Monday, March 2, 2009

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"This is the time to remember,
'cause it will not last forever..."
- Billy Joel, in This is The Time from his 1986 album The Bridge

The March 2009 Kahuna from Space

March 3, 2009: Satellite image of Mid-Atlantic snowfall. Courtesy of NASA's MODIS.
If your server blocks this, click here for a wide angle Eastern seaboard view.

POST-STORM DISCUSSION: MON MAR 3 - 2:45 PM. Thank you to all who made this such an enjoyable and memorable late winter event. If you're still curious as to "who got how much," take a look at the latest accumulation tally for Maryland as featured on Frank Roylance's Baltimore Sun Weather Blog, and reported by the Sterling, VA NWS. Though I am mindful of the suffering this storm caused some families in it's wake, a winter storm does reintroduce a different perspective for a short time, and it re-orients us to our proper place in the natural world.
I realize not everyone rejoices at the sight of heavy snow (the road crews, the emergency workers, to name a few). But I would venture to say all that struggle is worth it because somewhere, a little child is experiencing his or her first memorable snowfall. A picture like the one below reminds me that the most precious moments can happen in just going about your everyday life. The challenge is to let nature slow us down enough to be in the moment with them. Being able to share in those simple joys with a child is so important, because sometime, when you show them the picture, or recount the tale, they might just say: "I remember that day."

L'il Foots measuring the snow


I'm sure all your experiences were rewarding and unique in their own way. The calendar says "Madness" will soon be upon us, but I have a sneaky feeling, as do others on this site, that Spring may have to wait it's turn this year. The North Atlantic Oscillation, the European model and even the GFS are hinting that we are not done yet. For now, I insist you take a moment to drink in some heart-warmingly delightful photos of the storm taken by one of our commentors on her blog: SpruceHill. It will be time well spent.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

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THE MARCH 2009 BIG KAHUNA #1
SUMMARY OF FORECAST RESULTS: MON MAR 2 - 1:45 PM.
My original statement issued at 11:15 PM Sunday March 2 centered on these ideas:
(1) Doubt that a 12" snowfall will be widespread, and a rarity versus commonplace.
(2) By sunrise Monday 3/2: initial 6" along Maryland I-95 corridor, 5 or less in Carroll and Frederick Counties
(3) Banding adds another 1-2", a final at BWI airport and our Fallston reporting station of 8".
(4) Some Local amounts in Annapolis, Dundalk, Aberdeen could approach 10" but on grassy areas, with 5" on roads.
(5) Saturday 2/28 Preliminary Call was 6" on grassy areas and 3" on untreated secondaries/sidewalks. (should have stayed closer to that one!)
STORM GRADE ANALYSIS: % DEVIATION OF ACTUAL FROM PREDICTED: If all percentages are added to reach a total culmulative number and divided by the total number of forecast points (9), we reach this concluding data: As of 2:15 PM 3/2 there are 414.33 storm grade points out of a possible 900: 414/900 = 46% E. Taking a page from my English colleagues, it looks like I get an E for mechanics and an A for effort. Does that fairly quantify an overall C for the event? I'm not sure the powderhound statisticians among us would buy that interpretation! Data below:
MARYLAND
Towson: 2.5 / 6 = 41% E. Fallston: 4.5 / 8 = 56% E. Westminster 4.0 / 5.0 = 80% B. Aberdeen: No data yet. Dundalk: 5.25 / 8 = 65% D. BWI Airport: 5.1 / 8 = 64% D. Annapolis: 5.8 / 8 = 72% C.
PENNSYLVANIA
Southern York County: 6.0 / 9 = 66% D. Philly suburbs: Average of 5.5 / 9 = 61% D.
WEST VIRGINIA
Martinsburg: .01 / 3 = .33% E----- (total bust)
PREVIOUS SUMMARY: MON MAR 2 - 8:00 AM. Congratulations on what looks to be a near-clean sweep of not only schools throughout the metro areas of Philly, Baltimore and DC, but many county government offices and courts, colleges/universities and even some federal institutions, including Fort Meade, the Naval Academy and a 2-hour delay for the DC Federal government workforce.

The heavy snow that redeveloped across the Mid-Atlantic from mid morning to noon was due in part to the "banding" discussed earlier as the coastal low pulls away, enhanced by the passing of the closed 500 mb upper level low directly above us. This last round of snow should being tapering by 12 noon in Baltimore, but continue into the mid-afternoon across eastern PA. The enhanced fluff factor of this snow energized by the upper low may push totals to near the forecasted amounts, but some of those numbers will fall short. At least there's no bag in the forecast for me. Monitor the latest NWS snowfall reports for the metro regions of Baltimore/DC and Philadelphia (which includes northern DelMarVa).
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"Jump on the wind's back, and away we go!"
- Peter Pan, in early 20th century works by the Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie


PREVIOUS UPDATE: SUN MAR 1 - 11:15 PM / REVISED AT 6:15 AM 3/2.
1. COMMENTS: OPEN FOR BUSINESS AGAIN. They were disabled last night because WE ALL needed to sleep and not stay up all night obsessing over the storm (or reading comments!) There's an old saying that my friends and I used working on summer camp staff: "My body is going to kill me." To all the Junior Powderhounds out there, make your plans for snow shoveling $$, it's your last chance to cash in on winter's gift of money from the sky this season.
2. SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Despite your concerns about the dry slot and other perceived weakening of the storms, I am confident that enough snow will fall overnight to produce a CLEAN SWEEP of public and private schools throughout the Baltimore metro region. Eastern shore is also a lock, as will be northern Virginia. The areas I'm concerned will miss out on closings may be places like Washington County, the WV panhandle, and perhaps even Frederick County. Southern York and suburban Philly districts will pull the plug, as they may get more than Baltimore. As for questions about Tuesday, the number to watch is 8. If your area snowfall is generally at or above that, then your district is likely delayed Tues and possibly closed.
Thank you to all who made this such a thrilling storm to track and forecast. A shoutout goes to Mr. Winterman16 in Carroll County, MD for calling a major snow event 1st week of March, when everyone else was in spring-a-ling mode, attaboy dude! Now get some sleep and go make mongo money tomorrow shoveling! See you all at 5:30. Oh, and one more thing for my fellow powderhounds (uneasy or not): It's snowing. Are you happy now? ;-)
BIG KAHUNA SYNOPSIS: SUN MAR 1 - 6:45 PM THE I-95 SPECIAL IS HERE, BABY! The Mid-Atlantic's potentially biggest snowstorm since February 11, 2006 is set to impact our region over the next 36 hours. As outlined in the Winter Storm Warnings across the Northeast, a developing coastal storm along the southeast could deliver up to 10 inches of snow in parts of eastern Maryland bordering the Chesapeake Bay. Amounts over 10 inches may occur in the southern Appalachian mountains as well as from Delmarva north and east to New England. With the heaviest snow likely to occur Sunday night into Monday morning, school closings will be widespread from southwestern and central Virginia to DC, along the I-95 corridor including the Baltimore and Philadelphia metro regions. If 8 or more inches accumulate as measured at the Fallston, MD reporting station, then closings/delays will persist into Tuesday.

March Madness 3-1-09 NAM

STORM IMPACTS AND TIMING as of 7:00 AM 3/1/09 Based on interpretation of the 00Z NAM 3-hour precip projections, viewed in this loop. This timing outline is for the region bordered to the north by US-30 in southcentral PA, along I-81 to Front Royal, VA, east on Route 66 to Washington, and north on I-95 to Elkton, MD. For simplicity, here is a google map representation of this region.
OVERNIGHT: Light snow and sleet has overspread the region, accumulated around 1/2".
SUNDAY: Snow and sleet will taper off and possibly stop altogether by noon as the secondary system deepens while moving along the Carolina coast. During daytime hours, sun angle and warm surfaces will permit roads to remain wet and limit accumulation on grass to less than 1" of snow/sleet. Once influence of sun's rays wanes after 3 PM, surfaces will begin to chill.
SUNDAY NIGHT: The heaviest snow will occur overnight to sunrise, with rates near 2 inches an hour at times along the I-95 corridor.
MONDAY MORNING: From Cecil County south to Anne Arundel County as well as DelMarVa, the possibility of "banding" on backside of the departing low's precipitation shield may raise initial totals of 6" by Monday morning to 8" or higher. Areas likely to receive highest accumulation will be along the I-95 corridor. Counties north and west of the major cities, such as Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Loudon should see less than 5 inches total.
ACCOUNTABILITY STATEMENT: Details of this preliminary snow/timing forecast will be revised until approximately 5:00 PM Sunday, at which time the "storm grade accumulations" are issued and left unchanged until end of the storm. Now all we have to do is what Peter Pan said in the headline.