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Monday, May 12, 2008

Expected and the Unexpected

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Mother's Day Forecast- Verified!

If this pattern was a few months ago- we would be digging out of historic snow. That's just a matter of timing. Sure the forecast was almost exact for 6 days leading up to Mother's Day- go back and check each post and you will see how the Canadian Model called this precipitation to move in. The rain began between 4pm and 6pm- and in just the last few hours of Sunday dumped a record 1.49" at BWI. That brings us to 2.66" for the month and all now surplus for the year. THE DROUGHT IS OVER! (As of 5am we had another 1.04" of rain)

That wind was something too: We average gusts over 40mph, but Ocean City wins with a gust to 66mph. Most of us had gusts between 35-50mph overnight. That is one mighty impressive Low (992mb), that had BWI's barometer down to 29.52" earlier today. Here is a live link to the Water Vapor Loop of the last 24hours. You can see the impressive circulation of what I see as a late winter like storm. Consider the snow drought and mild temperatures mid winter while much of the nation had record snow- that was the result of an active jet stream passing to our west and north. It is still quite active, and shifting east. In fact the whole jet stream is a bit south for May. Just a delay in the spring transition. In combination with May solar heating- the result has been deadly. Another round of tornadoes this weekend killed 22 (at last count). While it's been the most active tornado season in 50 years, again I see it as a rare jet stream, but the result of a moderate La Nina holding in the Pacific. Other's have been speculating- without surprise- that it something else... say Global Warming. I heard just that on ABC this weekend from an interview with two women called the Twister Sisters. I did a little background on these two, and you can find them at They have run a tornado chasing tour group. Are they just promoting their business? Somehow a cute name gets them a national interview, but they have little background if meteorology... They cited research guessing that Global Warming would allow more Gulf Of Mexico moisture to flow farther north and result in more tornadoes. That doesn't account for the low tornado years of 1999 and 2003. Jim Reed- photographer, was on GMA this morning also talking about trends. He has been tracking tornadoes for over 20 years. He believes there has been in increase in storm size and people getting caught out. That does lead credence to the mobility and spread of our population into places that were uncharted or sparse farmland just a decade ago...
Below are links to USA tornadoes since 1916. This brings up the debate of whether tornadoes have really increased dramatically or has our ability to track and confirm them improved. You'll notice the number of fatalities have dropped dramatically as well. Since 1995 with the completion of the current WSR-88D network, warning time has gone up from 5 to 20 minutes. But consider what else has changed.

  • Personal Video Cameras
  • Cell Phones (With Cameras)
  • Internet Use and transfer of images
  • Suburban sprawl... people live in more places that would go unnoticed in the past.
Tornado Reports
Tornado Fatalities

So what do you think? Please see the poll at the right and click your choice:

This is the pattern that should have evolved at the end of the winter. It seems rather common of many past springs, the pattern turns cool and damp too late. This is a demonstration of why so many in Maryland say we go right from winter into summer. The spring runs below normal in April and May, and as the jet lifts to our north by June- it brings prime heat with it, right on schedule.
Today, much like Friday- the redevelopment off of the coast wraps in some very cold northerly winds- keeping us in the low 50s or 20 degrees below normal. I would not be surprised if it stays in the upper 40s north of the beltway.
Look at this radar image saved from 6:34 this morning. Yup, that's snow in Altoona, PA (by the clock). I have to give credit to Tony Pann for calling this on Friday. He called me and pointed out the 850mb temps and 540 thickness forecast on the GFS model. I thought it was overdoing it. Wow! Of course it's not our forecast area, but impressive to have snow even in the higher terrain this time of year. A sign of the cold air generated bu this storm and reinforcing my forecast for this afternoon staying in the 40s in most spots.


John said...

Yes Justin, La Nina is surely holding on! This late cold-sector storm proves it. Don't you think it's quite unusual how this storm is passing almost due east instead of to our west, through the Great Lakes and up toward Quebec and the Hudson Bay?
Do you know if the same rule of thumb works in the Spring and Summer as it does in the Winter for the NAO going negative and bringing big storms up the Eastern Seaboard??? (I haven't seen the readings recently.)
And I hear ya...Summer hasn't disappeared, it's comin soon, it's just delayed; I think we'll see the mid 90's by June...this is just a normal fluctuation in in our constantly changing and volatile East Coast weather.

Justin said...


That NOA- North Atlantic Oscillation has been consistently negative since mid March. Yes, it does work pretty much the same way for all seasons. A block is a block. And the the North Atlantic has one, we often feel it. Check out this link and thanks. I may have something to discuss tomorrow...