Friday, January 31, 2014

Now is the winter of our discontent

Now is the winter of our discontent
- 1594 Shakespeare play Richard III: Act 1, Scene 1
- 1961 novel by John Steinbeck

Photo credit: The Science Comedian.
Disclaimer: The amount of snow on the reader, or in the background,  should not be interpreted as
a subliminal "forecast" of how much snow we "actually" will fall in the storm early next week. ;-)

6:45 PM EST 1/31/14 As we approach the weekend, and many eyes turn to the Superbowl, we are also watching two potential storms for wintry precipitation. We also believe it is important to note the wide ranging effects of this multi-day event could have a high impact on much of the country, as indicated by this latest U.S. Hazards Assessment shown below from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. 

The first is a small wave that would impact the Mid-Atlantic states mainly on Monday, as it travels along the trailing cold front passing on Sunday. The second storm is much larger, but potentially warmer too as it would pick up moisture from both the eastern Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. This storm would be set for Tuesday into Wednesday.

Precipitation forecasts for the Monday event are for mostly a wintry mix. It is uncertain if the system will pass to our south, or move slightly north and bring a minor-moderate snow event to central MD. As is normally the case with complex winter storms in the Eastern U.S., several outcomes are possible depending on how the different waves of low pressure interact with cold air in the region.

At this time, we current see three possible scenarios:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Could the Groundhog get snowed (or iced) in??

Could the Groundhog get snowed (or iced) in??
Long range indications for Feb 1-8 suggest a prolonged period of wintry or potentially icy weather for much of the eastern United States, bearing similarity to the January-February ice storms of 1994. 

3:26 AM 1/30 (Winter Stormcast Team) The short- and long-range indications for this week and into the next 10 days are a timely fit for our team's 10th Anniversary Week! 

As we turn the corner toward Groundhog Day (and Superbowl Sunday), this is a heads up that there are "interesting" trends a foot. 

PRECIPITATION - This image from the NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center latest 6-10 day outlook shows quite the geographic swath of "above normal probability" for precipitation. Honestly, to our Long Range Team this was the most widespread coverage of a high precip probability we have seen all winter. Why is that a concern? See below.

TEMPERATURE - Although the corresponding temperature probabilities are (thankfully) expected to return to normal for the Mid-Atlantic, the concern is clear. Normal overnight lows this time of year, and daytime highs, are generally at the lowest values of the entire winter for most locations. 

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER - Considering:
* Extensive US and Canadian snowcover as compared to this time last year;
* A frozen ground across much of the Eastern US;
* Increasing moisture transport across the U.S. along a frontal boundary;
* This frontal boundary separating two opposing strong high pressure systems (Arctic to the northwest, Atlantic ridge to the southeast);
* Favorable long range climate mechanisms such as a drop in the North Atlantic Oscillation, and influence from the Pacific-oriented Madden Julian Oscillation...

.. leads us to identify the period from Feb 1-8 (and perhaps longer) as the next target time frame for significant winter weather from the Tennessee Valley to the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic.

While not a specific snowfall or ice forecast, our approach is based  on analytical techniques we have utilized over the past 10 years and longer, to identify and report when trends are moving back towards "storm mode." 

We'll keep you posted, and thank you for your readership in this winter weather adventure!

For more on our Anniversary Week and how the team started, visit this story on our main site (

(The Winter Stormcast Team of Foot's Forecast)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Welcoming You To Anniversary Week! 

6:56 AM 1/26 - Ten years ago this weekend, an idea which already been building in a Maryland high school science classroom for several years, finally went live after much debate.

From 2002 to the Fall of 2003, a Baltimore County science teacher and his students had been developing and posting unofficial local weather forecasts for the school. Over time, these updates began "going viral" in the area especially during winter weather. After a year or so, it was suggested to post the forecasts online so more could be aware of the impending conditions.

Just one problem: They weren't sure what to call it.

Then Hurricane Isabel happened. While the storm slowed down the project, the devastation and confusion strengthened resolve to follow through with the effort by the following January.

Discussions among students about the weather forecast idea said titles like "Room 123 Weather" didn't cut it and "Dundalk Weather Center" seemed too official.

One day during class, a student said, "How about 'Foot's Forecast'? That way, everyone will always know where to find us."  And so it came to be (at the height of an ice storm, no less).

Ten years later, it looks like a few people still know how to find us. 

In the week ahead, starting today, 1/25 to Saturday 2/1, a commemorative series of stories will be posted, looking back on the highs (and lows) of our shared experience. We also have an anniversary hoody series to be announced at our online store later today, and other fun features to mark the occasion. We hope you will join us and spread the word.

