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

A major international news story broke this past week: a mysterious new land mass has risen from the Atlantic ocean overnight in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Full of old shipwrecks and whale bones, it’s a very dangerous place to get to because sharks and stingrays constantly circle it. Few are fortunate enough to get to it after a long voyage at sea and many rugged explorers have nearly perished in their attempts. But for those who do make it, untold treasures await.

At least that’s what the mainstream media wants you to believe. Except that it’s a sandbar just off of Cape Point on Hatteras Island near Buxton, NC and arguably part of the point itself.

First, the articles:

Next, what the island really is. As the featured title image above shows, Chad Koczera took a photo with his drone (great shot!) towards the end of May of a sand bar that had formed off of Cape Point on Hatteras Island near Buxton, NC. At some point over the month of June, the story of this “new island” got legs, no doubt at least partly because it’s a great photo. Fortunately for us in this day and age, we have google earth with historical satellite photos so that we can take a look at Cape Point through time and determine if this is indeed a “new island” or not.

In the animated gif below, that starts with a satellite image of the point in February, 2017 and then tracks back in time to February, 1993, one can see the “island” beginning to form this past February. I’ve placed a red line just below the island and all that was needed at this point was for currents to bring in a few more inches of sand for the island to form. As the gif tracks back, you will see that Cape Point is in a constant state of flux with the point sometimes pointing towards the southwest as currents push it that way and as opposed towards the current southeast. More importantly, the point often extends to the red line south of the island as recently as 2014 and 2011. In 2006, the point extended south of the red line and in 2005, a sandbar suspiciously similar to the current sandbar was forming well south of the red line and current sandbar just after the 2004 photo showed virtually no point at all.

It’s not difficult to conclude that the sand in the shallow water of that area is constantly morphing as the currents do with it as they please. In fact, it’s basic earth science that coastlines are in a constant state of change, especially barrier islands (this was ninth grade when I was 14 years old in my school system, but others may be earlier). As for the reason this “island” forming is news, I believe the mainstream media has long-since tricked itself and others into believing coastlines are static as part of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory, which states we are all going to die from rising coast lines, among other things, and that without the industrial revolution, coastlines would be static (which has always been laughably stupid). It’s also is telling that if someone takes a nice photograph (in this case of the sandbar from the drone), the media will then build a fantastic story around it (without any sort of payment to the photog, I’m sure).

All of that having been said, many of the articles mention that it is simply a sandbar and that officials believe it could disappear at any time, but that is often at the end of the article after the average reader with the attention span of a 1.5 year old has long since moved on to the next bullshit article. I also have to give credit to the Huffington Post, which specifically reported someone stating the island is not a result of “climate change.” This is shocking for the HP, actually, but perhaps they note this because it’s new beach and not erosion taking place?

But some of the fantastic elements of this story show how bad media has become. The Mirror article can easily be thrown out as straight up tabloid nonsense (even though certainly some will believe it), but other articles probably aren’t thrown out as nonsense in people’s minds and those are fake news. The articles that mention shipwrecks and whale bones on this island are straight up fiction (and yet another embarrassment for fake news BBC), but a small amount of knowledge and research of the OBX shows how this information made its way into the article(s). The Diamond Shoals area of the OBX has long caused shipwrecks in the OBX area and research shows that Cape Point is considered the beginning of the Diamond Shoals area. As for the “whale bones”, the entrance to the Outer Banks by vehicle is known as “Whalebone Junction.” It’s called this because a businessman put a whale skeleton that had washed up south of Oregon Inlet at his gas station there and essentially renamed what was called “the junction” to Whalebone Junction. The whale bones aren’t there anymore.

As for the sharks and stingrays angle other articles take, yes, I’m sure sharks and stingrays are there, as they are everywhere in the Atlantic Ocean, but I doubt there’s any more there than at any other spot and I haven’t heard of any of the shell collectors getting eaten by sharks or stung by stingrays. As for it being a “land mass”, yes, I suppose it’s technically true, but I personally wouldn’t call a temporary sandbar a land mass.

I hate to have to use the term “debunked” because that’s what every global warming alarmist has used for any argument on the skeptic’s side since the mid-2000s and is way overused, but I believe the animated gif I made debunks the new island story. Looking at the satellite imagery and putting on my critical thinking cap, I believe that sandbar is simply a part of the point itself and within a few months the island will indeed “disappear” by joining the point to the north resulting in an elongated north-south oriented point seen in some of the satellite images before the currents take the point towards the southwest again before starting the whole cycle over. Or perhaps the seas will rise up and suddenly swallow us all as the current paradigm of climate science states.

Three storm chasers were killed yesterday outside of Spur, TX when a Suburban with two chasers ran a stop sign and collided with a Jeep being driven by another chaser. The crash was not attributable to the weather, despite some headlines that suggested otherwise. The Suburban had the Weather Channel logo on its side, and the driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the crash. It was also live streaming at the time.

These are the facts either reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety or verified by me after the crash through simple observation of information in twitter feeds. The damage control team at The Weather Channel was quick to point out that the two in the Suburban were contractors:

I didn’t read any opinion pieces today on the subject because I don’t have to. The storm chaser community will claim they provide a valuable public service with data gathering that helps forecasters increase lead times for tornado warnings. Except they don’t. Virtually all the information they actively gather can be passively gathered by Doppler radar. In fact, it’s Doppler radar that allowed the modern era of storm chasing to begin. What they’re actually doing is gathering video for ratings for money. We all know this to be true.

Today’s storm chasers are Nightcrawlers.

The first thing that will be said in the opinion pieces, though, is that it was a tragedy. What won’t be directly said is that it was an entirely preventable tragedy and that everyone in the weather community knew for years something like this would happen. I expected a massive crash to occur with non-chasing civilians or emergency responders such as the police or EMTs. But the crash occurred with another chaser who was all of 25 years old (third one down, screen cap saved in case it gets taken down).

The fact that this crash occurred is bullshit enough, but the fact that the driver of the vehicle running the stop sign was not wearing a seatbelt makes for double bullshit from a weather community who is way more than happy to lecture the public on safety. This crash comes after three veteran storm chasers were killed in 2013 when their truck got sucked up and thrown by a tornado turning the truck into a heap of twisted metal, the only thing identifying the make of the truck being the wheel.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m sure the Weather Channel team (as well as the other chaser) were all good people and the driver of the Suburban simply made a mistake. I say that truly and sincerely; we all make mistakes and may they all Rest In Peace. Also, I’m mostly a hypocrite when it comes to this stuff. If a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is issued for my immediate area, I’m first opening my door to take a look before going to my basement. But the difference between me and others in the community is that I’m not jumping in my car at the first sign of a thunderstorm popping up on a day that looks ripe for severe weather, then driving around chasing it.

I’m also not blowing through stop signs because I’m looking at the sky (we all know that’s what happened) because I’m not out there in the first place. Back in the 90s, I had decided I was going to book a trip at some point in my life and ride along with storm chasers, but by the 2000s, there were articles appearing stating the chasers and their tourist gawkers were getting in the way of first responders and ambulances after a tornado had blown through. I decided then I would not be doing it, but yea, I continue to love me a good high resolution supercell and/or tornado video and will for the remainder of my life. So, I admit that I’m still a part of the problem.

But given the state of politics and the “reporting” by our fearless investigative “news” teams, there is no doubt in my mind that blame deflection will occur and climate change will be brought up as a reason for this crash and the probability certainly exists that Trump will take some blame given his stance with the EPA. After all, this crash occurred the same day the world’s foremost expert on climate science, Michael Moore, announced the END OF THE WORLD (for the 100th time over the past decade):

It seems likely to me that the Russians will somehow be tied to it as well by our media. All items designed to mask the ugly truth when looking in the mirror. A brief spot check of twitter shows at least one person blaming TX roads for the crash. Given that the photos show a very clear intersection and visible signs, I would think this is satire, the account says it is satirical, but I’m thinking it’s actually serious since the account says it is an advocate for road safety? Who knows? I have no idea what people are actually thinking anymore:

Looks like a clear, well marked intersection to me.

All that having been said, what I’m about to say clearly calls for my very own Unwelcome Idea Rob Base meme (only the dankest of memes for me), if it hasn’t already:

Unwelcome Idea Rob Base: “I got an idea, that I wanna share. You don’t like it? So what? I don’t care.”

How about we stop with the storm chasing bullshit? It risks the lives of storm chasers, citizens and emergency responders while providing nothing other than XXX weather porn. Frankly, there’s enough people simply living in tornado alley now with cameras on their cell phone to satiate the hardcore weather porn aficionados looking for Two Girls, One EF5. At a maximum, storm chaser teams should consist of actual scientists performing research for NOAA or other agencies, like it was prior to 20 years ago. The amateur chasers, the tourist companies and the tornado porn nightcrawlers like the Weather Channel absolutely need to get the fuck out.

But why have the hard conversations and debate when you can shut down any debate by a choice of screams:

CLIMATE CHANGE!

TRUMP!

RUSSIANS!

Since the storm chasers, including the ones who died, appear to be white males, the “THAT’S RACIST!” and “THAT’S SEXIST!” argument can’t be used as a distraction in this instance in arguing for the storm chasers, although it could be used as a distraction in other arguments related to storm chasing (WHY AREN’T THERE MORE FEMALE OR TRANSGENDER STORM CHASERS?! DAMN PATRIARCHY!). As for me, I’ll just say I believe the Russians are at fault. God forbid if people find out I can think for myself.

Putin has done it again. I’m LITERALLY SHAKING!

“I got an idea that I wanna share. You don’t like it? So what? I don’t care.” -Rob Base.

Every year, the big cities in the Mid-Atlantic and/or northeast US are treated to hype for a big storm that ultimately busts for those cities and inexorably, the post-storm shit show of finger pointing happens. It took until Tuesday, March 14 this winter, but the same broken record finally played again with the all-too-familiar song where the main refrain wails “we need to be better at communicating uncertainty in the forecast”. In case you were in a cave and missed it, a potential blizzard was set to blast DC to Boston with actual blizzard warnings for the Philadelphia and New York city areas. The storm formed, but formed west of where models and forecasters thought it would resulting in mixing for the major cities with the heavy snow inland.

The post-storm shit show kicked off with an AP article that stated weather forecasters thought on Monday afternoon that the big cities would be spared of large snow accumulations but decided to keep the forecast and blizzard warnings in place to ensure continuity and not confuse the public by flip-flopping the forecast.

Not too long after that article, opinion pieces popped up in various places blasting the National Weather Service for its decision to keep the large snow forecast in place if they thought it wasn’t going to happen. One of the more notable ones came from the Capital Weather Gang (paywalled), complete with an obligatory dig at Trump. Social media, such as twitter, then lit up with every Tom, Dick and Harry injecting their opinion on the subject.

First of all, the general public can go fuck themselves with whatever opinion they have on anything. Their primary concern is what exactly is the size of Donald Trump’s hands. And those are the smarter ones. While I would be considered a member of the general public, I have more of a stake in storms like this because I issue actual forecasts to friends for the Mid-Atlantic for winter storms such as the one being discussed. Thus, the reason for my opinion in this post.

Second, the National Weather Service forecasters have always been and always will be in a no-win situation with these storms. It doesn’t matter if the forecast is even slightly off, or entirely correct, people are going to bitch and moan anyway because bitching and moaning is woven into the very fabric of American society. Plus the danger in going to school, work, driving, etc. was all still there in the heavy sleet and freezing rain instead of heavy snow. What people were actually pissed about was the fact that they couldn’t have a good snowball fight or build a decent snowman prior to going back in the house for hot chocolate on their snow day off.

The general public, with their need for everything reduced to 140 characters or less, isn’t going to care about the uncertainty of a forecast, so fuck them. Nobody who has stumbled across this post is reading it several paragraphs in, only search bots archiving it are. (That’s the reason for posts like this and ones in my prior iterations of blogs – they’re for when humans kill themselves from their own stupidity and a future intelligent species or aliens are able to uncover these writings, they’ll understand I wasn’t part of the problem.) Anyone remotely enlightened about east coast USA weather understands that every coastal low, regardless of forecast, is uncertain in its strength and track. So the constant calls in the weather community for communicating “uncertainty” better are a meaningless circle jerk.

Given the very cold air mass in place (did you notice how cold it was the day after the storm?) and the likelihood that it would stay below freezing for the duration of the storm, I agreed with the National Weather Service for keeping the warnings up. But then, our local National Weather Service forecast office downgraded our winter storm warnings to winter weather advisories despite ongoing heavy frozen precipitation. As I noted here, this was baffling to me and the first time I’ve ever seen this occur. So if I’m understanding the AP article correct, the NWS kept the warnings in place because they didn’t want to confuse the public by flip flopping, then flip flopped the forecast for the Mid-Atlantic mid-storm, potentially confusing the public, despite no need to flip flop, by definition.

Our local NWS is deserving of criticism for this flip flopping in my opinion. Also, as hard of working as the NWS forecasters are, I believe most of the actual professional meteorologists can go fuck themselves too with their post-storm opinions on the forecast of these storms. Most (but not all) professional meteorologists have stood by and said nothing for the past decade as money gets pumped into the great global warming fraud rather than weather. On the exact same date as this blizzard-that-wasn’t back in 1993 was the March, 1993 Superstorm. People who paid attention to the weather at the time would know this was a watershed moment for meteorology. Models predicted the massive storm over three days in advance and all of the professional meteorologists patted themselves on the back for the model performance. Now exactly 24 years later, the models have crazy fast computers to work with, very tight grids, and a crap ton of data to work with and the performance in these types of storms for real world forecasts is exactly the same as it was in the 90s, on average.

Politicians, too, can go fuck themselves. Why the Post even wasted typing clicks on Jabba the Hutt, I mean Chris Christie’s opinion on the subject is beyond me (“thought leader” ? LOL!). As for Trump, I don’t have that much of an issue with what he said, because he’s right – these storms usually turn out to not be as bad as they are forecasted or hyped for the big cities. That’s the reason the weather community has this discussion all the fucking time. Remember when Major Hurricane Matthew caused catastrophic damage on the Florida peninsula and Orlando last October? Me neither, because the center stayed offshore the entire time despite hype that it could go inland. And incredibly, NOAA plans to update the GFS model in May with one that is known to be inferior for forecasting hurricanes.

Jabba the Hutt has “had his fill” of the National Weather Service. I think he’s had his fill, and more, in general.

The real people here who require an accurate forecast are emergency managers and planners. What is their opinion of the situation? I have no idea thanks to a media who for eight years said “look how cute Obama is using a selfie stick” and now says “Trump has allowed the Russians to overthrow the United States”. The media refusing to do its job for the past 20 years and the dumpster fire that social media has turned into means that the voices of the people whose opinion counts aren’t heard.

Finally, a number of professional meteorologists, as well as hobbyists, who were basing their forecast on the euro model, claimed their forecast and the euro model forecast verified. This is idiotic, to say the least. It was only starting with the 12z March 13 euro when it became very clear that the euro had the storm hugging the immediate coastline. That was only about eight hours away from the start of the storm by the time the model was finished around 2pm eastern. Emergency managers and others need days of lead time to prepare cities – if there was no blizzard forecast and then one forecasted to occur within 8 hours, an even more massive shit storm would have ensued. This is exactly what happened in the epic fail storm of January 25, 2000, except many people had already gone to bed when the warnings were issued for heavy snow prior to them waking up. This article here reads just like every modern storm bust article saying uncertainty needs to be communicated better and it’s 17 years old!

Others are claiming that because a number of model runs showed sleet over the I95 corridor that the snow accumulation forecasts verified because it was still mostly sleet. This is cringeworthy too. What causes the difference between snow, sleet, freezing rain, and plain rain isn’t even meteorology 101, it’s junior high school weather. All of those precipitation types are related to one another in a winter storm and saying the snow forecast verified in this storm is like saying the snow forecast verified when plain rain fell. It’s simply not true.

If you have even a passing interest in weather, you should immediately understand this graphic. (from http://clintkywx.blogspot.com)

Many of the people claiming this are the same ones who are saying the euro verified. What they’re not saying is that the euro recently upgraded its model to include a wide range of precipitation types, even more so than any other model. Meteorologists and hobbyists were assuming the precipitation types factored into the snow maps from the euro being produced by different outlets and that if the snow maps were showing reduced snow it was because of sleet. These precipitation types weren’t factored into the snow maps, so when people thought the euro was forecasting eight inches of snow for our area when looking at the maps, these maps were actually a 10:1 QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) map of its output of snow and sleet combined. The euro’s later runs for the east coast verified pretty well in its QPF, but the snow forecasts from people did not as a result of this assumption. To give Dr. Ryan Maue of Weatherbell credit, he admits to this in this series of tweets here:

The one model that consistently forecasted the storm’s track and mixing along the I95 corridor was the NAM, but the NAM has performed so horribly the past five years or so that apparently nobody, even professional meteorologists, pay any attention to it at all anymore. This included me, as I didn’t factor the NAM into my forecast at all. Ironically, the NAM was built specifically to model the nuances of a storm such as this.

The NAM gets the win tag, this time. But, we still have our eye on you for shit forecasts, NAM.

To summarize the state of weather forecasting we’re in and some of the surrounding issues:

  • We have professional forecasters who rely too much on models.
  • The models and forecasts have stagnated, perhaps getting worse depending on the specifics, over the past decade.
  • The general public is as dumb as dogshit and is getting dumber every day, every hour.
  • Our politicians are dumb as dogshit and are getting dumber every day, every hour (probably because we’re governed by we, the people).
  • Actual news reporting and investigative reporting is dead and long gone in America.
  • It doesn’t matter if emergency managers, schools, etc. believe the forecast or not, they have to go with the worst-case forecast, otherwise their ass would be on the line.
  • Money has been poured into climate “science” for the past decade, rather than meteorology, and most meteorologists have said nothing.

It’s been my long-standing opinion that forecasting storms such as this won’t begin to improve until we exit the current climate science paradigm. So, here’s an idea that I wanna share: why don’t we admit that the doomsday predictions of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and climate change haven’t come true and that it was all just politics, then start allocating some funding to improving the physics of models when it comes to weather, because short and medium range weather models are the primary tool used for weather forecasting. As someone who has paid good money in taxes over the past 20+ years with a keen interest in weather, knowing that money has been thrown into the black hole of climate science, I believe my voice should at least be heard.

But with the current mentality across America, I don’t see that happening and I see no reason why this broken record won’t repeat. Again. And again. The next one will occur either this coming hurricane season or next winter storm season, or during both. I’ve already got the image lined up for it.

We got about three inches of snow at my place before it changed over to sleet around 1am. It later changed over to a sleet and freezing rain mix. I’m not ultimately sure what type of ice accretions we got because I had to go to work early in the morning, but it was glazing badly as I left in the 6:00 hour. Seeing reports from around the area, this was a bust for most everyone in terms of snowfall and only out towards Fredneck did any real snow fall. My place seems to fall in line with those who are just northwest of I95 and those directly on it seemed to get 2.5 inches. The biggest bust in my forecast was northeastern MD, which seems to have only got about four inches. FAIL.

Totals:

Here’s the low as it fully formed:

As for the reason for the bust, the storm formed and tracked further west still from where both I and the models thought it would be and it tracked through eastern North Carolina and over the Norfolk area. In the morning it went just west of the mouth of the Chesapeake and on up over top of the Delmarva before exiting off the Delaware coast. Later in the afternoon it crossed Long Island. My understanding is that this was a bust for Philly to NYC to Boston too due to this track. I believe official forecasts were for snow to be measured in feet for those cities. FAIL.

Here’s what was the official forecast for New York City:

Here’s what it had changed to all of five hours later:


As for model performance, none of them got it right, but last night’s 0z NAM and Canadian forecasted the track correctly, but the storm had basically formed at that point so it shouldn’t have been that difficult. Not surprisingly, the 0z GFS still tracked the storm wrong and incredibly, so did the 06z GFS after the coastal had definitively fully formed. The fairly reliable (in the fist eight hours) HRRR indicated a colder solution in the middle of the night last night and that the mix would change back over to snow early in the morning and this was wrong too. The track on some model runs only a couple of days ago that took it well east were very wrong inside a time frame that is supposed to see improvement and further proof there’s still a long way to go to perfect the models. This after additional data from flights in the Atlantic were ingested into the models over the past couple of days to ensure forecast track and I’m sure additional weather balloon data too. FAIL.

The temperature did stay below freezing at my place for the duration of the precipitation heavy enough for accumulation, so I’ll give my forecast (and the models) that. It went below freezing at 9:05PM last night and went back above at 11:05am. Win.

Also to note: In one of the most perplexing things I’ve ever seen our local National Weather Service do, they dropped the Winter Storm Warning and put in a Winter Weather Advisory around 4:30am. I’ve never seen this in my ~32 years of watching the watches and warnings when there is ongoing heavy precipitation and the temperature is below freezing and not expected to go above, although they do it all the time when temps go above freezing. A winter storm warning is supposed to be 5 inches or more of snow or sleet within a 12 hour period, or enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or power lines, or a combination of both snow, ice and wind. We were certainly getting the combination of snow, ice and wind and were forecasted to through at least mid-day (the five inches of snow requirement has never counted when there’s mixing of icing). It was so odd, I had to go to the local NWS page to make sure they hadn’t changed the definition (they haven’t): http://www.weather.gov/lwx/WarningsDefined. I was completely baffled, but then I saw this article here and am thinking since they already had decided it was a fail before the storm started, they just went ahead and downgraded it regardless.

Later during the morning, tree limbs being down were reported everywhere. Here’s one in Canton that is on my drive to work:

Also to note: Only two weeks ago it was loudly declared by the CWG spring had arrived way early and that it could/would be an early record breaking cherry blossom year. A conveniently non-paywalled Washington Post article highlights this:

A couple of days later the NPS officially said the festival will kickoff tomorrow:

Now they’re saying they could be 90% dead:

LOL. Oops. FAIL.

The biggest threat of the season is almost here and already virtually all of the weather outlets have downsized their predictions pointing to a bust scenario being more likely. Currently the National Weather Service believes 5-7 inches will fall in Baltimore and 4-6 inches in DC:

This is because significant mixing with sleet is being portrayed by the models due to their belief the storm is going to directly hug the coast now as it passes by us. Here’s a loop from the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model showing an extended period of sleet for I95 in the Mid-Atlantic. This is one such possibility, but usually the sleet band is slightly thinner than what is being portrayed:

But there’s still room for both boom and bust – the first flurries started flying around 6pm in the Baltimore area, a solid three hours ahead of model forecasts, so already the storm is behaving a little different than expected. It may mean nothing, but no storm has ever gone exactly as a model predicted even at event time. And interestingly, the “expect at least this much” (10 percentile) and “potential for this much” (90 percentile) graphics have changed to both lower and raise totals across the area.

The 10 percentile graphic shows nothing for the I95 corridor now:

But the 90 percentile graphic shows an even larger area of 18+ inches intersecting with the Baltimore City line:

So while the National Weather Service has lowered expectations overall, there’s actually more uncertainty in their forecast than there was yesterday.

As for the models, the 12z euro gave 7 inches down the I95 line:

The 18z GFS gives 4-6 inches:

The 12z Canadian gives big amounts, but much of this is sleet being translated as snow on the map:

As for my forecast if I could change it, I would downsize too with a few inches of snow followed by significant sleet. Wednesday is going to be very cold behind this system with temperatures not getting above freezing, a rarity for mid-March. That’s all I’ve got.

I issue a final forecast 24 hours prior to the beginning of an anticipated snow storm. Beyond that is just nowcasting IMO.

  • 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, north, central and western Charles County: 2-4 inches
  • Southeastern Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties: 0-2 inches

There’s no real changes in amounts or my thought process from my previous forecast. It’s a certainty that schools will be closed everywhere Tuesday except southern MD given the hype. As for OPM, I’m not sure what their thinking will be. Timing of first snow flakes will be sometime between just after rush hour Monday and prior to 11pm. Heaviest precipitation rates will be between midnight and 8am Tuesday and in those spots where it is snowing, rates could be two inches per hour or slightly higher for several hours.

A storm like this makes me happy I’m not a professional meteorologist. The issues noted in my previous post could lead to a very sharp gradient of snow totals and it’s within the realm of possibility that gradient could be quite large. It’s possible that someone somewhere along the I95 corridor ends up with a few inches of slush while someone 5 miles to the north and west as the crow flies receives 18 inches, although I don’t think the difference will ultimately be that dramatic over such a short distance. The 12z GFS showed no mixing of precipitation for the I95 corridor and the 18z was very similar:

But I find it unlikely to be entirely snow for everyone except southern MD like it shows. Our local National Weather Service agrees that mixing is a distinct possibility over the I95 corridor:

The 12z Canadian showed sleet for a time along the I95 corridor and I find that to be the most likely scenario and sleet would cut down on the accumulation totals:

The 12z euro gave 8-10 inches over the I95 corridor, because it was the strongest bomb of them all with its coastal front overtaking the I95 corridor as well:

Additional Notes:

  • Even if the moderate snow totals in my forecast were to verify, it still wouldn’t bring this winter up to normal snow fall. The map below shows the paltry snow for our area this winter down at the bottom.

  • As with any storm undergoing bombogenesis, thundersnow is possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a couple of reports on social media of thunder being heard if the bombing occurs like the models say it will.
  • If an area of convective snow breaks out in our area, I wouldn’t be surprised if the National Weather Service upgraded to a blizzard warning. Right now most of the models keep the wind gusts just under blizzard criteria, but convection would bring stronger winds down to the surface. This scenario (where the NWS was originally not going to issue blizzard warnings, but then had to) happened in the third blizzard of the 2009-2010 season. The 12z euro’s wind gusts would meet blizzard criteria for portions of the area if snow were falling.
  • I finally bought a semi-professional weather station a few weeks ago when AcuRite had a good deal going. I figured today was as good as any day to set it up with the possible snow storm coming. It’s supposed to be able to connect to weather underground but the wunderground site is giving me no response when trying to create a site. I’ll try again tomorrow, but I’m not concerned whether it’s on wunderground or not.

For the record, the local NWS “most likely” scenario at the time of this writing (6:00pm, 03/12) is:

And the “expect at least this much” and “potential for this much” are:

 

The mid-day model runs diverged fairly significantly with the snow possibility for Monday night into Tuesday. First up was the GFS, which had a coastal hugger and inland track once it got up to northern New England. The hugging of the coast resulted in the rain/mix line going over top of the I95 corridor for the Mid-Atlantic in the middle/end of the storm resulting in what would likely be a 6 or 8 inch slop when it was all said and done. The Canadian came in next and its 12z run took the storm east with virtually no snow for the I95 corridor in the Mid-Atlantic. The euro then came in splitting the difference and giving all snow to the I95 corridor and southern MD with accumulations likely over a foot.

Out of the three, I find the GFS and euro scenarios to be the most likely with the Canadian being the more unlikely of the three. In fact, the Canadian’s upper level energy was weaker than the other two and its model run formed a rather odd looking double barrel of low pressure oriented north-south out over the Atlantic. It was odd given the scenario and the surface low pressures splitting like this and weaker upper level energy may have been a result of the model initializing poorly. The 18z GFS was nearly identical to the 12z run, but it made a small step towards the euro’s solution in the upper levels of its model run.

Perhaps the best sign for snow lovers is the euro ensembles that came in the middle of the afternoon. The ensembles gave Baltimore a 50% chance of a foot of snow or more. This is a quite high probability this far out and would be a huge fail for the euro model suite if no snow were to fall for Baltimore.

My decision on whether I think snow is a probability or not will come Saturday afternoon.

The operational euro kicked things off on Saturday, March 4 showing two feet of snow for the March 12-13 time frame getting those who don’t know better excited. The well-known-to-be-outrageous euro control model of the ensembles even produced 40 inches. Then a number of professional and amateur meteorologists got actual raging boners for the Sunday, March 12 Mid-Atlantic snowstorm possibility this past Monday, March 5 based on near-consensus among the GFS, Canadian, and euro giving 6-10 inches in their model runs.

Then the possibility completely faded within 24 hours worth of model runs and by Tuesday mid-day, it was obvious that the upper level and surface patterns would send the storm south and the meteorologists all went completely flaccid.

The professional meteorologists are lucky the models didn’t continue to advertise the storm. All of the pent-up anxiety over a no-snow winter with many busted winter forecasts could have resulted in a March, 2013 snowquester-type bust where meteorologists went with the models’ wishcasting despite their obvious shortcomings and borderline-cold March airmass.

What this winter has proven is that absent an absolute textbook upper level pattern setup, like with the blizzard of January, 2016, the models (euro included) still suck balls beyond five days and often beyond only three days. Given that the models have sucked beyond 3-5 days for over 20 years now, I blame funding having gone to the great global warming (or climate change) fraud, rather than weather prediction, for the stagnation. That and the fact that I believe weather and climate is very complex, something that the prevailing weather and climate science paradigm insists is very simple. Until the paradigm shift finally occurs, I expect more of the same.