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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Moving to

After nearly 4 years of blogging, and the past year on the improved Blogger set up- I have made the move to be a Baltimore Weather Examiner. It has been in the works for a few months, and hopefully today to partnership will be a flawless transition. Please check out my Examiner Page. The link will open in this window, but may hold the banner from my web site. If it's too busy, cut and past this into your browser:
If you are here for the first time, please scroll down and you'll get an idea of how I cover my storm forecasting and blogging. Please contact me and let me know what you think..
Note: Keep this link handy. I will continue to post model analysis here, as well as days when I have many images to share.
In honor of my transition, and new layout, I wanted to post some pictures Jim Schuyler recently sent me. Above is a great fall shot from Prettyboy Reservoir in Baltimore County. Below was last weekend and a perfectly timed shot some kyakers at Great Falls, VA.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October Snow: The Models Show a Chance This Afternoon Closer To Home

Guns and Roses sang November Rain, but should someone write a song about October Snow? Even the pumpkins were shocked. Last week I mentioned a snowstorm I experience on Halloween at Cornell (Ithaca, NY), but it's still a rarity for them too. Lots of schools were closed and power went out from the heavy snow and high winds.
I have posted the Snow Totals on my story with

Some of the snow amounts over 1 foot extended into the Poconos of northestern PA. Even western Maryland got in on the act.

Here is a snapshot from this morning, showing the snow on the ground at Frostburg State University. Our floor director told me this morning that her daughter went to school there just so she could have more snow. That's a woman after my own heart.

Here is a new, cleaner view of the Upper Level Energy at 500mb (around 18,000ft). This shows the potential for showers to carry over the mountains and reach central Maryland this afternoon and evening.
I've analyzed the wind direction off of the Lakes...and circled the vort max in the orange shading over central Maryland. This is the spin of energy tat should carry the showers over the mountains. The Number [540] is 5400m and represents the thickness of the atmosphere which translates to a layer of near freezing air aloft. Colder air contracts and is less thick in between certain layers.
While downtown temperatures should be around 47F, I expect lower 40s or colder up north near the PA. So the Hereford Zone of Baltimore County and Carroll County should have snowflakes mixed in, thanks to colder cloud temperatures. A burst may occur close to dark, that could coat the grass, but the ground is still relatively warm, so the roads will be fine.
Tomorrow and Halloween we get back to more sun, and a gradual warm up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Surpise Storm: Nor'Easter Bring Taste of Winter

Yup, this one caught me off guard! I was not alone, just look at the historic World Series game last night in Philadelphia. The first time 'ever' a game was suspended due to rain. They did not plan for it, but at least the score was tied when the game was stopped. They will 'try' to resume it today, but I have my doubts. The rain should stop tonight, but the strong winds may force the delay another day. Besides, do the Phillies want to potentially win with a sparse crowd?. I claim to be a step ahead of the models... and I think I was- but then I got trampled. I had showers for our north side, and during my update yesterday afternoon, I tried to explain why it expanded south. Well this 'spin' developed into a potent storm off of the coast overnight. This rapid development, with a pressure drop over the 1mb per hour to classify a 'bomb'. This has resulted in a dramatic wind field as it pulls cold air into the center. That is why we expect gusts up to 45mph today. Even as the storm pushes farther away, the winds will continue to whip up. This Advisory map tells the true story. Wind Advisories (tan) all the way up the coast. Winter Weather Advisories (light blue) in the Poconos and Catskills. Even A Winter Storm Warning (purple) for parts of Central NY.

Here is the snowfall forecast for NY, that may make your mouth water....well mine at least.
As the cold air spills in and turns the rain to all snow this morning, Lake Ontario will also enhance the snow, especially as the storm pulls away and the wind can do it's thing.
Binghamton will have a dramatic range of 2 inches to nearly a foot from their western towns to the eastern mountains. The mountains over 3,000 and 4,000 feet in the Catskills along with the Tug Hill Plateau- east of lake Ontario could easily see well over 1 foot of snow. I can't wait to see the pictures.
The final surge of energy will arrive tomorrow with more showers developing, and some could mix in snowflakes north and west of the beltway. That does include Baltimore and Carroll Counties.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Afternoon Update: Surprise Rain- Is This a Sign?

I had rain in my forecast this morning, but it was just for the northern areas. I did not expect this line to extend as far south as it did. However, the upper level maps this morning, did support it. Here is the 500mb map from the NGM showing the vorticity or energetic 'spin' aloft. This allows not only for enhancement of any showers in the afternoon, but surviving the trip across the mountains. That is exactly what it did, as seen on this radar snapshot from 2pm.

So is this a sign? A sign in this pattern that anything heading our way having a better chance of developing and maxing out. Well, here is the 500mb ma fro Wednesday morning. The next vort max, which essentially is the final push of cold air with this upper level Low, will pass just to our south. The vort max itself is seen in red, and this position is maximum potential for us in central Maryland. Combine this will cold air aloft, and my call from last week may still hold. Perhaps even more so with rain and snow showers not only in the mountains, but we could have the first flakes close to home by lunch on Wednesday. My fingers are crossed. Are yours? If you go to the Seasonal Tab on my full web site, you will see a new page I developed with Ski Bonk. Feel free to scroll around and get in the snow mood.

Here is the long range map from the Japanese Model in honor of Tony Pann. This is the cold air spilling in behind the weekend storm. Although this is a long shot, it does indicate a chance of it ending as snow- at least just west and north as the cloud level temps (850mb) will be near freezing. Still, I think it's a little too early for 'stickage'

Shaking Things Up... And Down Under

The earthquake map here shows the results from the last 7 days, but a lot of activity took place over the weekend. The one yellow dot in southern PA, was in York County. This is the second on this month. While it was officially reported as a magnitude 2 on the Richter Scale, it does remind us that although not as vibrant as the San Andreas Fault, there is still seismic activity in the east.
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also had it's second shock of the month.

Australia enters it's spring season and this beautiful full arch rainbow is one of the few promising things the Ausies have seen.

Last Wednesday (10/22), Sydney had it's coldest day in 30 years with a high of 58F.

The Blue hills of New South Whales had snow for only the 5th time in 50 years of record keeping.

North in Brisbane and Coffs, severe storms brought lightning and large hail. The image here with the flip flops is my favorite.

Thanks to Charlie Wilson for this information and images from the Sydney Morning Herald.

More on our chance of midweek flurries and another hit early next week, on an evening post. So please, check back then.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Winter Outlook: Old Farmers Almanac

My post I promised got erased, but I wanted to get this on for the weekend. I am compiling a comparison of all of the winter outlooks and will have that page ready soon. Here is the cold and snowy look from the OLD Farmer's Almanac. They also have an interesting article on Global Cooling you can view here. More on that later. Gotta run

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rain, Rain, On The Way. It Will Be Here Saturday.

That large storm I mentioned yesterday, is still on target to make for a wet start to the weekend. Here is the generic 1-3 day rainfall forecast from HPC (Hydrometeorological Prediction Center). These are mainly generated from the GFS model. You can see the heavy rain expected to our north and west, while Baltimore falls in the 'near 1 inch' range.
Here is the break down for Baltimore from a few of the models:

GFS: 0.85"
NGM: 0.41" (through Sat evening)
NAM: 1.37"

So a wide range to pick from, but a solid shot of a soaker. The models are calling for us to hit the low 60s, but i have a hard time expecting us to warm up that much with an easterly flow, and the cool damp air already in place. If this was a winter set up, we would be calling this a 'cold air dam', and have the physics of a phase change from snow/ice and rain to deal with. Either way, I went 60F for Saturday on TV, but there is a good chance that we spend most of the day in the 50s. It should be noted that winds will be strong out of the east and southeast over 30 knots.. translating to about 35 mph. That will make for a raw day, but only one day. The wind will be strong on Sunday, but it will clear out.
I know I promised another winter long range outlook. I will get that online later today- so check back then or over the weekend. On a side note, there still is hope for flurries next week close to home.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Snow Storm Out West Will Feed Rain Here Saturday.

That is one impressive looking storm. A bulls eye of sorts in the center of the country, responsible for Winter storm Warnings in western Nebraska and Kansas. However, it is spun out and has run it's course, and warped dry air around the center. A secondary Low will develop at the famed 'triple point' to it's southeast, and that will be our main source of rain this weekend.
That same High Pressure just north of New York State that brought us this cold snap, will park over New England and enhance our wind feeding off the ocean into the storm. We will be on the warm side, so no snow here- yet. Just a good soaking Saturday, but optimism that it will speed through and clear out for a decent Sunday.
The original Low will not disappear complete. As it meanders into Canada, it will help to pull down our coldest shot of the season next week. The pattern is looking interesting early next week, as a coastal Low may really wind up near New England. This would be a stronger version of what happened just a day and a half ago. The result will not only be a continued 'colder than normal' pattern, more showers, but perhaps more widespread snow showers. I know I hit on this yesterday, so I will wait for another model run to lock into it. In my weekend out look on tomorrow's post, I put my confirmation on whether we get some here or not.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Snow North, Foliage From Space

It snowed! It really snowed! Well up north in NY State.... but it did what it was suppose to. Here is the Satellite/Radar image from 5:30 this morning- along with my analysis. Strong wind wrapping into a developing Low Pressure off of the New England Coast and pulled cold air south, and helped produce snow showers off of Lakes Erie and Ontario. As I showed yesterday, the upper level support may carry some of these clouds far enough south to cover northern Maryland, but the flakes will not make it here. The same wind off of the lakes that gets enhanced while moving up higher terrain, dries out moving down the mountains as it heads here. Only under special conditions can we get some of that our way.
It may not be that far off. After this weekend's storm, an impulse of energy combined with a surge of colder air will reach us on Monday. Below you can see the surface and 500mb maps for Monday.
On the Left is the Surface map showing a small but potent Low Pressure developing off of the coast, and the pink shading showing the area where showers are likely. This image also shows the potential freezing line (5400m thickness from 100mb to 500mb) which I highlighted in white. That is far enough south to support at least snow flakes at cloud level.

Here is the upper level 500mb map for the same time frame. This shows a vigorous upper level feature or vort max, which is often what I use to sniff out snow showers days ahead. This is not a big storm, but it is following the track just to our south, that is most promising is you want some flakes. It might be a bit premature to mention this on TV, but I will lean in this direction

This is the latest image from MODIS on NASA's Tera Satellite. It was taken over a week ago on October 12th, but it does show the areas of near and past peak very well. They look reddish/brown and dominate the mountains up to our north.
It will be interesting to see the next image from our region, as well head into peak color in the next week or two. Below is the latest local update from the Foliage Network for the Mid Atlantic and South East.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter Folklore

I promised last week that I would start looking into some long range forecasts and even folklore. So for today, I ask you for your assistance. If you grow or buy local produce, check this one out and let me know:

Onion skins very thin,
Mild Winter coming in;
Onion skins thick and tough,
Coming Winter cold and rough.

Well, once this front passes today, it will set the stage for the first round of winter like air.... at least just to our north. It still looks good for Central NY to get snow tonight and Wednesday morning.
Here is the 500mb level map for Wednesday morning. This is an indication of the energy at around 18,000ft- that can translate to clouds and showers. While I don't think we will have the surface wind support, this does show a flow from Lake Ontario to northern MD. It might be possible that flurries fall in PA, but this will keep the clouds nearby and hold temperatures down deep in the 50s. The official NWS forecast has us sunny, but with this cold air aloft, it is hard to imagine that we will hold off the instability clouds. At least early in the day.

The weekend storm will most likely bring us rain. The question is will it warm up or stay chilly?
The GFS (what most forecasters in the US use), has the Low riding into the Ohio Valley- keeping us on the warmer side. Here is the Canadian Model, showing Saturday's storm with a surface Low Pressure forming over Virginia Beach. That is farther east of the GFS, and means more rain/colder temps for us. I have not completely translated this to the extended forecast, but I might start to drop my weekend forecast temperatures tomorrow morning. What is more interesting, is that the cold air behind this storm, might support flurries for us by Monday or Tuesday. If it still looks promising, I will hit more on that tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frost vs. Freeze. First Snow in NY?

What is the difference?
A frost can develop with air temperatures as mild as 38F or 40F. It's the surface of your car, or blades of grass that can drop lower and allow condensing moisture to form ice crystals. A freeze however is when the air temperature actually drops to freezing (32F). The difference can lead to an abrupt end to the growing season for plants and late season crops. A hard freeze pretty much takes care of everything growing as temps drop below freezing for at least 4 hours. This morning, temperatures dropped into the 20s and 30s. That was the core of this cold spell and thanks to clear skies and Sunday's temps only reaching the upper 50s.

First Snow in NY
Beside my personal connection of 4 years in Cornell (Ithaca), working in Syracuse and Binghamton... I think it is worth mentioning the seasonal shift- even if it's not here.
Let's jump past the next cold front and into Wednesday morning. Here you can see the 850mb temperature map (the most efficient for measuring temperature forecasts).
Here you can the blue shading indicating colder air spilling in across the lakes. This is actually 6C-8C- which would translate to near freezing surface temperatures. No big deal, right? We just had that this morning. However, this profile of sub freezing temperatures near the Great Lakes- along with the proper wind flow, will allow bands of snow to develop.

Here is the surface weather map for Wednesday morning, showing a small and weak Low Pressure forming off of the New England Coast. That will enhance the North West flow across Lake Ontario and dump across central New York the first snow of the season. Considering the warm water temperature in contrast to the colder air, there could be some heavy bands of snow- but where will depend on the precise wind direction. I will focus more on this as the snow develops...but isn't that exciting? Not for us. The same northwest wind rides down the mountains and dries out. So this type of set up is not going to bring us snow. It's confined to the mountains and lee side of the lakes in NY. I'm jealous. First ski areas opening up in Colorado last week, and now snow on the way in my old stomping grounds. On a side note, Ithaca, NY had a Halloween snow storm in 1993 that dumped between 2 and 6 inches of snow. I don't find that a scary thought, but some of you may.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend Chill, Winter Forecast (Not Mine)

As advertised all week, the cooler air is spilling in, and this will be the way we balance out the warm week. There will be another disturbance passing through on Saturday, with it's clouds, will hold out temperatures down in the 50s. That's afternoon temperatures cooler than the last few mornings.

My forecast for Sunday morning's Susan G Komen's Race for the Cure in Hunt Valley will likely dip down into the 30s. We are expecting 40,000 people at the event, so perhaps we can help make it feel warmer.

The cold air has put me in the mood to start looking forward to winter. Come on, I know I am not alone. I like to wait until November to make my call, since it allows me a chance to see how the pattern is holding or evolving- some put their forecasts out very early. Many are trending cold and snowy, like this one from Henry M at Accuweather. His forecast calls for an Eastern Storm Track that will keep us colder with heavier snow than normal. The northern plains will near to below normal, while the Rockies will have more snow on the northern half. A closer look below, shows Baltimore close to 30 inches, above our seasonal average of 18-21 inches. It should be noted that Carrol County typically can see 36 inches, while less than 12 inches is the norm on the Lower Eastern Shore. I will compile all of the forecasts and post them on my snow page (under reconstruction now)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We hit The Trifecta!

Yesterday's added sun boosted us to a high of 82F, bringing us to 3 days in a row in the 80s. It was a long hot afternoon walking 18 holes and carrying my bag on the golf course. It was my first time out in a month, and made me wonder if I should have hung it up for the year. For the record, I was with Tony Pann, and he rolled his bag, which made the difference of at least 5 strokes.
The view was great! I was surprised by all of the evergreen needles that are being let go. Is that a result of high growth this summer, or are the trees preparing for something else...say a hard winter. I have heard so many folklore forecasts, and many are pointing to a hard winter. We do have a chance of frost this weekend, so I will begin with the first snow forecast (not mine), then as we get in the mood. Next week, I will bring up the folklore forecasts.
So far, the peak leaves are getting closer. Here is the update for PA and New England. We have some color already, but next weekend the peak areas should be in western Maryland and the PA line.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Never a Dull Moment

Yesterday the temperature reached 82F at BWI. In the 80s for a second day in a row, and all I could hear was how great it was. From golf to yard work- well I think the golf was the great part. It was a beautiful day, and I'm a cold weather guy. The surge of warm air was not a surprise, and still not a record. It is quite common to have a few warm spells in the fall, and the warmer spells will be balanced out by a dramatic cool down this weekend. But don't complain... first, we've had a good stretch of good weekends. Secondly, when you consider what has been happening across the country (and beyond), we've been pretty lucky.
Here you can see the highlights across the country (map coming soon):

FIRE: There were 2 wild fires that remained unchecked outside of LA yesterday. Fueled by the warm dry Santa Anna winds- so far a total of 49 structures have burned.

SNOW: A storm in the Rockies in the past week has helped 2 Ski Resorts open today in Colorado. Loveland Ski Area announced this morning that it will open for the season at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Arapahoe Basin, which originally planned a 9 a.m. opening Wednesday, switched it today to 8:30 a.m. after Loveland's plans were announced. It's like gas stations battling across the street from each other. More can be found here.

Warm and Quiet: That is the story from Maryland to Mississippi. That's where temperatures were averaging the low 80s.

Hurricane OMAR! This was upgraded overnight. As if it wasn't bad enough that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands had a 6.1 earthquake last weekend, they are bracing for this Category 1 storm by this Thursday. the projection here for the weekend is moving safely farther away from the Eastern US.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Told You We'd Get There

That would be back to 80F. I had an email about a week or two ago asking if we were done with warm days, and without even needing to look at long range weather maps, I felt pretty confident that another warm stretch would return. It's not bragging, just the law of averages. This is a point I make often, and it almost never seems to fail. We hit 80F yesterday, and there was a lot of warm weather to be had- despite the stubborn clouds. It looks like 80F is possible again today and Wednesday, before another dramatic change and drop by the weekend. It's like the stock market, but less people get hurt.

Here is the image I showed on the TV this morning. It is just listed as Fall in Maine, but the bridge makes the shot. This would be great in any season, and once again make Bob Ross proud.
Keep sending these in either through the Weatherbug, or directly to me, so I can share them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

The moon will officially be full tomorrow the 14th. However, it looked close to full as it set this morning over our airport cam at BWI Marshall just before 6am. This first pictures was taken at 5:43am- when I found it by chance. Just 4 minutes later, it was already slipping below the western horizon. A full moon is thought to have a wide range of impacts. In addition to tidal swings, teachers will say the kids act wild on a full moon, and a growing field of research on the connection with the lunar cycle and earthquakes. In fact there was a large 6.1 magnitude earthquake this weekend in the US Virgin Islands and Porto Rico. Add to the mix, Wild fires in Southern California, and up to a foot of snow in the mountains of Utah and Montana

Friday, October 10, 2008

Warm Weekend. Is This Indian Summer?

We are on target with the pace of afternoon temperatures to reach deep into the 70s. A storm in the South Carolina has helped to pump in some mild air, but is staying far enough away to just throw a few high clouds our way. Yesterday we made it to 78F- a few days before I expected the bump to occur, but we all win out. What is important to keep in mind is that this is FOG season. We had it this morning, with the typical 90 minute delays on the Eastern Shore. As the warm air settles in, so does rise in dew point temperatures. The longer nights allow the great chance of temperatures dipping to that dew point and developing fog. This morning, it was confined to the areas by water- such as York Rd in Baltimore County- which is close to Loch Raven Reservoir. Also, a few valleys have trended colder and developed some of that fog. This weekend, I expect it to be more widespread- but just a morning event.

Indian Summer:
This questions comes up just about every fall. Is this Indian Summer? Well, first we have the thank the early settlers of "The Americas", for mistakenly thinking this was India. They noticed warm weather into the fall season, when the same time of year in Europe would routinely trend much cooler. It should also be noted that Europe is higher in latitude and has longer nights/shorter days in October as well.
The most accepted definition of Indian Summer is a string of warm days reaching into the 80s after the first frost. however, I have seen it in some parts of the country defined as 5 days into the 80s. Other definitions lead to it being in November. Either way, some of us, but not all, had a frost early this week. Does it matter? I say enjoy it now, because the long range models have a dramatic cool down by next weekend. I always told my students to look out for a balance of numbers. So Near 80F would be over 10 degrees above normal. That would be balanced out by afternoons in the 50s when the pattern shift arrives.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Big Change is Coming

A change for the weekend weather that is.... did you think I was going political?
This weekend is chock full of activities, with the most pressure on the Baltimore Marathon and it's 17,500 runners. My concern was this next front stalling off of the coast, and keeping us with a steady easterly wind. That would have kept us cloudy and cool. However, it looks like most of the overnight models are pushing this through in a hurry and allowing us to warm up with some weekend sun. While the weekend forecast (as of this morning), does push us into the 70s with sun, this is fog season. Any hint of milder air, will also come with some higher dew points. The longer nights, and nearby water from lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, will aid in the good chance of morning fog. I have opted out of the marathon this year, but some of my coworkers are running it, and seem to be fine with fog, as long as it's not raining or windy.

If you like that, then you will surely like the potential of seeing an 80F day on Monday as warm air surges ahead of the next storm.
Here you can see a developing cold front similar to the one heading our way now. This pattern does not tend to give us a lot of rain, but it will surge warmer air in ahead of it. In fact, I have often noticed the models undercut the warming by a few degrees, so my 82F for Monday, might be conservative. The only thing I see that could hinder my optimism, would be a SE wind off of the Atlantic. The 850mb (around 5,000ft) temperature map shows the warm air surging in, but the surface flow around High Pressure in Maine will bring a light wind either out of the south east or south west. This will be determined by the location of that High on Monday, and how fast that cold front is moving. If we have a south east wind, that could shave 5 or more degrees off of the thermometer, especially for places near the water.

Fall Foliage Picture of the Day:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Defining Fall

Quiet and Cold is the best way to describe this morning. The coldest spot was York, Pa at 33F, but Towson dipped to 36F (at least off the hill in valley by Riderwood ES).
I give it about a week until we have some truly good fall color in the leaves. Right now it's just a little spotty. So here is a snapshot from the great state of Maine. As you view this, consider, what is your definition of fall. I got an email from a loyal viewer this morning with his take:

Gotta laugh: You describe how you know it's fall by the leaves changing. I describe fall by the wife (and mother in law who lives with us) by them telling me it's time to take out the screens and put in the storm windows. Geez--I hate that job! LOL
Terry in Bell Air.

Thanks for sharing...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday Was Sweet In The Football Suite, Despite Raven's Defeat

I was lucky to get a ticket to the Classic Catering suite at M and T Bank Stadium yesterday. This view from the 10 yard line was on the south facing side of the stadium. It's been a while since I spent a few hours in one stretch outside... and it was hot! Although we only hit 73F in the afternoon, the sun made it feel more like the mid 80s and the seats were burning. Poor me, right? What's interesting is that lower sun angle in the fall can make it feel warming on your skin. It all depends on the angle the sun hits you. In the summer, with the sun almost directly overhead, you would feel the sun on your head, or as you lay down by the pool. In the fall, just sitting down, lets that sun focus it's rays on your face, arms, and chair at the game (if your on the visitors side of M and T Bank). By now you know the result of the game, and that took some of the enjoyment out of the air.
Some. A more dramatic change is on the way, as overnight temperatures could dip into the 30s (outside the beltway) Tuesday and Wednesday morning..
A Frost Advisory has been posted for the Pennsylvania Counties just to our north

That cold air should help accelerate the turning of the leaves. Before we get out chance to leaf peep, images from across the country are already pouring in.
One spot I am still waiting to visit, is Aspen Colorado. The unique thing about this place, is that the leaves all seem to turn the same color at the same time. This provides a layering of colors that would make Bob Ross happy. This actually looks like one of his pictures.

Oh, but wait, there's more. This morning I rediscovered our "photo's" section on our StormCenter Weathernet. In addition to thousands of neighborhood temperatures from across the country, we get pictures as well. Here is my favorite this morning. I will share more each day this month. If we're lucky, we'll have some snow mixed in by then...