Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Cutting it kinda close..."

"Cutting it kinda close, don't ya think?"
-Elastigirl in The Incredibles, 2004

6:55 PM EST 11/22 - UPDATED - Scenario Map and Storm Track Probability posted below. Text of the scenarios will be added on Sunday. By Monday we will narrow to 2 tracks, with preliminary snowfall ideas by Monday night and a snowmap by Tuesday afternoon. 

3:42 PM EST 11/22 - Early this week, we posted a report hoping that the weather would not "be a turkey" for the upcoming holiday weekend. However, the pre-winter pattern indicates Mother Nature did receive our memo from October 25*, and appears determined to deliver the first widespread White Thanksgiving to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast since 1989. (*Hint: It's the post where we said this year, there's better chance of a White Thanksgiving than a White Christmas." 

TEAM STATEMENT: Our composite analyses of several well-known computer models suggests a potentially significant winter weather event may affect much of the East coast for the Wednesday-Thursday period. The timing of this storm could seriously disruptive the Wednesday afternoon and evening holiday travel, if present indications for that time period do not change appreciably.

(Left: Liquid forecasts from NOAA as of Saturday 11/22 show a large swath of precip to affect the East coast Wed night through Friday)

  • The system is still 4-5 days away from affecting any of us. But the untimely prospect of a serious storm arriving on the busiest travel days of the year warranted an early heads up
  • If traveling by air on Wednesday night anywhere along the East coast, it might be strategic to contact the airline now and be aware of your options if the situation deteriorates.
  • It is too early to project when and where snow will fall Wednesday. If planning to travel by vehicle, consider now alternate times or routes you could take if snow develops Wed night in your area or along your route.

TRACK: Our three-outcome graphic above depicts the likely paths, and by Sunday-Monday we can narrow this down to the one solution we expect to be most probable. We emphasize that much can change at 120 hours prior to a storm. Slight shifts can produce major differences, and with a lot of air movement and liquid in play, it warrants close attention.
The Takeaway: We understand how serious this situation would be for millions of people all across the country and around the world. In the words of our headline, this really is cutting it kinda close, in how it could completely disrupt the travel plans of everyone depending on air travel in or out of the Northeast. It's not appropriate to cancel your plans based on a 5-day forecast, but it is reasonable to contact your airline and learn your options if the situation sours quickly on Wednesday.

TEMPS: Despite an expected spike into the 50s and 60s by Tuesday, another push of Arctic air will return to the region. Some computer scenarios show a cold rain on Wednesday changing to snow before nightfall. Were the coastal low to develop as shown on Tue-Wed, it would tap a large reservoir of nearby cold air due to the recent heavy snowcover in the Great Lakes to New York state. The European model, notable for accuracy in long range calls from recent winters, shows sub 34 F temps from Virginia north by 7 PM Wednesday.
The Takeaway: Were these temps to occur during a "nor-easter" setup, the result would be wind-whipped heavy snow to hit major East coast interstates of the Northeast corridor at the absolute worst possible time: Wednesday night.

LIQUID: The NOAA Weather Prediction Center's latest liquid projections, (shown above) prepared by actual meteorologists using input from several model sources to convey what we call a "broad brush" look at what's possible. A general 0.50" to 0.75" of liquid is, at this point, the most probable outcome for the I-95 corridor. 
The Takeaway: A slight shift to the west by Wednesday would bring much heavier precipitation, and possibly, heavy snow with low visibility, to the expected high traffic volume areas of the map. 

NEXT UPDATE: Our team will keep close watch on this developing story, and post updates in the early morning and early evening, with a mid-day reassessment each day. 

Forecasters Foot, Connor Meehan, Mike Natoli, Joey Krastel (MD Team); Justin Barker and Andy Smith (VA Team)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hey weather: Don't be a turkey!

UPDATED 11/22/2014 - If long range projections are on target, it appears Mother Nature got our memo from 9/25 when we anticipated that a "White Thanksgiving was more likely this year than a White Christmas." The European and US Global Forecast System model printouts, though just at the 120-hour mark, are leaning toward a more snowy result for the mid-Atlantic Wednesday night into Thanksgiving Day. With this event potentially impacting the busiest travel period of the year, we are preparing an overview of the possible hazards, timing and intensity for posting here on Sunday.

NEXT MON 11/25 AS OF WED 11/19.
11/19/2014 - We know it's coming on quickly, there's nothing anyone can do about it, and there are some who wish it would never happen.

It's not the raucous Midwest-Great Lakes storm to roar through the heartland next week... 

Rather, it is the sometimes dreaded Thanksgiving week travel and the shopping frenzy to follow -- that plunges us all headlong into a spin cycle of insanity. Toss in a "little weather" to the airline adventure and whoop! There it is: Harried parents and woesome children at long ticket counter lines... and so on.

But thanks to taxpayer-funded technology, we have access to this really cool technology from the US Department of Commerce that actually SHOWS, like, a glimpse of what things could be like next week as the holiday travel season launches forth. This way, it's not a mystery to anyone:
  • MONDAY: A vigorous storm system will develop in the southern plains and head for the Great Lakes. On east side of the storm, temperatures Mon-Tue in the Eastern U.S. will begin rebounding to seasonal levels. On the west side of the storm, as noted by the cold front above, conditions will be -- you guessed it -- STORMY! Strong winds, heavy rain and then potentially heavy snow.
  • TUESDAY: We already hear Airport Operators saying, "Can we just get that thing outta here before Wednesday?" Well try, my friends, we'll try. However, it is reasonable to expect flight delays may begin Tuesday and spread into Wednesday because of the front sweeping across the Eastern states.  Places that face potential travel disruptions may include the I-95 corridor from Richmond to New York as a series of Lows could develop and move north along the cold front. Indications point to this being more of a "wet" day than a "white" one, as temperatures should stay above freezing. We'll monitor closely of course as the day approaches. 
  • WEDNESDAY: Arrival of the dreaded big travel day. Early interpretation from NOAA's Day 7 map, while still quite distant in weather time concerns, suggests the hope of travelers may pan out: High pressure looks to reestablish behind the front in the Eastern US, stabilizing the pattern from storminess for Wed into Thanksgiving Day. 
Until then, think ahead to how you would alter your plans for travel on Wed 11/26 IF you had to, unless the weather decides to cut us a break this year and not be a turkey after all.

Forecaster Foot & the Long Range Team

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Faces Behind The Forecasts

TOP (L TO R) EMILY DAY recent Towson graduate; JOEY KRASTEL Screenprinter, Stormchaser, recent CCBC graduate;
DIANDRE WILLIAMS Director of Strategic Media, designer of our Nationwide Facebook logos;
BOTTOM (L TO R) MIKE NATOLI Central MD Lead Forecaster, UM College Park Junior; MEAGAN BUSTER IT Networking, Towson graduate; 
TYLER RICHMAN Central MD Lead Forecaster & Volleyball team captain, C. Milton Wright High School senior
Foot's Forecast is not the work of one person, a single idea, or one team. It was founded in a science classroom of a working class community. Over the past 10 years, the contributions of many have made it much more.

Today, it is a collaborative investment of passion by talented young adults in unlikely places, united by their drive to communicate science with the public. They are intelligent, dynamic and funny. They are healthy, handsome, and pretty. (Weather people always are, it must be an outdoor thing.)

But above it all ...

.. they are inspirational evidence that, despite what the media may say about the youth of America, there are still many hard-working, reliable contributors to our society who make a difference in countless lives every day.

The "Alex From Target" (NYT article) phenomenon of the past month is an interesting look at how and why we use social media today. We are excited that a dedicated, down-to-earth student has earned some credit on behalf of many unsung youth heroes who go about their work and school in a humble way.

Although winter is descending early across America, the lives of our forecasters are brimming hot with potential, highly-marketable skills, and an attitude of service that I think any employer should break down our door to get these rockstars on THEIR team.

And if it was known truly knew how talented these servants really are, employers would be contacting me for referrals. So over time we are going to paint the true story about each of our stars, and if you're interested in seeing a resume from any of them, send me a note: