Saturday, February 28, 2015

Roaring into March

Roaring Into March

6:30 PM 2/28 - For the winter weary out there, although this next system is not exactly a "storm," it is going to speak volumes about why wintry weather requires adjusting to changing conditions. Failing to do so results in avoidable consequences, the risks of which were widely advertised well in advance.

Although the current NWS advisory map shows "only" Winter Weather Advisories for most of the Mid-Atlantic, we can sum up in two words what we believe conditions will closely resemble: LAST SATURDAY. 

Thus, our forecast and urging to be prepared on Sunday seems a virtual repeat of occurred throughout the region on Saturday 2/21:
  • Cold surface air in the teens and low 20s Sunday morning will allow for moisture overrunning at upper levels to fall as snow for the first 5-6 hours. The snow will stick on contact and create slippery road conditions within an hour.
  • Snow intensity will increase as the day progresses, and more travelers on the roads will confound the situation and hampering road crew efforts to address the snow.
  • Areas where less extensive pre-treatment of roads than otherwise might be expected for a weekday could lead to rapidly deteriorating conditions under 1-3" of snow followed by sleet and freezing rain.
  • The current precipitation and surface map projection for 7 AM Sunday indicates a widespread snow and ice situation affecting much of the Midwest, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states. 

By 1 PM Sunday, the widespread ice and snow is expected in these regions, continuing into the evening hours.

We hope that travelers and those holding Sunday service will make prudent and well-informed decisions whether adjustment to changing conditions is a more prudent action than "staying the course" if "ground truth" clearly presents a hazardous environment to the region by daybreak. Twice this winter, Sunday had an unpleasant outcome for many. We would prefer not to make it three.

Mr. Foot, Forecaster Mike Natoli and the Winter Stormcast Team

The hits keep coming

"And the hits just keep on comin'..."
- 1972 Album by the Monkees singer Michael Nesmith

Image source: NOAA Precipitation Projections for 7 PM Sunday 3/1

9:10 AM 2/28 - Updated team statement in progress. Synopsis of forecast concerns:
  • Significant cold surfaces in the Mid-Atlantic will be retained into Sunday as moisture overruns at upper levels. Precipitation will begin Sunday afternoon as mostly snow north of I-66, with sleet and freezing rain DC metro east. 
  • By evening, most precip will turn to freezing rain as upper and near surface temperatures warm to near 32 F -- continuing overnight into the Monday morning commute.
  • We disagree with the low-hazard assessment of this event as currently portrayed by the Sterling VA NWS as of 9:15 AM 2/28. The lack of a posted Hazardous Weather Outlook conveys a false sense of security to the public that a slight amount of freezing rain would not pose a measureable risk of hazardous travel. 
  • The 0.005" of freezing rain which occurred on Sunday morning, January 21 is evidence enough that the next 24-36 hours present an increasing risk of impactful weather to the Mid-Atlantic, as is currently depicted by the NOAA Weather Prediction Center.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Southern Snow Surprise


Southern Snow Surprise...

  • Snow will fall rapidly and accumulate quickly due to cold surfaces. Up to 1" an hour is possible between 6 and 8 AM from the I-66 corridor to the I-95 corridor, including northern and central Maryland. Accumulation is expected to reach southern PA counties.

1:10 PM EST 2/25 - The climbing and expanding NWS Warnings, Watches and Advisories associated with the southern winter storm has no doubt set many to wondering about this system:
  • How much farther north might this storm track go?
  • Is there any potential for this system or "over or under" perform, and leave (or take away) a bigger surprise than current;y expected? 
We will address these two issues in the team statement below. We are not expecting a major snowstorm for the central and northern Mid-Atlantic, as most of the action should stay "south of DC" and centered on the Richmond metro area to the eastern shore. However, the problematic timing of this next potential event presents concern for the AM commute.

