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February 3, 2010

Winter Storm Watch posted: 12 to 20 inches

Here we go again. The National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va., has just posted a Winter Storm Watch for nearly all of Maryland west of the Chesapeake. It warns of the possibility of more than a foot of snow, and  "a good chance" for more than 20 inches in some places, by Saturday.

AccuWeather.comHere's more from the National Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, which uses the word "crippling." Here's AccuWeather.com (snow map at left). And here's Mr. Foot, who has been all over this one..

The Winter Storm Watch says the snow would begin by late morning on Friday, and continue through Saturday evening. Temperatures late Friday and Saturday should be in the upper 20s to 30 degrees. Says Sterling:

"THIS STORM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE SIMILAR TO THE DECEMBER 19TH STORM.
PLAN FOR SUBSTANTIAL DISRUPTIONS TO TRAVEL FRIDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH THE
WEEKEND."

That Dec. 19 storm dropped 21.1 inches at BWI over two days. If we get another 20-inch-plus snowstorm out of this at BWI, it will be the first time since snow records began in 1883 that's occurred. Hoo boy.

But there will be differences, according to the forecast discussion from Sterling:

"COMPARISONS HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO THE LATE DEC SNOW STORM
/MAINLY IN THE UPPER DYNAMICS...PROGRESSION AND EVEN TIMING - LATE
FRI THRU EARLY SUN/. IT MUST BE NOTED THO THAT THE INCOMING SYSTEM
WILL BE A BIT WARMER OVERALL...W/ A DEFINITE RAIN-SNOW LINE
FURTHER NORTH THAN THE DEC STORM AND STORM-TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS
STILL UNCERTAIN
."

"ENOUGH COLD AIR WILL BE IN PLACE /E
OF I-95/ FOR AN ALL-SNOW PRECIPITATION-TYPE /POSSIBLY A BRIEF PERIOD OF A RAIN-
SNOW-SLEET MIX AT ONSET/. ALONG AND EAST OF I-95 WILL CERTAINLY BE THE
MIX LINE FOR MUCH OF THE DAY...W/ A CHANCE OF A SNOW CHANGEOVER
LATER IN THE EVENING-OVERNIGHT AS A SFC LOW STRENGTHENS OFF THE
COAST OF CAPE HATTERAS AND PULLS SOME OF THE COLDER AIR BACK SWD.

"AS THIS LOW STRENGTHENS...MUCH LIKE THE DEC STORM...WINDS WILL
STRENGTHEN OVER THE BAY AND COASTAL REGIONS /NEARING GALE WARNING
FROM SAT AFTN-EARLY SUN/. BACK TO THE WEST...SNOW WILL CONTINUE OVER
THE REGION AND BE ESPECIALLY HEAVY AND CONTINUOUS LATE FRI INTO
EARLY SAT. EVEN AS THE SURFACE LOW TAKES A BULK OF THE SYSTEM OFF THE
MID ATLANTIC COAST SAT MORNING...SNOW WILL CONTINUE ALL THE WAY BACK
INTO THE OHIO VALLEY /HEAVIEST EAST OF THE APPALACHIANS/. ANOTHER ROUND OF
LIGHT-MODERATE SNOW WILL CONTINUE THRU MUCH OF THE DAY FOR THIS
REGION ASSOCIATED W/ THE PASSING UPPER TROF AXIS."

Enough warning for you?

Just to jazz up the hype machine a little... Just received this via Candy Thomson, The Sun's outdoors writer, who got it from a DNR guy who got it from a guy who works at the NOAA forecast center. (How's that for attribution?)

"Subject: Early Friday Scoop

"Good morning,

"Have a few minutes before I delve into a report that is due this
Friday...  so let's cut to the chase.
First... there is no question a storm is coming.  There is also no
question that it will be a very large storm, with 2-3 days worth of Gulf
moisture inflow to work with.  So it won't be lacking in the pcp
department.  The westward-moving blocking high over the Davis Straight
should virtually ensure the system does not track to our west and
north... but rather suppresses it to our south.  This would also ensure
that it is mostly a cold event for the entire region, and support snow
or sleet or snow grains (mostly snow).

"Timing..  The first batch of pcp will be overrunning pcp... pcp that
forms when warm, moist air from the Gulf runs into and over cold air
already in place.  Overrunning pcp is not an easy animal to pinpoint wrt
timing cos it's not really an entity that moves from point A to point
B... but tends to kinda just develop.  Models handle this differently...
with the latest NAM/WRF having the snow arrive ~ 8 pm on Friday, while
the GFS has snow falling in the metro area between 7-11 am on Friday
morning, with crippling snowfall rates by mid afternoon.  Needless to
say, this is a huge discrepancy, and would directly impact most
everyone's planning (work, kids, shopping, etc).  I think the safe bet
is to go with the earlier timing.

