Monday, December 4, 2006

134 comments:
(it was a) DISAPPOINTING DECEMBER
(that will lead to) AN ACTION-PACKED JANUARY
AND A VERY FABULOUS FEBRUARY
I promise. Just you wait and see what's going to happen.
January update pending: The Official Foot's Forecast for Winter 06-07. It's not going to be terribly earth-shattering, might even leave a few of us wanting more, but I believe overall this upcoming crib of cold we call "Meteorological Winter" will overall give those of us who love big storms something to talk about...at least twice in the next 3 months. For those who don't have a lot of time to sift through endless pontification, here's the summary as short as I can make it: For my central and southern I-95 readers, (from NYC to Virginia) I still believe most of your snow will come in 2 bigger storms and 1 smaller storm. The same hold for interior dwellers, except that your totals will be higher. For our New England friends, I'm still not ready to go all out and say you'll have a blockbuster winter like in recent years, quite frankly I'm leaning towards you having less snow than recently, (say 125% of normal instead of 150%) but still above normal.


FOOT'S SHORT LIST FOR WINTER 06-07

Note: This forecast is valid for the regions that include the I-95 corridor from Richmond to Boston, and interior sections of the states which are crossed by 95. The western edge of my forecasting is established along a line from Jay Peak, Vermont..to Binghamton, NY, to Altoona, PA...to Roanoke, VA. When winter storm conditions permit, I will also extend the line to include the eastern deep South from central Alabama northeast through the southern Appalachians back to Roanoke.


1.DECEMBER: Overall a disappointing, near-normal month for temperatures, below average for snow, above average rainfall. I sense late this month we'll start hearing people say, "I guess that little cold snap early on is all we're going to see." Rumors of a near record-heat wave on Christmas Day (let's say, in the 50's and 60's) might fuel the fiction that "This year, winter ended before it even started." Any big storms are going to be confined to the Mid and Far West, and northern New England. Given the current unfavorable pattern for classic nor-easters, I am more apt to say the Deep South will get freak snow/ice in late December from an over-running event than for us along I-95 to see anything appreciable before Dec 27. Interior Mid-Atlantic and Northeast will have their usual clippers and enhanced lake-effect so the ski resorts can at least get something on the ground by Christmas. The situation driving my thinking is the current cold snap and the positive NAO. Things just got too cold, too quickly and much too early. With no blocking in place or even remotely predicted, it'll take a while (at least 3 weeks) for another Arctic high to recharge and deliver cold air just in time for an amplifying jet stream to send a southern soaker toward us impatient Yankees. Many of you know the winter storm recipe and I just don't see it in the tea leaves or anywhere else anytime soon: a cold High parked in SE Canada showing that tell-tale damming signature.


2.JANUARY. Thanks to the disappointing December delay, I think this is the month winter strikes back and with the NAO likely to drift toward neutral by this time, it is bound to go negative at some point especially if we (read Ohio Valley, Mid-Atl, NE) get another freak warm spell later in December like we did late last week followed by a cold front. Given Atlantic SST's what they are, I think somewhere mid-January would be enough time for all the stars to properly align (the "stars" being the PNA, NAO, a Southern Stream bowing north, and a brief Greenland Block). Granted I am making this up in the sense that no model can accurately spit all that out 45 days in advance. However I think of the atmosphere as a fluid experiment with time limits. It will take a certain amount of time for all the indices to reach the ideal tipping point that enables air masses to interact in a way to deliver a snowstorm. I think that time period is roughly 30-45 days from now, after we get a few warm spells over with. The areas targeted for this star-studded mid-January event will be the I-95 corridor and interior from Atlanta to southern New England. My analog for this winter is 86-87, with the potential for a repeat of the January 22, 1987 storm that brough 12" to Philly. I remember December 86 was uninspiring, for example on Christmas day at my home in the suburbs, it was 50F and probably cloudy (according to wunderground.com). Whatever storm arrives in January will help set the stage for one,possibly two events in February.

3.FEBRUARY: My early thinking is a couple rapid-fire storms that will be fun to forecast, but wear us all down with shoveling and bitter cold. The justification is that once the atmosphere gets into it's storm production pattern, I believe we'll see a 3-4 week period starting with Kahuna # 1 (mid-January) that kicks out two more by February 20, and then the engine sputters out. We'll come to call Kahunas 2 or 3 "El Nino" storms due to the possibility the ENSO index might be firmly established in the "moderate" phase by then.


4. MARCH: I believe early Spring 07 will resemble 06. Long cooler than normal, everyone waiting for some end-of-winter promised final storm that never arrives. This will be a bonus to Spring sports folks, (in central and southern I-95 regions) who I think will be able to kick off their practice season just fine in early March. Each spring we wonder if there's a chance of a March 1993 or 1958 repeat, and the reason I think that's off the table this year is El Nino. If my Kahunas 2 and 3 don't materialize, then we'll look back and know that the pattern was overwhelmed by a stronger than anticpated El Nino. Remember classic winter storm years were those that recorded a weak to moderate ENSO...from .5 to no more than 1.5 degree C above normal. (Forecaster friends, correct that if my numbers are off a bit).


I am open to the idea of a reliable reader who is willing to serve as accountability partner and make sure I don't backpedal on my ideas or overstate. The concept is you would track my predicted storm times and types and compare to what actually happens when those dates come to pass on the calendar. I also plan to continue the "storm grade amount" system where I publish an exact amount of snow for specific areas, and then generate a letter grade based on how close the predicted amount was to the actual.


All for now, I gotta go back to baby duty. I plan to update this as we go forward and include the requisite charts, maps, links so you can see my source material for the winter 06-07 ideas.


Peace and Tranquility,


Mr. Foot

Saturday, December 2, 2006

7 comments:
CELEBRATING MY DAUGHTER'S
1ST BIRTHDAY WITH FAMILY
WILL UPDATE AS SOON AS I CAN

Sincerely, Mr. Foot

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

73 comments:
SOMEWHERE MY LOVE...

Is a winter forecast you've all been so patiently waiting for, along with an apology for my unnecessarily extended absence from this site. I am sorry to all those who have been posting comments and gotten no response. You are true weather troopers and please do not lose faith, as we all know winter is rapidly approaching. What I can say for now about this winter, at least for the I-95 corridor from DC to NYC is what I've been telling students and faculty at my school when they ask: Most of your snow this winter will come in two big storms... one in January, one in February. For those of you outside I-95 who justifiably demand a higher quality forecast, it will come, but not before Thanksgiving.

For what it's worth, here are the reasons for the recent absence:
1. Mid-October: Pizza Kit Fundraising Sale at my school for which I was the coordinator
2. Late-October: Formal classroom observation by administration (requires many many hours of prep time and generally suspension of all family and extra-curricular activities)
3. Early November: First ever Adventure Club trip to Hollywood, California for 3 days, 3 nights, for which I am the Club Advisor.
4. Recently: Homecoming Dance, Pizza Kit Delivery Day (we had 1200 to process) and now the school greenhouse is entering it's winter planting mode for Spring, requiring many more hours of indoor work, prep and management.

Not to forget there are 2 wonderful little Foots running underfoot, a three-year old and a alomst 1-year old who is just on the verge of walking and talking. So again please understand I still deeply care about the weather, especially winter, but the tasks in front of forecasting are larger than ever, so I have to piecemeal my time more than ever. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I plan to complete my full winter overview, and will look forward to our rousing discussions as we launch into the 2006-07 winter.

Sincerely,
Mr. Foot

Saturday, September 23, 2006

129 comments:
HURRICANE SEASON IS FADING...
AND EL NINO IS BECKONING
THE START OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP?
(for powderhounds, that is.)

El Nino 1

Sunday, September 3, 2006

18 comments:
KEEP YOUR EYE ON FLORENCE

Florence 1 \


Yes it's a long way off and a lot could happen between now and 120 hours from now. However, those of you who know what September can bring in from the tropics also know this is the time of year to get nervous when one sees a little something brewing in that part of the Atlantic, especially south of 15 degrees N. Thanks to my readers for pointing out that TD 6 had arrived, and once it gets named I'll start the next round of analyses and updates.

Friday, September 1, 2006

3 comments:
FINALLY...

Ernesto 11

It's Friday, it's September, and Ernesto comes ashore. The heavy rains to come for Virginia through Pennsylvania are going to be a welcome relief from a long dry August. In fact this will be just what the doctor ordered: a steady soaking rain that can be absorbed by the ground instead of a hard pounding rain that is more likely to run off and cause flooding. There will definitely be some areas that flood, as 4 or more inches of rain in the next 24 hours can overwhelm small creeks and inlets. Along and east of the I-95 corridor wind will hamper driving and possibly endanger elementary children getting off buses this afternoon. I am concerned about the conditions in Virginia, the WV panhandle, and Central/Eastern Maryland deteriorating as the day progresses. By 3:30-4:00 PM, when the little ones are disembarking at the bus stop, they are walking into 30 mph winds and squalls of heavy rain. For school officials it is another no-win scenario, because if they close early, parents may complain for lack of notice and having to leave work early. If schools do not close early and conditions are worse than expected, some parents may complain the school should have allowed more time to avoid the snarled traffic delays to come in this evenings wind-swept rush. You know us here in the Mid-Atlantic, we get upset if there's a thunderstorm. Unlike our colleagues in storm-hardened Florida, who only close schools in serious situations...like major big time storms. Except of course for Miami-Dade County. I heard they closed for Ernesto when he was only 40 mph. Maybe too many Mid-Atlantic transplants have moved down there and given them a yellow streak?

Atlantic 1

Other concerns surrounding Ernesto are the pressure-gradient enhanced winds, that will draw in lots of moisture from the Atlantic, as well as build tides in the Chesapeake and oceanfront areas to several feet above normal. What storm surge there is will be more in the form of these wind-driven higher tides as a southeasterly and easterly fetch will keep low tides higher, and you'll see the high tides much higher in the 6-12 hour period after the storm passes.

MEANWHILE...IN THE EASTERN ATLANTIC:

Atlantic 2

Several tropical waves are showing promise and it is now that ripe time of year for Cape Verde storms to start doing their thing. You can bet if anything develops out of these waves, the media hype will be as bad or worse, so here at Foot's Forecast I will strive to maintain a level head in keeping you informed about the tropics, and do a better job of making long range statements. Ernesto thankfully did not end up as the major hurricane I originally predicted, but the media hype sure did give the impression it was going to be.

Monday, August 28, 2006

24 comments:
Tue AM update
IS ALL THIS FRENZY OVER A LITTLE
TROPICAL STORM WORTH IT?

Even I may be guilty of overdoing it, but maybe it's the ghosts of storms past that looked innocuous and ended up being torrential rainmakers that caught many by surprise. Those of us in the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic will welcome the rains that are to come, but it will make for a very wet end to the summer travel season this Labor Day Weekend. Click on the graphic below for the most up-to-date forecast map from NHC.

Ernesto 9

The section I wrote below was issued via the email distribution list this afternoon. Granted my ideas on windspeed intensity may not pan out as I think it is doubtful this storm will ever regain hurricane status again. But in the same breath I think back to Ivan in 2004, and how the models were trying to tell us something about the eventual track, but no one could figure it out until we noticed the circulation center had actually maintained it's structure, crossed back over Florida, reemerged in the Gulf and almost made it back to hurricane strength believe it or not before hitting Texas as a medium-range tropical storm. I wonder if the East Coast stall scenario playing out on the maps is an indication that this will turn into a massive rainmaker.

Ernesto 8

Written at 3:30 PM 8/28

UPDATED ANALYSIS OF ERNESTO’S FUTURE TRACK, LANDFALL AND INTENSITY

Ever-changing Ernesto has been confounding forecasters, including me, since the first 5 day projection was issued. It’s a good thing we all have instant access to technology and have been able to monitor the movement of this storm. It seems that each time a forecast was issued, the storm was already in the process of undoing that forecast. Obviously my predictions issued on Saturday have proven to be way off, but at least it is a relief to storm weary residents of the Gulf that what I projected did not come true.

My main concern for the future of this storm is the computer models continue to have a difficult time initializing the storm, mainly because the center of circulation keeps reforming in different places. Since the major models commence a data run every 6 hours, the storm has changed so much that by the time an updated forecast track is ready to be issued, the information already seems inaccurate. This is not a knock on forecasters, mind you, it is just one of the many reminders that even the most powerful computers in the world may never be able to uncover the nuances and inner complexities of tropical systems.

That leads me to the big issue…which is almost like a repeat of the winter storm rule: “Predict the High and you predict the storm.” I can’t take credit for the rule, it was created by a Penn State meteorology professor, but I have applied it to my storm analysis and sometimes it works out. That’s where I’m going to hang my hat with Ernesto. Here’s a scenario I see happening based on the uncertainty we’ve experienced thus far..based on a trend first picked up by the European models which is shown below (valid for 7AM Saturday)

Ernesto 10

Several models show a large Canadian high moving off the New England coast by end of the week..but not so much that the high provides an easy escape for Ernesto as with Floyd in 99. The problem is that this could become a defacto “blocking high” because it may not move off fast enough. The storm appears to be heading out to sea or at least raking the coast with tropical storm to hurricane force winds for days on end. When it begins to turn northeast, it appears the Mid-Atlantic is spared (when in actuality a nice soaking rain would be just right about now). Instead of racing off to the northeast, the storm slows and gathering strength over the Gulf stream near the Carolinas. Then, as the high slowly fades east, a trough develops along the Mid-Atlantic, the pressure gradient tightens as the storm approaches, and placement of the high sends a large, slowly eroding hurricane back over the NC-MD I-95 corridor similar to Isabels’s path, only just a bit farther north. Hurricane watches and warnings are quickly raised, but the public is given less than 24 hours notice due to the rapid change in the forecast. The end result is a slow-moving, 75 mph hurricane moving along the DelMarVa or even in the southern bay..stuck between two highs..one in the North Atlantic and the other in southeast Canada. (10 PM update: doubtful we'll see winds of that strength now, but we could see the equivalent in rain..5-10")

Post below was written at 5:30 AM 8/28

WILL THIS STORM EVER MAKE UP IT'S MIND
or maybe the headline should read
HMMM, INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL
BE THRILLED ABOUT THIS FORECAST



Ernesto 6

Now you're saying, "Come on Foot, as if the storm has any control over where it's going." Well, I'd like to counter by saying that although everyone, including me, has been waaay off on the path of this indecisive storm, there is some truth to the idea the storm can determine where it goes next.
Last night I wrote these notes and did not get a chance to post them, but I believe this is still valid considering how much the forecast has changed. While Tampa-St. Pete will be spared a $50 billion direct hit, Miami and the Southeast Coast will get menaced instead for very unpleasant unofficial end to summer.

Ernesto 7



Here's my thoughts on what is happening with the track changes:
- Notice how frictional effects pulled the storm closer to Haiti than originally thought? It's almost as if the island was drawing the storm towards itself.

- Frictional effects can be a double-edged sword.. because once over Cuba, the opposite effect could take place in that once the northern 1/3 to 1/2 of the storm (not the center) crosses over land, the SE quadrant offshore winds will be the last to weaken, and the those winds funneling energy into the storm counter-clockwise could serve as a opposing force. What I mean by this is while I agree Ernesto will be fouled up by the highly mountainous terrain of eastern Cuba, I also think it is possible the storm will not linger over the island as long as is currently being projected. There are some theories (or perhaps it is a verifiable phenomenon of tropical systems) that storm centers can “sense” a source region of warm water and have a tendency to be drawn to the source if it is in close proximity to the center.


- Boy I guess the western flank of subtropical high weakened, like way way more than anyone anticipated. Here we were concerned this storm would be heading for New Orleans, or maybe Pensacola, and 500 miles later, there's speculation it may never actually hit the U.S. This trough that's moving into the northeast really has some cojones being that it's still . summer because it has completely changed the entire life cycle of this storm.

Since today is the first official day of school in Baltimore County and elsewhere I cannot post to the site during the day, but will issue an update via the distribution list this afternoon followed by a website update this evening,

Sunday, August 27, 2006

11 comments:
HEY TAMPA...
THIS COULD BE "THE ONE"

Tampa 1

7:50 AM 8/27 - I discover this morning the forecast track has shifted significantly to the right, as other online forecasters had alluded to last week, and indeed they were right!

The culprit is (or will be) a digging shortwave low pressure system heading southeast from the Dakotas. The south- western flank of the subtropical High steering currents which serve as Ernesto's steering currents will react to this approaching change in the pressure gradient. 

The net effect is a tightening of the isobars in advance of the storm, creating a pressure channel through which Ernesto will travel. In some cases the direction of the northern outflow channel of clouds can be an indication of the future path the storm will take in the near term of 24 hours.
Ernesto 5

Ernesto became a hurricane officially at 5:04 AM this morning, and if the above track hold true, Tampa-St. Petersburg could be looking at "the one" they've been fearing for years...a Category 3 monster with a 12 foot + storm surge that inundates the entire downtown and leaves St. Petersburg an island. 

This scenario has been well-researched and published in Pinellas County papers. I'm sure this will soon be front page news Monday morning if it isn't already. As you can tell, the orientation of this projected path in relation to the coastline is what forecasters would consider the worse case scenario:

1. A strengthening major hurricane approaching a highly populated coast at an angle 
2. A wide mouthed bay which will funnel surge waters far upstream, flooding small inlets already overwhelmed by 6-12 inches of rain that fell in advance of the storm. 
3. A track that travels just north of the affected Bay area, giving it maximum exposure to the dangerous northeast quadrant, the portion of the storm with strongest winds & highest surge.
Tampa 3

A built-in even worse situation could be that frictional effects due to land interaction of the NE quadrant cause onshore winds to weaken slightly
  • Offshore winds end up being slightly stronger, and this drives the storm in a little sooner than expected. 
  • That would result in Ernesto being forced up Tampa Bay. This is exactly the situation that occured with Charley in 2004. 
  • Residents in Punta Gorda were under a hurricane warning, but saw that the projected path was going to take the storm more towards Tampa Bay, a considerable distance NORTH of Charlotte Harbor. 
  • They considered themselves lucky to have survived a near-miss. In the space of just 4 hours, frictional effects of the storm interacting with land changed it's path, and Charley charged right up the Harbor as a Category 4 monster.

Tampa 2

The graphic below is an interactive scenario of the flooding potential for Tampa Bay in Category 3, 4, and 5 land-falling hurricanes, created by environmentaldefense.org.

Tampa Storm Surge

I'll update once more later today as the reality sinks in across Florida of what Ernesto may bring next week.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

4 comments:
HERE WE GO WITH ERNESTO...
TO BE A MAJOR HURRICANE
NORTH CENTRAL GULF AT RISK

Ernesto 4
Notice the big shift in track more towards North Central Gulf than what was shown in the 2pm advisory. This was a result of the circulation center reforming about 50 nautical miles toward the north-northeast...and more significantly, under the central dense overcast.

Ernesto 1

By now most of you who regularly monitor the tropics know that Ernesto is moving through the Caribbean and encountering moderate shear on his western flank. This has inhibited development despite the tropical cyclone being situated over favorable water temperatures. As the storm moves west ward through the central Caribbean this weekend, an upper level Low in the Yucatan-Caymans vicinity is likely to erode and retreat. This will enable an upper level high pressure ridge to become established over the system, which provides developing tropical cyclones the much needed “outflow/exhaust” mechanism. A ridge over the storm, in conjuction with very warm surface water (85 F+), and weakening shear all indicate Ernesto is likely to undergo a period of rapid strengthening leading up to and past Jamaica that may bring it to near Category 3 status by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Ernesto models 1

If the storm moves into the southern and central Gulf as expected by Wednesday, it will be traveling along the western edge of the subtropical high pressure ridge extending from the Atlantic ocean. Concern over this dynamic is that the storm will slow down while also coming in contact with the “Loop current.” This is a notoriously warm but isolated gulf current that fueled Katrina, Rita and Wilma’s march to Category 5 last summer. It should be noted that Ernesto will enter the gulf at a time when it is climatologically the warmest of the year, and due to the less than active tropical season, even deep water currents have been able to warm significantly.

Ernesto 3

The combination of these factors means that Ernesto has the potential to make a US landfall anywhere along the Texas or Louisiana coast as a major hurricane in the Friday-Saturday time frame of next week. As of 5 PM Saturday, the most recent analysis of Ernesto's intensification and track shows we are starting to see a northward shift in the projected path, which now brings the Florida panhandle and possibly even the western coast of Florida at risk. If you are a resident of these areas or know anyone who is, I would strongly advise making advance preparations now to avoid the eventual supply and traffic rush that is to come. Consider that a hurricane watch would generally be issued when hurricane conditions are expected within 36-48 hours, which means a Friday afternoon landfall would be preceded by a Wednesday watch declaration. In terms of preparation time, residents who might be in the path of this storm currently have today, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to begin preparing. Anyone waiting until Wednesday will face the frustration of long lines, limited supplies and extensive traffic. It is also a foregone conclusion that gas prices will increase PRIOR to and during the storm in anticipation of reduced production throughout the Gulf petroleum region.

GOM rig map 1

Meteorological analysis paraphrased from NHC 5AM and 5PM 8/26 discussions

Sunday, August 13, 2006

22 comments:
ON YOUR MARK... SET...

Invest 92-93


GO..ing into second half of August and still nothing to indicate that this season is headed for the record-books as was expected. My biggest concern is that the later we go in the season, I believe it's more likely that once a storm develops, it will be a BIG one. The system off Florida is in a less than favorable environment so not a threat for a while, but the Caribbean system has potential and thus will be watched closely. You can view the most updated satellite imagery, or check status of the latest recon flight.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

6 comments:
LOOKEY WHAT WE HAVE HERE

Debby 1

Tropical enthusiasts have been following this one for a couple days now, and NOAA Reconnaissance aircraft recently investigated the storm to discover a pressure of 1010 mb with no closed center of circulation. Read NHC's latest report, and for sure we'll be watching this closely as it approaches the southern Caribbean. I will provide a detailed analysis if this system is named.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

14 comments:
FIZZLING CHRIS ?

Chris 4

The only relief for many of us in this inferno of a heat wave comes in the form of a fizzling little tropical system near Puerto Rico. Perhaps my dire predictions of an end-times future with a Category 5 Chris approaching the western Gulf states even scared him off. Yeah, that's probably what happened. It had nothing to do with a mid- and upper-level low that spun over the storm and snuffed off the anti-cyclonic outflow, effectively ending tropical cyclone characteristics. So with great pleasure I can announce that Chris will be a non-starter for the next few days until he can move into a more favorable environment and away from land, and there's a lot of land to get in his way between now and early next week.

For now, the tropics are (mostly) quiet and I hear that Dr. William Gray has lowered his final number of named storms for this season. I'm all about that. If Chris decides to rev up his engines again, I'll be back on it but for now I have a lot of paperwork to do and that is WAY more exciting, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

9 comments:
DOES CHRIS HAVE MIAMI ON THE MIND...
OR WILL IT MESS WITH TEXAS?

National Hurricane Center beginning to acknowledge in their discussions that official track guidance, denoted below by "OFCL" (last line on the key), is leaning towards a shift to the north and away from interaction with major landmasses such as Puerto Rico, Hispanola or Cuba. It appears the first piece of land Chris will affect in a major way, other than the Bahamas, is south Florida. If he does a Katrina and loop-de-loops somehow under Florida and through the straits, then we will be looking at Rita-redux. The combination of low shear, a strong high ridge dominating Eastern North America into the Atlantic, and warm SST's along with high heat potential in the central Gulf means we could be staring down the barrel of a Category 3 or greater by Tuesday or Wednesday, on it's way to a 5 before landfall along the western Gulf Coast.

Chris models 1

Model guidance has shifted most projected paths north, avoiding the islands. Click on the image to view my source and other tropical cyclone model maps.


Chris 2


To look at this 5-day projection and not see the potential of a major hurricane by Monday, you'd have to be over in Egypt.... that is in "denial." The storm will be entering a very favorable environment late in the forecast period (from 96 to 120 hours), so that's why I expect to see NHC's official intensity increase to borderline Cat 3 for the Tuesday timeframe.

Chris 3

Those of you who remember Andrew in 1992 recall that it was a nondescript tropical storm, which was forecast initially to dissipate or remain weak as it approached Florida. Then, whamo! In just 30 hours, Andrew screamed up to Category 5 and remained a devastastingly strong storm all the way to the Florida coast. Chris certainly looks healthy enough with good outflow in all quadrants and a solid central dense overcast indicated by the consistent "orange ball" associated with strengthening systems. Click on the image above for a current loop.

Chris SST 1

I haven't pinpointed where the infamous "Loop current" is yet, but nevertheless with SSTs at 29 C and above from one end of the Gulf to another, this storm has plenty of time and energy to soak up before it makes landfall. I think this is going to be a rough ride for the Louisiana and Texas coasts, not to mention the Gulf oil rigs and gas refineries trying to get back on their feet from last year. Given the potential of this storm to interrupt the petroleum industry, I think I'll go fill up my 5 gallon gas cans today. Once this thing reaches hurricane strength and it goes on the radar screen of energy traders, you'll see a jump in gas prices over the next week, especially when you consider the triple whammy of oil companies having to shut down operations early to remove personnel, then tankers being diverted to other ports, and lastly the current 12% of shut in production left over from last year. 11:30 addendum..in midday trading, oil was topping $76 a barrel, too late... traders already see the danger ahead.

GOM rig map 1

A map of offshore mobile and onshore fixed oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, from riglogix.com. It'd be a cryin' shame if Chris sliced through the area that was not as affected by either of last year's megastorms.

The next post later this afternoon following the 5PM NHC update.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

3 comments:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
START YOUR ENGINES


Chris 1

Foot's Forecast is officially back on line after the longest hiatus since... well, ever. No I didn't catch the bird flu or head to my bug out station. I just didn't want to expend valuable brainpower on wimpy little storms, and had to finish our new deck in the backyard before the season got going. So in that sense Chris's timing is good, but as Han Solo would say, "I have a bad feeling about this." My kickoff statement on this storm is that Chris will be unpredictable, confound the experts, and full of surprises right to the very end. He already has thrown a monkey wrench into the NHC official forecast twice in the past 24 hours, and I suspect that is only the beginning. My meteorological gut tells me this has Southern Florida and the Western Gulf written all over it, and I'll explain why soon. Based on the intensification trend thus far, we might be looking at a hurricane by Wednesday evening.

The short list on Chris is:
1. Will be a hurricane in 24 hours
2. Will not dissipate as NHC and models originally projected, due to presence of large Bermuda high and other upper-level factors skewing model initialization of the storm.
3. Will probably enter Gulf by hook or crook as borderline major hurricane (or if crossing Florida, baseline Cat 1)
4. A turn up the SE coast unlikely due to overpowering influence of the heat wave death grip high pressure ridge
5. A landfall along the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane looks likely if the storm limits interaction with land and is able to squeeze through the Florida straits just like our friends from last year, Katrina and Rita.

Who's at most risk?
Based on the analysis above, I would put the landfall zone from west of the Mississippi Delta over to Corpus Christi, Texas. Arrival time: sometime next Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday, March 20, 2006

15 comments:
SO...MAYBE IT'S NOT REALLY OVER

Go back and read the post immediately preceding this one to see that I did leave a little window open for future snow in March, and the first day of Spring is certainly not anything like it, as was indicated in the March 6 post. I will do an overview of the situation at hand as soon as time and my daughters permit... but now that I see NWS Baltimore saying a high of 35 F in DUNDALK with snow and sleet, I may have to reevaluate the forecast for school tomorrow. I know many of you do not live in Dundalk of course, or are not teachers, but the impact to school systems is the bellweather indicator for the potential disruption a storm can deliver. This looks to be no more than a nuisance storm, but timing and temperatures are troubling so I will take another look at this as soon as I can. Check back after dinner.

Monday, March 6, 2006

48 comments:
ALLRIGHT FINE, YOU WIN, IT'S OVER
sort of...


It is obvious to anyone following the weather that the chances of any more significant accumulating snow in the Mid-Atlantic this winter will have come and gone by the time you read this. I am not letting New England out the woods yet for another 6 weeks, as there have been many a storm in late March and even early April which have blanketed our friends in the North with 1-2 feet of heavy wet snow even into late April (for example, 4-23-86, remember that one?)


I say "sort of" because while I agree with everyone that an active southern jet and increasing sun angle will rule the day more often than not from here on out...there have been a few unusual years, like March 1958, when bizarre late season storms have dumped heavy snow in confined areas. I doubt something like that storm will occur, but I still see the possibility of a few flakes from time to time in the next several weeks, other than the flake writing this. The false warmup late this week will only make more painful the likely snap back to cold that is sure to follow it, resulting in the first day of Spring not feeling anything like it.


As for storm prediction, this post will close the book for now on the 05-06 winter, which I warned as early as last summer would be disappointing, with most of the snow coming in one or two big storms. I know I wrote that somewhere in a post way back when. From this point forward, the focus on this site will shift to the upcoming hurricane season, and the (let's hope not) the upcoming threat of avian influenza, which will be landing in a backyard near you this spring and summer.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

37 comments:
AND NOW OUR NEXT CONTESTANT…
THE PANDEMIC

SAT 25 APRIL 2009: This commentary was first published on 26 Feb 2006 and is revisited for evidence that this has been on my radar screen for quite some time. ORIGINAL POST:

And you thought this was primarily a weather hazards site? As John Lennon says, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Friends, Mother Nature has conjured up and is carrying out a plan that more sooner than you would expect is going to affect each and every one of us, and may very well change the entire fabric of our society forever. If you’ve come to trust this site for an educated analysis of the weather, then I encourage you to extend that trust another step. Since September 2005 I have been conducting extensive and exhausting research on the impact and spread of a particular avian influenza, of which you all are familiar with by now, H5N1 or commonly referred to as “bird flu.”

My research into this topic has been part of the reason why my posts on this site have stopped being as regular as last year, although adding a child to the family and my wife going back to work were equally as influential. Simply put, the time I used to devote to detailed, long-term meteorological analysis in pinpointing the nuances of the next winter storm has been curtailed. That time has been spent researching and preparing for what I now strongly believe will be an inevitable worldwide epidemic (a pandemic) of highly pathogenic influenza. This event will be unlike any natural catastrophe in human history, will happen in our lifetimes, and may even get underway before the end of this year.

If you are totally thrown out of whack by this so far, then look over the US Government website on Pandemic Influenza, and pay special attention to the tab labeled "Individuals and Families." Let me also provide you some reasons behind this seismic change on a weather site. The purpose of this website has always been to provide a well-researched, straight-forward assessment of potential severe weather hazards which may threaten the U.S. East Coast and Northeast Corridor. Well, the times, they are a’ changing.’ From this point forward, the focus of the site will now include an on-going review of the threat posed by H5N1 to North America, in addition to forecasting for hurricanes and winter storms. In fact, I could argue that my study of meteorological and climatological patterns is closely linked to the epidemiology of bird flu, (as defined by Webster's the sum of the factors controlling the presence or absence of a disease or pathogen) because the whole situation revolves around wild bird migration brought on by change of the seasons. I have been following the bird flu situation so closely that, well, you know, I’ve let other tasks falter from time to time. But the reason I’ve done that is probably more instinctive than anything else, because a pandemic directly threatens my family, my livelihood and our future. I’m a scientist and a teacher, so you’d better believe that when something of this magnitude comes along, I’m not going to sit idly by and wait for it to pounce on me. I’m going to find out everything I can about it, and then do whatever it takes to protect my family.

But as a reader of this site, you are in effect, an pseudo-extended member of that family. For a while I have been thinking that it would be nice someday for those of us whom often correspond here to meet, say on an annual basis… just for fun. A “Friends of Foot’s Forecast” Convention, just a fun random gathering once a year to talk, share stories, get to know each other, let our kids play together, etc. I had actually been thinking about making a formal proposal on the site to host something like that starting this May. Your participation on this site makes it a rewarding endeavour for me, and motivates me to continue the challenge, and to continue being a life-long learner. But sadly, I am learning that events may change too fast in the coming months for such a gathering to happen this year. Instead, I felt it necessary to bring you up to date on those things that do keep me up at night, because as of late it has not been “when is the next storm” but rather “how much time do I have left to prepare for this pandemic?”

That’s what this site will try to sort out and identify over the next 3 months. Instead of creating a new blog solely for bird flu, it’s all going to be right here… winter storms, hurricanes, and the mother of all maelstroms… pandemic influenza. If you think I should just stick to forecasting weather, you are welcome to voice your opinions, or do the research I've done and present an opposing viewpoint. What I’m going to present is not designed or intended to be hype or fear-mongering, but the information is now reaching a level that just stating the facts is getting scary. I do this because I know you have families, I know you saw what happened with Katrina, and I know you’ve wondered what would happen if your family faced that kind of situation. So let me start by breaking it down for you this way: An H5N1 Influenza Pandemic now or at any point in our remaining lifetime would be the equivalent of POST KATRINA NEW ORLEANS WORLDWIDE.

There are so many implications and ramifications of this concept that it will take me hours and hours to spell it all out (which I will attempt to do slowly over the next 3 months). But this virus, though it mostly resides in birds at the moment, is a serious, persistent and growing threat to the very stability of every aspect of our life on Earth and has the ability to unravel the foundations of Western Civilization like no other natural event has ever before. Scared yet? Think I'm crazy yet? Are you in denial yet? I’ve been mortified since September so let me wake you up a little more. The following statements are TRUE and are supported with a source link.

1. The British Government ordered 200,000 body bags last week and is planning to create 15 temporary mortuaries around the U.K. to handle an overload of corpses should a pandemic occur. Source: UK Times-Mirror

2. Marriott International is ordering gloves, masks and protective gear for it's employees in Asian hotels worldwide. Source: San Francisco Chronicle

3. The National Academy of Science is hosting a conference in Washington, DC March 6 and 7 on the topic of developing “re-useable face masks” to help the public protect themselves in the event of a pandemic. Source: National Academy Public Meeting

4. The U.S. Chicken Industry in January began implementing plans to test every flock of commercial poultry in the entire country for H5N1. Source: MSNBC.com

5. Virologists have recently established that if a HIV-positive person in Africa also contracted H5N1, the unique reassortment of those two viruses might enable that person to become a more efficient “transmitter” of a human bird flu strain to others for months or years before themselves becoming ill. Source: AIDSmap News

In short, bird flu is not going away anytime soon, it is going to become a part of our life just like dealing with the events of 9-11 have, and may arrive in North America as early as this spring or summer, as explained by in an International Herald Tribune article written by Laurie Garrett from the Council on Foreign Relations. If you are new to this topic and think I have completely flipped, then spend some time looking through the links I have posted to the right. Another eye-opening assessment of the situation was written by Dr. Michael Osterholm in the July 2005 edition of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Osterholm is one of the nation's premier experts on this virus threat, and is Associate Director of ‘CIDRAP’ the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

If a winter storm comes blowing up anytime soon, you can bet I'll be on it. But the bigger fish (or bird) for the foreseeable future is going to be getting a handle on, and understanding the bird flu threat as it pertains to your family and our society. The US Government website says it best... "Get Informed, Be Prepared." That's what I've been doing and I hope you will consider doing the same, for the sake of your friends and family. Your comments and opinions are welcome, and I will post again on this topic after it is clear we are finished with winter storms for this season.

Flyways Map 1

The yellow regions shown on this Wild Bird Flyways map show there are at least 4 major regions in the world (2 in North America) where migration paths cross over, creating a persistent and growing ability of infected birds to cross-infect new flocks which can then carry the virus to a major nesting area, hence the recent spreads to Africa and Europe as reported in the news.

Monday, February 13, 2006

73 comments:

AND NOW FOR THE POSTGAME

Feb 1I

From L to R, top row to bottom row: Tis the season for LOVE, for powderhounds and cupids alike, unless you have "a better idea," or does the snow excite you so much you're like a dog after a stick. Though it is a Happy Monday for most of us, definitely not for that cab driver. Maybe you've "been for a walk on a winter day' (with the Mamas and Papas), but when you get back, be sure to clear off Mama and Papas car. Photos from: Philly (top row), NYC and Boston, bottom row.

HOW DID MY FORECAST NUMBERS FARE?

This will be presented as Location, first accumulation forecast, plus second, plus final. Remember that I divided the storm into three time components...

A) Noon Saturday to 10:00 PM Sat, B) Then 10:00 pm Sat to 6:00 AM Sun, C) 6:00 AM Sun to the end of snowfall. So the final forecast number is based on added those three numbers up, then dividing by the actual observed amount as reported by NWS spotters or offical locations. Note that if there are zeros in the equation, it means I did not forecast additional amounts or left alone what I originally forecasted. In case you were wondering how it is I suddenly have all this free time with 2 children at home, one is watching "Little Einsteins," Mommy is showering and baby is sleeping, so I rushed to the keyboard as any father would naturally do. Oop, spoke too soo. I hear muttering in the baby's room.

FOR PART C OF THE STORM, THE FORECAST CRITERIA I USED IN THE 2-12 POST:
1. From DC to Balto to Frederick MD west to Harper's Ferry, WV... 1 more inch.
2. Along a line from DC to Balto to Philly and east to Del-Mar-Va, another 2-3 inches by noon 3. Along the extreme Eastern shores of Del-Mar-Va and New Jersey, another 3-4 inches

NOW FOR THE RESULTS:

Richmond, VA: 4 + 0 + 0 = 4.0 / actual 3.0 = 75% (25% over) Grade C

Charlottesville, VA: 7 + 0 + 0 = 7.0 / actual 8.0 = 87% Grade B

Martinsburg, WV: (actually Harper's Ferry) 8 + 4 + 1 = 13.0 / actual 14.0 = 92% Grade A

Baltimore, MD (BWI): 6 + 4 + 1 = 11 / actual at airport 13.2 = 80 % Grade B

Dundalk, MD: 5 + 4 + 1 = 10 / actual at my house 11 = 90% Grade A.

(However, my colleagues and students at Dundalk High School and elsewhere in Baltimore County will want to see the bag since I originally said NO MORE than 4")

Towson, MD: 4 + 4 + 1 = 9.0 / actual 16.0 = 56% Grade E

Elkton, MD: 4 + 4 + 2.5 = 10.5 / actual 15.0 NWS = 70% Grade C

Malvern, PA: 7 + 5 + 1 = 13 / actual 17 = 76% = Grade C

Philadelphia, PA (airport): 8 + 2 + 1 = 11 / actual 12.0 NWS = 91% Grade A

Bucks Co, PA: 7 + 3 + 0 = 10.0 / actual 16.0 News = 62 % Grade D

State College, PA: 1 + 0 + 0 = 1.0 / actual 2.1 NWS = 47% Grade E

Ocean City, NJ: (actually Atlantic City) 10 + 3 + 3.5 = 16.5 / actual 4.2 = total bust, Grade E

Rutgers Univ, NJ: 8 + 4 + 3.5 = 15.5 / actual 19.0 = 81% Grade B

Central Park, NYC: 11 + 6 + 0 (gave up) = 16.0 / actual 26.9 = 59% Grade E

Hartford, CT: 12 + 0 + 0 (gave up) = 12.0 / actual 27.0 = total bust, Grade E

Providence, RI: 13 + 0 + 0 = 13 / actual 12.0 NWS = 9% over Grade A

Boston, Logan Apt: 11 + 0 + 0 (gave up) = 11.0 / actual 17.0 NWS = 64% Grade D

Woburn, MA: 14 + 0 + 0 = 14 / actual 15.0 NWS = 7% over Grade A

WHAT'S THE FINAL GRADE POINT AVERAGE FOR THE STORM FORECAST?

Oh you had to ask. Well grading this on a 4.0 scale means E is 0, A is 4 and so on. I get a grade point total of 38 and 18 locations, thus 38 / 18 = 2.11, a basic C. So my score is average, Maybe someday I can grow up to be Pesident since he had average grades too! Hey, at least I hit some of my targets, unlike the Vice President on his hunting trip.

The remainder of this week, updates will be via the email distribution list. Mrs. Foot returns to work the middle of next week after her 12 week maternity leave, so only expect this site to be updated when there is a big storm on the horizon. Think of it this way, you'll hear about storm developments on email first, which will direct you back over to the site when the time comes. Until then, make sure those storm drains are CLEAR before the rain!

(If you want to be included on the email distribution list and have not already sent in your name, please send me a message to rfoot@bcps.org)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

102 comments:
WHAT WENT WRONG (OR RIGHT)
AND WHAT'S COMING NEXT

Feb 2B

Before every big storm is even over, there is always speculation about another one lurking out there, just waiting to pounce before your back has had a chance to recover. This time, the crystal ball is more murky and there are big changes going on in the atmosphere, it will take some time to get the pattern aligned again to produce something on the magnitude of what we just had, if at all. A quick glimpse at the computer models shows two events following February Kahuna # 1. Storm # 2 seems likely to cut up west of mountains, which means rain for the East coast and possible flooding due to snow clogging storm drains. On the heels of this storm will be brutally cold Arctic air, the coldest of the season, arriving Sunday and dragging into the week after. With an active Subtropical Jet turning up in the face of a large Arctic high parking over the eastern 2/3rd of the country, one would surmise that this setup has potential to deliver another snow event for the Northeast sometime NEXT Tue or Wed. The other interesting factor is our old standy, the North Atlantic Oscillation, is scheduled to stay flat the next 7-10 days. This bodes well for storm development because a stable NAO in the neutral position would allow a big system to move gradually across the country from the SW to the Gulf to the Northeast while gathering lots of moisture on it's way. A strong negative NAO might overwhelm the pattern and push the storm out to sea along the Carolinas. A strong positive NAO would cause the storm to drift too far north as it comes up from the south, and you'd see snow change to rain. This much is certain:


1. There will be plenty of cold air in Canada that has to make it south sometime soon.


2. Each day we approach Spring the SubTropical Jet gets climatologically more active.


3. If the snowpack over the Northeast survives this week, that will only enhance your chance for another big storm in the February 18-22 time frame.


SO WHAT WRONG WITH BIG KAHUNA # 1 ? WHY DID IT TURN INTO SUCH A MONSTER ?
I am working on my storm grade numbers among other tasks around the house. But here is a synposis of what happened (and is still happening in this storm). I will add to this with a few links and some graphics later.


1. Conventional wisdom about storm dynamics did not work well. The waters off New Jersey and Southern New England are below normal. This should not have enabled the storm to explode the way it did. It is possible the above normal waters near NC provided more rapid evaporation and the transfer of moisture from the ocean to the storm to the land was faster than expected. Thus you read amazing reports of 11" in 3 hours at New York City.


2. The lack of "cold air damming" at the onset of this storm obviously did not impede it's ability to hammer us. There was enough thermodynamic energy in the right places (in the ocean) to allow the storm to quickly tap the reservoir of cold air in eastern Ontario. This cold air was drawn into the storm a lot quicker than I expected, resulting in a rapid conversion of moisture to snow and the strong upward motion which resulted from this produced the thunderstorm like effects of thundersnow and lighting. It was a classic clash of cold and warm in a dramatic way. I was real skeptical Saturday afternoon when the temps in Dundalk were 42 F and the sun was shining. Yet 5 hours later the snow was falling heavily and sticking to roadways. There was enough cold air drawn into to overcome the brief warmth.


3. The wide disparity in accumulations (8 - 21 inches in Baltimore Metro region, for example) was simply a wintertime example of what summertime thunderstorms do. In summer, one part of town can be drenched with a huge downpour while the other side of town is basking in the sun. Same thing with this storm, except that the thunderstorms developed inside a raging snowstorm, and when they popped, up went your snowfall rates almost instantly. Areas that did not see the crazy amounts of snow were simply missed by the little mini-thunderstorm cells that briefly materialized inside the snow bands, dropped their extra 3-4 inches and then fizzled. Had I thought ahead that the upward motion effect would produce thundersnow, I would have upped my totals. However, predicting where and when a random thunderstorm is going to strike, especially when the storm itself is buried inside a blizzard no less, it just about impossible. There were only a few rumbles of thunder in Dundalk, and we were on the low end of snowfall.. 11-12 inches. Other areas like Timonium have 18" and there were many reports of thundersnow for at least an hour last night. So there's the connection.


DON'T I HAVE TO WEAR THE BAG NOW THAT THE STORM IS OVER ?
Yes, friends I will be wearing the bag, and having Mommy take a picture for all of you to see. I challenge my news media counterparts to do the same when their forecasts bust, up or down. The pic will be posted here shortly, along with a pic from our local bus lot to show you how much work they have up there. See you later tonight.





"HOUSTON, I HAVE A PROBLEM..."
Take a look at this satellite loop if you don't believe me.
Feb 1G

As of 7:45 AM...at least 11 inches in Dundalk, MD at Foot's Forecast HQ

Feb 1F

Okay, I admit it, there is a teensy bit more than 4" out there at the present time.
Hey, quit complaining my forecast was off the mark, because the next statement
will make it all worth the hassle. My new name is Captain Obvious, and I want to say:

NO SCHOOL MONDAY FOR THE ENTIRE BALTIMORE AND DC METRO REGIONS,
AS WELL AS SUBURBAN PHILADELPHIA AND WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK

We have crossed the 8" barrier necessary to make it impossible for school bus parking lots to be cleared in time for regular opening time on Monday. I will march myself the grueling 1/3 of a mile up the road later today and take a photo of our local bus parking lot to demonstrate proof of my theory.

Am working on an analysis of my snowfall amounts for the first 2 period of the storm (12 noon Sat - 12 midnight Sat, and 12AM Sun to 6AM Sun) now I have a third period to assess for how much more and when it will stop.

A reminder to anyone who has joined us since midnight today, if you wish to be added to the email distribution list, please send me a message at rfoot@bcps.org Note that I will not reply to your message, just be assured your address will be added to the list. This feature will be used when there is a developing situation and I cannot post to the site during school because our filtering system blocks most blogs from being viewed by school computers. If you already sent a message in the past 24 hours, you are already on the list.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE...WHEN WILL IT BE OVER AND HOW MUCH BY THEN?

Feb 1E

Let me use Dundalk as my guide for what is left of the storm. I estimated 4 inches would fall by midnight Saturday, and we had about 4. Then I said another 4 inches by 6:00 AM, and we have about 5.5 for a total of probably 10 at the moment. For Dundalk, MD I estimate another 2 inches will fall between 7 AM and Noon before the storm finally winds down to flurries. Looking at the Northeast radar, you can see the back edge is starting to approach, but as Andy from southern York County has pointed out before, that back edge sometimes keeps redeveloping further west as the storm rotates through. Appears to be about a 5 degree backing tilt every 15 minutes, and each tilt is shifting the axis of heavy snow from a SW-NE orientation to a more S to N orientation. Though the dark blues are heading south and east, the rotation may bring some of what is north of you on this map (wherever north of your location is) back down on top of you. Hence the reason Philly extended the Heavy Snow Warning to 1PM.

I am going to apply that rule to everyone from Central and Eastern PA south to DC, Virginia and NC who is under the blue region of the radar. I believe you'll see 2-4 more inches between now and Noon, less towards the west, more toward the East.


1. From DC to Balto to Frederick MD west to Harper's Ferry, WV... 1 more inch.


2. Along a line from DC to Balto to Philly and east to Del-Mar-Va, another 2-3 inches by noon


3. Along the extreme Eastern shores of Del-Mar-Va and New Jersey, believe it or not another 3-4 inches due to an ocean enhancing effect as the snow shield rotates with the departing Low.

SO WHY DID THIS STORM END UP BEING SO MUCH BIGGER THAN I THOUGHT?
Oh so you want the part about me wearing the bad, do you? Well as soon as Mommy wakes up, I'll get her to take a picture and then I'll the tail-between-the-legs commentary on what went wrong.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

37 comments:
"I'M WALKING ON SUNSHINE..."
10:40 PM evening update
Feb 1D


This is what walking on sunshine is like in the Foot household, when I can watch my little girl participate in her first big snowstorm. Ironically this is arriving on the 23rd anniversary of my first big snowstorm as a child, the Feb 11 Blizzard of 1983. (The date says 2/12 because the camera is set incorrectly, but trust me this was around 7 PM Saturday).

So here we are about to turn the corner and go into the long night of what may be terrifically heavy snow for some (DC to NYC ) or a long night of anticipation for others (Boston on north). Heck I even heard that Tampa NWS is calling for flurries tomorrow. At the current rate of snowfall in the Baltimore region, it appears my 4" is going to verify and probably go over. This might sound wishy-washy, but my original forecast as posted in earlier statements and on the email distribution list was 4" in Dundalk by midnight Saturday. That looks to be right on. But the storm is no where near over. I can now see on radar the long expected "pivoting" of the comma head and the Low now deepening off Albemarle Sound in coastal NC. It seems likely that bands of heavy snow will continue to redevelop over the I-95 corridor into the night as moisture rotating in from the Atlantic gets "wrapped around" by the return flow on the NW side of the storm. I also see that our old friend NAO has slowly trended from slightly negative to neutral in the past few days and I have said many times before that is an essential piece of the puzzle needed to get a Nor'easter to turn up the coast ever so gently in order for the Mid-Atlantic to get blasted.


The next graphic shows what accumulations I expect to occur over the next 8 hours... from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. This assumes that all of my numbers posted earlier verify and you would add on top of those to get your storm totals. For our friends in the North...specifically Southern New England, I will do a separate forecast for you Sunday morning. The numbers you see here are supposed to represent the locations of our frequent viewing friends and what I think will fall at your house between NOW and 6:00 AM. So please post your observations first thing tomorrow so we can compare notes.

Feb 1C

I am not going to pretend that I was right all along and change my story to make it sound like I really nailed this one. I do think it is fair to say that I accurately predicted 3 days in advance the amount of snow that would be on the ground by midnight in my backyard. On Thursday 2/9 I said 4" by midnight. But in all fairness, I underestimated the ability of the storm to maintain a large snow shield when it was still in developmental stages. I also did not expect the storm to hug the coast as much as it did, and seeing the NAO now makes me realize that was probably going to be the case from the beginning. It will be interesting to see what the storm does once it moves out of the above normal waters of the Gulf Stream and into the below normal waters south of Long Island and off the Jersey Coast.

So the Final Word on this Storm, I think it will be ranked a 3 on the newly established NESIS (Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale) created by our buddy Paul Kocin of TWC and Louis Uccellini of NWS in 2004. I compare this most closely with the Jan 22, 1987 storm which has a special place in my heart for a few reasons I'll explain later.




IS IT TIME TO EMBRACE THE HORROR
OR REJECT THE HYPE?
How Big Kahuna #1 of 2006 may end up a Boston Blizzard and a Baltimore Bust

Feb 1B

RED ALERT CHANGES TO THE WEBSITE FOR THIS STORM EVENT
COMMENTS HAVE BEEN ENABLED TO ACCEPT FROM ANYONE WITHOUT REGISTERING
PLEASE POST OBSERVATIONS WHEN YOU HAVE ONSET OR MEASUREABLE PRECIP

PICTURES OF THE EVENT WILL BE POSTED AS TIME AND CHILDREN PERMIT
If you wish to be added to the email distribution list, send a message to rfoot@bcps.org

If you already submitted your name, I added about 30 names just since 8AM. Thanks.

FOR THE BASIS OF SCIENTIFIC DISCUSSIONS, LET ME REMIND OF TWO THINGS:

1. While I believe parts of this storm will not deliver the predicted 8-14" for some areas, I did call the onset of this storm back on January 25 when I said, "Major East Coast Snowstorm in the February 10-20 time frame" that is for anyone who thought I was slipping in my old age.

2. I have been skeptical of the forecasts for this storm from the beginning, and since Thursday, 2/9 I have been flatly stating to colleagues in the Baltimore region that this would not deliver more than 4-5" all together. I am going to hold firm to that forecast UNTIL I see with my own eyes a solid 4" on the ground in my backyard. Then I will adjust amounts.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS A TRANSCRIPT OF MY EARLIER FORECASTS POSTED IN THE EMAIL LIST ON THU 2/9 AND FRI 2/10 for those who have just joined the distribution list today, so you know the basis of the forecast.

(Emailed Thursday 2/9/06 to the Distribution List)

SNOW: Yes.
WHEN: Saturday noon to Sunday morning
HOW MUCH: 4 inches on the ground by midnight Saturday in Dundalk, MD
COLD & WINDY: Yeah sort of... highs around 35 with winds of 15-20 mph
BLIZZARD: No.
EARLY DISMISSAL FRIDAY: No. Didn't you read the part about the storm starting SATURDAY.
DELAYED OR CLOSED MONDAY: No. Crews will have enough time to clear lots by Monday AM.
ANY CHANCE THIS COULD BUST AND GO OUT TO SEA OR BECOME ALL RAIN: Yes
CONFIDENCE INTERVAL OF THIS FORECAST: High
WHY? Because National Weather Service computers project roughly .5-1.0 inch of "liquid equivalent" to fall out of the sky over the Baltimore Metro region. See this link:
http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/d13_fill.gif (The purple is about .50 inches)

In a normal storm situation, 1 inch of rain is 10 inches of snow at 30 degrees. Since the Saturday temp will be closer to 35, you have to knock a few inches off the possible 10", and a few more inches due to higher sun angle and a later start time, however the ground will be plenty cold for any precip to stick on contact. Factor in that this storm is likely to be a quick mover, and strong winds behind it will blow the snow around, hence 4 inches is my final answer. (Sat PM comment, actually the ground ended up being warmer than I thought)

My forecast accountability procedure dictates that I am graded on how close to the predicted number on either side of the equation (whether over or under). Thus, if prediction is 4" and we get 5" that is 80% and a B. Or if we get 3" of the 4" = 75% and a C.


(The following was emailed to the Distribution List on Friday morning 2/10)

If you read Thursday's comments on this storm, then you know everything there is to know about what will happen in the Baltimore Metro Region.

"BUT... BUT... THE NEWS SAID 6 - 12" !!!"
They're wrong. Ain't nobody in all of Baltimore County gonna get 12 inches.

All y'all will have 4 INCHES on the ground by midnight Saturday from
Towson on south to DC, and MAYBE 6 inches MAX from Towson on north
to the PA line. (Okay, Hereford gets 6.2) Here's why:

1. High Pressure in Canada is NOT in an ideal location for a big Baltimore storm.
That alone makes me discount this storm somewhat.

2. It's Cloudy right now (8AM Friday). That's baaadd, because the clouds act as
thermal insulator, and hold any heat at the surface in. Sun shines through clouds,
creating a wintertime greenhouse effect. Any heat generated today will be trapped
overnight, making more difficult for the early stages of the storm to produce heavy snow.

3. Though the sky is cloudy, the air is dry and this forces the storm to work harder
because it has to "moisten the column" of air in order for snow falling up there to
get down here before evaporating. Granted this phenomenon of "evaporative cooling"
will chill the atmosphere, but not so much that 4 inches turns into TWELVE! sheesh.

4. The orientation of the polar and subtropical jets are such that as the storm develops,
it will get squeezed by the jets as they amplify and come together, ejecting the storm
out by the Virginia capes. This will be a thump, dump, done storm.

5. To get the "12 inches of biblical porportions", any location would have to see at
least 1 inch per hour for over 10 hours. This storm will not have the staying power required
to sustain such consistently high snowfall rates over a long period of time.

Happy Friday!

Forecaster Foot