Sunday, January 21, 2007


For those true old-time powderhounds of the Foot's Forecast community, this weekend hold special meaning for us in several regards. Number is the Dundalk Adventure Club's traditional weekend ski & snowboard trip to the fabulous mountain resort of Seven Springs in Somerset County, PA. That's the reason behind no posts since last week, so for all those who felt dissed or ignored, it's not you, I was simply busy skiing with students on fresh powder. Sorry, when duty calls, I have to respond, no matter how challenging or unpleasant the job may be (sike.) Now in all fairness to my frequent readers, I owe you an apology for the last post. Some had asked what happened to the storm update that was supposed to follow the maps I displayed 1/18. I can tell you it existed for a short time on my computer. During breakfast that morning as I am trying to feed my two little angels, and get the forecast uploaded, and make my wife's coffee, I must have erroneously hit some key and shazam! update deleted! It's been a maelstrom since this is my first time on a keyboard since Thurs AM. Sorry that got lost, but at least it wasn't for a real big storm.

Number is the second Anniversary of the Great New England Blizzard of January 2005, which I bet will always live in the memory of Mr. EH Boston as the best snowstorm of all time for his family.

Number 3...if measureable snowfall occurs at BWI airport in the next 24 hours, it will be my first forecast victory of the season. January 13 I targetedthe time period of the 22nd to the 25th for the first snow, and sure enough, here it comes.


For those school districts with high schools scheduled to hold midterms this week, it appears the Monday 1/22 exam program will be disrupted in some manner. Before I depart Seven Springs this afternoon, I will post an overview of my projections for this minor but noticeable winter weather event. For all those outside the Baltimore Metro area, please excuse my lack of attentiveness to your weather situation, but time constraints prevent me from going into extensive detail on this storm. I can tell you that the eastern third of the country will reall go into the deep freeze following this storm and stay that way from the 23rd right on through to the 6th of February.

CAREER PROTECTION DISCLAIMER: Since my wife and I are blessed with wonderful jobs that truly we enjoy (I am not being sarcastic), in no way should any forecast, comment or statement about my employer (Baltimore County Schools) be misconstrued as critical in nature. I am merely providing analysis to educate readers in the affected areas of a weather event as to how difficult the decision making process can be for school officials. This is so when someone wants to complain about why school was open or closed due to the weather, we can give them reasonable answers grounded in scientific fact.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID: The challenge of this forecast for those in the Baltimore Metro Schools and surrounding counties is that the northern fringe of this storm SHOULD be mostly snow. A light coating of snow up to perhaps 1.5" south of Towson will be easier to deal with than if freezing rain and sleet mix in, glaze over secondaries and sidewalks, then a light dusting of snow on top of that. From Towson on north, expect only light snow and flurries. Anyone north of Philly, sorry. You'll wait out this one.

The tricky part is going to be when the precip arrives and how long it stays. If it ends prior to 1AM, that gives road crews a few hours to prep main roads and start working on secondaries. If by 4AM, the snow is continuing, albeit light in nature, and temperatures in the mid 20's, the morning commute will be difficult and I would anticipate a delay. We have most of the elements in place..cold ground, a moistening atmosphere and a slow moving system that will graze the DC-Baltimore areas. The general rule is, farther south you are, the more you will receive. The unknown is if your precip will be mostly snow, or a mix of frozen fun that cuts down on snow accumulation but increases the mayhem. We are departing Seven Springs now as it is already snowing lightly so we are going to head out early. The next update this evening once I am home safely.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What else can I say...but welcome to your future. For those of us who love frolicking in snow and seeing the sun rise and set over a crisp white landscape sparkling with little twinkly crystals…you’re in the wrong country from now on. The media loves to blame our recent warm weather on El Nino, and that’s a nice easy answer for a less-than-patient public. It is also the wrong answer in my opinion. Previous El Nino winters which had readings very close to this year did not produce the long warm spells we have seen across the country. A close match for current conditions is the winter of 02-03, which featured a weak to moderate El Nino ( a seasonal warming of Equatorial waters in the East Pacific of .5 to 1.5 degrees C over a period of several months), but instead of weeks of warm weather, my school district (Baltimore County, Maryland) had 9 snow days. If we use that some unscientific data set, my district has seen our snowday count the past 5 years drop from 9 to 4 in 2004-05 to just 1 last year. Do you think there is any correlation between that and the well-known fact that the important “September Arctic sea ice” count has decreased every year for the past 4 years. Each September NOAA makes a comprehensive assessment of the amount, thickness and extent of floating Arctic sea ice. Each successive year since 2001, the measure of this ice has decreased, which means this September, there was less Arctic sea ice than last September, and so on. Two images from the Earth Observatory System Satellite:

Arctic Sea Ice

The theory as it relates to snow cover and weather in the United States is simple. As the amount of ice in the Arctic circle decreases, it leaves behind a larger and larger area of darker water, which continues to absorb more of the sun’s energy. This in turn warms the water, the adjacent coastal areas as well as the low atmospheric levels above the water. In fact, since 1970 there has been a decrease of roughly 670,000 THOUSAND square miles of Arctic sea ice. Don’t you find that significant? Wouldn’t it seem plausible that with the Arctic losing more and more ice each year, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Ice cap to provide the “cooling effect” it does on the planetary climate patterns. Continental Polar air masses (read: High Pressure) in turn take longer to become the customary “Cold Canadian Highs” that charge southward in our winter because there is less ice providing a cooling effect on the air. The air simply takes longer to cool down, and the effect in increasing, perhaps geometrically.
So what WE in the U.S. are seeing is the results of that effect: A prolonged fall interspersed with warm spells, and a significant delay in the traditional arrival time of winter-like weather. Since the Arctic is not providing the influx of cold air from the Northern jet stream, and El Nino is weak to moderate, IT becomes the more dominant factor, but NOT because El Nino is simply "so strong it is controlling the weather pattern." My take on this pattern is that the lack of cold air has ALLOWED El Nino to take a larger role for a longer period of time because the customary "clash" of air masses this time of year has been delayed for at least a month.


Oh yeah, I was going to do some analysis of that on here sometime. Here it is:

Storm # 1: Projected for the January 22-25 time frame. Computer models continue to advertise some kind of Tennessee Valley system moving to the coast, which a moderately cold High placed to the north. Not the perfect setup when you consider the NAO is going Negative and that will tend to push storms more to the south. The following set of graphics are three models that indicate what is anticipated for 7AM January 22. First,the GFS:

1-22-07 GFS

You can see the 540 thickness line (a good indicator of the general rain/snow line) is right over DC. Sorry Boston, this one will more than likely miss you altogether. Next the JMA:

1-22-07 JMA

What's significant about these two maps is they both show a storm reaching the Mid-Atlantic coast fairly juicy with a potential for rapid development once there. The culprit for this lies with the sea surface temperatures in that same area.

1-10-07 East Coast SST

Saturday, January 13, 2007


for the Mid-Altantic and Northeast
Storm # 1
Target time: January 22-25.
Storm # 2
Target time: January 29-February 1
Data and analysis to back up this forecast in expected early Thursday AM.