Friday, August 30, 2013

Examining Earth Hazards 
A public interest assessment of significant natural and non-natural hazards 
of concern to  scientific and emergency management communities

(September 1, 2013 - Baltimore, MD)  When out-going Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke to the National Press Club in late August 2013, (C-Span Video) she shined an important light of situational awareness onto several high-risk hazards which for some, usually fall into a "low probability" column. That is, until major weather events of the past several years changed that perspective for many. Even in 2013, nations around the world continue to experience catastrophes ranging from massive floods and devastating wildfires to a historic meteor explosion in Russia and numerous other parts of the globe.

With September being National Preparedness Month in the United States, our team is bringing attention to the Secretary's presentation as evidence our government officials are paying much closer attention to the increasing threat of "Earth hazards."  Concurrently,   use of "probability" in decision-making appears to be gaining important ground across the Homeland Security enterprise. In weather forecasting and climate science, as in many scientific and governmental venues, probability plays an influential role in how intelligence is presented, and how policymakers or leaders act on the information. 

In Secretary Napolitano's remarks, she notes the following about national efforts to secure the homeland against future hazards:
"In a world of evolving threats, the key to our success is the ability to be flexible and agile, and adapt to changing circumstances on the ground – whether that is across the globe, or here at home. It means taking every necessary step to prepare for a range of potential outcomes, and understanding that if things don’t go according to plan, or the unexpected occurs, we are ready and able to shift resources and adjust operations, learn from our mistakes, and put ourselves in a position to succeed in the future."
Later in her remarks, the Secretary maps out several critical points in an "Open Letter To My Successor." Among these include references to two types of hazards, which may at first seem to be unrelated, unless the events have a single point of origin.
A major cyber-attack  "Our country will, for example, at some point, face a major cyber event that will have a serious effect on our lives, our economy, and the everyday functioning of our society."  [see 2012 DHS statement: Cyber Threats]
Severe weather events "You also will have to prepare for the increasing likelihood of more weather-related events of a more severe nature as a result of climate change, and continue to build the capacity to respond to potential disasters in far flung regions of the country that could occur at the same time."
How is this related to weather forecasting? 

Since our founding in 2004 as a "common good enterprise," the Foot's Forecast team has always strongly advocated a supportive relationship with local, state and federal emergency management. Our role is to augment and repurpose existing weather intelligence data into a format that is appropriately sourced, verifiable, peer-reviewed and guided by the scientific method.

Our approach has repeatedly earned invitations to work side-by-side with local and state government officials to assist during their darkest hours, such as Hurricane Sandy, as well as to collaborate and celebrate in their ground-breaking successes, such as the Baltimore Grand Prix.
When our information is presented to or requested by officials and policy-makers, it is done so in a manner to support public safety, strengthen understanding of scientific data, and scaffold around the tireless, heroic work of those who put their lives on the line to secure our nation and its institutions. We are encouraged to see how agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security have a renewed appreciation to understand and plan for Earth Hazards, as evidenced by the Secretary's remarks. 
What hazards are being examined?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

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Ready For A New Comet?
Our interdisciplinary effort to track the latest imagery and analyses of Comet ISON, 
which has potential to be the most significant celestial event in a century. 

Alternative hypotheses on ISON at the Youtube channel BPEarthWatch

9:30 AM EDT 8/24/2013 (Forecaster Foot) ""The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." This quote attributed to Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England in the mid-20th century, is applicable today as we prepare for a major celestial show this fall. From August 2013 to January 2014, the Comet ISON (technical name C/2012 S1) will complete what some astronomers believe is its first trip into the inner solar system. ISON is one of many intriguing events in astronomy coming up including a possible impact between Comet Siding-Spring and Mars in 2014. (NASA article)

For now, we focus on the next-up thrill of ISON's gravitational adventure with a potentially spectacular fly by of Mars in October, a sling-shot around the Sun in late November daily revelry by the Winter holidays for skywatcher parties and researchers alike.

Where is the comet now? If you just want to cut to the chase, we offer these links to resources we will review and present for credible authenticity to be featured on this site: 
  • Where is Comet ISON?  A month-by-month play on the location of ISON starting in August, written by the director of Armagh Planetarium in England
  • ISON to fly by Mars October 1  A brief Youtube from Science@NASA on the comet's expected near-brush with the Red Planet.
"Wait...there's a comet coming?"  No worries, this is a standard reaction we have received from just about everyone we've asked, which is encouraging evidence that many of our readers are going about their daily lives in normal fashion, and not spending too much time on a distant celestial object! That's what our Comet ISON tracking team will do for you. For a quick glance at what main stream media has said, here's a clip from NBC Nightly News in October 2012.

Source: Mirror video of NBC News report from 10/4/2012

Interested in joining our ISON journey? Over the next 5 months, we hope you will accompany us on this interplanetary journey as we will provide in this section a weekly mosaic of the best tracking and observing resources for skywatchers, new and seasoned alike! We also welcome any readers or researchers, professional or amateur, who would like to collaborate with us in this effort. We welcome analyses, links to resources you recommend, or noteworthy studies that can help us all understand the origins, path and future of this newly discovered participant in our Solar System.

NASA simulated image of ISON for December 11, 2013 
as expected for observers along the U.S. East Coast

The relationship to climate and weather? 
The Foot's Forecast team employs an interdisciplinary "Earth Systems" perspective when conveying the latest research and observations on how global and solar system forces interact to drive our climate and weather. The upcoming comet is just one example of how we can promote celestial events to raise the public's scientific awareness about the Earth-Sun system.  

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) was first discovered in September 2012 by two Russian astronomers conducting a night sky survey titled the International Scientific Optical Network (hence the name, ISON). From late August to late October, the Comet's first big introduction to Earth observers will approach to within 6 million miles of Mars, followed by ISON's perihelion to the Sun in late November.  This period of closest approach is also expected to coincide with an anticipated "flip" of the Sun's electromagnetic fieldAs part of our Long Range Team's customary data preparation for the winter forecast, we will be examining these factors as we look ahead to the seasonal transition and what weather challenges may come.

ISON Resources For Educators 
Just as important as the long range scientific connections, is the potential educational value of this global experience. We encourage all teachers at all levels of instruction to consider ways they can leverage this opportunity to raise student awareness about interactive natural forces, with ISON blazing the trail of knowledge forward for all of us.

For starters, we offer these excellent and informative Youtube videos from a variety of reasoned, appropriate or official sources:

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Orbital simulators of ISONs journey, from the JPL Near Earth Object Program.
  • NASA Eyes on the Solar System Downloadable desktop visualization lab to explore near space, the Solar System, Comets and other celestial features.
  • BPEarthWatch Informative and investigative astronomy enthusiast on Youtube. Presents an overview of 3D model simulators of the Comet and inner solar system, analysis of latest ISON photography from the Hubble Space Telescope. Explores a variety of thought-provoking observations on the Comet's recent activity.
  • Comet Imagery Viewer Interactive portal of Hubble images from ISON, where you can adjust settings to view the Comet from different perspectives.
  • Solar System Scope Free online simulator, provides visually striking and high-detail user controlled interactivity of all planets in the Solar System, with thematic music. Useful for showing relationships between planets, orbits and ISON's path.
What are next steps for interested skywatchers?
If you have interest in participating with us on this fascinating journey of interdisciplinary science, with ISON as our literal and figurative backdrop, contact us:  and we will put you in touch with our Space Weather Team.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

1 comment:
Commemorating Forecaster Greg "Winterman" Jackson
At the 2013 Maryland State BBQ Bash in Bel Air
4:15 PM 8/16 (Senior Advisor & Founder Mr. Foot) As we approach the start of school for grade level and college students alike, it is with mixed emotions that our Mid-Atlantic Team wishes to update our readers on a change in leadership. 

Greg Jackson, our Mid-Atlantic Director, and long-time member of the Foot's Forecast Team, has been offered a promotion from his summer internship to into what will become a full time position with an Environmental consulting firm. Thus, he is resigning from his role with us to prepare for this exciting and major career-building opportunity. Our Leadership Team was first notified of Greg's decision on Friday, August 2 and we have prepared this special statement to accompany his resignation letter below.

A rainy outdoor video forecast in March 2011

Our mixed emotions over Greg's departure stem from the fact he is one of the original founding members of our team, joining just days before the historic December 2009 Blizzard. Those of you who have been long time readers, or only recently joined us may also know him as "Forecaster Winterman." His dedication to building collaborating across our entire team has strengthened the foundation that started with the Maryland Team, and has now grown to a membership nearing 100 across over 30 states. 

A meeting with Founder Mr. Foot and Carroll County Public School Officials

Greg's life example should be a motivator for all students whom have had an interest in joining our team. He went from a mild-mannered high school junior in 2009 to providing consult to Maryland Emergency Management, Ocean City, Baltimore County,the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, and countless other organizations which have followed our website and Facebook updates over the years. Not too bad a resume for someone under 21. Greg had the fire to learn science and serve the public. We think there are many more like him just waiting for an opportunity to shine. Greg would say, "Don't wait-- go get it now, while you have the chance."  

Below, we have included the text of his resignation letter as well, but we keep reminding him that it is a "promotion" not a "reduction" ! Being offered an advancement from an internship at an environmental firm within his major is a 100% fulfillment of the mission of the Foot's Forecast Team.

That mission is to create career opportunities for young professionals who have a passion for communicating science to the public. Greg is a living testimony to that mission, and our entire team salutes him on this next step forward in his journey to securing a future among professional scientists. 

Rich Foot, Founder and Advisor
Keith Krichinsky, Executive Director 
Brad Lear, Chief Financial Officer/Senior Advisor

Thursday, August 15, 2013
Dear Friends and Readers:
This is a message I never wanted to write, but right now is unfortunately necessary.  As of Friday, August 16, 2013 I will have resigned from all positions within Foot’s Forecast. 
Over the course of this summer I have had an environmental internship, and this past week was offered a continuation to work part time at school over the fall semester.  With this continuation my semester will be extremely busy with classwork, starting research, and working as a student ambassador.  In turn, I must make this sacrifice to accept this continuation in the career field I am pursuing.
Over the past 4 years I have been with Foot’s Forecast I have been given the opportunity to grow in my roles as leader, forecaster, and also as a person. Every day was a new day, and with those new days presented new challenges.  These challenges ranged from a tough morning forecast for afternoon storms, or managing forecaster staffing needs for a busy weather weekend.  
I can’t say every challenge was easy, but almost every challenge was made easier because of all of you, our fans.  You all were the motivation for the mornings I woke up 30-45 minutes earlier in high school to assemble by 6:30 AM a thorough morning forecast for anyone heading out the door.  You all were the reason our team came together for so many weather events to keep you informed so you could make the safest decision possible.  
There are a few events on our team that I will never forget. One is January 28, 2011 in Central MD where over 6 inches of snow fell in less than 3 hours, This left the major highways at complete gridlock with many thousands of commuters immobilized. The Foot’s Forecast Maryland Team collaborated from early in the morning to late that night, including an important message to our fans to be “off the roads no later than 4pm." By 5pm many roads were impassable, and much of the Baltimore metro region shut down. After the event we heard from so many of you who heeded our warnings.
Another memorable event Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Our team worked for 48 hours+ with emergency managers around the region, and stayed up with all of you while the storm was in progress. I personally stayed up overnight to work with our staff and to assure all our readers being affected were kept informed with the most updated details.  
It's clear to me that those we have to thank the most are our readers and fans. As a company devoted to the common good, we would not be where we are today. 
Your support has allowed me to grow as a leader in this organization over the past 4 years. Through the opportunities I have been given, from starting in December 2009 as Forecaster Winterman in through Central Maryland Lead Forecaster, to Pennsylvania Team Leader, and more recently, Mid-Atlantic Director position, I thank all of you for the motivation to take risks when needed, and be ready to take the next step. 
Today, I take that next step towards my career, though I shall never forget the years with Foot’s Forecast. It will be exciting to watch how the company will continue to expand and grow in the years ahead, and I know all of you are in good hands with an excellent team, while will cherish the many great moments that led us all here, together.
Best wishes,
Greg Jackson
With Fusion Photographer Emily Rund, Strategic Media Director Diandre Williams
 and Company Spokesperson Aaron Salter at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"If you knew then, what you know now..."

NOAA Storm Prediction Center 
Day 2 Severe Weather Outlook

6:35 PM EDT 6/12 (Mid-Atlantic Severe Weather Team) Concern is rising among our team and in the meteorological community for a significant severe weather event on Thursday across central and eastern portions of the Mid-Atlantic. For today, an isolated threat is present for brief periods of severe weather from late this afternoon into the overnight hours along the I-81 corridor in MD, WV and VA. 

SYNOPSIS: The NOAA Storm Prediction Center currently projects a considerably high 45% probability of severe weather for a large, heavily populated part of the Mid-Atlantic. 

  • This scenario would contain strong damaging winds, hail and possibly tornadoes in some areas, as indicated on this map and linked below. 
  • Given that the event is roughly 24 hours out, it is too early to tell what precise areas will receive potentially damaging weather, however, we can say that when NOAA postes a 45% probability this early, it is a very serious concern for those in public safety, infrastructure, and the public in general.

Widely Feared But Not Understood

June 29th, 2012 Derecho Radar - From NWS
11:00 PM 6/11/13 
June 29th, 2012 was a day that produced weather that will not soon be forgotten by those in the Mid-Atlantic region. For those unfamiliar, that was the day of last year’s infamous “derecho”. Now, there are discussions of another possible derecho heading for the Mid-Atlantic and naturally, people are fearing a similar situation to June 29th, 2012, where people were without power for days or weeks. However, we should really try to understand what a derecho is before we start discussing any future possibilities.

DEFINITION – The first thing to understand is that a Derecho is not a special type of storm. It is fundamentally no different than a regular squall line or bow echo. However, it’s strength and duration gives it a separate classification. In order to be considered a derecho, a storm or line of storms must produce wind damage from winds in excess of 58 mph along most of length for more than 240 miles along its path.

Severe Weather reports from June 2012 Derecho - From SPC
Derecho’s are often classified as such after the fact once the damage is surveyed and analyses are done. The June 29th, 2012 event was an exceptionally strong event produced by relatively rare conditions that will be discussed below. Wind damage was sustained from the storm all the way from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean.

CAUSES – A derecho producing storm usually starts out as a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS). An MCS is simply an organized complex of thunderstorms on a larger scale than just the individual thunderstorm cells. Sometimes these can form squall lines or bow echos which typically are the most likely candidates for derecho storms. The storm is first indicated as an MCS, but as it strengthens, may be considered a derecho.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

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What If...?

"The more distant we look into the past, the farther we can see into the future." -Winston Churchill

Lazarus comets,0,4817968.story
Pink Planet

Magnetic Field

ISON perihelion

Solar Killshot

Air Force radar system shutdown

Planet X

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Mosaic of Major Weather

6:55 AM EDT 4/10 (Severe Weather Team)  

Millions across the southern plains to the Ohio Valley and Northeast have been experiencing a wide range of effects from what appears to be the kickoff storm of the Spring severe weather season. 

The latest NOAA Storm Prediction Center Outlook, as depicted left, points to a 30% Risk of Damaging Winds extending from the Southern Mississippi Valley to central Indiana and Illinois. 

A LOCAL VIEW. Ahead of this severe weather potential, warm air is surging across the Eastern U.S., bringing an early summer feel to the days and nights in many of our forecast zones across the region. Behind the sprawling assemblage of fronts, surprisingly strong winter-like weather has buried parts of the Rockies, central and northern Plains with up to 12"+ of snow. For an authentic look at local reports in these areas, we invite you to visit forecast pages from our team at the following locations:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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Advantages For Our Sponsors
Supporters of local Foot's Forecast teams enjoy competitive advantages 
for their company or special event, including two of our newest sponsors:

Thanking our recent sponsors for their support, including:
Bel Air Downtown Alliance |  Snapshot Getaways Travel Agency 
Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts  |  Camp Bravo - Towson, MD

1. Reach 80,000+ readers on Facebook and another 400,000+ frequent visitors to our main website

2. Get promoted in fair or foul weather, any time of the year,  with specialized graphics and main site features

3. Gain an edge over competitors by having our team on your side when weather is on the move.

Besides, if you've earned the trust of high school and 
college forecasters, chances are you're pretty epic.

So, here's how sponsors can benefit:

  • LEVERAGE OUR SITES FOR YOUR PRODUCTS & SERVICESAn average post in our Facebook pages will be seen by 15,000-25,000 readers. Our pages are frequented multiple times per day, with a weekly average reach of 80,000 across the Mid-Atlantic States. They'll see specialized graphics linking back to your company.

  • TARGET KEY AUDIENCES DURING MAJOR EVENTS. Using our "Fusion Forecasting" approach, we can prominently feature your company in the forecast at times of high reader engagement. We can promote and recommend your services to key audiences. They'll know it's recommended from a trusted source.

  • GAIN COMPETITIVE VISIBILITY IN HIGHLY-SOUGHT GROUPSDid you know that over 70% of our readers are female, with over 10,000 of those in the 35-44 age group? Who are they? MOMS! Busy families who need to make a lot of decisions fast and efficiently. Gaining their trust, and working with us, sets you apart.

Who & Where Are The Readers?
A snapshot of our Facebook demographics

 Interested? Contact us right away for pricing and options or 443.929.0721

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Did Fortune Favor The Bold? 
(You Decide! ;-)

8:20 AM EDT 3/25 (Winter Stomcast Team) Why bank on winter, when the best snow waits until Spring! Thanks to Forecaster Connor of our Maryland Team for the 4-panel of conditions from around the Mid-Atlantic.

WHAT HAPPENED? Despite our expectation that warm surfaces would hold back snow from accumulating, a stronger influence of dynamical cooling (where the storm manufactures its own cold air supply) produced heavy snow rates. The timing of this occured late at night when enough residual heat had escaped the surface. The result was that once snow began falling, the initial "pull down" of temperatures dynamically was helped further by evaporative cooling. As the snow falls, some evaporates and cools the surrounding air, thereby allowing for more snow to be produced over time, and reach the ground.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? As the sun rises, solar radiation will heat roads, making it more difficult for treated and paved surfaces to have accumulation. The September equivalent sun angle will help this, but the bigger issue will be visibility. Expect heavy wet snow to make for difficult driving conditions as temperatures will hover near or slightly above freezing for the next few hours.

The coastal low pressure center is starting to strengthen, then it will pull out Monday afternoon. Snowfall will continue across the region with some rain mixing in possible later, especially closer to the Bay. 

(Forecasters Mike N, Connor M., Meteorologist Alex D., Advisor Foot)

Audaces Fortuna Iuvat
(May Fortune Favor the Bold, Part 2)

5:15 PM 3/24 – TEAM STATEMENT #1 - As we close out this Palm Sunday and the first weekend of spring, another winter storm is approaching. 

The latest from the local National Weather Service offices in the region can be found at ( 

There are a number of factors that could easily alter the outcome of this storm in the final hours. The result could be either a surprise early morning snowfall along the major metro areas-- or yet another under-performing event that leaves public safety officials, schools and parents alike wondering what happened to the forecast. Below we have outlined what we believe is the MOST PROBABLE OUTCOME, although a variety of factors outlined in each section could cause changes. 

A. I-95 CORRIDOR & CENTRAL MD: We think that easterly winds and warm temperatures will prevent a major snowstorm. This will force warm air onto the shore, and keep temperatures warm, and possibly forcing some regions from snow to rain during the day on Monday. 

Additionally, temperatures hovering at or just above freezing could result in a situation like March 6, where lots of snow falls, and barely anything sticks. 
For the area outlined in pink on the map, snow will mix with rain at times, and snow may have trouble sticking given the sun angle equivalent of mid-September. 
However, accumulations in this area may reach a slushy inch or two mainly on grassy/colder surfaces or side streets. 
Accumulations will be elevation dependent in that higher elevations will stand a much better chance of seeing snow, and sticking snow at that.
The one factor that could change this is when the wind shifts to be more northerly and northeasterly. If that occurs, cooler air from the Northeast could be pulling southward east of the Blue Ridge mountains. If this occurs early Monday morning, snow could begin to stick in areas along I-95.

If temperatures drop quickly or dip below freezing, especially before sunrise, it may be easier to get sticking snow in these areas. We believe it is MOST LIKELY that snow has trouble sticking. 

B. CENTRAL/WESTERN PA, WV, & WESTERN MD: If the storm accelerates and arrives sooner than we currently think, heavy precipitation may occur before sunrise, and before the high March sun angle has a chance to take effect.  Please visit the Three Rivers or Central Pennsylvania zones for local updates from those forecasters. This storm is very elevation dependent as well so the higher elevations could see more significant accumulations. 

C. MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL AREAS: This storm involves a transfer of energy from a primary low pressure system in the Ohio Valley to a coastal low offshore. 

If the secondary coastal low takes over sooner, and gets stronger than expected, then heavy precipitation rates could initiate dynamic cooling. The bigger impact on these areas, as noted earlier by our Surf & Sail Team, will be strong winds, 1-2 foot storm surge and heavy waves.
This could produce heavier "snow falling" allow more of it to stick, especially in the early morning hours of Monday. 
One thing to watch closely is the backside of the storm as it pulls out to sea. There is the potential for some bands to develop, which could drop some noteworthy accumulations on coastal areas like the Foot's Forecast | Northern Bayshore and Foot's Forecast | Central New Jersey, but it will again be difficult to stick after warm grounds with the sun angle. 
An Early April Fool's Storm? 

10:40 AM EDT 3/24/13  
(Mid-Atlantic Winter Stormcast Team) For those concerned about the possibility of another potential snow bust in the Mid-Atlantic, we share that challenge with you. 

There are a number of factors that could easily alter the outcome of this storm in the final hours. The result could be either a surprise early morning snowfall along the major metro areas-- or yet another under-performing event that leaves public safety officials, schools and parents alike wondering what happened to the forecast. (Image left: National Weather Service Eastern Regional HQ)

Here's what we think is the MOST PROBABLE situations for the Mid-Atlantic, with links to our local zones in those areas:

ANOTHER Nor'Easter??

By Meteorologist & Oceanographer Alex Davies & Advisor Jason Isaacs

9:40 AM EDT 3/24/13 
As many of us are still recovering from the Nor'Easter a couple weeks ago, but yet another storm will impact the coastal communities Sunday through Tuesday. This storm has already spawned significant severe weather in our Southeast zones, including North Georgia & Metro Atlanta. It is  expected to produce a winter blast of snow elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, such as our Three Rivers Zone surrounding metro Pittsburgh into central Pennsylvania. 

It seems like winter just will NOT let go! Who is #readyforsummer!? 

For our readers along Mid-Atlantic coastal areas, we offer this breakdown of the storm below. Additional updates are pending for the Severe Weather and Winter Weather portions of this event, from those respective teams.

TRACK & TIMING The "inland" storm will begin to arrive Sunday morning, after dumping a pile of snow on the upper Midwest over the last couple of days. As it approaches, the energy will transition to a coastal storm during the pre-dawn hours on Monday, and move-up the coast. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

So, What's The Deal? 
(with this storm...)

9:25 PM EDT 3/23/13 (Winter Stormcast Team) If you're like Forecaster Christy-- and wondering what to expect for the upcoming "winter-like" storm moving across the country, here are some questions our team is investigating:
  • Will this storm be a "repeat bust" of the March 5th storm?
  • Even though it may be cold right now, will it be cold enough by Sunday night in which did see snow last time?
  • If the metro areas from Philadelphia to Washington remain in a northeasterly flow, will temperatures cool sufficiently before moisture is pulled away from the coast as the storm intensifies?
  • Is it possible for areas expecting rain Sunday afternoon and evening, with temperatures in the 40's, to receive accumulating snow overnight with lows in the lower 30's?
  • Could rapid intensification near the coast produce additional high impacts in areas that currently are not expecting significant effects?
Pennsylvania Team: 
Forecasters Andrew Barney, Zach Fasnacht, Christy Reuille, Amber Liggett
Maryland Team: 
Forecasters Mike Natoli, Advisor Rich Foot

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Winter That Wasn't...Won't Leave

9:45 PM EDT 3/22 (Forecaster Mike & Winter Stormcast Team) The calendar may have flipped to spring, but the weather is stuck in winter. With highly unusual cold for this time of year, across  much of the U.S., all it takes is a storm to form and rare spring snows may start. As a result of this chill and wintry pattern, there may be another winter storm in the works at the end of spring’s first weekend to impact the Mid-Atlantic Sunday night into Monday. The good news? We currently do not expect a major, high impact snowstorm is at this point, but some inland areas are likely to receive accumulating snow. 
(Photo credit: Fusion Photographer Emily R., Carroll County MD)

WHY SO COLD? - This excessive cold pattern of late has been caused in part by a near record low value of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). When the AO goes so negative like it is currently (shown by the sharply decreases on the graphic to the right)  it creates an upper level “block” in the atmosphere at high latitudes, and this displaces the cold air. In response, the cold air has nowhere to go, so it floods southward into the United States. 

We have limited the possibilities down to two scenarios that we believe are most likely. At this point, we think that Scenario A is the more likely of the two, but we cannot eliminate Scenario B just yet. 


Source: NOAA Weather Prediction Center
  • SCENARIO A Most Probable: "The Warmer Storm" In this scenario, the low pressure center would take a more northerly track, and flood warm air in off the ocean. Since the storm has access to only marginal cold air, it would be forced to create its own, but due to low precipitation rates, more rain would dominate. 
POSSIBLE RESULTS?  Coastal areas of the Mid-Atlantic would be all rain. For those along the I-95 Corridor, this scenario would bring rain, with snow mixed in at times, but little accumulation. In this case most of the snow would be confined well NW of I-95, and at higher elevations. 

  • SCENARIO BLess Probable: "The Colder StormIn this scenario, we would have the storm staying a little further south. Instead of pulling warm air off the ocean, it may have access so some cold air being fed from the north, but the set up is marginal for that as well. 
POSSIBLE RESULTS? With more cold air available for the storm to work with, we would be looking at snow reaching the I-95 corridor and the major cities. Accumulations would NOT be extreme, but given the time of year, even light accumulations are noteworthy. For the coast, this scenario would bring rain with snow mixing in at times. 

Check back later tonight for an update from the weather graphics team that will visually depict these scenarios, and thanks for your interest in our information. (Forecasters Mike N., Connor M., Jason M., Zach F., Meteorologist Alex D., Advisor R. Foot)