SYNOPSIS - The widespread winter storm which has been impacting the Deep South with extensive snow and ice will generally be kept to the south of the central Maryland region. 
  • However, we won't avoid seeing some snow from it. Tonight, Lows in the Mid-Atlantic will fall to the mid 20s overnight with increasing clouds ahead of the storm system passing by late. 
  • Precipitation on the northern edge of the system may bring light accumulations early Thursday morning. Though the Baltimore metro region will be on the periphery of the significant snow, it is worth mentioning as this system could cause some travel problems in the AM hours. 
  • A general rule with this event: The further south your location in the region, the more likely you are to see accumulating snow.
TIMING - Light snow in the metro area is expected by 3 AM Thursday, ending by 10 AM Thursday. 

ACCUMULATIONS - South of DC/Baltimore, we expect 1-2" of snow, with higher amounts near and east of the DC metro region. For Northern MD counties that border PA, snowfall will be lighter the farther your location is from the system. A dusting (or "Coating" up to 1" is possible.) 

HAZARDS - The timing (of course) during the AM rush will make for some difficult travel, especially south of the metros. Use caution on the roads if snow is falling, and give yourself a little extra time to get to work. Those north will have it a little easier, but if the storm trends just a little bit north, that could change. 

BUST POTENTIALS - What can go wrong with this storm? Unlike the last storm, the temperatures don't really matter much with this one. It's all about the track of the storm and extent of the precipitation field. 

  • THE BIG KAHUNA (20%): The computer model guidance has been trending significantly further north with each run lately. If this continues and the storm ends up even further north of where we expect, central MD isn't just on the fringes anymore. The excess moisture easily overcomes the dry air in place. This scenario could bring easily a significant snow south of the metros and accumulating snow to the north. Travel would be heavily impacted Thursday morning in this scenario. 

  • THE BUMMED BACHATA (15%): On the other hand, if the northerly trend in guidance abruptly reverses and the storm ends up south of expectations, northern MD ends up receiving no snow, while just a dusting reaching those south of the metros. This scenario would occur with a more southerly track of the low, or if the northern extent of the precipitation field doesn't reach as far as we expect. 

The situation with this storm could rapidly change (because it has been already), so stay with us for updates! We will keep you informed of the latest information.

(Map and Statement by Foreacaster Mike, Analysis and Forecasts by the Winter Stormcast Team

Monday, February 23, 2015

Please stop

Message to Old Man Winter: Please STOP.

10:45 AM EST 2/23 - As the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic shovel the remaining slop that became of Saturday's over-performing snowfall, eyes and minds are looking for how the winter pattern reaches conclusion. The one glimmer of hope we see in the distant long range is a potential for above normal temperatures toward the middle of March. However the next 2-3 weeks may make you feel like winter has decided to start over from the beginning. The updated overview of our concerns going forward:

  • MELTING AND REFREEZING SNOWPACK in the East as temperatures dropping to the teens tonight in metro areas and possibly single digits in northern/western and rural areas, with sub-zero readings in the Appalachians.
  • SERIES OF LARGE ARCTIC HIGHS will ontinue the wave train of bitter cold air over the next 5-7 days, first entering the northern Plains then drifting toward the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic. This will keep temperatures below normal for most of the week.
  • REACTIVATED SOUTHERN JET STREAM moving toward a more Spring-like pattern. It doesn't take an advanced meteorology degree to see how the convergence of this with large Arctic highs points to a primary hazard into early March: Multiple winter weather events. 
  • COASTAL MISCHIEF PLAYING AROUND on the medium range model maps, as evidenced by this westward creeping edge of precipitation from a coastal Low at the edge of the High. Image below is the Day 1-3 NOAA Liquid Potential through 7 AM Thursday.

