Sunday, January 28, 2018

Long summer = long winter

"A long summer always meant a long winter to come."
from A Song of Fire And Ice, Game of Thrones: Volume 1
- by George R.R. Martin

Image credit: DeviantArt - the Battle of Winterfell in Game of Thrones
While some enjoyed this January , the powers of Deep Winter are quietly but assuredly marshaling their forces in preparation for a second invasion. The ice on our rivers and lakes has broken and melted away, and snow cover has shrunk from its 50-state conquest earlier in the month.  Here in the dead middle of winter, has the season of powder hoisted the white flag? 

As the Chinese writer and strategist Sun Tzu once said, “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”  This apparent weakness in the pattern may be a clever ruse to lull you into doubting if there's any more out there. We believe winter's biggest battle is still yet to come.

Above: A long range generalized projection by the European model of mean (average) snowfall potential through February 25, due to an expected second Arctic blast arriving in early February. 

This map is also only one of four events depicted as occurring in the 30 day period from January 30 to March 2. What it means? Cold and wind took led the charge in the season's first half. Now ice and snow look to finish strong in the second half. The opening volley launches this Tuesday to Friday.
The when, where and how to be addressed in our next post later today.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The last time this happened

The last time this happened...
(in 2007) it did not end well.

5:30 AM Fri 12/15 - Winter Weather Advisories are posted for portions of the DC-Baltimore-Philadelphia metro regions starting at 1 PM. 

With road, air and upper level temperatures all in cold tandem, it is highly probable that any precipitation this afternoon in these regions will:
  • Fall as fine-grained snowflakes and freeze on contact with the surface;
  • Produce slippery road conditions within 30-60 mins of snow onset;
  • Cause widespread hazards during the afternoon and evening commute;

Today may be the first time since February 2007 the Baltimore region faces a decision on whether to wait for "ground truth" or pre-empt the weather with pre-announcements on the afternoon schedule. We were there for that event, and it did not go well for anyone reading this page. The comments from 10 years ago tell the story.

GFS model precip projection for 7 PM tonight.

Solutions over problems
or as Luke Skywalker has said,
"this (winter) is not going to go the way you think!"

image credit:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why Can Autumn Tell Us About Winter?

Recent weather patterns across North America may signal
how winter begins in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. 

7:50 AM 10/29 - Part One of our story is to unpack how large scale influencing events in the past month may be setting in motion a pattern for first half of winter. 

Looking for something more intriguing and original? You'll have to read on to discover Part Two. We are introducing findings by high school student investigators who have uncovered surprising connections about the secrets winter has in store for us. 

PART ONE: To set the story, a look back at October:  

1) The long periods of above normal warmth in the west, evidenced by the widespread devastating wildfires that were preceded by 100 F+ temps in San Francisco;

2) The hard freeze in the central plains and deep south, with freeze warnings as far as central Alabama his weekend;

3) Prolonged warm and dry conditions in the East, interrupted by occasional cool spells.

Temperature-wise, the past month has played out a lot like what the next month is projected to do, according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center's 3-4 week experimental outlook. The scenario we see unfolding as we turn the page to November:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Return To Normalcy? Not For A While.
  • RAIN RELIEF IS NATE'S FATE: Remnant moisture and wind from T.S. Nate overspreading the eastern third of the U.S. will reinforce the summer-like pattern seen in these areas since late September. The upside will be a welcome relief of rain to many dry areas baked in the recent warmth. See below for 7-day precipitation projections.
  • TEMPS STAY WARM: Long range temperature indicators show above normal temperatures for the mid-south, mid-Atlantic and northeast should continue through much of October.
  • BERMUDA HIGH HOLDING: As shown in the steering currents image from University of Wisconsin, the clockwise spin of air in the west Atlantic is maintaining a moist, tropical hold on the eastern U.S. while allowing Nate to fuel the fire even more with an infusion of fresh Gulf moisture into the pattern.

7-day rainfall projections from NOAA

What it all means?
Expect a warm, wet pattern through mid-October, returning to dry and windy toward end of the month. Unless of course the Gulf sends along another hurricane. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

1 comment:
"How do you solve a problem like Maria?"
- from Maria in the Sound of Music

  • WESTWARD SHIFT: Computer model trends past 24 hours are depicting a significant westward shift in Maria's track toward North Carolina's Outer Banks. 
  • CONE OF UNCERTAINTY: The National Hurricane Center's official track has also moved notably west, from solutions earlier this week that were all out to sea.
  • EXPANDED EFFECTS: A strong and large but slowly weakening tropical system results in an expansion of the wind field. A wider area will experience tropical-storm force winds than if the storm was very strong with a tightly-compacted wind core.
  • IMPACTS FOR MID-ATLANTIC COAST? Coastal communities from South Carolina to New Jersey will experience 72+ hours of large and increasing swells, persistent onshore easterly winds, water levels rising with each tide cycle and probable flooding in low-lying areas. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Jose Surprise?
  • ATLANTIC WANDERER JOSE, ONCE A CATEGORY 4, now looping in the Bermuda Triangle before expected to turn toward the Southeast coast this weekend.
  • Long range show that a high pressure ridge over E Canada & northeast could move into North Atlantic late next weekend. Ensemble models below largely depict an out to sea solution.
  • Development of a deeper trough in western U.S. same time period could either nudge Jose away from land, or help create a channel with the ridge, driving the storm northwest. 
  • We will continue monitoring for indications for / or against this scenario.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


1 comment:
Tampa: Could this be the one?
  • MULTI-CITY LANDFALL on Florida's west coast while areas of east and Space coast receive 100 mph winds. The Nature and Gold coast cities likely to see winds of 100-120 mph include Naples, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota,Tampa-St. Petersburg, Clearwater. 
  • 3/ 4 of  FLORIDA PENINSULA likely to receive winds 75 mph or greater, per NOAA.
  • SUMMARY OF OFFICIAL DETAILS: See our Hurricane 411 Center.

6:00 AM ET SAT 9/9 Westward shift in track took place overnight as has been the trend, resembling the scenarios early this week of a west coast landfall as a major Category 4. These impacts would mirror the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, 1960 Hurricane Donna and Tampa's last major direct hit in 1921 (1-min video) that produced 6-12 feet of surge in the Bay. View Surge Maps for Tampa inundation levels at Category 3, 4 and 5.

Below is the forecast position for 4 AM Monday 9/11 by the European, of which NHC has indicated their path is mirroring. A docu-drama video scenario developed by the Tampa Bay Catastrophic Plan Project shows how a Category 5 strike would play out were that to occur. Even if not a Cat 5 at landfall, it won't matter. Impacts from this path would essentially be the worse case scenario if the storm restrengthens after leaving Cuba.

What this map means: 
  • A Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds channels directly through Tampa Bay
  • Previous 175 miles of coastline and interior sections of West Florida will have just experienced a Category 4 storm with damage far exceeding Donna and the 1935 storm.
9:50 PM ET FRI 9/8 If major westward shifts occur in the official track at this point, Tampa-St. Petersburg could be looking at "the one" they've been fearing for years...a Category 3/4 monster with a 12 foot+ storm surge that inundates the entire downtown and leaves St. Petersburg an island. 

Friday, September 8, 2017


A Sight You Seldom See
  • KATIA ONLY 6 MPH AWAY from becoming the THIRD consecutive category 3 or above storm to form just this month! 

Concerned about track changes?
Monitor the satellite loop
It is direct access to the most important model: Reality.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


A Storm of Its Own
  • Irma underwent an eyewall replacement cycle Wednesday evening, and appears to have experienced no change in wind speed, indicating it has influenced the atmosphere to the point of creating its own environment.
  • 40 foot wave heights in Antigua and British Virgin Islands, see
  • Complete devastation reported on the island of Barbuda, with 90% of structures damaged or destroyed. An anemometer failed at 155 mph before breaking off. 
  • NO-WIN FLORIDA: An 18-24 hour path along the Florida East coast, if it is crossed by the western eyewall as a Category 4/5, would produce widespread catastrophic damage equivalent to Hurricane Andrew were it to travel a 200 mile path from Miami to Jacksonsville. "Grazing" or "scraping" the coast with winds of 120-150 mph would not be an appropriate term to describe the immense danger this storm presents.


SITUATION SUMMARY as of 3:00 PM WED 9/6/2017
  • A SHIFT HAS BEGUN. Some models earlier Tuesday and into the evening began shifting the Florida landfall track ideas to eastern side of the state, and several have moved back into the Atlantic. These include the Tue afternoon output of the US Global Forecast System.
  • BIG PLAYERS: The current south/central Florida projected path for late this weekend remains a dominant threat. However, several features including a depression in the Gulf, newly minted Tropical Storm Jose, the Atlantic ridge and the approaching trough from the western U.S. are all influencing the track of Irma. These are among the many reasons behind track fluctuations. 
  • STILL IN THE WOODS: Interests in the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and the Delmarva should remain on alert and well-informed of additional track changes which may be coming. A number of scenarios have yet to play out which could quickly bring Irma toward the Southeast coast. If the southern edge of the High weakens, or the western trough arrives sooner, or Jose changes forward speed...any of these could introduce an "escape hatch" to the north. This is behind the sharp right turn everyone has been observing sees in the models. Another 36 hours will be telling on which part of the East coast country is at highest risk for impacts or landfall.
  • WHAT WE REALLY THINK? While all eyes and thoughts are on a potentially devastating strike to Florida -- as well remembering the daily suffering after Harvey -- eastward shifts in models and other players are hinting that original track ideas toward the Carolinas and coastal Mid-Atlantic cannot be ruled out. We encourage Emergency Managers from the Carolinas north to Virginia and Maryland remain on an alert footing and avoid thinking a Florida hit eliminates risk. There is no guarantee of any one model track becoming true.


Sunday, September 3, 2017


1 comment:
"All magic comes with a price."

  • LAST UPDATED 4:45 PM 9/3/2017:  HURRICANE IRMA'S TRACK MAY PRESENT A LONG RANGE THREAT TO THE US MAINLAND BY NEXT WEEKEND. Effects, timing and areas of direct impact are uncertain at this time, but may be felt from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic. Analysis and details below or see our IRMA INFO CENTER or Let's Talk Flood Insurance

WHAT MAGIC? As "Rumple" might say, it's quite simple, dearie:
The magic is one can enjoy property near water, if the price of that risk is understood.

The risks come down to coastline physics. Some areas are geographically less susceptible to a land-falling hurricane (such as Savannah, GA), while other areas are known to be high risk locations but have a low probability in any one year of a strike (Chesapeake Bay). 

The map below is a general track trend as of Saturday 9/2 by all 20 members of the NOAA-operated Global Forecast System. Each member processes a slightly different set of algorithms, interpreting the existing data in various ways to generate a spread of possibilities. Note that in both maps, the Georgia coast is crossed by only 1 model member, whereas the Carolinas are littered with track options. With this in mind, we offer two general scenarios to evaluate as the week progresses.
  • SCENARIO A: Long range forecasts show a blocking High pressure system may drift into the North Atlantic by later this week, altering the path and resulting in more direct impacts on Florida. This would lessen the risk of effects to the Mid-Atlantic, but the Carolinas and Georgia would remain under threat.
  • SCENARIO B: While the storm is making the SW turn as forecast, it is also traveling more north of that path than expected. This could lessen the threat to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but increase the potential for impacts to North Carolina and eventually, the Mid-Atlantic. 

NOTABLE CHANGE: Forward speed of the storm is slowing over several days, 
delaying its approach to East coast areas until early NEXT week (after Sunday 9/10)

This map is posted to provide comparison to the official NHC forecast, so it can 
be observed over time the difference between actual and projected tracks.  

QUESTIONS? Let us know in the comments on THIS site.
We will answer in Q and A format in a separate post on this site.

"THINK ABOUTS" for pondering & planning, just in case.
In the event plans have to be implemented, advance thinking is always helpful.

 A few sandbags could go a long way, depending on your situation.

  • CHECK YOUR POLICIES on wind damage claims and sewer backup. Talk to your agent.
  • LIVE NEAR WATER? Live through Isabel? What might you do differently the next time?
  • SUPPLIES: If in a flood-prone area, would sand bags help? If so, scope out supplies now.
  • MOVING? We sure hope next weekend isn't move in day. Consider alternate dates if you can.

  • GROCERIES: Are there bulk items you need or always like to have on hand? Avoid being in the big line if a Hurricane Watch was hoisted for your area.
  • DATA PLANS: What if your family all had to go to 4G for hours each day if no Wi-Fi? See what your provider would offer if you had to increase your data plan for 1 month.
  • FURRY FRIENDS: Enough food to provide them for a few weeks? It'll get used either way.
  • MEDICATIONS: Consider getting the 30- or 90-day prescriptions refreshed if they are low.

  • LESSONS FROM SANDY: How are your resiliency plans for critical infrastructure, such as power generators below ground level, rotation & relief schedules for emergency on site staff/essential personnel?

  • Pretend it's Friday, September 8 and a your  school district has found itself within the "cone of uncertainty" of the projected paths for early next week. Even though the storm is 1000 miles away, school is in session because effects have not arrived and the storm's final path is not fully known. What preparatory issues would your staff need to consider when leaving the building on Friday if that were to happen?
Posted by the Foot's Forecast Tropical Team
contributors: C. Meehan, K. Krichinsky, R. Foot
Weather Intelligence. When you need it most.

Friday, September 1, 2017

No comments:
Let's talk about everyone's favorite dinner party topic! 
(because all magic comes with a price, especially when you are living near the water.)

If these Houston-area homes do not have a basic Flood insurance policy,
who pays for the debris removal, cleanup, renovation and new appliances?

  • INCONVENIENT TRUTH: The biggest misconception about home insurance? Damage from wind-driven water (storm surge) OR rainfall-induced flooding by a hurricane is NOT considered an insurable claim on a traditional homeowner's policy.  But why? 
  • AGGRAVATING TWIST: The insurance industry states the wind was not the direct cause of water damage you claimed after the hurricane. The twist is that in scientific reality, it did. How is storm surge created? By low pressure and strong winds in the eyewall raising up the sea surface water level underneath the storm. This underscores the confusion: Many homeowners don't understand how storm surge damage can be denied when it actually generated by wind action. The solution: Flood insurance to avoid that argument or heartbreak.
  • IN A FLOOD ZONE, AND DON'T KNOW IT? Even if you know your property is outside the high risk 100-year flood zone (known as Zone AE), it would be wise to determine in which zone it IS located. Perhaps you are BETWEEN the 100-year and 500-year zones? If not sure, learn more at or this link to flood criteria with the National Flood Insurance ProgramNew flood policies may have a wait period before taking effect. The lessons from Harvey speak loudly about what happens when a homeowner thinks even basic Flood insurance is unnecessary. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Certain as the Sun...

1 comment:
"Certain as the Sun, rising in the East..."

Sunrise at the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany

8:00 AM 4/1/17 Storms come. Forecasts go. Seasons change, then we look back on the Winter that was, and wonder amid a tale as old as time, "will next year be different?

While we cannot promise unbelievable skies on a magic carpet ride, it can be said the seasons ahead are revealing early clues about what dreams may come. 

Summary of this report:
  • Lessons learned from the March 2017 failed Big Kahuna, and what it tells us about storm forecasting in La Nina Winters.
  • Growing potential of El Nino returning by this summer, with implications for winter storm forecasting in Winter 2017-18. 

"Something there, that wasn't there before." 

Part 1 - Lessons Learned from March 2017 Big Kahuna

When evaluating present day patterns coming off last month's semi-failed Big Kahuna, we think Mrs. Potts best captures the theme with that one line.

A) What we saw in the data:
  • 1) Wavering lines. Multi-day trend in the models showing the rain/snow line from this storm would waver back and forth

  • 2) Big snow, then no. General agreement in the models of significant snow for most areas, until about 24 hours before, when the rain/snow line wavering scenario returned.  
  • 3) Late stage changes in the short range. Late Monday night into early Tuesday, a few hours before the infamous sleet beast exploded across the region, the NOAA High Resolution Rapid Refresh model (the HRRR). This model has a consistent record of accuracy, and in past storms, failure to consider the short range data had major impact on forecast accuracy. Around 10:30 PM, this model began showing a more defined westward movement of sleet than had been previously depicted. 
  • As shown above, the HRRR projected sleet initially staying south of the PA line, and lasting 3-6 hours. By 3 AM Tuesday, the situation had changed drastically, with sleet forecast to continue through 10 AM and extend well north of I-70 into southern & southeast PA. In some places, sleet began 2 hours earlier than forecast and before radar returns had even identified a change in precipitation type. By the time many readers awoke, expectations for 6-12" had been dashed by the window pinging of unwelcome sleet.
B) What we should have seen: Climate indicators and past storms as prologue. Having studied the intricacies of winters influenced by El Nino & La Nina, and knowing the patterns that usually play out when a strong signal exists from either phenomenon, we should have seen the evidence refuting a large snowfall accumulation in the southern Mid-Atlantic (south of the PA line) from this data.
  • 1) Are big Mid-Atlantic snowstorms likely during moderate La Nina years? Answer: Not really, backed by analysis of 50+ years of Nino/Nina data correlated with winter storm outcomes in the Mid-Atlantic in those years. An excellent overview of the data is published at this link to a study by the Sterling VA NWS Office.
  • 2) Have major snow forecast busts occurred in La Nina winters? Yes. 
March 6, 2013 was the most significant bust in Foot's Forecast team history, as calls for 6-8" of snow across the region by us, the NWS and most other media outlets resulted in virtually nothing. 
March 5, 2001, though predating FF, was perhaps the single greatest storm forecast bust in the modern digital era. Official and private forecasters alike called for up to 24-36" from Washington to Boston. The result: Schools and governments closed a day early to prepare, then the storm shifted east and the metro areas, including Baltimore and Philly received 1-3" of slushy wet snow.  
What we will do different next time? 
  • We will simply ask the question: Did a similar storm occur in a previous winter under conditions that resemble present day? If not, why not and what happened.
Part 2 - Next Winter: Early signs & signals

  • Analysis in progress, article coming soon. Until then, enjoy the sunrise and the welcome arrival of April heralding our true change into the Spring season.
Sunrise over Stonehenge

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Is That It?

1 comment:
Is there more, or is this it?
  • INTERMITTENT SNOW SQUALLS into the overnight hours, with light accumulation up to 1/2" possible overnight from central PA to northern MD counties.
  • SQUALLS likely to return mid-morning Wed into afternoon hours, could produce a coating on untreated roads and sidewalks.
  • SIGNIFICANT LATE SEASON COLD AIR (YES, MORE) is set to arrive early next week into next weekend, keeping much of the month's  temperatures below normal. 
  • THREE SYSTEMS TO WATCH next 2 weeks are this Saturday, next Tuesday and the 25th-26th for potential winter weather mischief. See below for 8-14 Day Long Range ideas.

6-10 Day Temperature Outloook: 
NOAA Climate Prediction Center


What comes after the Kahuna?

What comes after the Kahuna?
  • INTERMITTENT SNOW SQUALLS into the overnight hours, with light accumulation up to 1/2" possible overnight from central PA to northern MD counties.
  • SQUALLS likely to return mid-morning Wed into afternoon hours, could produce a coating on untreated roads and sidewalks.
  • NEW PULSES OF SIGNIFICANT LATE SEASON COLD AIR are set to arrive early next week into next weekend, keeping much of the month's  temperatures below normal. 
  • THREE SYSTEMS TO WATCH next 2 weeks are this Saturday, next Tuesday and the 25th-26th.

11:00 AM ET 3/14 - PRECIP BELOW PA/MD LINE ENDING BY 2 PM, HEAVY SNOW IN PA CONTINUING THROUGH AFTERNOON. Let us know your precip and road conditions, and here is what we see for the 24 hours ahead:
  • OVERNIGHT.. what happened? A significant push of warm air from the Atlantic worked into the region in the early morning hours, changing snow to sleet and then freezing rain for many areas south of I-70. This cut way into earlier expected snow totals. Computer models and forecasters alike did not identify the potential intensity of this warm air push until after it was showing up on the ground - and hadn't even been showing on the radar. Hence, the "Look Out The Window" model.
  • CURRENTLY, as the Low begins pulling north, cold air is moving into the region on the west side, and will reduce the duration of sleet/freezing rain. However, next 2-3 hours may see intense precipitation rates as 1/2" of liquid or more is working north and west from the Low center.
  • MORNING & AFTERNOON: By 9 AM, we expect all precip to change back over to snow in most areas north of Route 50, with areas south of that over to snow between 9-10 AM. Another 1-2" through 12 PM on top of icy roads and sidewalks will make for treacherous and dangerous travel.
  • OVERNIGHT INTO WEDNESDAY: Temperatures plunge into the teens or low 20s, refreezing over hard any standing water or snow, creating widespread road ice issues for the PM commute and Wed AM as well.
NWS HOURLY FROM TIMONIUM, MD to represent how rest of the day will progress.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Big Kahuna To Blizzard The Northeast

  • WINTER STORM WARNINGS (PINK) IN EFFECT THIS EVENING THROUGH TUESDAY AFTERNOON. Check your local NWS office for latest official details on current statements. Click Advisory map -->
  • HIGH IMPACT EVENT with multi-hazards. Please refer below to Storm Information Graphic and NOAA Winter Weather Safety graphics.
  • POST-STORM: Sub 20F temps & widespread refreezing of snow melt each morning. 

Current Regional Radar 

National Radar

"Something Wicked This Way Comes..."
-Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1