Have a story about how the work our forecasters made a difference in your life or situation? We would all enjoy reading it!

Thank you for being an important part of this adventure with us in authentic local weather. 

Bright skies, 
From all of us on the Maryland Team... and beyond,  of Foot's Forecast

Forecasters, Directors and Emeritus Members:
  • Since 2009: Greg Jackson, Evan Schiesser
  • Since 2010: Aaron Salter, Dakota Smith, Diandre Williams, Jason Mitchell, Emily Rund, Daniel Ross
  • Since 2011: Mike Natoli, Connor Meehan, Nikki Byers, Josh Owens, Rob Jefferson, Mintong Nan, Jason Isaacs 
  • Since 2012: Joey Krastel, Meagan Buster, Paul Bauer, Caron Schroeter, Sam Connolly, Lauren Searles
  • Since 2013: Tyler Johnson, Brett Wilson, Emily Day, Steph D'Anna, Kate O'Brien, Ashley Taylor, Sam Weber, Sam Weber
  • Since 2014: Julian Baron
Advisors and Officers:
  • Since 2004: Rich Foot
  • Since 2008: Brad Lear, Julee Williams 
  • Since 2010: Pete Winstead, Keith Krichinsky, Forrest Palmer
  • Since 2011: Eric Krichinsky, Alex Montoro, Rob Jefferson, Kevin Selle
  • Since 2013: Carl Bilotta

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Learning from the past.
Preparing for the future.

5:19 PM 1/19 (Forecaster Foot) While we have a moment in between wintry weather patterns, we would like pause for a historical note. On Sunday, January 26, 2014 our team, and this website, crosses a milestone that none of us could have predicted or imagined. 

At approximately 3:00 PM on that day, the Foot's Forecast experience marks 10 years of authentic local weather. (Note: If you want to skip the history and just get the local weather, visit this link to our Maryland+ section)

But before going on to wax philosophic about science, technology and society, we stop to just say THANK YOU...
  • To our loyal and effervescent cadre of readers here that make our little alcove of weather intelligence collaboration a respite from the mad world around us. Your dedication to each other and to keeping this site a valuable resource for many has never been lost on our team.
  • To our indefatigably wise advisors whose hours of posting, reposting, updating, covering and advising would rival Cal Ripken in their longevity of continuous service. (There's one difference, people like Advisor Brad Lear have done all this for free, for years.) There is no other way to say it: Without you, all this would not be here. 
  • To our exuberant and inspiring forecasters, who despite challenging life circumstances, bone-crushing schoolwork loads (and occasionally, sleep) have built a vibrant reputation as the gold standard of a go-to team for local forecasts. If you know or see a forecaster, take a moment to convey your thanks for all they do.
Returning to our roots. As we prepare to turn the page on the next decade, we want to understand what makes this weather enterprise worth it for you? Our intent is not to seek accolades, it is to clearly know WHAT READERS WANT as we gear up for big changes to our business model, and prepare to announce some long-awaited improvements to the FF experience. Let us know in the comments what you want to see from "Foots" this year or next year, or five years from now. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A Wintry Kick-off

11:20 AM 1/1/14 (Winter Stormcast Team) Happy New Year wishes to all our readers! While we are starting off the year today with seasonable and dry conditions, a winter storm will impact the eastern U.S. late Thursday into Friday. Two separate disturbances will combine over the eastern half of the country, while high pressure to the north feeds cold air into the region. 

The latest precipitation projections (shown left) from NOAA show two regions of impact, with much of the central mid-Atlantic receiving less in possible snow or rain.

IMPACTS: For much of the Mid-Atlantic, precipitation will start as rain or a rain/snow mix. Precipitation is expected to changeover to snow Thursday evening into the overnight hours from north to south. 
  • Snowfall accumulation is likely for many areas at least from the Washington, D.C. area northward. 
  • The highest snowfall amounts should be across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where significant accumulations will be possible. 
  • Farther south into the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. metro area, light to moderate snowfall accumulations will be possible. Areas farther to the south will likely see little accumulation before the storm ends later Friday morning.

TIMING: Precipitation should begin by late Thursday afternoon or early evening from southwest to northeast. 
  • The heaviest snowfall amounts will be Thursday night. Snow will clear out from west to east by late Friday morning. 
  • Strong northwest winds Friday morning will add to the hazardous travel conditions wherever snow accumulates.

Stay tuned for more updates and specific forecast amounts to be posted later today. (Forecaster Jason M. and the Winter Stormcast Team)