THE PATTERN PLAN? SUCCESSIVE PERIODS OF WINTRY WEATHER may impact large areas late this week into early next week, starting in the Southwest - to the Deep South - to the Appalachians, then the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. One glance at the 6-10 day outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center is evidence enough the wild winter ride is not stopping anytime soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

White and Wintry Weekend

 White* & Wintry Weekend

11:10 PM 2/21 - (Forecaster Mike from the Central Maryland Team) If you don't need to go out on the roads this evening, DON'T DRIVE! The roads are very bad and getting worse. If you can, stay off to give the road crews room to work. Temperatures are colder than modeled, but the change over to sleet and freezing rain is occurring as expected. This will actually only make the roads worse. 
  • What precipitation type are you seeing now? In College Park, MD I am observing freezing rain with a temperature of 28º. That is very very cold for freezing rain. 
  • OVERNIGHT - Mixed precipitation will slowly move north over the next few hours, and eventually switch to some plain rain around 10 PM-1 AM from south to north, but most of the precip will be out at that point. 
  • SUNDAY - Expected to be above freezing, so road conditions should gradually improve very late tonight and through the day. Stay safe out there!
6:10 PM 2/21 - SLEET ON THE WAY - OR NOT? Track the latest precip changes in this close up radar of the region from Intellicast. The real question is-- should you clear now or wait? 
  • If you clear the car now- the sleet and freezing rain collect ON your car, instead of on top of the snow. Our thought is to wait until it's all done, clear your walks first. Then clear cars last. Why? Because letting the sleet and ice collect on top of the snow, which absorbs and melts it, allowing the snowpack to get clumpy and then you can push it off in big chunks.
  • What are your approaches to clearing your car, walks or driveway in a "multi-precipitation event?"  We always welcome new perspectives on winter weather management.

2:20 PM 2/21 - IS THE BIG KAHUNA BACK? Heavy bands of snow are now moving through the DC/Baltimore metro areas for the next 2-3 hours, which will feature the highest snowfall rates of the entire event. If you haven't seen the "bucket dump" yet, get ready-- it's coming!
  • Our forecasters reported seeing sleet in local obs from northern and central Virginia, which indicates warmer air is working over the mountains. 
  • Any "changeover" to sleet may be preceded by very large, rapidly falling snowflakes, suggesting a slug of high moisture content has worked into the mid-levels. 
  • Track the lulls and bands in this useful, multi-feature radar from the College of DuPage for Sterling VA (scroll to right side of image for a US radar site map pullout)
SNOW TOTALS RISING? Short range models also print out up to 0.50" of liquid is still in the pipeline for areas currently receiving snow. That means another 2-4" is possible, and could easily bring all totals at least 2" above our earlier forecasts of 3-5" for I-95 south and east (to 5-7") and for N & W areas, what was 5-8" may end up as 7-9" or even 10". The potential for this was first outlined Friday afternoon in our Bachata vs. Kahuna overview in Part 2 below.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weather that grinds the soul

Weather the grinds the soul
Precipitation and Surface Map Projections for 7 PM Saturday 
from the NOAA Weather Prediction Center


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I want the TRUTH!

Squall today, cold tomorrow.

Arctic front traverses eastern Mid-Atlantic between 4 PM and 7 PM, bringing another round of rapid snowfall near the PM commute, accumulating 1-2" in some areas by 7 PM. 

Liquid map for Wed 2/18 shows precip amounts will be light, but ratios will allow for fluffier snow. Similar to Saturday 2/14, roads may become quickly snow-covered and visibility could reduce to one-quarter mile in brief heavy snow squalls during the PM commute. 

  • WED 2/18 - AM temps in near zero to teens throughout the region rise to around 30 F in urban and waterfront areas, holding in low 20s in rural and northern locations. A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY & WIND CHILL ADVISORY in effect for the Baltimore/Washington metro region from 2 PM to 9 PM tonight per Sterling NWS.

  • THU 2/19 - Much colder, highs dropping back to the teens under clearing skies.
  • FRI  2/20 - Super cold, AM lows below zero for many, highs barely hitting 10 F.
  • WEEKEND - Snow showers possible on Saturday ahead of a developing Low in the Gulf coast. Sunday uncertain, possible light snow north and rain/snow mix in south
  • NEXT WEEK - Continued cold with new indications of another potentially significant winter weather event for the period Feb 22-23 from the Tennessee Valley to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.  However, precise details precipitation, intensity and timing are not clear this early in the forecasting process.
*Experimental variation of a long dormant tagline on this site from 2005 when it was known as "Basic Weather For Busy People."

"I want the truth!"
- Lt. Daniel Kaffee played by Tom Cruise, questioning Col. Jessup,  played by Jack Nicholson, in the 1992 film A Few Good Men

3:30 AM 2/17  (Forecaster Mike & the Winter Stormcast Team) Is the truth better even if it's bad news, or can we rest in a little bliss for a while? That would be nice, but the weather pattern probably won't let us. As a deep freeze settles in ahead of a new Arctic front, we look ahead to the next few weeks. Some harsh realities are in store for us as an entire winter's worth of cold has been saved up for the final two weeks of February 2015. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Catch me if you can.

"Catch me if you can."
- 2002 film starring Leo Dicaprio and Tom Hanks (Youtube trailer)

  • Although decent bands of snow have set up across the region, uncertainty remains as to if the moisture levels of the system north of DC have enough depth to produce totals at the higher end of current ranges.
  • Latest short range guidance as of 7:45 PM indicate dry air to the north is affecting snowfall rates in some areas of northern and eastern Maryland. In addition, the storm does not appear to be showing any further northward movement. 
  • Extremely fine-grained snow flakes/crystals are developing in a level of the atmosphere where temperatures are between 0 and 5 F. Thus, snow ratios in the Washington DC area are estimated by computer models and visual inspection to be near 20:1, and 15:1 in northern MD. 
  • The Winter Stormcast Team anticipates snowfall totals, with exception of DC metro, will stay at the LOWER end of our forecasted ranges for this event. See below for our earlier snowfall map. 

3:00 PM EST 2/16   SNOW ARRIVING IN DC METRO AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND. Further assessment of observations, short range guidance and ground reports indicates the system so far is on track to perform as expected. Dry air is slowly being eroded as moisture levels increase with the eastward approaching precipitation shield. We do not plan to raise or lower totals at this time. 


We are cognizant that other outlets and forecasters have different snowfall totals than our map below, or are evaluating raising amounts ahead of the storm. We respect their choice to make that decision, but disagree on a different set of scientific grounds. 

Our view: Dry air ahead of the approaching precipitation will take a number of hours to overcome to achieve moistening of "the column." Evidence: Dewpoints in the region still below zero as of 1100 AM per NOAA Storm Prediction Center Mesoscale Analysis.
  • Once this saturation level is reached, upper level and surface conditions can permit snow to reach the ground and not evaporate before doing so. However, a combination of recent surface observations and short range models suggests just light snow to start from Northern Virginia to DC and Baltimore by the PM commute. Heavier snow may not arrive until around 12 AM. 
  • This dry air delay could easily reduce totals to the lower end of our ranges. A 1029 mb High pressure in Eastern North Carolina is also not moving out as quickly as expected.
  • If we choose to adjust totals, we will first collect actual observable changes in ground truth once the system produces snow in our forecasted locations, versus using only model guidance. Based on the latest guidance, it is more likely we would hold or lower, not raise expected totals.


It seems that storms this winter in the Mid-Atlantic this has been taking a page from the script written by Frank Abagnale Jr. If you know the incredible story, it recounts the travels of the deceivingly charming but elusive teenager whom outwitted federal officials for years while on a check-kiting scheme across the country. 
But similar to what's next for the Mid-Atlantic, reality (and the FBI) eventually caught up with Frank. The question is, will this storm dash away our hopes of one big snow like the clever thief, or will it give in at the last minute and deliver its secrets for all to see?

Summary of our projections:
  • We project a 70% probability of a significant winter storm, with snowfall exceeding 4" in most locations south of the PA/MD line as indicated in our final map below.
  • The bust scenarios below account for the 30% probability of a surprise and drastic change in the outcome

SYNOPSIS A storm system currently strengthening over the southern Plains will move into the Southeast tonight, and off the Carolina coast by Tuesday morning. 
  • With extremely cold temperatures entrenched over the Mid-Atlantic, this will be a rare all snow event. Temperatures will range from the lower teens in central PA to the mid 20s in southern VA during the storm. 
  • The precise track of this storm will result in a narrow band of significant snow accumulation, reaching some of the largest this winter season.

TIMING Snowfall will begin Monday late afternoon during the evening rush hour for the metros of the Mid-Atlantic. 
  • Snow will move in from west to east. The heaviest snowfall is expected from around 10PM Monday night until 3AM Tuesday morning, before starting to weaken and taper off during Tuesday's morning rush hour.
  • Some wrap-around enhancement can not be ruled out, hence why the NWS has warnings effective to 12 Noon Tuesday.

IMPACTS We are looking at a moderate to high impact event in which all snow that falls will stick. Road conditions will deteriorate Monday evening, become very hazardous Monday night, before improving during the day on Tuesday. Tuesday's temperatures still will only reach the upper 20s. This snow is expected to be of the light and powdery variety, rather than heavy, wet snow.
  • Central Maryland: 4-8" between DC and Baltimore, 3-6" north of Baltimore.
  • Southern MD: 4-8" near DC, 6-10" south.
  • Northern VA: 4-8", Central VA: 6-10"
  • Lower Eastern Shore: 6-10", Upper Eastern Shore: 4-8"
  • I-95 Corridor in DE/NJ: 3-6"
  • Southern Pennsylvania: 2-4"

  • WINTER STORM WARNINGS are in effect fo the areas noted in DARK PINK on the enclosed NWS Advisory Map. Visit the Eastern Regional HQ of the NWS to link to your area's local forecast office for current statements.
  • WIND CHILL WARNINGS and WIND CHILL ADVISORIES expire this morning in Maryland as the brutal cold finally starts to loosen its grip, but will continue longer in PA and points north

BUST SCENARIOS - As always we like to stay one step ahead of Murphy's Law and let you know in advance how this forecast could go wrong. The above scenario is what we believe is "most probable". But there are some things that could emerge throughout the day Monday that may impact our forecast.

  • The Big Bachata (10% Chance): How will a MD snowstorm figure out how not to snow? There is a chance the storm has trouble overcoming extremely dry air in place over the region currently. Dew point temperatures are well below 0ºF, and the storm will need to moisten the column of air before snow reaches the ground. It is possible, that dry air sucks some of the liquid out of this system and "wastes" a lot of the snow, leaving those north of Baltimore with 1-3", 2-5" falling in between Baltimore and DC, and 3-6" for southern MD.
  • The Big Kahuna (20% Chance): As this storm develops offshore, it could also draw in additional moisture as it rapidly strengthens. This would create heavy bands of snow sliding across the Mid-Atlantic and surpassing our expected totals similar to what we saw almost exactly a year ago in February 2014 and on St. Patrick's Day 2014. Widespread amounts of 8-10" could show up between DC and Baltimore with 6-8" north of the city, and some areas in southern Maryland getting up to a foot of snow.
That being said, we do think the scenario outlined in the map is most likely. But since meteorology is not an exact science, it is important to express the uncertainty when it is present.

LAST PLAY OF WINTER? Spring-a-lings might want to stop reading here. Unfortunately the answer is no. A third round of brutal, arctic air is looking increasingly likely for Wednesday-Friday of this week. We will have more on this later, but it is looking possible that the temperatures may rival what we say yesterday and today. The second half of February is making up for lost time this season. Will there be better times in March ahead? Stay tuned for our long range look coming in the next several days.

Winter Stormcast Team: Forecasters Mike N., Connor M., Jason M., Mintong N., Troy A., Jolene W., Advisors Keith K., Dr. Pete W.,  and R. Foot

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Could it be PD 3?

Could it be PD 3?

2:15 PM 2/15 – Our team's latest statement and scenario map for the upcoming Monday into Tuesday Winter Weather potential in the Mid-Atlantic:

OLD MAN WINTER’S NEXT PLAY – After dealing us the snow squalls and the severe wind/cold, the next play is looking like a possible snow event Monday into Tuesday. Yes this is the Tuesday-Wednesday storm we mentioned earlier, but the timeline has accelerated. We have outlined two scenarios we think are possible for this event. If necessary, our snowfall accumulation map will be posted at 5AM Monday morning. 

SYNOPSIS - A low pressure system currently developing over Texas will start to move east tonight. There are two options when it arrives at our entrenched cold air on the east coast. The storm track will determine our impacts. The strength of the high pressure to our northeast will help drive this track. 

SCENARIO A (50%) – The low tracks further north and encroaches into the high pressure to our north, pushing it out to sea. This forces the storm over our extremely cold air here and delivers the largest and highest impact snow storm of the winter. The I-95 corridor could see significant snowfall (4+”) with very cold temperatures throughout, making for a light, powdery snow. Further south, a dangerous sleet/ice/snow event hits the southern Mid-Atlantic. 

SCENARIO B (50%) – In this scenario, the high pressure wins out and drives the storm further south. The low pressure would find a break in the high and go through the middle rather than pushing the whole thing south. This allows an escape route to the south. Light snow would still reach the I-95 corridor, but it would be on par with the magnitude of previous storms this winter season. The heaviest band of snow would be confined further south. 

CAN'T I JUST FLIP A COIN? - Models have been all over the place with this system, flip-flopping every run with huge swings. At this close range to the event, in probability schemes a 50% rating is actually quite high as it represents there is strong enough evidence to suggest that at any given moment in the 24 hour period starting Noon Monday, snow will be likely in the affected region. 

However, we are not going out flag waving here because further changes in the guidance are likely. We will monitor this over the next 15 hours and have another report coming early Monday morning. 

From our perspective, Winter 2014-15 clearly saved all of its big plays for the end of the game. With yesterday’s snow squalls and the brutal cold today reminiscent of last winter, it doesn’t seem like meteorological spring is only 14 days away! Looks like we have a ways to go before that can enter the long range picture.

Winter Stormcast Team: Forecasters Mike N., Connor M., Jason M., Mintong N., Troy A., Jolene W., Advisors Keith K.,and Dr. Pete W., Editor R. Foot

"Til I'm chilled clean through to the bone."


"Til I'm chilled clean through to the bone."

There are strange things done in the Midnight sun...

7:15 AM 2/15 (Forecaster Mike) As we all huddle in our homes listening to one of the strongest Arctic blasts in the last 20 years, it's no solace to learn that temperatures over the next 36 hours will rival the coldest of January 2014, and will easily be the coldest February temps since 1996. Sorry Sam, not even Plumtree down in Tennessee will get to be warm in this outbreak. 

An overview of the current NWS Advisory statements:

  • WIND CHILL WARNINGS are in effect for the entire region until noon Sunday for wind chills approaching -25ºF overnight and Sunday morning. 
  • WIND CHILL ADVISORIES will linger until 6PM Sunday with wind chills still as low as -15ºF. 
  • HIGH WIND WARNINGS are in effect for the entire region until 2PM Sunday for winds of 30-40 mph and gusts to 60 mph. We are concerned about downed trees, power outages, and blowing snow. 

SUNDAY AM - Brutal cold, strong winds, blowing snow, low visibility at times. Lows will fall to below 0ºF for the NW counties and to the single digits closer to the Bay. Winds 30-40 mph with gusts to 60 mph will bring wind chills down to -25ºF. 

