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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fire and Rain= Mudslides. My Winter Outlook Snow Forecast

Standing Wave Clouds
This is the visible satellite image from 9:30am. It shows the distinct result of cold air rolling down from the hills and mountains to our west, and drying out. the ripples are the result of the air rolling up and down over the terrain. The more 'down' the air flows, the clouds thin out and eventually fall apart. The clouds appear to look like waves or ripples in a pond. While it was clear at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, half of our sky was covered in clouds, and just 15 miles west it was overcast. As the sun warms, mixes and destabilizes the air, more clouds will develop east of this line, and appear to shift it over the city. There still may be a flurry west of the city.

The National Weather Map shows two distinct problems, while the rest of the country catches a break.
Great Lakes snow will continue, even after throwing a stray flurry nearby today.
California has taken it on the chin this month. Record heat, wild fires, and now heavy rain. The result is a formula for mudslides. The ground can not handle the rain. The steep terrain and run off will cause problems today, but improve tomorrow.
A little piece of this will move east, but our next storm does not look impressive. In fact, I am going to jump past any flurry chance today and the light showers on Friday. The back end of the holiday could get interesting. A few days ago, I mentioned Larry Cosgrove's forecast for a coastal storm early next week. The GFS model did not have it, but it is not the best long range forecaster. However, it is what most of you see in one form or another in your long range forecasts. It did catch on to it last night. Below are just a few samples of what may happen from a few different views.
The Navy NOGAPS model does have a coast storm strengthen after passing north of Maryland Monday morning. The blue line would be the snow line, and is still too far west. This represents the cold air NOT catching up with the precipitation. The storm will dump heavy snow in New England, but NOGAPS has us with Sunday night rain, ending Monday morning, with maybe a flurry Monday evening, then clearing out.

The ECMWF or European model here shows Sunday nights map. The Low in the Great Lakes will shift energy to a developing low along the 'triple point' as it occludes. That basically means the cold air cuts off the circulation and a new storm forms. This secondary storm would not take form until Monday and after it has a chance to pass us by. Again, a near miss for us...
My trusted Canadian model does not show it either... Here is that same Great Lakes Low Sunday night into Monday.
so what to do, what to do?
There has been a tendency this season for the cold air to build farther south, and the timing of this systems mid range to be off.

So far, I have not seen much support for much of anything next week. Then the dark horse gallops back into the picture... The GFS..
Here is Sunday night's transfer of energy to the developing coastal. It may be hard to see, but the GFS has it farther south and east than any other model. Here is the low east of Ocean City, with the famed 540 thickness line (snow line in white) near I-95. That is contrary to what I showed above. The cold air DOES catch up to the precipitation. That would be a change over from rain to snow- but it looks light for now. This happens because it takes the cold air all the way down to the Gulf Coast, and allows the jet stream to buckle. This gets the cold air in here, while keeping the system closer to us.
Behind it is yet another, but strong storm off the coast. This is Monday night, along a very strong conveyor belt of energy and moisture aligned with the Gulf Stream. This might be too far away, but holding on to Larry Cosgrove's notion of something impressive.
I have cut out most of the technical stuff, and just tried to show the basic idea of what many of the models are doing or not doing. There is still a small glimmer of hope for snow lovers, and enough of a chance to warrant some attention on the holiday weekend. I thought I would take a little break- even though I have to work through Saturday. So if I see anything interesting pop up, I'll post it. Otherwise, it's just a matter of watching how this might unfold. The first order would be to gauge the Friday system. While it weakens, it should set up the next round of cold air. Depending on how that air mass builds south, could determine how the rest of the dominoes fall. Stay tuned....
{More Later}

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