Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"From a distance..."
- 1990 single by Bette Midler (Youtube music video)

5:00 PM 10/28 - With the wind swept rainy remnants of once Category 5 Hurricane Patricia having moved through the eastern U.S., thoughts now turn toward what is ahead on the long range horizon. 

It is surmised by some climate analysis writers that downstream "blocking" in Greenland, as indicated by a negative Arctic Oscillation since summer may correlate to interesting impacts on the not-too-distant winter weather pattern. An example? 

In the short term, could the southerly winds and moisture from Patricia's remnants:
A) cause a reduction in northern snow cover, and B) Slow the onset of future wintry conditions in the eastern U.S.? Below are shocking photos that unveil new evidence of this unfolding tragedy in the snow cover community.

COOL EARTH IMAGES. Before we investigate that question, science teachers and satellite enthusiasts alike may be delighted to learn this: NASA has launched a new website where daily color imagery of the full Earth disk can be obtained, courtesy of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). The imagery is produced from a special telescopic and photographic satellite called EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera). The image shown here is from Friday, October 23, 2015 just before Patricia made landfall in Mexico.


The two images shown are from the NOAA National Ice Center. Left is snow cover as of Saturday 10/24/15 - a day after Patricia's landfall. Right is the most recent image as of Tuesday 10/27. Look carefully at the stark reduction in snow cover. The province of Ontario was nearly half-covered, and now in just a few days, most of that has vanished! 

If Jim Kirk were a forecaster, he might say "Come on Spock...Big deal." For those gaming to have a White Christmas, or just have a fighting chance to get anything white out of the sky, you need Canada's snow cover to get back on track, and fast. We will expand upon this report to outline if there is any probability of that happening in the near future. 

Otherwise, the "snow-capped mountains white" sung about by Bette Midler will stay just lyrics in a song until January for some. From this distance, even the 8-14 day temperature outlook below points to further delays in snow cover buildup likely well into November.

-The FF Long Range Team

Sunday, October 25, 2015

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"Here Comes The Rain Again."
-1983 single by Eurthymics (Youtube Music Video)

5:35 PM 10/25If you're wondering about any effect the remnants of once-Hurricane Patricia may have on our region, your concerns are valid. Although the weather mid-week will have periods of wind-swept rain, it will be nothing like what we saw before Hurricane Joaquin threatened the region. The exception being water-logged South Carolina still in long term recovery from the devastating rains early this month.

This projected NOAA surface map below for 8 PM Tuesday night 10/27 shows the classic "double barrel" setup of a large High to our north and a sprawling area of Low pressure approaching from the southwest.

The interaction of these opposing pressure systems will create multi-day easterly flow, moistening the atmosphere ahead of the Low. Remember, this sweetie has already been on a sugar high, being that it is a remnant tropical system which was supercharged by El Nino-warmed waters of at least 86 F!  

  • At least 1.0" of rain is expected late Tue into early Thu, under Easterly flow and much cooler temps in the 50s;
  • Further enhancement of rainfall totals likely due to moisture transport toward our area from the Gulf and Atlantic;
  • If your area or home is prone to flooding, make sure leaves are not blocking gutters, downspouts or storm drains. 


UNTIL THEN, Monday brings another classic October day of gorgeous blue skies, albeit chilly with highs in the upper 50s. Clouds on the increase Tuesday with rain arriving by late evening.

The best news: This system clears out of here on Thursday as conditions stabilize under new High pressure that will make for a rain-free trip around the neighborhood Saturday evening.

Sunshine on the Pumpkin

9:25 AM 10/25 - Wondering about the weather for "All Hallow's Eve"?
  • Early indications are high pressure will dominate the region Friday into Saturday, with rain free skies likely from Hill Valley to Sleepy Hollow and Elm Street, and other areas of the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Sorry Black Lagoon, probably no spooky fog this time. Attending or planning a special themed event? We'd love to hear about it!

For families holding an evening outdoor activity involving alternatively-styled apparel on Sat 10/31, here is our preliminary look into the FF crystal ball:
* Weather: Generally clear with light winds
* Temps: Mid 50s daytime, 50 F sundown, 47 F by 8 PM.
* Effects: Significant intake of small, multi-colored objects containing glucose and confectioner's glaze is expected.
* Impacts: Increasing levels of high energy outdoor activity, followed by delayed onset of sleep and fatigued elders.

Any schools planning to hold an "Enchantment Under The Sea" dance, we doubt a terrible thunderstorm - or a pre-planned bolt of lightning - is in your future next Saturday night. But if you are testing weather equipment at the town square, make sure you have a permit.
Enjoy this last "normal" weekend of sorts before the busy holiday schedule kicks into gear after next week!
-The FF Maryland Team
Image credit: NOAA Weather Prediction Center Day 7 surface map projection

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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"Do You Know What This Means???"
Scroll below for a video tribute to the movie taking you "Back In Time"

1:20 PM 10/20 - With a whiff of winter across the Mid-Atlantic early this week, thoughts are turning to what is ahead for the upcoming season. In long range forecasting, October is a critical month to monitor and analyze a number of indicators that provide early clues on which large scale influences may affect the winter pattern in any given year.

What's more historically important is the long-awaited arrival of "Back to the Future" day, as projected 30 years ago to be this week: October 21, 2015. We hope you enjoy this first of two installments of our BTTF themed overview. Though this report may initially seem heavy, we are pleased to announce that despite Doc Brown's concerns, the Earth's gravitational pull appears to be in fine shape here in 2015. 

Considering the wild winters of late, perhaps it is little surprise to learn that thanks in part to a strong El Nino underway, the 2015-16 season looks to continue the trend of unique weather patterns that undoubtedly will throw winter weather managers into fits that only Doc could admire!

If you're seeking a short version of what this means, we can say the following about indicators heading toward December 1.
GREAT SCOTT! Latest snowcover is quite sparse in the U.S, and Canada
compared to Autumns that preceded snowy winters. 
  • Slower rebound of northern snow cover as compared to recent years such as 2014, 2013 and 2009 suggests that for the Mid-Atlantic's urbanized corridor east of I-81, we expect a delayed start to significant snow events until mid-December at the earliest.
  • Arctic Sea Ice rebuild from the September lows came in notably less than levels observed in those 3 marker years listed above. (View the final 2015 sea ice graphic from the NOAA National Ice Center.) Although many in the East have felt quite the winter-like chill at present, this current spell is short-lived due to a lack of deep cold in the Arctic as compared to what is usually seen this time of year. 
  • An already record strong El Nino, that "Frenemy" of climate watchers and school students alike, has produced sea surface temperatures in the equatorial East Pacific up to 10 degrees F above normal! Will this lead to more snow days in the East? Only George McFly may know if that lurks in your density, err, destiny. 
  • Accounting for these slow-to-start factors in the long range forecast reveals clues that help answer the question Doc Brown asked in the headline. If the Arctic takes longer than usual to build it's reserve of deep cold, when that finally does occur and gets unleashed south--- yep, you figured it out.
It means we hypothesize the second half of Winter for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. could end up similar to 2015 AND 2014, suggesting conditions such as:
  • Significant to extreme cold for January into February, rivaling records in '14 and '15. 
  • Disruptive to crippling storms for February into early March, marked by an El Nino-fueled pattern that delivers copious Pacific moisture, creating high precip events. 
  • Prolonged periods of below normal cold into March, impacting the start of Spring sports much like what was seen in March 2003, 2010 and 2015.
A usual suspect expected to play a big role again this season is the North Atlantic Oscillation, which under the right arrangement, can initiate the most unwelcome "Cross Polar Flow" and deliver our hypothesized cold outbreak. For further reading on what NOAA is projecting with regard to these long range factors, be sure to stop over there and read their latest 2015-16 Winter Outlook. 

So for now, enjoy the relative calm and get ready for Marty, Jennifer and Doc's return on Wednesday, 10/21 as we celebrate 30 years of getting back in time as popularized by the iconic 1985 film. After all, if Marty and friends can accurately predict the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series 3 decades in advance to the exact year, a long range winter projection should be way easier than that, right?

A Look "Back In Time" to 1985...

Contributors to this report included Long Range Forecasters Troy Arcomano, Mintong Nan, Ohio Valley Winter Stormcaster Jason Warren and Editor Rich Foot

Monday, October 5, 2015

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That could have been us.

5:30 PM 10/5 - Knowing how close the mid-Atlantic region and Chesapeake Bay came to experience the same catastrophic damage which has befallen on South Carolina, it is our turn to do what we can for them. Many of us have been in those water-logged shoes: Saturated basements after Floyd, wrecked properties after Isabel, crushed roofs after Irene and Sandy. You've been there, you know what it's like to face that overwhelming feeling of where to summon the energy to start recovering. 

SERVING THOSE IN GREATEST NEED. Whether it's Staten Island or New Orleans or Columbia, SC - they're all neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand. All of us at Foot's Forecast across many states encourage you to consider making a donation to a local or national charity. If your life circumstances permit it, consider going there to volunteer in the field. For starters, the South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross is accepting volunteer relief worker applications. 

SUPPORT OPTIONS. Not all of us have the availability to do relief work, but we all can make a donation to assist the effort of Red Cross, Salvation Army and other agencies on site and already at work. Our recommendations include:
When disaster strikes, everyone needs a hand.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

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"The Sun will come out, tomorrow."

10:00 AM 10/4 If Annie were a forecaster, her update could be summed in those six famous words. We know you would love to see these scenes again real soon, and you will. The hurricane is rapidly moving away - but his trajectory will keep us all in a strong northeast flow of 20-25 mph the rest of today. Conditions improve Monday with more sun, less wind and temps in the 60s.