AFTERNOON -  Miserable cold. Temperatures reaching highs in the mid teens with winds still at 25-35 mph from the NW and gusts to 55 mph. Wind chills even during the middle of the day could be as low as -10 to -15ºF. 

TONIGHT - Even colder. Back down below 0ºF and the lower single digits closest to the Bay. Thankfully, winds won't be as bad. NW at 15-25 mph. 

MONDAY - Cold and moderately windy with highs in the low to mid 20s and winds from the NW at 10-20 mph. 

LOOKING AHEAD - The Monday-Wednesday system is still uncertain, We will have a storm to the south which may shift north, but we will have to wait and see on this. Regardless, mid next week wil bring another punishing arctic blast. Enjoy above freezing temperatures? Well, today was probably the last one of those for quite a while. 

For those those who know the context of our headline, 
with all this cold, that fiery furnace aboard 
the Alice May sounds pretty nice right now.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes

6:14 AM 2/14 - It's been eight years since we last used that headline, and is not something we choose lightly. But ironically it was the Valentine's Day SuperKahuna of February 2007 that first prompted invoking the chilling title of Ray Bradbury's novel - and later a Disney movie. 

Now eight years later, once glance at your Advisory Map from the National Weather Service is reason aplenty to resurrect this stark headline. While not the most gentle way to start your Valentine, we have no love of seeing our readers be caught off guard in what will be a life-threatening period of weather the next 36 to 48 hours. 

We're not sure when such an incredible span of high impact warnings was last seen for the Eastern U.S. Consider the following already in place before the storm even arrives:


*HIGH WIND WARNINGS take effect at 6 PM tonight until 2 PM Sunday for winds sustained at least 40 mph and gusts to 60 mph

*WIND CHILL WARNINGS take effect at 12 AM tonight and extend to 12 PM Sunday for temperatures dropping into single digits in metro areas and below zero in northern and western counties. Wind chills of -20 to -25 F will be common. We are not making this up:

*POWER OUTAGES, DOWNED TREES AND POWER LINES may create extremely dangerous travel for those venturing out this evening. Coupled with hazardous wind chills even before the Warnings take place, and we urge you to be very alert to your surroundings and avoid travel tonight if possible. Please don't become a headline by going out to walk the dog in the pretty snow at 6 PM to never come back. It's not worth it. Adjust your plans to go earlier and come home earlier if you can. That's what the Foot family is doing today. We'll still go about our plans, but will be back before conditions turn on us.


A rapid arrival of the cold front to usher in this nastiness will bring what may LOOK like a blizzard for some: 
  • Brief but extremely heavy squalls of snow may erupt across the region late this afternoon anytime after 3:30 PM and continue intermittently until about 8 PM. 
  • With such intense cold smashing into moisture, high snow ratios will rival what you normally see in the Rockies. Yes, we mean "champagne snow" and no it's not a drink with your Valentine's Dinner. (But at least it will look pretty if you are watching from a warm window with your favorite person.)
  • Are you going out for the night? It sounds crazy but you might even want to put a shovel in the back and bring an extra coat. Taking the kids or a friend to the movies? Just be ready to get blasted when you come back out to the car and find the temp has crashed 25 degrees!!

WE WELCOME YOUR LOCAL REPORTS. Readers in western and northern areas will see impacts first, starting by mid-afternoon, with metro areas by late day and coastal areas by 6 PM. 


Uncertainty and model adjustment will continue to rule the forecast until the event gets closer in time. Present indications are that wintry precipitation will return first to the Tennessee Valley and Mid-South on Monday, then work up to the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic by Tuesday. 

After that the probabilities become less clear and we will need to examine more data as it becomes available the next two days. Below is the latest Day 3 Snow Probabilities to give you an indication of how the system may evolve.

