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February 5, 2010

Tweaked again ... Forecast goes to 20-30+

This is like some kind of nightmare auction. The NWS forecasters have boosted their snow total forecast from 20-28 inches to 20-30 inches, with some locations facing even more.

It's not entirely unexpected. The BWI forecast shows 1-3 inches this afternoon; 15-21 inches Snow preparationstonight; and 5 to 9 inches Saturday. Add both ends of those ranges and you get 21 to 33 inches.

Any way you slice it, this is going to be a whale of a snowstorm, rivaling the deepest on record for both DC (in 1922) and Baltimore (in 2003). It will also be very dangerous for anyone outside and moving around Friday night. (See below.) 

And if the forecast beyond tomorrow is correct, we're looking at cold weather for the cleanup. This one won't vanish the way the December storm did.

For the record, Mr. Foot has been making predictions in these ranges for some time now. He's currently at 25 to 33 inches. AccuWeather.com still has us in the 12 to 24-inch band.

Eric (can we call him Eric the Red to make him as colorful as Mr. Foot?), is a professional meteorologist from Baltimore we have added to our resources. He is playing with the data on how much moisture this storm will bring - the equivalent of 2 to 3 inches of rain - and the ratio of snow depth to liquid. Here's his thinking:

"Food for thought: If the upper end of 3 inches liquid verifies ... AND we get all snow ... AND we work on a modest 12:1 [snow to liquid] ratio, that would get you a max of 36 inches. If you applied the same assumptions but went 15:1, it would be over 40 inches. That seems a bit far-fetched ... but with this storm, I guess anything is possible."

"Enjoy. This will be one for the books."

Amen.

(AP PHOTO/Steve Ruark/Feb. 5, 2010)

From the National Weather Service:

A FEW PRECAUTIONARY AND PREPAREDNESS ITEMS TO NOTE:

1.  FOLLOW MANUFACTURERS INSTRUCTIONS WHEN OPERATING A GENERATOR OR
AXILLARY HEATER.  ENSURE PORTABLE GENERATORS ARE ADEQUATELY VENTILATED.

2.  TRAVEL CONDITIONS TONIGHT ACROSS THE REGION WILL BE EXTREMELY
DANGEROUS AND LIFE THREATENING.  HELP YOUR LOCAL AND STATE
GOVERNMENT FIRST RESPONDERS AND TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES BY STAYING
OFF ROADS LATER THIS EVENING AND TONIGHT.

3.  FOLLOW LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT EMERGENCY DECLARATION ORDERS.
IF YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO TRAVEL IN AN EMERGENCY...DO NOT TRAVEL
ALONE.  LET SOMEONE KNOW YOUR TIMETABLE AND YOUR PRIMARY AND
ALTERNATE ROUTES.  CARRY WITH YOU A WINTER STORM SURVIVAL KIT WHICH
INCLUDES A MOBILE PHONE...BLANKETS...FLASHLIGHT WITH EXTRA
BATTERIES...HIGH CALORIE NON-PERISHABLE FOOD AND WATER...AND A
SHOVEL.

4.  IF YOU GET STRANDED IN YOUR VEHICLE...DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR TO
TRY TO WALK FOR ASSISTANCE...YOU CAN QUICKLY BECOME DISORIENTED IN
WIND DRIVEN SNOW AND COLD.  THIS STORM WILL SUBSIDE SATURDAY
AFTERNOON...SO WAIT IN YOUR CAR FOR EMERGENCY HELP TO ARRIVE.
PERIODICALLY RUN YOUR ENGINE FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES EACH HOUR FOR
HEAT. ENSURE YOUR EXHAUST PIPE IS CLEARED OF SNOW AND ICE.  CRACK
YOUR WINDOWS TO AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING. TIE A COLORED CLOTH
TO YOUR CARS ANTENNA TO BE VISIBLE TO RESCUERS. FROM
TIME-TO-TIME...MOVE YOUR ARMS...LEGS...FINGERS...AND TOES TO KEEP
BLOOD CIRCULATING.

5.  AVOID OVEREXERTION WHEN SHOVELING SNOW.  BREAK THE SHOVELING
DOWN INTO SMALLER JOBS AND TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS.

6.  IN CASE OF POWER SUPPLY DISRUPTIONS...HAVE AVAILABLE FLASH
LIGHTS WITH EXTRA BATTERIES...EXTRA FOOD AND WATER...EXTRA MEDICINES.

7.  ENSURE ANY PETS AND FARM ANIMALS HAVE PLENTY OF WATER...FOOD...
AND SHELTER.

FINALLY...THE KEY TO GETTING THROUGH THIS AND OTHER PERIODS OF
HAZARDOUS WINTER WEATHER IS WITH ADVANCE PLANNING AND BEING AWARE OF
CURRENT CONDITIONS.  THIS STORM WILL BE WINDING DOWN EARLY SATURDAY
EVENING...SO DO YOUR PART AND LET YOUR LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS
RESTORE ROADWAYS TO NORMAL CONDITIONS BY STAYING AT HOME.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:23 PM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Comments

Frank- the current temps in the region are 34 in Balt (according to Sun Page) and 35 here in Columbia (according to my digital thermometer thingie) How will the slightly higher than predicted temps effect the accumulation totals overall. I can see that it isn't accumulating here yet, but I'm sure that will change as it gets later in the day. Foot's team had predicted 1" by 1pm and we don't have any of it sticking... yet.

