Friday, February 2, 2007

or depending on the perspective of those who commute, maybe the headline should read:


There could be a situation developing where that shortwave (read: big glob of snow in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennesse) moves in a whole lot faster..say 12 noon, reactivating precip across the Mid-Atlantic, and making the afternoon and evening commute worse than the morning. Maybe our "seasoned" readers can recall a time when there was a 2-hour school delay, conditions changed unexpectedly and had to be followed with an early dismissal. That sure would be the nightmare scenario and one I hope we never see!
Instead of watching every nuance of the radar this morning, I'll be packing for a trip this afternoon. There won't be a post after 9AM and before 9PM tonight. If my brain is still functioning then, I'll attempt a preview of the next storm, because yes Virginia there's snow coming, lots of it, including the coldest air in 20 years over the next week. Be safe everyone and take your time today traveling.

5:20 AM: I figured some of you would be coming here to check for an update after seeing the morning news. In the Baltimore Metro area, our critical "wrap-around" precip developed in the overnight hours as expected. I may not have said expressly when that was going to happen here on the site, but as those who received an email update or were in any of my classes Wednesday or Thursday, it was clearly stated the precip that would "force schools to start with a delay." Please understand that in no way should any of these statements or forecasts be misconstrued as criticism of my employer. I deeply enjoy my job and would never want to jeopardize it by appearing to present disparaging comments about them (Baltimore County Schools) in a public forum.

I recall a short conversation I had with our school's athletic director yesterday afternoon. We talked about the fact that while the computer models were all over the place, and this was a challenging situation for AD's trying to decide how to handle the Friday situation. I explained that the problem with forecasting today is that everyone waits for the computer model to tell them what to do. In my view, real meteorology is taking all of one's training, experience and understanding of the data, and then you have to MAKE THE CALL. It's about making a decision and then standing by your position. So the BAL/DC Weather Service is probably slapping themselves upside the head for dropping the Winter Weather Advisory last night, when in reality, there was going to be a second (or possibly third) stage of this storm that we are now seeing unfold. Mr. Nash and I agreed upon concluding our discussion was that this storm would be surprising us right up to the last moment, and that is exactly what I see developing.

WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL TODAY? I see other districts starting to fall in line with Baltimore County, AND I see more precip developing on the radar farther west. As the GFS did originally predict back on Wednesday (scroll down to see for yourself) there would be another round of frozen precip in the mid morning hours. The question is will conditions change between now and 6:45 AM? I know it's a headache, but if the radar begins to breakout and more freezing rain/sleet starting to occur in the period from now to 6:45..this mauy cause the county to announce they will be reevaluating the situation. I suspect this is happening because the Arctic front is approaching a lot faster than even I anticipated. What is really quite possible (indeed we're seeing it now), is that this shortwave piece of energy is enhancing and activating the moisture ahead of it, causing frozen precip to break out. With temperatures currently progged to hold in the mid 30's today, there remains the potential that schools see the "handwriting on the wall" and realize there are too many factors that could conspire to create hazardous conditions both at the start and end of school today. We shall see in the next 75 minutes what happens.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

"The amount of snow that falls is inversely
porportional to the amount of hype before the storm."

An evening update after the Foot girls are in bed, depending on how many post-bedtime crises develop that were unforeseen by the computer models.
8:40 update: Several pre- and during- bedtime/storytime crises have erupted on schedule. Evening post delayed until at least 9:30 PM. Suffice to say for now I suspect Baltimore/Wash NWS will pull the Winter Weather Advisory before too long because there's little radar or ground evidence of noticeable moisture heading our way. There's still a lot of it in the Tennessee Valley but the upper jet winds may just be too strong of a southwest flow to allow much of it to reach the Mid-Atlantic. I still have hope and data to support my hypothesis, but will be looking around the house for a suitable brown paper bag just in case.

-Commander William Riker, from Star Trek The Next Generation commenting on how Captain Picard, having been recently captured by the Borg, was being forced to attack the Enterprise, but was doing this in a way so as to not harm the crew on the ship.

Okay fine, you thought that was a weird introduction for a weather update. Hey, is it any weirder than waking up this morning to discover "Winter Weather Advisories" plastered all over the place? I thought that as of last night this storm was falling apart? Yeah, whatever. Just look at the National Radar and tell me if that looks like a decaying storm. Oh, you mean the National Weather Service had to quickly reverse course and ramp up the forecast overnight? Well I wonder why that would be. You don't suppose it's because they realized the one computer model run from last night was actually an outlier...and that we knew all along the precip shield would be making it much farther north than the computer were projecting? So I say, "just as you should" because hard data and observations coming in from radar and the ground are proving this storm is producing more moisture over a larger area and sooner than expected. I figured once it got to the coast, influence of the departing high would juice it up and this is what we're seeing.


SCHOOL TODAY: An early dismissal is now less likely due to the atmosphere not being moist enough at the surface to support accumulating snow. The sun will also negate some of the precip in the upper levels. The exception will be southern and western Virginia, which could see icing develop later today.

SCHOOL FRIDAY: Looking at how all the forecasts have come around to the solutions posted earlier, I am still confident that conditions on the ground tomorrow morning throughout the Baltimore Metro area will force schools to close. My general call remains exactly what I told my students Wednesday: All snow west of I-95 and north of Washington, up to 2 inches. A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain from I-95 south and east across the bay to the Eastern shore. Were this to be just snow falling at 32 degrees, I'd be inclined to say 2-hour delay. If we wake up at 5AM and see a wintery mix still coming down, it is still likely districts will START with a delay and then reevaluate. But since all area schools have not yet seen an inclement weather cancellation this winter, and it's early in a new quarter... and fully one third of Baltimore County will be covered with varying amounts of ice... I think you get my drift.

POINTS NORTH: Mostly snow north from Cecil County to Philly and New York. That stage of the storm I will provide a more point specific forecast tonight, but several inches seems reasonable for you.

For those on the EMAIL update list, I will send a brief update at some point this morning or afternoon, followed by a reality check this evening on how the forecast is panning out.