Blizzard 2016 Thoughts

While it is still fresh, some thoughts on this storm.

1.) Give New Jersey the record it deserves. Being a native of New Jersey, I sincerely hope NWS investigates the 33″ Morris Plains and 35″ CoCoRaHS ob from Mine Hill. The 24 hour record for snow in Jersey was 32″ in 1915 in Rutherford. Based on the timing of snow obs at Morristown (MMU) and Somerville (SMQ), I suspect almost all this snow fell within a 24 hour period, and if the totals can be vetted and verified, a new state record should be established.

2.) Kudos to forecasters and communicators. While this was a challenging storm to pin down, I thought almost *all* forecasts for this event were incredibly well done. Everyone deserves credit. Unless you bought the NAM literally and took 1-2′ of snow to I-90 in Massachusetts, or unless you completely ruled out any chance of New York City seeing major snows, you did well in this event.

Between the uncertainty of the northern fringe gradient, the potential for epic snows around DC, the coastal flooding potential, there was a lot to communicate in this event. In my opinion, it was all done very effectively by so many within the weather community, from the NWS, TV, private sector, and social media types.

3.) It’s not the model, it’s how you use it. The amount of “modelology” surrounding this event was…annoying to say the least. So many people declaring the NAM victorious. At one point or another, most major global models indicated enough variability and risk on the northern fringe of the snow to include most of New Jersey and New York City within the “margin of error” so to speak. The NAM did not “win.” Again, judging by the map above, if you lived in Hartford or Springfield, MA or Boston and used the NAM, you had a lot of egg on your face. That’s not an inconsequential populous. Yes, the NAM was the more aggressive model in New York City and on that metric alone, it did well. But it didn’t win. No model “wins.” As a forecaster, it’s your job to objectively analyze the models…all of them…use every tool in your toolbox and make a call. If you blended the NAM with the RGEM and the Euro/GFS, well then you did *damn* good in this event with your snow forecast most likely. Likewise, if you outright dismissed the NAM because of last winter’s NYC debacle, you probably failed too. Recency bias will kill you. Many of us joked about the NAM being the NAM…and that is certainly exaggerated by some of us (including me…I do use the NAM daily when forecasting for Texas and Louisiana, and I have used it aggressively at times). It has a reputation for being sketchy, but I know most rational forecasters do use it and consider it.

We just can’t turn this into some training camp competition. If you use the NAM alone for the next event, I guarantee you your forecast will have serious shortcomings. Use all the tools; know their strengths and weaknesses in the areas you care about and leverage them to your advantage as a forecaster. And don’t fall prey to recency bias.

4.) Can we please figure out snow measurement? This is not a uniquely DC thing. It’s been a problem in New York City in the past. It’s a problem in Denver. It’s a problem in so many places.

Fully understanding weather and changes in climate in places is heavily dependent on having a long set of reliable actual measured data at those places. When we can’t depend on data being reliable, what use do we have for it? Why do we have a top 10 list of snowstorms? Why even bother? It’s time for someone to step in, standardize, and properly coordinate snow measurements at places. Cost isn’t an issue. The way I’d approach it: You know how many people would volunteer to do it correctly and love every second of it? Find a spot representative of a city (not an airport across from it and adjacent to a river), probably on state or federal property, and have a team of volunteers at the ready, able to coordinate, trained properly by NWS, and eager to jump in when snow is predicted. Adjust the site as needed for changes in population distribution, new construction, etc. We’re making this a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

5.) Storm names are fine, but we don’t need 30 of them. When they started, I was skeptical of The Weather Channel naming storms, though I believed from the beginning that it would be a successful venture. I think to this point, the storm name concept has worked. I get the frustration, but that ship has sailed and it’s not coming back. So we either do it right or we continue doing it this way, where there were at least 6-7 different storm name hashtags for the same storm. It’s a patchwork free-for-all, and it would be nice if we could streamline it. It would be better for everyone. The research argument is simple: How on earth can we find pictures and tweets from this event without searching through eleventy different hashtags? Instead of still griping about the fact that it’s done, come up with a way to do it better and get everyone to agree. It will be less difficult than anyone thinks, but to make it universal, it can only come from the NWS. It’s time.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Follow me on Twitter: @mattlanza.

Jonas 2016: ♫ People Are Blowing Snow ♫

If you haven’t thought of the Weezer song with regard to this storm, you’ve failed me. It deserves some parody. I tried. Oh well. Onward…

What’s changed since yesterday, Matt?

Not much. Other than bread and milk supplies in the grocery store being dwindled.

  • The storm is still coming.
  • It still appears the metro Washington, DC area is the bullseye for snow.
  • Coastal flooding is still a serious concern.
  • Blizzard Watches have been expanded to include much of Jersey, Philly, and the New York City area and Blizzard Warnings are posted for DC and Baltimore.
  • The northern edge of the storm is still going to drive most meteorologists to their local bar.

So how much snow for me?

Here’s my updated map:

012116_Snow_Forecast
My own personal snow forecast as of 5:30 PM ET Thursday. Again, not official, but my way of expressing it.

Again, I’ve highlighted the two key areas of uncertainty. The northern fringe is going to be a royal pain. There are some models that still bring good snow 8-12″ to NYC, but I don’t personally buy that scenario right now. Based on my experience, these sorts of storms have disappointed on the northern fringe, so I’d rather take a conservative stance there.

From Philly into Baltimore and DC, it gets complicated too. You’ll have a number of factors driving snow totals. I expect there to be issues with mixing in spots. Convection (thunderstorms…yes, thundersnow) will also be likely with this storm. In those cases, sometimes strong bands of snow setup over one place and effectively “rob” another of snowfall. So it’s possible that the final snow totals will not look this uniform. You could easily go from 18″ one place, to 10-12″ a couple towns over, back to 18″ a couple towns over from that. It’s chaotic. Snow forecasts aren’t meant to be simple.

What about the blizzard part?

Yes, Blizzard Watches and Warnings are posted all over. Fun fact: The amount of snow you see has 0 factor in whether or not a storm is defined as a blizzard. Why is that? My honest answer is because we like to make things difficult on ourselves as forecasters and communicators. That aside, it has to do with impacts mostly. A blizzard is supposed to mean wind, which limits how many storms meet the criteria of one…thus making it special and making it stand out.

For a storm to be a blizzard, it has to have 3 hours of winds sustained at or frequently gusting to 35 mph and visibility below 1/4 mile. That’s all. So we’ll see if that gets achieved, but based on model data, yes, it looks like blizzard criteria will be met at many places. For the sake of yourself, stay home Saturday.

How about the coastal flooding?

Here are the very latest tidal forecasts for Cape May, Atlantic City, and Sandy Hook. You can select others from those sites.

I heard this was going to be like Sandy?

Here’s something that agitated me today. I heard from several people somewhat panicked, thinking this was going to be Sandy II. Sandy was a 940 mb monster storm to the south of NJ, that was dragging days of water across the Atlantic Ocean directly into Jersey and New York. This storm will be strong, but it will be moving away from the coast. It won’t have nearly the same characteristics as Sandy did. Meteorologically, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

But in terms of actual impact what does it mean? It means something worse than what you saw back in October with Joaquin, but short of what you saw in Sandy. It means a lot of water, yes, and major coastal flooding and a top 10 event perhaps. It means problems. The coast is more vulnerable now than it was 5 years ago.

That said, it does not mean mass devastation like was seen in Sandy. So you are right to be preparing and be concerned. But should you panic? No. Make your preparations as you would for any major coastal storm. Remain calm and heed the forecasts of the National Weather Service.

This will likely be my final forecast post on this storm. Thanks for reading and hope you have some time to enjoy the power of nature without being impacted too hard.

Follow me on Twitter @mattlanza.

Irene Info for Friends and Family

Euro model forecast of wind speeds on the Jersey Shore during the height of Irene: http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap

Note that the only *official* information is what you hear from local emergency management and the National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center. I’m just offering you my own opinion on how this may shake out.