TIDES While the rain has largely ended, tides of 1-2 feet above normal in the central Bay are expected at high tide today, with 2-2.5 feet in the southern Bay. 
Ocean City, MD and surrounding coastal communities will see another 4-5 foot water rise at their mid-day high tide as measured at the Inlet. 
The back bays and smaller inlet areas in the Chesapeake could still see flooding issues as the disruption of tide cycles may continue to interfere with drainage depending on your location. Image source: Wakefield VA NWS Extratropical Storm Surge Coastal Flooding Maps

WAVES The pesky northeast flow will continue pushing waves of 8-10 feet onshore along the Atlantic coast. Wave heights in the southern Bay were reported by NOAA at 3-5 feet. Despite the alarming look of sand washing up on boardwalks in MD and DE, the beach sand retention is fairing well according to local officials - although beach access is closed in many coastal locations. Image source: NOAA Ocean Prediction Center Wind/Wave Analysis.

SAFETY There have unfortunately been at least two fatalities associated with this storm, in Virginia and North Carolina. The Coast Guard stated another 33 people are reported missing from a freight barge that was offshore the southeast coast. For those of us onshore, let's all agree not to go out and hot dog it in the waning hours of the storm. I used to tell students, these days any of us are only 15 minutes away from a life ruined by a Drudge report headline - usually after a storm.

TODAY Still quite windy with isolated showers throughout the Mid-Atlantic. That means any outdoor activity you do today, be wary and mindful of weakened trees and branches, such as when you go walk the dog or start yard cleanup. Readers and forecasters alike have all worked too hard to keep each other safe - and we want everyone to see many more sunrises like this one.

JOIN OUR TEAM If you are a student in high school or college with a passion for weather, or know someone who is, now is a great time to apply for a forecaster position before the winter thrills arrive. We also welcome adult weather enthusiasts with interest in communicating science to the public and working with inspiring young adults. Innovate your future today and make a difference by sharing your passion with a family of fellow scientists! 

The Advisors of Foot's Forecast
Photo by the Maryland Team from the deck of the Atlantic Hotel in Ocean City, MD - sunrise from Labor Day Weekend.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

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Long Days Ahead






Thursday, October 1, 2015

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*Winter intelligence through 12/31/17*

Winter Services - Foot's Forecast, LLC
"How will I know?"
- 1985 single by Whitney Houston (Music Video on VEVO)

  • The 11:00 AM NHC Advisory as shown below indicates Joaquin is moving north, and located at 23.8 North, 74.8 West as reported by Air Force reconnaissance in the storm. The storm has not crossed the 75 degrees west longitude "line of consequence" established by our investigation posted below from Thu 10/1.
  • If the eastward pressing frontal boundary just off the Eastern seaboard continues edging toward the hurricane, it will be evidenced by an increase in Joaquin's forward speed over the next 24-48 hours. 
  • These and other factors, including the brief retrograde (or reverse motion) of a strong high pressure system in southern Canada, provides increased confidence the hurricane should be able to pursue an "escape route" through the west Atlantic.
  • However, with 1,000+ miles of ocean the hurricane has yet to traverse, it is not time to sound the "all clear." We would need to see a consistent movement to the northeast over a 24-hour period before considering a reduced posture.


As the waiting game begins for the hurricane to makes the northwesterly then northerly turn, our tropical team has selected a critical observation point everyone can follow along with us. Or in the timeless words of Ms. Whitney, "I'm asking you what you know about these things."

CROSSING THE LINE This group observation is based on these questions: Will Joaquin turn before crossing the line? Would the future track be affected if this turn occurs later than planned? The line we are talking about is 75 degrees west longitude, the next major longitudinal grid border shown above just left of the eye.

HOW THIS WORKS Most of the computer model guidance, as well as official NHC forecasts, have the storm starting the "turn" before 75 degrees west longitude. 
  • On Thursday, the storm followed a W to SW path. Our thought process is simply that if Joaquin crosses 75 west and by Friday mid-day still has not begun to turn, would this affect the eventual projected path, which has shifted farther east.
  • On the other hand, crossing or not crossing the 75 west line may have no bearing on the storm's path due to other influences such as the trough across Florida or the high in Canada -- all of which are factors affecting where Joaquin will go.
HOW WILL WE KNOW? According to the NHC Forecast Advisory, the hurricane path is set to cross these points in the next 24-48 hours. Let's all see what happens:
  1. At 8 PM tonight, the forecasted position is 22.9 North, 74.2 West. As of 4:40 PM, Joaquin was at approximately 23.1 North and 74.4 West. This is our data starting point, although we will include track verification as a reference. 
  2. At 8 AM Friday, the forecasted position is 23.7 North, 74.6 West. This is one of the critical time points, at which time Joaquin should be showing a discernable turn to the northwest.
  3. By 8 PM Friday, the forecasted position is 25.2 North, 74.4 West. This point is where the storm should be generally moving due north or slightly NNW. 
WHAT'S THE POINT OF IT? We have chosen 75 west as our line of demarcation. We hypothesize the storm needs to complete the turn before this line, and if not, it may affect the track and everyone's expectation that the bullet has been dodged. With your help, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next 24 hours.