location being farther inland and away from moderating influence of an Easterly wind created a more favorable environment for snow to form at upper levels -- and reach the surface to accumulate. 

Our headline is also a fancy way of saying what makes forecasters the world over cringe: A bust

Those who did not receive the snow we forecasted, the reasons were outlined as wild cards in our Monday 8 PM post, "Just When You Thought It Was Safe" where Forecaster Mike stated the following (note we are not trying to "explain away" the storm ;-)

"SNOW FACTORS: Given that it is late in the season there are many factors that could affect accumulations. 
  • SUN ANGLE: Since we are nearing the start of Spring, the angle of direct sunlight is increasing with each passing day. This could limit snowfall accumulations during the day. Areas that see higher snow rates however should not see this as an issue as the snow rates will overcome any melting from the sun. Additionally, sun angle also influences road temperatures (believe it or not) as solar radiation passes through the cloud layer.
  • TIMING: The time of day is also an issue as it is easier for the snow to start accumulation overnight than during the day.
Below is our previous update from 7:30 AM this morning

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Knock, Knock, Knocking On (Mid-Atlantic's) Door

11:40 PM EST 3/5 (Winter Stormcast Team) Are you seeing snow or rain yet? Let us know!

STORM OVERVIEW: The day many of us never expected would happen this Winter is less than 12 hours away. Yes, in less than 12 hours a major snowstorm will be affecting much of the mid-Atlantic region. 

  • Precipitation should begin moving into the region around midnight with heavy snow likely through the day Wednesday. By the time the snow ends Wednesday night, many areas of central Maryland, northern Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and southern Pennsylvania should have a significant accumulation of snow on the ground. 
  • There will be many impacts from this storm including school closures, flight cancellations, and scattered power outages making this a high impact event.

TIMING: Precipitation is already moving into southern portions of the region and will move into the remainder of the Mid Atlantic over the next couple hours:

  • We expect precipitation to continue across much of West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania throughout the day on Wednesday. 
  • Precipitation should taper off during the late evening across West Virginia and western portions of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. 
  • For areas farther to the east across the Delmarva and eastern Pennsylvania, precipitation may not clear out until the early morning hours on Thursday.

As with many of the storms this winter, precipitation type could be an issue for some portions of the mid-Atlantic: We expect a mix of rain and snow at onset around the I-95 corridor before changing to heavy snow. 
  • To the west of I-95 and the Baltimore-D.C. metro area, expect all snow which will be heavy at times on Wednesday. 
  • Areas east of I-95 could see mixing continue through the day, limiting snowfall accumulations. 
  • Further east along the coast, expect mainly rain with some snow mixing in at times.

IMPACTS: In areas that do experience snowfall, we expect there to be fairly significant impacts. Due to the duration of the event, both the morning and evening commutes will be extremely difficult, especially west of I-95. 
  • As a result of the marginal air mass associated with this storm, snow that falls will have an extremely high moisture content, which can be very heavy in large amounts. This poses a threat to power lines, trees, and weakened structures where snow is able to accumulate. 
  • Although the majority of vulnerable trees and limbs have already fallen victim to recent weather events, we still expect there to be power outages in the area and urge residents to be prepared. 
  • Many school closures are expected on Wednesday so make sure to check your school before heading out the door. Also, local airports have already begun canceling flights by the hundreds and we expect this to continue. 
  • Lastly, due to the heavy nature of the snow, please take many breaks and stay hydrated while attempting to remove snow from your property.

ACCUMULATIONS: Snow is expected to be heavy at times, especially across central Maryland and southern Pennsylvania where rates could reach 2-3” per hour. The Baltimore-Washington metro area could see 4-8” with places to the west seeing higher amounts. Below is a list of snowfall accumulations expected per city:
Washington D.C.: 4-8” | Baltimore, MD: 4-8”Westminster, MD: 4-8" | Annapolis, MD: 3-5”Ocean City, MD: Mainly rain | Dover, DE: 2-4”
Hagerstown, MD: 8-12” | Martinsburg, WV: 8-12”Pittsburgh, PA: 4-6” | Harrisburg, PA: 4-8”Philadelphia, PA: 4-8” | Atlantic City, NJ: 2-4
Winter Stormcast Team 
(Winter Stormcast Director Zachary Fasnacht, Mid-Atlantic Director Greg J., Advisor Rich F., Meteorologist Alex D., Michael N., Connor M., Jason M., Nikki B.)

" Really? Really..."
-Amy Pollard and Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live

Mostly clear skies in Baltimore City, MD
as the sun sets before the storm
5:35 PM EST 3/5 (Forecasters Foot and Natoli) For those basking in sunshine across the eastern Mid-Atlantic today, it is hard to imagine that winter is about to make a serious comeback tonight into Thursday. Today's conditions, with highs in the upper 40s to 50 in the Washington DC are a weather forecast version of the famous SNL News Update skits by Amy and Seth. 

You probably got "the look" from someone today when you asked, "Ready for the storm?" [big smile]. To which your colleague said, "What storm??"

And we know a few folks then said either. "Oh, you'll find out..." or "I have my sources." Thanks for making our team one of your sources, because our site traffic shows that obviously someone was reading, to the tune of 200,000 hits to this page over 2 days! 

That said, we are not resting on our snow-covered laurels, and hope to address some good questions from readers below regarding our snow forecasts, as shown in the preliminary forecast map as issued on Monday 3/4 at 6:00 PM.

WILDCARD # 1 - Could Forecasted Snow Amounts Be Too HIGH? 
  • Mixing - We are watching the potential for east winds to bring in warmer air off of the Chesapeake Bay around midday Wednesday, which could cause some areas to re-mix with or change to snow. 
  • Lower Rates - This storm involves the low pressure in the Ohio Valley weakening, then a new one strengthening on the coast. While energy is transferring, we may see lower precipitation rates, which would limit the ability of the storm to bring down cold air from the upper atmosphere. 

WILDCARD # 2 - Could Forecasted Snow Amounts be too LOW? 
  • Banding – As the storm strengthens, it pulls some local bands of heavy precipitation through, similar to what happened in Connecticut a month ago. This wouldn’t bring accumulations nearly that significant but possibly higher than what we are currently projecting. 
  • Stalling – We are also watching the potential for the low pressure system to slow down or stall off the coast, leaving precipitation and snow producing temperatures over the region through Wednesday night or Thursday early morning.
The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model 

The bottom line on our current forecast: No major changes.
Our team will issued a FINAL SNOWFALL FORECAST later this evening.
For links to our previous reports, visit these stories: