Wednesday, May 25, 2005

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SST 5-25-05

I will elaborate on this phenomena in the next several days. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned that the widening gap in sea surface temperature anomalies between the tropical and northern Atlantic is a prelude to a very significant hurricane season. There is a lot of research and speculation online about the impact of a gradual freshening of the North Atlantic Current and how it may affect development of hurricanes. You'll notice the Gulf of Mexico has warmed at least a degree this month, whereas the coastal western Atlantic has cooled several degrees, and areas of much above normal water temps have expanded on either side of Greenland, as well as in the tropical Atlantic. What does it all mean? Plenty, and I will explain my thinking on this significant development over the next several days. June 1 marks the calendar start of what will promise to be a very busy and interesting tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic basin.

Friday, May 20, 2005

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SST 5-19

Granted that Hurricane Adrian is a Pacific storm, but it is the first of it's kind in recorded history to strike El Salvador, packing 85 mph winds. Read the full story on MSNBC. It's remnants will leak into the southern Caribbean, where you can plainly see that ocean surface temperatures are much above normal. This is an unusual start to what I believe will be another suspense-filled, unusual season of hurricanes that will surprise us at every turn.

Who is to say that the remnants of Adrian WON'T redevelop? Remember Ivan, which was written off after charging across the Southeast and out the Del-Mar-Va. It cycled back around across Florida, and became a tropical storm again in the Gulf of Mexico!

Other big weather news is of course NOAA's hurricane forecast for an above-normal season of activity, and the pending legislation in Congress which would limit online access of the NWS data.

My hurricane forecast is nearly ready for release. I hope to post it this weekend. In the meantime, compare the current SST map above with the one from early May....notice the differences?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

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Part 1: Analysis of climate trends since 2002
Part 2: Climate indices and hurricane development
Part 3: A timeline of events for this season


Category 2/3 Hurricane Isabel making landfall on Thursday, September 17, 2003 along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While the intensity of this storm rivaled Hurricane Ivan's Category 5 status at one point, it would never cause nearly as much widespread damage as any ONE of the FOUR hurricanes which impacted Florida last summer. The cleanup from that unprecedented season continues to this day and will so for years, even as some families in the Mid-Atlantic are still regaining parts of their lives shattered by Isabel. The long term effects of so many storms in such a short time may never be fully known or understood. However, the silver lining is that mountains of scientific data were generated as a result of last summer's tropical reign of terror. This data has proven invaluable in helping forecasters improve computer modeling and even begin to make more accurate long range predictions on climate trends which given rise to hurricane seasons of monstrous, or minor, porportions.

Part 1: Analysis of climate trends since 2002

Everyone who follows storms, especially hurricanes, has the same questions on their minds as you: "Will there be a repeat of last season?" "Will Florida see such a barrage of storms again anytime soon?" The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, or more rightly put, over the water.

My seasonal forecast for tropical cyclone activity is partly based on water temperature anomaly patterns over the past several years. I realize that "anomaly patterns" is a misnomer of sorts, but I believe as many others in meteorology also do, that changes in the water temperature profile over time reveal a lot of information on how the atmosphere and oceans interact and affect each other in ways we still don't fully understand. As Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University has masterfully demonstrated in his 21+ years of hurricane forecasting, there is an amazing complexity of variables which factor into what type of hurricane season will unfold. I will be tackling in the short term just the water temperature profile issues, and later move on to some of the atmospheric factors such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Southern Oscillation Index, influence of El Nino and other data.

The next set of graphics referred to as the SST anomaly for the past three years, recorded in the first week of May by satellite analysis and bouy data worldwide. SST stands for "Sea Surface Temperature" anomaly, meaning the amount of deviation in degrees Celsius from the climatological norm which surface water temperatures were at the time of the analysis. These unclassified maps are available for use by the general public on the Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, known as the FNMOC.

While I know you want me to get right to the forecast, I have to take you through the analysis FIRST this time. If you want to skip the analysis, then scroll directly to Part 3 at bottom of this post. More information and detail will be added to that section with time.


SST 5-3

To adequately understand what this map is telling you, we must review the evidence presented in the climatological archives from previous hurricane seasons.

The quiet spring and non-event summer exploded into a 50-day, 50-night deluge of tropical storms, starting July 31 and continuing almost uninterrupted to early October. The last tropical storm faded away on December 2 in the far northern Atlantic. Most of the Gulf Coast, from New Orlean west to Mexico, were spared any major problems, while the East Coast and Florida were besieged for weeks on end. The answer is: Water temperatures. Unless you live in Florida, you might find this video and image archive of 2004's amazing storm parade fascinating.

SST 5-6-04

You'll notice from this map that as of May 2004, the entire Florida peninsula is surrounded by water that was at least 1 degree C above normal, as was most of the western and central Atlantic. Contrast that with the western Gulf of Mexico...where temperatures were 1-2 degrees below normal. You'll also notice the large swath of much below normal water off the coast of Peru extending into the eastern Equatorial Pacific. This mini "La Nina" (cooling of Pacific waters) has the effect of lessening the intensity of the westerlies blowing across North America. As a result, tropical cyclones under this wind regime can just drift along until they strike land. Weak westerlies and strong easterlies are the reason why Ivan headed north west and then recurved back into the Gulf instead of going out to sea, and Jeanne/Frances both struck along the same portion of coast in a 3 week period. There was no strong force of wind to redirect them out to sea. If your memories of the destruction wrought by Ivan on the central Gulf coast have faded, prepare to grimace and clench your teeth as you view these before and after photos of coastal damage. Below is a big picture composite of all the major storms to impact North America last hurricane season...why it has been called the parade is easy to understand. Credit for this photo goes to Hays Cummin's Tropical Weather Page.

Parade of Storms 2004

Hurricane Ivan about to wreak havoc on the Alabama-Florida coastline

Ivan 1


What should stand out to the careful observer of this map is the extremely large coverage of much above normal water in the western and central Atlantic. This is water that was 2-3-4 degrees C warmer than normal heading into the start of the 2003 hurricane season. Looking at the tracking chart of storms from that summer, it should be clear to understand that strong westerlies and weak easterlies combined with warm ocean surface temperatures made for a busy season. However, much to the benefit of coastal areas, almost all the storms stayed offshore. The westerlies coming across the Gulf of Mexico were strong and persistent enough to serve as a shield against many storms charging up the coast. Except of course for Isabel.

SST 5-8-03

That storm somehow slipped through the gates, or formed at a time when the westerlies were slackening for a brief time in the seasonal transition toward winter. You'll also notice the swath of dark blue off the Peruvian coast is not nearly as extensive in 2003 as it was in 2004. This indicates water was warmer overall, allowing for a more active than normal westerly wind which tends to block movement of storms toward the U.S. East coast.

PART 1 SUMMARY: Pre-season Global SST anomalies indicate that changes in sea surface water temperature trends as a result of a previous hurricane season activity may play a major role in determining the frequency and intensity of storms in the following season. Evidence suggests that the U.S. Southeast Coast, including Florida, is much less likely to experience the number of landfalling systems in 2005 as was observed in 2004. Based on observed SST since 2002, the most probable areas of above normal landfall of tropical cyclones in 2005 is focused on the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to Maine, and the western Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Galveston. Tropical activity in the southern and western Caribbean is also expected to be above normal. Development of the first system is projected to be as early as the first 2 weeks of June, and the first area of landfall may be in the central Gulf Coast.

Part 2: Climate indices and hurricane development

As briefly discussed above, there are a wide range of other factors which have a role in the frequency, intensity and duration of tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic Basin. This list are among the major factors to be included in the final hurricane forecast. The part 2 analysis will focus on just the climate indices.


- Disparities in the Gulf of Mexico, below normal in the Western Atlantic, above normal Caribbean and Southeast Atlantic, expansive area of below normal in central and Norther Pacific.


- Extent and duration of Monsoon in India and Southeast Asia, seasonal rainfall in central Africa, persistence of offshore winds from central Africa to the Southeast Atlantic.


- The North Atlantic Oscillation, the Arctic Oscillation, the Pacific-North American Index, the Madden-Julian Oscillation, the Southern Oscillation Index


- The ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation Index) Cycle of multi-year differences in Sea Surface Temperature of Eastern Equatorial Pacific waters in coastal Peru.

Please note that the data analysis for Part 2 is in development and will be posted soon.

Part 3: A timeline of events this hurricane season

I believe the overall hurricane season will unfold like a play with three acts. ACT I will be the inaugural storms to affect the central Gulf and southern Carribbean as those areas feature the warmest SST's at present. Atlantic waters are still too irregular to support anything beyond a fledgling tropical storm until at August.

ACT II will take shape after the mid-point of summer. I believe we will see the westerlies begin to slacken heading into late July, as cooling in equatorial pacific dampens previous warming. This has been alluded to in the Climate Prediction Center's El Nino report as of May 5. Equatorial Pacific cooling will coincide with the seasonal, gradual warming of the western Atlantic and the Gulf. I believe the persistent cooling of water in vicinity of Florida is going to force a westward migration/expansion of the Bermuda High. Cooler-than-normal waters tend to promote high pressure becoming established above. With the westerlies reduced because of a neutral El Nino/Southern Oscillation, and nature abhoring a vacuum, the western Atlantic ridge will take over, reinforcing the easterlies, channeling any Southern Caribbean storms right into the central Gulf much like Ivan's path in mid September 2004.

ACT III will take shape past the climatological mid-point of hurricane season, generally known to tropical meteorologists as September 10. On any given year, records show this point on the calendar, there are one or more tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin. As waters in the eastern Gulf and western Atlantic warm, the Bermuda High will back off. This is also the time when the NAO can be in a strongly positive phase. With the westerlies picking up again in September, and the Bermuda High eases a bit, a storm is already in development at the time of this transitionary period could get caught between the changing air masses, and get funneled up the eastern seaboard. This scenario happened in 1985 with Gloria and in 1938 New England's "Long Island Express" (as pointed out by loyal reader terpboy). Thus the third area at risk in the latter half of the season will be the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast...from September 10 to mid October.

I am working on a review of my 2004 forecast and a month-by-month summary of what I believe is in store for the Gulf and East Coasts this coming summer. As you have figured out, hurricane forecasting is much more complex and heavy reading that winter storm forecasting. And I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, April 15, 2005



Another view of those wonderful Peach tree blossoms in Dundalk, MD for you to enjoy on this gorgeous and stunning Tax Day Friday. These trees are right across my street and they are just delightful to see this time of year. If you've spent any time outdoors in this recent string of sunny days, you know that the April burn can be worse then the September sizzle. The high sun angle, low humidity combined with refreshing breezes mask the burn you receive from the Spring sunshine. Walk back inside after a couple hours of gardening, yard work or sports practice and you will discover a bright pink shade to uncovered skin!

Speaking of pretty Spring colors, you should see the local NWS map for PA and MD. It is lit up with all kinds of nice pastels and deep primary hues. There's a Royal-Fushcia blue for a FREEZE WATCH in the I-95 corridor. There's a Pinto Red Geranium for a RED FLAG WARNING in south central Pennsylvania (that's for wildfire potential), and other nice colors like your ever-popular Beige Special Weather Statement. Don't forget Forest Green for a Coastal Flood Statement. But seriously I do like the colors and it shows that someone in the government is trying to make it look interesting if not pleasant.

On a colder note, temperatures east of the Blue Ridge and through central PA will drop into the low 30's and upper 20's tonight, west of the Chesapeake Bay at least. So get out there and COVER THOSE PLANTS. Even folks in Chester and Lancaster counties had better be concerned about a hard freeze on their arboretums and nurseries. A large high pressure system parked in Quebec combined with a strong low pressure off the coast is funneling cold air into the Northeast. When the winds slacken tonight, under clear skies temps will plummet and you'll probably see frost on your cars tomorrow early morning. Should make for some nice pictures if you can get up early enough to see it.

After the freeze passes, Saturday through who knows when look to be absolutely mahvelous! Sunshine and blue skies to rule the days, which I adore but the allergy sufferers despise, so stock up on the Alleve and get outside to enjoy this showerless April so far.

Sunday, April 10, 2005



That's the picture we've been waiting for...gorgeous sunshine, light breezes and cherry blossoms. What a wonderful weekend it has been, a nice reward for the tough times of late. There will be a cool down over the next few days, with some splatterings of rain here and there. The good news is that as the temperature stays a bit below normal, this lowers the likelihood of severe weather as day and night contrasts are not as great. So unless you are an allergy sufferer, in which case the worse days are coming up, get out there and enjoy it! I hope the flowers are blooming where you are too.

Thursday, April 7, 2005


A quick look at the satellite and water vapor imagery shows that the atmosphere is getting primted for a round of thunderstorms in the DC-Baltimore region later today and Philly-NYC tonight. This will not help areas that are still drying out from last weekend's monsoon. South winds are advancing ocean moisture ahead of an vigorous low and cold front coming out of the Tennessee Valley. If there is any sun peeking through ahead of this front, the solar radiation will enhance heating and evaporation, triggering rapid development of the moisture into "popcorn" variety thunderstorms from 4pm to 8pm. This poses a threat to afternoon practice and games, which may be able to START but may get cut short due to rain or thunder or lightning or all of the above.

Check your latest radar for the best indicator of when the storms will arrive. When you see little green and yellow blobs and starting to litter the radar field just to your west, that is a clear sign thunderstorms are developing independently of the front and will arrive sooner than expected. I have found that Mid-Atlantic Radar / Northeast Radar from intellicast are the most reliable. Click the "animate" feature for a loop.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

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Think you had bad weather in Maryland last weekend? The worst flooding in 50 years occured in some locations along the Delaware River in Eastern PA and Western NJ. Three to five inches of rain fell across the region in just 24 hours, sending water into basements and lives into chaos. Some of the people you see above were not finished cleaning up from the surprise floods wrought by Tropical Depression Ivan in September.

Nothing like that is on the schedule for this week, thankfully. We will finally get a nice piece of Spring today and Thursday, though thunderstorms are not far behind. The real issue is will the storms hold off until after sports practice is over on Thursday? The skies will look ominous by the afternoon, and this is a fairly vigorous system that will push through in the evening and overnight. It is going to be a close call for games and practice, but given the dryness of the atmosphere, I believe the storms will take longer to move into the Baltimore region than anticipated. A game may have to be cut short due to thunder, but I think most teams will be able to get their regularly scheduled events in on that day.

Clearing and tranquil for the weekend. (Long sigh...) At last a sunny weekend for a change.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005



The abundant sunshine on Monday was a welcome celebration of Spring's return after a woefully poor week and weekend of weather. For those who had time off during the Easter holiday, most activities were confined to indoors as much of the vacation period resembled more of a mid-winter break than a "Spring Break." I was especially amazed at the frequency at which the Eastern U.S. was pummeled by two very strong storm systems over a 6 day period. The grand finale of course being that monster storm that swirled around from Friday to Sunday, bringing to the Northeast the heavy rain, wind, thunder and lightning. I would like to share the story of our weekend as we ended up bisecting the best and worst the storm had to offer.

My wife, the baby and I were enjoying a nice trip to Northwest Pennsylvania, where we had wonderful sunshine last Wednesday, Thursday and most of Friday. As you saw from the picture in the previous post, we visited my wife and brother-in-law's original farm where they grew up. It was easily 60 F and pleasant as we walked around the property.


That's Lee (my brother in law) on the left, and Dana (my wife) on the right. The building behind them is their original home on the "Orange Bucket" Farm. As you can see, the weather is beautiful, there is no indication of what is coming later.

Saturday morning we left to head south, and the rain of Friday night had changed to a wet mix of sleet and snow. We heard on the Weather Channel, "2-4 inches of snow Friday night" followed by "3-5 inches on Saturday." Pshaw! I told Lee, my brother-in-law and his wife Jenn. The ground was way too warm, the sun angle alone would negate most of the snow in the upper atmosphere, the most we'd see was some wet snow and less than an inch overall.

As we headed towards State College Saturday, little did we know that during the day, the rain we left behind DID change over to snow in force, when all was done, 12 to 20 INCHES lay ON THE GROUND in exactly the places we all had walked around in t-shirts on Friday! Read about it in the Meadville Tribune. Since it would be a 7 hour drive to Baltimore, we stop at my in-laws overnight Saturday. Sunday morning we awake to a fresh coating of snow even there... 3 hours southeast. That's the picture at top of our daughter reveling in the snow once again, and since you enjoy pictures of her so much, I thought I'd post one more. Below, it is Sunday, APRIL 3 and I am cleaning snow off the car, something I have not done I think EVER in the month of April.


While at breakfast that morning, as it is still lightly snowing outside the restaurant in State College, PA, we are talking to Lee on the cell phone and I ask "so how much of that 3-5 inches did you get, har de har har." He deadpans back, "4 inches." I gasp and gulp.

Meadville Snow 1

This was Lee cleaning off his Pontiac outside the hotel in Meadville Sunday morning. It later turns out the snow was so bad, and road conditions so poor that he had to take quite the circuitous route Altoona via PITTSBURGH! That must have taken them 6 hours perhaps. Ugh, what a long drive. Here's their account in the email we received yesterday.

"Keep in mind those pictures of the Farm, which were taken on Friday (April 1). It was almost 70 F then. This picture was taken this morning (April 3), after 4 inches of snow fell on Meadville. The temperature is 33 F. That's Northwestern PA weather for you. To escape the snow, we went back to Altoona through Pittsburgh. Although Pittsburgh was only moderately snowy, we hit the absolute worst weather on the way home. Chestnut Ridge, Laurel Ridge, and worst of all, Cresson Mountain were at near white out conditions. According to WJAC-TV, 9 inches of snow fell on Cresson today. Tomorrow, it will be nearly 60 F. That's Pennsylvania in the spring for you.

So much for the High Sun Angle theory. Maybe I'll just stick to East COAST weather next time, instead of trying to be a slick city slicker forecaster in the country.

NOW BACK TO THE WEATHER: As you can tell from your local forecast, we in the Northeast have finally hit a stretch of improving conditions to last to the weekend. It appears the best days of the week will be today, tomorrow and most of Thursday, with many locations south of NYC pushing 70 and south of the PA/MD line pushing 75 F. That'll put some grass on your yard! For Spring Sports, fields are plenty dry and will stay that way through the week. The polar vortex has been vanquished, the NAO is back to normal, and our recent storms have done what I felt was necessary to clear out the atmosphere's imbalances and set things right again. Hallelujah!

Friday, April 1, 2005

- The Beatles


This is my daughter contemplating a long and dusty, winding road in Northwest Pennsylvania on Friday, April 1. We are visiting friends and the original homestead of my wife and brother-in-law, located in a very rural area of Crawford County, PA...namely the towns of Lincolnville and Meadville. We are just one county shy of Erie, to give you a sense of how "Northwest PA" we really are. We awoke to wonderful sunshine this morning, which was a surprise as many forecasts had been calling for clouds and possibly even rain. So we snagged the opportunity to visit "The Farm" in the morning while the weather was still nice.

The Long and Winding Road is that it seems real Spring weather is taking it's sweet old time getting established. It may be a long road before many of us in the Northeast see solid daytime temps in the 70's. In fact, we may be dodging snowflakes up here on Saturday, and now I see the Weather Channel calls for 2-4 inches of accumulation tomorrow and into Sunday! Hogwash!

The first full week of April does promise some improvements for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Temperatures will finally rebound to the 60's, with overnight lows in the 40's. Looks like we're back to the regular Spring pattern of rain every two-three days, which is a good sign that warmth is not far behind. A more thorough update on next week's weather later tonight.

Hold on to your hats I-95, the rain is heading your way with a vengeance and by the time you read this, it should be heavy and torrential at times from DC to NYC. You know what they say about April showers. I just hope we don't have a month of it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


The loud clap of thunder I heard in Dundalk, MD yesterday afternoon for me confirmed that Spring has arrived once and for all. Once that sun can work on those flowers and lawns, we will have a bloomin' good time. It seems clear the atmosphere has rid itself of a long standing (sitting?) constipation, and the NAO has retreated to neutral, where it should be this time of year, taking the cold with it. Systems are now following a normal progression across the country, with sun followed by rain followed by sun again...and repeating every few days. This will be the pattern now for the next week to 10 days. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine today and Wednesday, unfortunately there is nastiness still lurking for the weekend, as the rain returns Thursday and will hang around into Saturday. Improvements are on the schedule heading into the first week of April.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Easter Monday

As of 9:30 AM Monday, an impressive looking comma-head Low pressure was swirling through the Tennessee Valley, with an advancing line of strong to severe thunderstorms pushing toward the North Carolina-Virginia coast. These storms will drop torrential rain, brief strong winds and hail throughout the Richmond-Philadelphia I-95 corridor and eastern Mid-Atlantic through early afternoon. Later today, a secondary Low develops off Del-Mar-Va, and races northeast, bringing some wraparound snow to northern New England and heavy rain along the coast.

Overall a rather gloomy and wet start to the final week of March. But in classic folklore tradition, and thanks to the NAO trend staying neutral, I believe the month will go out like a lamb as expected, for sunshine and warmer weather is to follow this spring storm for Wednesday into Friday. Check your local NWS forecasts for a glimpse of the nice conditions on the way.

For sports teams trying to make practice a go this week, you already know that fields will remain wet through Tuesday, and still damp Wednesday, but likely that by Thursday enough drying will have occurred to allow field use. Rain returns Friday for the southern Mid-Atlantic, (Baltimore on south) but northeast areas (Philadelphia to Boston) should be able to squeeze out field work before the rain arrives late in the day.

Hope everyone enjoyed their Easter festivities despite the unpleasant weather. Once that sun returns, those flowers and lawns will surely be greenly growing!

Friday, March 25, 2005




Yes there is another pesky storm on the way, which will bring some rain late in the day to the Mid-Atlantic, and overnight into Saturday for New England. The whole Easter Weekend looks to be cloudy, rainy and not so pleasant for the Northeast, but the flowers promise that bright and sunny days are coming soon. Accuweather has several graphics to explain how the weekend will shape up for us. I hope you enjoy time with family and remember the "reason for the season." An update later this afternoon on storm potential for Sunday into Monday.

The hyacinths shown above are from the Dundalk Greenhouse, which had a very successful Easter Sale this week. We grossed about $125 which will be used to buy a new round of bulbs and other items to prepare for the Massive Mother's Day Flower Sale.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Early Spring 1

Heading into the long Easter Holiday Weekend, a few items for discussion:

1. EAGER BEAVERS at the Boston and New York City NWS are cleaning the wood from their teeth and using the branches to paddle each other as they bit off a great big storm which turned into the KaNOna of the year. TV and Internet outlets alike all were calling for 5-10" or 6-12" of snow throughout southern New England. "Well, the models said this or that." Is what forecasters will say. "The storm headed farther south than we expected." They'll say. If you look at the satellite loops and radar animation, you'll notice nothing of the sort. The storm simply DID NOT materialize in the way THEY FORECASTED it would. I've been down this road before, I know. The easier answer is... WE MADE A MISTAKE. The computer models over-estimated the amount of cold air available, and surface temperatures in Boston never got below 34 F. Moisture from the ocean was not wrapped into the storm as extensively as the computers indicated. The mistake came when forecasters trusted the computers more than their own intuition, which I have also done before.

2. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS. I will allow the storm to finish before grading it, but I'm confident that Mr. E.H., Our trusty Director of the Northeast Observatory in Boston, will take care of that for me. Here's an updated look at what actually fell where.

3. MORE RAIN ON TAP FOR FRIDAY, CLEARNING SATURDAY. It will be a changeable weekend with fast moving systems bringing rain to the south of I-80, with snow/rain mixed to the north.

4. EASTER SUNDAY LOOKS TO BE A TOTAL WASHOUT for most of the Northeast. The European model above shows a Low Pressure that will track over the Mid-Atlantic. You all know well enough that means rain for almost everyone. Better hold that Easter Egg Hunt inside, and put a poncho over the Sunday dress. The good news is it should be seasonal temperatures or even a few degrees above normal, around 60 F in Philly, low 60's Baltimore, mid 50's NYC and Boston, with 50's in Interior Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

- Howard Beale, in the movie Network

Late Spring 1


MID-ATLANTIC: Okay, so this is NOT the big snowstorm that I originally thought in early March would end the season right about now. for those of you who read the Dundalk Eagle article and are still waiting for the snow, looks like it is heading to New England. You obviously notice the temperatures even in Baltimore will only reach 45 F today, which is almost 15 degrees below normal. That is significant in considering had all this rain been snow, it would most certainly have been the Ultra Kahuna, with 1-2 feet of wind-whipped heavy wet snow to boot. But it is the Ultra Kahuna-rainstorm that I knew we needed to get the atmosphere cleared out and set back in order. In fact, this will be the first in a series of rain events to take us right through to next Monday. Clearing skies on Thursday sandwiches some sunshine before the weekend storm arrives.

INTERIOR NORTHEAST / NEW ENGLAND: The hits just keep on coming. I indicated this storm was on the books last Saturday, and sure enough it is on time with the heaviest snow expected overnight into Thursday. There are a couple factors which you can see for yourself will influence the outcome of this storm. The most important I believe are the NAO trending toward neutral again. This will allow the storm to nudge a little farther north than currently expected, forcing the Boston, MA and Upton, NY NWS to extend the Winter Storm Watches to include areas north of I-90. The Canadian High is parked in the perfect spot, the Tennessee Valley Low will redevelop a secondary off Virginia. The moist air inflow from the ocean, the overnight timing, evaporative cooling, fresh snowpack...lah de dah dah. All great factors that point to a significant early Spring snowfall. Meanwhile the diehards down here in nosnowland just sit on the couch in total despair. We can't go out and garden, we can't shovel snow, all we can do is watch and weep.

STORM GRADE AMOUNTS: Accuweather seems on target with their amounts. You'll notice Boston is inside their 3-6" range, which would give credence to the idea of a northward shift. It is also possible the High overpowers and sends the storm farther out to sea earlier, but this seems unlikely. So here is the preliminary call, which I will adjust slightly tonight:

Northeast PA: 4-8" / New York City: 2" / Hartford, CT: 5" / Providence, RI: 5"

Boston, MA: 4" / Worcester, MA: 5" / Woburn, MA: 6" / Plymouth, MA: 4"

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Spring 2


Tuesday will be a fine day for the Northeast, with abundant sunshine and drying fields. By Wednesday morning, rain will have returned, and may be heavy at times, along with a touch of snow for higher elevations along the PA/NY border. This storm should clear by Thursday, but fields will remain wet or at least damp toward afternoon. A newly unconstipated atmosphere means that a series of storms are going to move through over the next 5-7 days, with more rain to follow on Friday for Easter Weekend travelers, then another significant coastal rainstorm to washout most of the upcoming weekend. Just think about how those plants will take off once the sunshine returns!

This website focuses on two primary seasons: Winter Storms and Hurricanes. The "quiet period" on the site is Spring and early Summer, from April to July. Forecasting does ramp up if there is ever a risk of a large scale tornado outbreak for the Northeast, and of early August all eyes and ears are tuned to the tropics until November. Then we head right back into winter storm season. Thus April, May, June, July are the quietest periods for this site. I write this in case you may have thought I lost interest in the weather, heavens no! Just been busy with "Hakuna" preparations.

Besides, it's amazing what one can get done when you're not on a ski trip! I had a formal observation on Monday, have been doing a lot of greenhouse work at my school, and with warm weather coming we like to take our daughter outside as much as we can. Public interest in the site wanes at this time, because when the weather gets nice, everyone goes outside, as they should. So get out there and do that garden, stop reading the internet!

I do a weekly to twice weekly forecast in the Spring to keep specific readers appraised of severe weather, especially coaches and Athletic Directors whom are most concerned about interruptions to practice and games. There is also the occasional late season snowstorm for New England, which I will monitor until mid April. If it is nice and sunny, good! I don't care nor do I forecast for it.

For a glimpse into where I will be spending a good amount of time this spring..head on over to the Dundalk Greenhouse

For the most up-to-date post, check every Sunday and Wednesday for the weekly forecast.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Spring 1

It's finally here, and due to an astronomical glitch in the calendar,
it's a day early. Now the important questions are:

1. WILL THE WEATHER STAY WITH THE CALENDAR? For coastal areas south of New York City, that is a good bet from this point forward. Interior sections of New England, New York and Pennsylvania still have a risk for frost as well as some accumulating snow over the next 7 days leading up to Easter.

2. WHEN WILL WARM WEATHER ARRIVE IN FORCE? The Northeast has to endure two more coastal-type storms before the warm weather can really take over. This is the much-anticipated "pattern shift" that's been explained on this site for a few weeks now. It will take a series of large storms to reset the atmospheric imbalances caused by the negative NAO and Greenland/Canada High pressure block. The first storm comes out of the southwest on Wednesday, as shown on the graphics above, heads for the East Coast, bombs out and delivers some wrap-around snow to mainly higher elevations. The second system will take a more coastal track, from the Gulf up to the Mid-Atlantic over Easter weekend. Following this storm, I expect the Polar Vortex to retreat, taking the cold air with it and allowing the Sub-tropical Atlantic ridge (the pre-Bermuda High) to begin influencing the eastern third of the country by the first week of April.


MONDAY-TUESDAY: Dry and seasonal temperatures in the 50's through the Northeast. Some wind will help dry fields from Sunday's precip.

WEDNESDAY: In VA, MD and PA...Rain arriving from a storm moving toward the Mid-Atlantic. The rain will arrive before afternoon practice begins and continue through the evening, but clearing overnight. Later in the day, snow and rain mixed is likely along the PA/NY line and into southern New England including the Boston Metro area. A low risk for thunderstorms or lightning.

THURSDAY-FRIDAY: Clearing but still seasonal with temperatures in the low to mid 50's south of NYC, and in the 40's in New England. Fields will be wet from the Wednesday precip.

LOOKING AHEAD TO EASTER SUNDAY: There is a "Wet and Muddy Easter Sunday Dress Alert", as the potential still exists for a rainy coastal storm to arrive Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

- Hall and Oates

Welcome to Spring Everyone! I have a few things for powderhounds to salivate over, and for Spring-a-lings to boo and hiss. Winter takes a bow and exits stage right on Sunday, but it will be a while before he cleans up his dressing room and leaves the building altogether.

1. WEEKEND WEATHER: Rain arrives late Saturday afternoon from central PA east due to a clipper system cutting through PA and northern Maryland. Though temperatures are in the 50’s daytime, I expect some changeover to snow along the PA/MD border late night, and especially in southcentral and eastern PA. Accumulations would be limited if any due to warm ground surface. Sunday brings clearing and cooler, windy conditions behind the storm, which has the potential to develop once reaching the coast. For northern New England, light snow accumulating perhaps an inch or two at the most, until the secondary develops at the coast.

2. HEY NEW ENGLAND! Keep your eyes on this one. Boston was hinting last night that a turn up the coast overnight Sunday could lead to accumulating snow, especially given an NAO trending toward neutral (means Canadian high pressure block is drifting northeast, allowing coastal storms to nudge farther north). Model variance on this means someone will have to make a call, so I guess it is me. The tightening of the jet gradient in the Northeast and the upper level Low in California will serve to put pressure on the Polar Vortex, causing it to ease north and east into Baffin Bay. I believe this will allow our coastal Low to trek farther up the coast than currently anticipated.

3. SAY IT ISN’T SO. Concern is building for a series of early Spring storms that could deliver wet snow to the I-95 cities on Wednesday and a more significant, plowable snow to the Northeast cities overnight into next Thursday. Following this would be one or more rainstorms on Easter and shortly after to wreak havoc with Sunday worship services and create mud puddles for little children to stomp in wearing their new Easter Sunday dresses. Again, the Boston NWS is already coming out of the gates with indications of an all-snow event. This is usually a sign they believe a southern storm will track along or up the coast. I have a few graphics to explain this and will effort to get them online for you. If I can't, please visit Accuweather to see them.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

- From "Hakuna Matata" of the Lion King Soundtrack

This is the official announcement that with arrival of St. Patrick's Day, the weather in the Northeast will be going green for the foreseeable future. As the lyrics from our headline song above indicate...instead of a Final "Kahuna" (which is a big snowstorm or perhaps an equally big rainstorm), we will be relishing in a "Hakuna." This means no major storm in the near term of a 5 day period, replaced by a gradual warming trend with some rain late in the weekend and a welcome return to spring conditions by Monday, the first official FULL day of Spring. Outdoor sports activities or competitions planned in Baltimore County (and most of the Northeast) on Saturday the 20th are IN THE CLEAR until about 3 pm Sat. After 3 pm, rain is likely from DC to NYC.

NEW TO THE SITE? Welcome! This site provides a detailed and long range analysis on when big storms are likely to affect the Northeast. I strive to pinpoint the major patterns in the atmosphere which can lead to major storms (whether a snowstorm, hurricane or big outbreak of thunderstorms/tornadoes). When the weather is calm and mild, I am happy and don't forecast much, especially temperatures. I just stick to storms. Now that we are coming off winter storm prediction and heading towards forecasting for spring sports, as well as looking ahead to Hurricane season, you will notice the site undergoing the seasonal transition to prepare for the next phase of weather.

If there is any threat of a surprise snow event or hard frost in the next 2-3 weeks, you can bet I will be on it like hair on a gorilla. Overall, predictions and big analysis for snowfall are only made for a storm which has the potential to deliver 3 or more inches of snow.

FOOT'S FORECAST TERMINOLOGY The terms posted below were created over time to make forecasting the weather more fun for you and me, and not rely on the common descriptions used by everyone else.

1. The Headline: Usually a song title or phrase from a song that matches the weather concept of the day. Sometimes a quote from a movie or a folkore saying is used.

2. Big Kahuna: Defines a big snowstorm that could deliver up to 12 inches of snow for the forecasted area, i.e. a nor'easter with strong winds, heavy rain or snow.

3. Big KaNOna: This is when one of my winter storm forecasts completely busts, and little if any snow falls or the amounts are much less than originally predicted.

4. Big Hakuna: Opposite of a Kahuna, this would be a nice long stretch of warm, sunny weather, which means you'd have no worries for the rest of your days.

5. Powderhound: A diehard snow enthusiast who wants snow on the ground from December 21 to March 21, snow falling out of the sky almost every day during that time, and snow caused by great big storms that bury the northeast in 1-2 feet of it at a time.

6. Spring-a-ling: Can be a powderhound who also enjoys Spring and the changes which accompany it. However, they would prefer a consistent stretch of sunny, normal to above normal temperatures interspersed with some rain showers to water the plants. Cold blasts are not welcome, but a thunderstorm with the possibility of a tornado does, provided that it only swirls about in a nearby field and does not impact people or property.

7. Summer Lovers: This person likes it HOT all the time, and happier the HOTTER it is. 90 F? Okay. 95 F? Now we're talkin'. 100 F? Bring it on baby! This person likes to work in the heat, doesn't mind the sweat and would prefer a big long nasty heat wave more than anything else. They also enjoy the occasional surprise big bang and crash summer thunderstorm.

8. Tropicons: These people can't wait for Hurricane Season, and despite the destruction these storms bring, they are fascinated with the power and immensity of tropical storms. They love to track the storm's every movement and hiccup, and are the most excited when it is about to make landfall. You can easily identify these types because you'll notice them drawing little hurricane swirly symbols when they doodle from July to November.

9. I can't remember the term to describe those who enjoy the days I call "Golden October"... those crisp, beautiful days in late September to mid-October when the weather is peaceful, college football is king, and on Saturday mornings you can smell firehouses holding pancake breakfasts while you are raking leaves.

ALTHOUGH SNOW IS STILL ON THE AGENDA, it is now most likely reserved for Northern New England. We move into Spring-A-Ling mode and forecasting for conditions relevant to Spring Sports practice and game time weather.

THE HURRICANE SEASON PREVIEW will be prepared and posted during Spring Break, which in my neck of the woods is March 25-April 2. I have already put together my basic forecast, but it will include a comparison of how my prediction from last season stacked up again the actual, and a look into the June-September period for tropical activity along the East/Gulf Coasts.

So Happy St. Patty's Day everyone. Hope the Luck O' The Irish is on our side and we have truly turned the corner towards Spring once and for all. This weekend I will post an analysis of any downstream rumblings that might interrupt our dance into Spring over the next 2 week period.

For some reason, bright sunny and quiet days get me in the trip planning mode. This weekend was no exception. Mrs. Foot was busy with her teacher training course, the baby was sleeping, so I opened the magical trip box and... off we went. Actually the tour I finalized this weekend has been in development for 2 years already. When the calendar reaches the 1 year mark prior to a major trip is when I get the planning engines humming.

Why am I telling you this? Because in my other life, when I'm not teaching, or forecasting the weather, or watering the Greenhouse plants, I am the advisor of the Dundalk Adventure Club at my school. Lo and behold, they also have a series of websites (would you believe it?) that highlight and advertise our trips. The most recent major trip was our Spring Break 2004 Adventure to Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia.

Do you recognize that mountain in the picture? That's the one from those Ricola commercials. You remember: where the herdsman standing on the pristine Swiss hillside is blowing a big long trumpet... he coughs, interrupting the music. His friend hands him a Ricola cough drop, and there perched in the background is the Mighty Matterhorn. If the cards are played just right, a place my family and I haven't visited for nearly 20 years will be back in our spotlight again. Zermatt, Switzerland and the beautiful mountain valleys of the Jungfrau Region in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps.

Plans are now underway to make looking at that picture a reality for you in April 2006. The Dundalk Adventure Club is making this trip available to anyone who has the money and motivation to see Europe before rising oil prices put such a journey beyond our reach. Isn't it time you escape to the fresh air and gorgeous vistas of the Alps in early Spring? Wouldn't you thrill at the opportunity to ski fresh alpine powder in some of the world's largest resorts? Haven't you been waiting a long time for something like this to come along?

If those feelings apply to you or someone you know, please visit the Zermatt 2006 website. If you would like more information, feel free to request it via email at

A packet can be mailed to you upon request. Please note that the Dundalk Adventure Club does not operate for profit and is not affiliated with any travel agency. Our trips are designed to be family-friendly and not driven by a commission-based agency.

Regular weather forecasting returns to this site on Monday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

- Janet Jackson, from the album Control

That's probably accurate for today's headline since there has not been a "new" post since Saturday night. Sometime earlier today, you probably happened across the Weather Channel or your local NWS forecast and discovered that the "Rain/Snow" with a high of 38 for Baltimore disappeared. In it's place is now "Chance of Showers with high of 53." For our northern clients, please pardon the emphasis on the southern areas, as I am using it to illustrate a point.

I CAN FIND NO MODEL SUPPORT for this forecast. I saw this and thought, "Hmmm, GFS must have done a real role reversal or something for the NWS to go totally the other direction." So I checked the GFS, and the European, and the NAM, and the DGEX and the UKMET and NONE of them depict a scenario which would lead to showers and 50's. In fact if you check local NWS forecasts for areas very close to Baltimore, like Cecil County MD or across the Chesapeake, there is barely a mention of rain... mostly cloudy and 40's.

SO WHAT'S GOING ON? The models are having a hard time resoloving the imbalances in the system caused by the Polar Vortex, the building southern stream in conjunction with the Atlantic Ridge, as well as the persistent Canadian High that has and will dominate Northeast weather through the weekend. What's happened is that the computer sees a zonal west-east flow and thinks "Hey, warmth is coming... let's warm things up." The Philadelphia office put it best by saying in their forecast discussion "Most long range models seem to be in disagreement over the details."

IS OUR BIG STORM HISTORY BEFORE IT WRITTEN? No, the window for a final snow event in the Mid-Atlantic is still open for Saturday-Sunday-Monday. I can say that beyond that the window appears it will close for good on this winter. Andy, our designated skeptic in York County, PA maintains that no more than 4 inches of snow will fall at BWI the remainder of the season, and he may end up to be the most accurate on that forecast. If the skeptics win and I lose on the Final Kahuna, you can be sure I'll be the first to tell you why.

AND THE WEEKEND? I believe we (the Northeast) will see cooler temperatures than are advertised, and that the storm coming east out of the Lakes by then is going to get squeezed between the southern stream/ridge and the northern Highs. This will force a piece of energy to zip out towards the Mid-Atlantic and travel through Maryland with potential for development once it reaches the coast. Now storms from the west don't bring extra rest, so snow falling out of this system will not be enough to disrupt school on Monday, especially if it is on the order of 4 inches or less as predicted by Andy. New England should continue to see below normal conditions and tranquil weather through Sunday. The final forecast outlining the weekend storm and any potential for snow will be posted Thursday.

WHERE'S THE 'TRAIL' WE ARE BLAZING? DID WE LOSE IT? Still trailblazing, just a different trail...this time tracking if the weekend storm will be our Final Kahuna or not.