"Amounts:  The GFS is "lighter"... with "only" 1.25 to perhaps as much
as 1.75".  Assuming a conservative 10::1, that'll get you 10-18" of
snow.  The WRF is the closest thing to Armageddon in a non-hurricane
fcst scenario that I've ever seen.  It has a whopping 3" max over
Baltimore (literally centered on Mt Washington). with over 2.5"
everywhere else.  Again, assuming all snow, that would be 25-30"+.
Ouch.  Let's put it this way:  Rulers may be useless for measuring snow
by late eve on Friday.

"Duration:  OK... so we have some differences inre to the onset, but the
general idea is during the day on Friday.  When does it all end?
Well... after the overrunning part of the storm starts to wind down, the
models all show a second, stronger coastal low developing which gives us
a second prolonged burst of wind-driven snow.... some of which would be
quite heavy.  This is the part of the storm that will be occurring on
Saturday.  No Hyperbole here:  If the GFS and WRF are correct, the
region will be shut down on Saturday (and likely beyond).  The coastal
low will be pulling colder air into the region from the north, causing
that snow to be fluffier and more apt to blow around into large drifts.
The snow would finally end as the remnant western low drifts over head
late Saturday eve or early Sunday.

"Analog:  The NWS is using the Feb 10-11, 1983 storm as an analog.  That
storm featured almost 23" of snow at BWI, with lightning and thunder.
Sounds good to me.

"Summary:  Yes, it's still 2 days away... and while I tend to geek out
on y'all a bit, this storm should be taken seriously.  My biggest worry
would be anyone who "has" to be at work on Friday... and they make it in
without any problem cos the pcp is slow to arrive, and then spend the
next 8 hours trying to get home.  The NWS is buying into it at every
level (local and national offices), the models have it, and the storm
already exists.  Safe to say, she's a comin'.

"I'll keep you posted if there are any changes. - E"

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:54 PM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Comments

Don't forget there's another one coming Tuesday/Wednesday. Holy Schnikees!

I am hearing predictions of 4 feet in some areas? The biggest snow storm in history. Supposedly, it is not being publicized because people will panic. I guess we will find out soon enough.

Yes, Frank, it's enough warning. Heavens, even the NWS is on board. I don't know if that's a good sign or if it means the entire thing will just fizzle out - hopefully not the latter!

One thing is for sure - if we really get this snow, my indoor/outdoor cat is going to be very, very unhappy!

Greetings fellow Minnesot.. er Marylanders,

If you are deathly sick of snow and cold by now, I strongly recommend that you get out of Maryland as soon as possible and before Friday noon, and stay for at least a month to be safe:(

For those who remain, this winter is getting to be like the movie Groundhog Day. Each day seems to be like yesterday with snow in the forecast. No sooner do we shovel out from our "minor" event last night, then its big brother is planning to give us all a real work out! Another coastal storm that could be snow will be lurking somewhere along the East Coast next Tuesday as well, but lets worry about what's staring us in the face Friday and Saturday.

I know there are some dire forecast out there, I know some folks are already talking 2-3 feet of snow. Some models support this, but most are lighter and would be in the range of 10-20". Still a very powerful snowstorm and one that might crack the top ten historically.

There are similarities between this coming storm and the snowstorms of Feb 1983 and December 2009, both snowstorm left nearly 2 feet in some portions of the Baltimore -Washington areas. What do they have in common- a strong blocking high over Eastern Canada/ Greenland, a powerful storm with boodles of moisture coming out of the Gulf, a potent mid level system diving into the Ohio Valley that will couple with the storm forming on the coast and lead to rapid intensification.

Still time for things to change, but that window is shrinking and the models are in unusually good agreement that old man winter is about to open a can of whoop ass on the Mid-Atlantic.

I'll keep ya posted, but prepare for this one like it could be a snowstorm for the record books (again).

BTW past winters where we had similar conditions-- that is a moderate El Nino and a pattern of strong blocking highs to our north ( negative NAO) include: 1983, 1987, 1996, and 2003--a veritable list of the snowiest winters over the past 30 years! So until this pattern breaks we will continue to be under the gun.

I wonder how much bread and toilet paper I can shove into my freezer?

Is there a NWS (or other) site that totals up snowfall for a season?

In other words, is there a place to look up the snowfall total for this winter to date?

FR: Well, you could buy a copy of The Sun. We print that each day. Or, you could go to the NWS site http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/ and find your way to Climate; Local; Preliminary Climate Data; Baltimore; Most Recent (or Archived) and add up the monthly totals for December and January and February (to date). Or you could drop a comment here and ask me. (33.7 inches)

What do you mean not publicized? Foot has updated his forecast to claim one scenario is 3 inches of liquid, which can play out from 30-36 inches of snow. NSW is on board, saying could be more than 24 inches.

one model had it at 3 inches of precip covering most of MD, apparently it was an anomaly, but wow, what an event that'd be if that translated well into 3+ ft of snow with the right ratios.

Snow is the ONLY thing that makes winter remotely tolerable.

Without it, it would just be cold and pointless.

Bring it.

This weather sucks. I feel as if I am living in New England and not Maryland. I can't for the life of me ever getting two storms in the same season with accumulations of two foot. What is going on. GLobal warning my a$$

FR: Buck up, Davey boy. Just seven years ago we clocked in 58 inches of snow in a season. http://bit.ly/aYmbEa We're not even close to that. Besides, GW theory predicts more extreme precipitation events.

couldn't agree more. bring it!snow makes it all better 4 about an hour

"Snow is the ONLY thing that makes winter remotely tolerable.

Without it, it would just be cold and pointless.

Bring it."

Amen. Good attitude to have!

Gotta be global warming. Everybody grab yer brushes and paint the snowdrifts green. After that...step in some tar and leave a carbon footprint.
Seriously, hope everyone uses common sense back there and stays the heck off the roads if this thing gets as big as they're predicting it will.

Had a flight to New Orleans scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. $500 to change it to an earlier date...

I hate snow

I moved south 12 years ago. I live west of Atlanta. We got 20" of rain in the course of 10 hrs this past September. Areas are still abandoned, roads still not repaired.

Weather here is calling for 1-3" of rain starting Thursday afternoon. So I know this moisture will eventually make it up your way. Suppose to rain here Thurs, Fri and even into Sat & Sun.

Batten down Baltimore. Last winter I lived there we had a total of over 60" of snow that winter. We would get it in clips of 10-20". I remember digging out car, driving to work or store, digging out a space to park and then digging back out after plows came by. Just the thought of snow makes my back ache. I'll take our annual 1/2" that shuts down Atlanta for 2 days.

Be safe and hopefuly the amount predicted will decrease in the next day or so like it did last weekend.

I vote for the NAM/WRF timing of the storm starting @ 8:00 Friday night - and could get downright giddy at that prospect. Oh, we don't get a vote? DRATS!

Weekend snow is the best! Sorry to all that had plans the snow is messing with.

grocery shopping tommorrow!!

Well Baltimore, just sit back and grab a six pack and enjoy the really fun part of winter - SNOW!! Greetings from Buffalo, New York.

Gary Rosenthal said:

wonder how much bread and toilet paper I can shove into my freezer?

*** end of quote ***

Uh, Gary, I'm not sure you will want to use the toilet paper after it's been in the freezer!

I say bring it on! I'm really, really sorry for the people who have plans that the weather is going to wreak havoc on, such as GMan ($500 - really? you think they would offer to change you to make you happy and get you off their list before the snow comes, but that would be customer service, wouldn't it?) but I'm actually looking forward to this (except for the shoveling) because being forced to stay home and just relax sounds pretty nice right now.

Yeah for snow! If its gonna be cold, let, it snow! Get the sleds out!

This morning (Thursday) Tony Pann on WBAL-TV wouldn't venture a snow amount, mentioning the freezing rain that he predicts will start on Friday, which will cut into total snow accumulations. He only said "Significant accumulations likely."

He also mentioned that Tom Tasslemeyer would have a prediction later today. Channel 11 is notorious for filling their newscast with promos ("Today on Oprah", "New details about this story at 6." etc.)

My point is this: this morning's newscast is really _the_ time to make a prediction that will get viewer's attention. Today is the day area residents will need to change/cancel weekend plans, go to the grocery store, plan on childcare for Friday, etc. I don't think it's going out on a limb to say "12+ inches".

i like snow only on the weekends because unlike most working folks i work on a farm and have no choice but to brave the elements to go to work everyday and take care of the animals..thank goodness i have a 4wheel drive truck to help me along..the only two in my house that love snow to an extream are my son and my husky lol...

According to Reverend Gore, freezing temperatures and record snowfall are signs of catastrophic global warming.

I like everything about snow...except shovelling it. Whatever happened to kids making a few bucks shovelling for neighbors?

FR: Good luck finding any.

Comment from Weather Channel last night: "it could be a historic snowfall in the Washington and Baltimore areas." Now I'm no expert, but I really don't like the sound of that.

FR: That's always been my marker for a really bad storm.


"Snow is the ONLY thing that makes winter remotely tolerable.

Without it, it would just be cold and pointless.

Bring it."

Alex, is this an open invitation from you to shovel my sidewalk and driveway? If it is, then bring it.


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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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