FR: As the snow that's falling now evaporates, it will cool the atmosphere and the picture will change. We've already dropped 2 degrees here at The Sun. And it's colder aloft where the snow is forming. We'll have plenty of snow before long.

Best forecast ever:
http://www.accuweather.com/video-on-demand.asp?video=1671939093

But first it has to cool off, so 1-2 inches can stick...so far it's basically rain..

FR: It will cool off. Then the water will freeze. Then it will snow on top of the ice.

Frank, between you and the Foot Team, I can't keep up with the posts! :-)

Though this goes for all the updates, wherever they may be: There's always at least one commenter who's not subject to the laws of physics like the rest of us mere mortals. This time, it seems to be King Artie the Fourth (sorry, but his name's so long I can't remember it). He keeps posting about how great he is at driving in the snow, blah blah blah.

It's the Arties and their ilk who clog up the roads, cause accidents, and then, as the coup de grace, ditch their cars in a snowdrift, thus making it impossible for the road crews to do their job. Never fails.

Meanwhile, the rest of us who grew up in snowy climes have a healthy respect for Mother Nature, and don't feel the need to brag about our supposed driving prowess. We stay off the roads, hunker down, shovel for ourselves and our neighbors, and if we do need to go out, we walk.

Let me know when the snow starts falling, until then, I'm not buying into the hype.

Chris, It's started.

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!!

I am with Chris. Until I see it I am thinking we top out at 12 or so inches.

Tyler, that forecast is hilarious!

It's been snowing since noon here in Carroll County on the MD/PA line. The temperature has dropped from 38 at noon to 33 at 2 PM.

This Floridian would like to know if it'll really be feasible to walk 1.5 miles for a mandatory exam with sub-standard boots in 30 inches of snow. I missed the 2003 storm, so I have no idea what I'm up against!

Oh..this is good, reflections of my days cleaning-up Gorky Park...LET IT SNOW ..LET IT SNOW...LET IT SNOW..

jhc, I think you need decent boots. And high ones, up to the knees. You also need to bundle up. There's cold, and then there's cold, and no matter what the temperature, wet cold, which is what we get here, is a lot worse than dry cold.

I am scheduled to work and drive 30 miles each way. I have vacation time, should I call out?

Frank, is it possible in a storm of this magnitude for thunder snow like it did during the February 1983 blizzard while I was a student at then Towson State?

Oh and I am dying down here with only miserable cold rain while you all will get clobbered with your 2nd blizzard in back-to-back months.

But I did have my snow fun at the Polar Bear Plunge last Saturday.

Would you agree the weather that weekend had all the ingredients necessary for the Plunge to live up to its' name P-O-L-A-R; a blinding raging snowstorm, water temp in the low 30's, air temp in the 20's and falling, wind gusts of 10-15 mph with wind chill of 7 degrees and thousands of crazy and insane people?

BTW, see the first 8 pictures in the Share Your Weather Pictures Section. They're mine.

Mark
FR: Yes. Seems to me I did see a forecast of thundersnow for Saturday.

also frank--
if you live in an area that loses power frequently, like i do, and if you pay your bills and bank online, do it now, just in case. and . . . do all that laundry laying around and run the dishwasher. you don't want to be living in complete squalor 'til things thaw out again . . .

I have been posting on my blog on Weather Underground (cws6196) that we would see 30 or even more for the past couple days now. The NWS is a bit slow to come around to what the data has been showing us for awhile now. You can also find my posts on Baltimore's weather website: Baltimore Groundhog

jhc - Feasible if you don't mind losing a foot to frostbite or worse. Nothing's mandatory when it involves risking death.

Hi, Frank! Is there a word for having a fear of snow? I think I'm starting to suffer from it.

FR: Actually, there is: Chionophobia. You heard it here first.

Looks like it's FINALLY sticking on grassy areas and cars in Elkridge. Still skeptical, but it is starting to stick.

To Dan: Call Out!

Frank, a fellow New Englander! Hail from Swansea, MA here, now in Balto area--I don't remember snow like this since blizzard of '78.

Were you still in New England for that storm?

Looking forward to a cozy weekend with the family! Be safe everyone!!

FR: I was, with a toddler and a new baby. We've had a couple like this since I arrived here in 1980, most recently in Feb. 2003.

Like many phobias, "chionophobia" is from the Greek (chion, snow + phobos, fear).

Ironically, Greek is the subject of my exam tomorrow. Fun times.

Excellent choice Frank adding Eric "the Red" as a source. I've known him 15 years and he nails nthem like Stover nails field goals.

He nailed the Dec. 18/19 storm before the models did -seven days out.

Great guy to talk weather with too-

Hey Eric-Glad your finally getting your due buddy!!!

5pm in Bel Air--- still no snow sticking. ... will not be happy if i have to work tomorrow!

It will not stick in fact I think we will only get 6-12 inches if that. Just like Baltimore meteoroligists. Every drop of snow is an event and it gets over hyped.

Uh, Dan, don't look now but I think it's safe to stay that this heavy, wet, driving snow is most definitely sticking. I think we are way beyon 6-12 inch territory.

We left Baltimore April 1, 2009 and winter (snow) was one reason. We now live in Costa Rica at 3900 ft elevation with average highs of 75 degrees and lows of 62 degrees. I don't miss shoveling snow at all!

CoCoRAHS starting to report totals...over 28" and counting in Columbia and Elkridge.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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