Forecasters Foot, Mike N., Connor M., Mintong N., Jason M., Troy A., 
Advisors Keith K., and Meteorologists Jolene W., and Dr. Pete W.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's all about the O

It's all about the O's...the NAOs


9:30 AM EST 2/7 - It's tough to be a Powderhound these days, especially in the surprisingly snow-starved Mid-Atlantic. But in contrast to this point in February 2014, alternating bouts of record-breaking cold, surprise ice storms and notable snow events had some crying uncle before the real action from mid-February to late-March even arrived. This year's back-and-forth makes one wonder if perhaps Snow Miser and Heat Miser decided it is more fun to watching hapless snow fans squirm with endless uncertainty, than to bring what we know you really want. Just. One. Good. Storm.

By February 10, the pattern had begun churning toward what became a six-week grand slam of several significant storms. Starting with the 2/13-14 event that delivered 11.5" to Baltimore-Washington Airport in the biggest "pow-wow" since February 2010, each time indications seemed to point away from storms, the setup returned  with a vengeance (or a delight). (Left:  sight you seldom see: School buses plastered in snow. Photo credit: Baltimore Sun, February 2010 )

The result was a "March repeat" of the January 2014 cold outbreak that smashed low temperature records, and then produces two more significant snow events ( St. Patrick's Day and March 24-25) at a time when many baseball fans had long since checked out of winter. The icing (or grease) on the cake was a surprise Tax Day Snow on April 15, 2014 where some saw higher accumulations than the Orioles' famous April 5, 2003 Opening Day Snow! 

Thus, as we head into what is usually one of the stormier parts of the winter, the real question is:
Perhaps Snowstradamus already reported to Spring Training and left us behind? The answer lies in the seemingly minute differences of a lesser-known feature called the "NAO" and why this indicator is evidence of where winter takes us next.

Part 2 In Progress, including:

  • Why this time of year, the North Atlantic Oscillation can be a reliable resource to investigate how the pattern plays out;
  • Is there ANY CHANCE LEFT of a big storm this season, or should  you just check out??
  • AND, for those ready to make the Spring-a-Ling jump, early details on our NEW "Opening Day Orange" Embroidered Pullover that is sure to surprise and delight your fellow Camden Yards friends all season long. (To gauge interest in this special offer, we are accepting no obligation pre-orders in a simple email to

Monday, February 2, 2015

And now...February

And now...February

Left: 6-10 day precipitation probability 
Right: 6-10 day temperature probability

1:45 PM 2/2 - It's finally here.  What some consider the snowiest month of the year for several Eastern U.S. states. But is February really the month that produces HIGHER snowfall, more frequent snowfall, or does it just feel that way because of big storms? 

We will present the data and let you decide! But if January left you with a lack-luster feel for winter so far, and you're still waiting to see that ONE meaty storm plaster ALL the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast cities with 6-12"...we just want to say:

Be careful for what you wish. 

History is filled with examples of high impact events in this month that made records, broke political careers and in some cases, even changed the course OF history. Consider:
  • The "Great Blizzard of 1899" that on February 11 dropped snow from Florida to New York, shutting down the eastern seaboard for weeks.
  • The "Lindsay storm" of February 1969 in New York City. For simplicity sake let's say the outcome was opposite of the Jan 2015 NYC Blizzard that wasn't. New York City Mayor John Lindsay was faulted for too slow a reaction to the storm, and the public never forgot, removing him from office in the next election.
  • President's Day Storm, February 17-18, 2003 that once held the top spot in Boston for highest snowfall of 27.3" and up to 24.8" in Baltimore.
  • February 11, 2006 snowstorm that blanketed New York City with 26.9" the largest single event snowfall on record.
  • And no February snowstorm list here goes without including the most memorable major blizzards of recent times in the Mid-Atlantic: The February 2010 double Ultra Kahuna, known together as "Snowmageddon."

Will February 2015 help add to memories of snowy times from yesteryear?
We're on the lookout for indications of when white returns to the winter night.

Before snow returns...A question:

Would you be interested in a "FF cookout" 
and if so, when?