If you are ordered to evacuate, do so…this storm isn’t a drill. There’s always a chance it “might not be that bad,” but ALL indications are that it will be that bad. This forecast is not hyped…this is simply what we’re seeing right now from the computer models. Breaking this down region by region….note that the timing could change by 3-6 hours in any given location depending on how fast Irene ultimately tracks.

NC Outer Banks: Should see the brunt of the storm with sustained cat 1-2 hurricane winds and gusts perhaps to cat 3 intensity. Conditions deteriorate Friday afternoon, with the brunt of the storm late Fri night and into early afternoon Saturday. Major wind/flooding from Hatteras north. Models have indicated some increase in rainfall intensity near landfall, so 10″ or more of rain is possible on top of storm surge flooding. Conditions will improve Saturday night.

Norfolk/VA Beach: Area could see substantial Cat 2-3 gusts and some Cat 1, maybe low end 2 sustained winds. In addition to piling of water into the harbor there, rain amount of up to 10″ or more will likely exacerbate flooding there. Height of the storm will be Saturday morning through Saturday evening.

Richmond to Raleigh Breezy conditions, with tropical storm force gusts (40-50 mph) likely in Richmond. Any further west track of the storm will increase the risk of strong tropical storm force wind gusts (60 mph or more). Raleigh will see perhaps a low end tropical storm force gust or two, along with minimal rain (probably an inch or less). Richmond could see substantially more rain depending on the exact track…likely 2-5″, but potential for more. Height of the storm will be Saturday morning through Saturday evening.

Delmarva: You will get hit very hard with storm surge flooding, sustained tropical storm to category 1 hurricane force winds and gusts easily into the category 2 hurricane range (> 90 mph). Very heavy rainfall to the tune of 6-10″ is likely. Height of the storm is mid to late morning Saturday into early Sunday morning.

Southeast NJ (Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland) and the Delaware Beaches: Storm surge flooding is likely at times of high tide, especially Sunday morning…possibly Sunday evening as well if this slows down further. Wind gusts of 80-90 mph. Sustained tropical storm force winds. 6-10″ of rain likely, but any shift further west would knock you down to 4-8″, but increase the storm surge/wind/isolated tornado potential. Barrier Islands will be impossible to get to, and will likely be impossible to get around on Sunday.  The brunt of the storm will hit late Saturday afternoon to early afternoon Sunday.

DC-Baltimore: Heavy rain and flooding will be the major stories. Any further shift west will exacerbate rain totals, which should be 3-6″. Also, any further shift west will allow for more storm surge up the Chesapeake. This would cause substantial tidal flooding…but that is not the main concern right now. Winds should be sustained at least low end tropical storm, with some strong TS gusts likely. Rain will drop off substantially west of the cities. Worst of the storm will be late Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning.

Philly/SW Jersey/Trenton: The current forecast track keeps you in the solid 3-6″ rainfall band, with higher amounts possible with a shift to the west. Significant to record flooding on some rivers is possible. Winds will be tropical storm force, with the potential for a few hurricane force gusts, especially in NJ. Height of the storm will be Saturday evening through mid afternoon Sunday. Also note that tidal Delaware River and Delaware Bay flooding is likely with this storm, especially if the track shifts any further west.

Metro New York City/North Jersey/Long Island: Same story here… heavy rain, up to 6-10″ with locally higher amounts, dropping off west of I-81 in Pennsylvania. Storm surge flooding is a distinct possibility in Manhattan, as well as from LBI to Sandy Hook and obviously on Long Island. Current projections would be Cat 2 storm surge flooding potential from Cape May to Sandy Hook. Strong winds, mostly tropical storm force, but could be hurricane force at times in Ocean and Monmouth Counties. Gusts to hurricane force/80 mph or so in Ocean/Monmouth/NYC/Long Island likely, gusts to tropical storm force in inland Jersey/NY. Height of the storm will be Saturday night into late Sunday afternoon or evening.

Upstate NY (Syracuse-Albany): Heavy rain in the Hudson Valley… 6-10″ south, 4-8″ north. Any shift west will push amounts into the widespread 6-12″ zone. Rain will drop off steadily west of Albany (1″ every 5 miles or so to just some squalls Syracuse/Utica) Winds will gust to tropical storm force, especially at higher elevations, mostly in the Hudson Valley. Wind gusts should edge back to 20-30 mph between Syracuse and Utica. Height of the storm will be from mid to late Sunday morning into Sunday evening or night.

Connecticut/RI/Mass (incl Cape Cod and Boston): Heavy rain likely, especially along and west of I-91…any shift west or east will shift that axis. Rain amounts of 6-10″ west and 3-7″ east. Again, any shift in track shifts that. Winds will gust to hurricane force as you will be on the eastern, or stronger side of the storm. Some sustained category 1 hurricane winds will be possible on the Connecticut shore, southern RI, Block Island, the Cape, and the Islands. Rain may be more squally or sporadic and the potential does exist for brief weak, but damaging tornadoes anywhere at any time. The height of the storm for you looks to be late Saturday night into Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Northern New England/Maine: Widespread tropical storm force wind gusts, with some isolated hurricane force gusts on the Maine/NH coasts. Rain of 6-10″ likely. Height of storm Sunday afternoon into Monday morning.

Some Q&A…

Can this forecast change? Yes. If the track of Irene is a little further west, the storm may weaken a little faster over land, causing less in the way of wind gusts, but it would also put different people on the eastern side of the storm for longer, creating more of a coastal flooding problem. Either way, someone is looking at substantial to serious flooding because of rainfall. It’s just a question of who. The forecast could also change if Irene makes any unexpected wobbles between the Bahamas and North Carolina. A shift in course of 25 miles in either direction will move people’s impacts around rather substantially because of the angle this storm is going up the coast at.

Could Irene go out to sea? Strongly doubt it. Most of the computer guidance has come into very good agreement now, and within 72 hours, such a dramatic change in the forecast would be almost unprecedented. It’s running out of time to make a move that would cause this.

Should I evacuate? I cannot tell you what to do or make that decision for you. Heed the advice of local emergency managers or law enforcement.

How bad will the aftermath be? The storm surge flooding should subside Sunday night and Monday from south to north. This is the type of storm that has the potential to permanently alter the coastal geography and it’s not impossible to think that new inlets could form or water may never recede from certain locations. Be prepared to find that in a few areas. The soaking wet record month in PA/NJ/DE has saturated the ground. Add even modest tropical storm force winds and an average of 6-10″ of rain, and fully leaved trees/power lines will be coming down by the hundreds. Expect widespread, potentially long duration power outages up to a week or longer over a VERY wide swath of the region impacted by Irene.

This has all the makings of an historic storm. Yes, there is the off chance that the storm is “not that bad,” but given all the information we currently have in front of us, it would be very difficult to say that that is a possibility. This is the most serious storm since Hurricane Gloria and possibly back further than that. Please heed all warnings and orders from the appropriate authorities. Hunker down, be strong, be safe, and life will go on!

2011: Summer of Pain

Streak of heat in Dallas continues... courtesy: NOAA (NWS Dallas-Ft. Worth)

Following up my post from last week when we saw extreme heat in the Northeast, this summer has been pretty awful in terms of heat. Not atypical given a strongly positive Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and sharply negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation and strong pool of warm water further in the North Pacific, but as we are beginning to approach to some insane records, I figured it would be interesting to look at this summer from a historical perspective, and I decided to use the NCDC’s record temps tool to sort all of the all-time record highs recorded or matched this summer. In other words, stations that have seen or tied their warmest temperature ever. And as we prepare to see the drought stricken Southern Plains and North Texas absolutely bake this week, this list should grow further.

Some notes:

– Stations had to have a period of record of at least 30 years to qualify. Some of the 30-50 year records aren’t that impressive, but there were a substantial number of all-time records set at stations with periods of record of 60-110 years.

– I didn’t discriminate between official ASOS observing sites and Co-ops, so some of the Co-op records shouldn’t be taken with full confidence, but any site with 60-80+ years of data that sets an all-time record is pretty significant.

