So I got an email from AMC Theatres a little while ago about a free advanced screening for The Hitman’s Bodyguard at 7:00 at my local White Marsh theater sponsored by gofobo. It said I was receiving the email because I am an AMC Stubs Premiere member. I’ve previously been to several gofobo screenings and it took me to the gofobo site and I scored a ticket for myself, or so I thought.

Gofobo screenings can fill up if you don’t get there early because they give away more tickets than seats to ensure a full house, but I got there a half hour early, which was plenty of time, especially since most of the movies don’t sell out unless you get there with only a few minutes to spare. I asked a woman who takes tickets where to line up for the movie and she said I first had to get a physical ticket. So, I went to the counter to get a physical ticket and the guy said it was sold out and that I couldn’t see the movie. This was all fine, well and good, except the guy had a giant stack of VIP passes (whatever that means) professionally printed on quality stock paper to hand out to people to get access to the movie for free from August 21-24. The whole thing smelled strongly of a bait and switch.

As I left, a guy saw that I had the pass in the parking lot and approached me and asked if I knew we were supposed to go to the theater days in advance to get the ticket. I had no idea that was the case. I still wouldn’t have that big of a problem with it all if the movie wasn’t starting at the tail end of rush hour. White Marsh is only 2 or 3 miles from my house, but in the shit show Perry Hall and White Marsh rush hour that means 20 minutes one way. And who would want to go to The Avenue at White Marsh twice to see a movie, once to get a ticket and once to watch the movie?

The jury is out in my mind as to whether or not this was a true bait and switch. If the movie gets shit reviews, I will feel strongly that it was a bait and switch and that they were simply giving away free tickets for the movie after it opened to pad their numbers after the opening weekend and the bad reviews and bad word of mouth spread. Regardless, I won’t bother with any AMC Stubs Premiere advanced screening passes in the future.

A tornado hit Kent Island in the middle of the night last night. The Mount Holly, NJ National Weather Service declared it an EF2 tornado at ~125mph, but the photos of damage done to Kent Island indicate it is the strongest tornado to strike Maryland since the F4 April, 2002 LaPlata tornado that also went across the bay to be an F3 tornado in Dorchester County, MD.

Photos this morning showed extensive damage to some houses, others shifted off their foundations, cars and boats tossed around, and numerous large trees shredded or uprooted. Everything can be found on social media, but I wanted to comment that this appears to me to be another tornado forming as a result of the sudden friction difference between water and land. It’s widely taught on television during approaching hurricanes that when hurricanes strike land, tornados often form within the rain bands due to the sudden encounter of friction with land. It’s actually the friction difference and tropical systems that still have strong circulation that are later exiting the continent onto the ocean (which happens in some cases) also exhibit the same behavior.

The same appears to be true with “regular” thunderstorms or thunderstorm cells of a non-tropical origin – difference in friction can turn them into full-blown mesoscale low pressure systems with a strong tornado. Our local National Weather Service noted on a now defunct web page that the LaPlata tornado in 2002 was likely initiated by the strong thunderstorm crossing the Potomac River from Virginia. With the Kent Island tornado, the thunderstorm was strong in Prince George’s county (there was a report of a tree down in Glenn Dale), then went through Anne Arundel County, entered the Chesapeake Bay non-tornadic and by the time it was on Kent Island only 4.3 miles later, was obviously a full-blown mesocyclone with a strong tornado. It seems likely to me that the thunderstorm exiting the western shore of Maryland onto the Chesapeake Bay was a factor in initiating and forming the powerful tornado.

It’s fortunate that nobody was killed in this storm.

***

Justin Berk stated it was likely an EF0 or EF1 tornado around 1pm today after photos of damage clearly indicated it was EF2 or higher.

There were indications this was a major tornado (EF3), as exterior walls of houses fully collapsed, but its dependent on the construction of the house and that is a subjective call after the fact. The NWS usually goes conservative in their estimate, so the EF2 rating is not that surprising. Berk later stated Doppler radar estimate of winds was 86mph and that is presumably why he felt it was an EF0 or EF1.

***

Before the NWS assessment came out, a number of outlets stated the maximum wind gust was 68mph. I tracked down this obviously erroneous information and found that it came from a buoy on the western shore near Eastport and that this was the highest wind speed recorded in the local storm reports from the Sterling, VA National Weather Service forecast area. Why news outlets were saying this was the wind speed on Kent Island is beyond me, but it’s further proof that the mainstream media refuses to do its job and warrants being given the name “fake news”.

000
NWUS51 KLWX 240533
LSRLWX

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
133 AM EDT MON JUL 24 2017

..TIME…   …EVENT…      …CITY LOCATION…     …LAT.LON…
..DATE…   ….MAG….      ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. …SOURCE….
..REMARKS..

0124 AM     TSTM WND GST     1 E EASTPORT            38.97N  76.46W
07/24/2017  M68 MPH          ANZ532             MD   BUOY

&&

EVENT NUMBER LWX1702513

$$

DH

I did a little more research on garter snakes today. Apparently, the checkered garter snake is native to the southwest and isn’t near the eastern United States. That first picture I listed in yesterday’s post is likely a checkered garter snake, though, because it directly matches other photos online and I’m wondering if it was someone’s pet or progeny of a pet, as they are supposedly very easy to domesticate even if caught in the wild.

Another photo of the checkered garter snake from ten years ago.
Another one.

The other photos and the one I fought yesterday morning are likely the eastern garter snake, as the photos match other photos online and variants of the eastern garter snake are often checkered. The wikipedia pages for garter snakes have some interesting information:

  • They will release a foul-smelling liquid from their butt on to their attackers.  This is something that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post – I could tell it was in a very aggravated mood early on because it released some stench when I first tried to grab it.
  • They are mildly venomous. This is contrary to what I said in my previous post.
  • They will strike and bite if provoked and have two large teeth towards the back of their mouth.

So I guess my point of this post is this:  In the epic Battle for the Beaven House the morning of July 11, 2017 as I was crouching down repeatedly trying to get the active and aggressive snake while in my underwear, two mildly venomous snakes could easily have touched tips with painful results for me, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

I did not see the snake last night or this morning.

And it was a snake. And I was afraid it was going to bite me.

As I plodded up my dark basement steps after getting up at 5:20am from my deep slumber, a large, shadowy snake-like figure next to my feet suddenly slithered up the steps. It scared me half to death and I quickly realized it was indeed a decent sized snake. It then moved behind a storage box and junk behind the box at the top of my steps.

The next ten minutes saw an epic battle between the snake and I as I tried to round it up to get it out of the house. I ran to get a flashlight, a recycling bin, and a paper towel to grab it with. The dark snake was much more active than the usual snakes around my house and it routinely squared up against me, the flashlight, or the paper towel as I was trying to get it. I was eventually able to grab it somewhere near its head with the paper towel and get it into the recycling bin to take it outside.

A pretty accurate artist’s recreation of the epic Battle for the Beaven House.

I left it in the recycling bin and woke up my wife and daughter to see it if they wanted to see it. I didn’t take any pictures of it because I didn’t want to stay outside looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man wearing only boxer briefs. After my shower, I went to check on the snake and to let it go if it was still in the bin and I discovered that I had inadvertently left the front door open as I went to take a shower still only half-awake. The storm door was closed, but there’s a piece of weather stripping that is missing at its bottom. The snake was gone from the bin, so the snake and I may be battling again tonight if it decided to come back in the house.

It turned out to be a checkered garter snake, which are fairly common in my neighborhood. Below are three pics I’ve taken over the years. Lacking venom, they’re harmless and I don’t even know if they have any teeth to sink into people if they wanted to. But damn, it was active and aggressive.

This smaller one was climbing on my lawnmower ten years ago. It was lighter in color than ones in recent years.
This mummified garter was another one in my basement found a few years ago in a pest control box by pest control.
This one was in my shed a few years ago and seems to be about the size of the one I fought this morning.

 

 

There are several factors favorable of big snow and several factors unfavorable for big snow. Low pressure is set to begin bombogenesis along the NC coast in the right spot for big snow here, but that’s if it’s December, January or February. Monday night will be mid-march. But, the air mass is unusually cold for this time of year as a lobe of the misnamed “polar vortex” passes by to our north in Canada. This and the fact that models continue to portray the heaviest bands at night favor snow at the onset, as day time frozen precipitation is hard to come by due to the March sun. Another issue is that the models do not fully phase the storm as the precip from the bombogenesis is impacting us. A secondary low, albeit weak, will still be spinning to our west and that is not an ideal setup for big snow, especially this time of year.

As with any strengthening or bombing low, the position of the coastal front at both the surface and mid-levels is critical for the rain/snow line or mixing line. The 12z GFS has the surface stay below freezing, but freezing rain fall for a period of time during the storm due to warmer air injecting itself up above. Meanwhile, the euro is a little farther east with the low, and thus the coastal front, with the heaviest snow right up to DC to Baltimore with lighter accumulations west. Even if the warmer tongue of air stays east, I fear sections adjacent to the bay will go above freezing due to water temperature of the bay being in the upper 40s to 50 degrees. An easterly fetch of wind in both the surface and mid levels at the beginning of the storm may cause issues with precipitation type near the bay because of the temperature of the bay itself.

My preliminary forecast is as follows:

Directly along I95 from DC to Baltimore: 4-8 inches with the lighter amounts the further south/east one lives
North and west of I95 from Owings Mills to Rockville to Centreville: 8-12 inches
Northeastern MD (Harford and Cecil counties): 9-13 inches
Southern Anne Arundel county, southern and eastern PG county, western Charles County: 2-4 inches (this can also be true of eastern sections of Baltimore and Baltimore counties along the Bay)
Eastern Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties: 0-2 inches

Timing is Monday night into Tuesday morning. My final forecast will come out Sunday night.

12z GFS:

12z NAM:

12z Canadian:

12z Euro ensembles:

Local National Weather Service forecast as of time of post (4:00pm 3/11):