Sunday, March 30, 2014

No foolin' around this time


11:30 AM 3/30 - "We've been down that road before, but that's over now. You keep me coming back for more..." 

If Bryan Adams were a forecaster, he might say... Baby, we know that's all that you (and we) want: A richer, more versatile website with ease of access to our local content, anywhere in the country, in as few clicks as possible. 

In short, the time has come to move beyond blogger. Here's what we hope is welcome news for you:

  • We have read and reviewed the feedback from many readers who sent in comment to our account in the past year. This includes the numerous requests for a SmartPhone app. Details on that will follow after site launch!
  • We have heard the pleas of teachers and school officials in many states who are stymied by the "Facebook Frustration" of being unable to reach our rapid updates in social media, especially during storm mode. 
  • We understand the fast pace of your lives and that of our clients. When you're on the go - and you just want "a quick weather report" or are en route to (or have moved) elsewhere and wonder if we have a zone in another state. 

Ready for a sneak peek?
Here's a look at the site while in beta form. Some features and imagery will be different for the official version.

So what's the plan?
What started as an E-commerce experiment with our online store has proved to be WAAAY more versatile and feature-rich than we first thought. Further investigation of the store revealed that many reader concerns noted in feedback could be easily solved with a full merger & conversion of our main site to the store. We also decided to wait until after serious winter weather passed before launching this step. Here's what will happen:
  • Thanks To You - It Can Happen. First, we want to celebrate and thank the many readers who purchased hoodies and other apparel - as well as consulting services through the online store, we generated over $3000 in revenue since mid February. We used a good portion of the proceeds to design and prepare the launch.
  • Weather is like politics, it's all local. We know many Mid-Atlantic readers come to this site, and when there is breaking weather, often refer their friends to it. The new site will slowly build in the content from Facebook one zone at a time, starting with Maryland zones and then expanding from there. 
  • Keeping best of the old: The next generation site will have upgraded versions of the feature you enjoy most: Comments (with photo uploading!), very limited auto-ads and not placed to interfere with content, Easy access to lead stories and Facebook zones, and the good ole' authentic local approach with tasteful promotion of clients & partners.
  • Ringing in some new! The new design, (which will become the main, and revert this current site to archive status) contains some really fun new features we will introduce over the next few months: Customized newsletters for specific interest groups, opportunities to build community with you by promoting reader-forecaster events and volunteer service days. Even better, a new ReaderREWARDS program where you earn points for your creative contributions to our sites... and can convert the points to FF store discounts, free shipping, free personal forecasts and a lot more!
And now, questions for you...
What are your ideas to enhance the Authentic Weather Experience, for readers, clients and forecasters? What elements of other sites or programs have you seen that you always thought would be cool for FF to do. What recommendations do you have for how we can adjust our content and presentation as part of this next generation site? 

We look forward to building a new history for the next 10 years as your trusted local team (that listens) to their readers!

-- earlier updates from Sunday night on the surprise snow --

4:45 PM 3/30 - Old Man Winter seems intent on continuing to fool a little more. From our Maryland Team:

The eastern Mid-Atlantic metro areas are observing a classic dynamic cooling situation today that is causing spring scenes to regress back to winter! What (or who) is the culprit? Our thanks to reader Mrs. K. Walsh in Manchester, Carroll County MD for the photo evidence. 

DYNAMIC COOLING – This unusual phenomenon of cooling occurs when there is a significant amount of lift in the atmosphere. We certainly have that today with a large upper-level low pressure system directly over us. So when we have rising air, the atmosphere cools. This is because of the ideal gas law, and as pressure decreases, temperature must decrease too. Pressure always decreases as you go up in the atmosphere, so when air rises, it expands, and then cools.

  • When temperatures are close to 32ºF, this cooling can mean the difference between rain and snow. This is precisely what we are seeing today! The rising air has been just enough to cool mid and upper levels of the atmosphere below freezing. 
  • Then heavy precipitation rates can drag these cooler temperatures down to the surface. That explains why surface temperatures have actually dropped several degrees in the last few hours even while the sun is up. 

IMPACTS - Snowfall is so heavy in some areas that is completely overcoming the warm ground temperatures and very high sun angle this time of year. (The sun angle today is approximately equivalent to mid September – and remember we were in the 90s that time of year in 2013!)

TONIGHT - Allow extra time if traveling today in this snowy surprise. Especially in areas it is still snowing after dark. We expect the back edge of precipitation to start to clear out around the evening hours, with the entire region clear shortly after midnight.

  • Winds will sharply increase which may help evaporate moisture on roads that begin recovering, but could also aid in refreezing for places that go below 32 F overnight. 
  • If you received a surprise snow today, might want to clear off the car this evening so you don't have to deal with it tomorrow morning!

(Forecaster Mike)


ravensbbr said...

Congrats to Foots on new launch! and to celebrate here in NE Carroll...more snow!?!

Unknown said...

Yeah it has been snowing heavily in N HoCo for about half an hour! Only this winter! Did anyone forecast this?

ravensbbr said...

Not I. Still puking snow here...we're about 2 miles north of the r/s line...daggone...

Unknown said...

OH MY GOD it is coming so heavily now! It is accumulating on ROADWAYS in Woodstock!!! Almost April, what is this!

Westsidehideaway said...

Started a half hour ago in West Baltimore. Sticking to the grass but not the roads. Big wet flakes. Kinda nice.

ravensbbr said...

Roads now covered, about 2-3" on grass and elevated surfaces. Temps above freezing, but not by much...

Westsidehideaway said...

Starting to stick to concrete here in West Bmore.

Westsidehideaway said...

Just started changing back to rain.

Unknown said...

Precip type has been changing a lot in Woodstock, but it is currently back to moderate/heavy snowfall even though the radar shows all rain.

ravensbbr said... shovel or not to shovel...that 'tis the question. Whether 'tis nobler to ignore common sense and bank on warmer ambient air temps for tomorrow mornings commute...or to take arms against a sea of snowflakes, and by opposing...really wrench my back on this white concrete 4:1ratio paste that insisteth on falling ever more even as I doth speak...

ravensbbr said...

...dumbest thing I've done this week. Motrin and heat pack. 1/8 of the driveway shoveled. You win, winter that won't die. You win...

ravensbbr said...

So that flash across the hill was either thundersnow or a transformer going up. Seeing as we still have power and I just saw another flash...

Unknown said...

Crazy!!! I have 7" and it's pouring snow! In Manchester.

ravensbbr said...

NWS just upped us to 4-8?!? Band of snow rocketing down, arcing from NY down to HoCo or so.

Daggine. We've gone entire winters without it looking like it does right now...seriously, I'm still waiting for a lion, a witch, various other woodland creatures, and some British kids to show up... #Narnia

BioPat said...

Wow, some kind of day! Ravensbbr looks like you Carroll County really got a surprise! We left N. Balto County at 6:15 to travel back to Catonsville in the midst of this snain around 6:00. The Beltway was ok but felt like snowballs hitting the windshield. The temps were between 32 - 34. Catonsville had about an inch of snow at that point with slush covered streets. I know it's going to warm up tomorrow but if it's around 32 in the morning it could be a tough commute on a Monday morning!

ravensbbr said...

Best part of this morning...didn't need to shovel. Sun came up, crust turned to slush turned to mush, driveway clear by 10AM.

Fare thee well, winter. Like to say we hardly knew ye...but we'd be stay away until Thanksgiving or so...


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