– Northway, AK broke the old record of 91 degrees twice…once with a 94 on 7/10 and then shattered that with a 97 on 7/11.

– Tallahassee and Marianna, FL both tied or broke their all-time records multiple times in June.

– Multiple locations on the Plains and Texas did as well. It was interesting to see how many station tied their all-time records one day, then busted through them shortly thereafter.

-Ypsilanti, MI set their record July 2nd and then broke it by two on 7/21. That one is an oddball and stands out, and I wonder if that has to do with new construction in that area?

– It’s not a coincidence that several of these all-time records being broken were originally set in the 70s, 50s, or 30s, as those also saw somewhat similar global weather patterns to what we see in 2011. No coincidence either that we’ve had insane, Dust Bowl type drought, incredibly horrible tornadoes, and active hurricane seasons as well.

– It is also impressive how many 1980, 1988, 1995, 1998, and 2010 records you see on these lists as well.

– Check S of O out on Facebook!

Here’s the list…apologies for some of the formatting. Haven’t found a simple way to put Excel into WordPress.

Date Site New Record Prev Record Date Set Yrs. Data
6/1 Tallahassee, FL 103 103 7/30/2010 68
6/1 Marianna, FL 105 105 7/31/2010 65
6/4 Enterprise, AL 104 104 7/21/2000 45
6/4 Winter Haven, FL 104 104 7/24/1952 71
6/13 Marianna, FL 105 105 6/1/2011 65
6/13 Jal, NM 114 112 6/29/1957 75
6/14 Tallahassee, FL 103 103 6/1/2011 68
6/14 Ashburn, GA 102 102 8/10/2007 55
6/15 Marianna, FL 105 105 6/13/2011 65
6/15 Valdosta, GA 106 106 8/2/1998 44
6/15 Tallahassee, FL 105 103 6/14/2011 68
6/15 Purdum, NE 116 114 7/24/1940 109
6/17 Laredo, TX 113 113 6/15/1998 56
6/19 Putnam, TX 110 110 8/8/2003 48
6/23 Raton, NM 102 100 7/25/2009 32
6/24 Raton, NM 102 102 6/23/2011 32
6/24 Amarillo, TX 109 108 6/28/1998 68
6/24 Borger, TX 109 108 6/27/1998 63
6/24 Dalhart, TX 108 107 6/24/1990 64
6/25 Portales, NM 109 109 6/28/1968 103
6/25 Wellington, TX 114 113 6/25/1994 52
6/26 Dodge City, KS 110 110 6/29/1998 68
6/26 Gage, OK 113 113 7/10/2009 73
6/26 Wellington, TX 117 114 6/25/2011 52
6/26 Childress, TX 117 117 6/27/1994 69
6/26 Amarillo, TX 111 109 6/24/2011 68
6/26 Borger, TX 111 109 6/24/2011 63
6/26 Morton, TX 111 110 6/28/1994 49
6/26 Plainview, TX 111 111 6/28/1994 104
6/26 Tulia, TX 110 110 6/28/1994 63
6/26 Dalhart, TX 110 108 6/24/2011 64
6/26 Canyon, TX 109 109 6/24/2011 58
6/27 Ft. Huachuca, AZ 106 106 7/28/1995 74
6/27 Ashland, KS 114 114 8/13/1936 112
6/27 Richfield, KS 111 111 6/30/1933 67
6/27 Goodwell, OK 112 111 6/30/1998 93
6/27 Fort Supply, OK 110 110 7/11/2009 72
6/27 Paducah, TX 118 118 6/28/1994 55
6/27 Turkey, TX 116 115 6/27/1994 47
6/27 Shamrock, TX 115 113 6/25/1980 50
6/27 Lipscomb, TX 114 114 7/19/1978 48
6/27 Panhandle, TX 112 111 6/3/2008 49
6/27 Plainview, TX 112 111 6/26/2011 104
6/27 Silverton, TX 111 109 6/28/1994 50
6/27 Canyon, TX 109 109 6/26/2011 58
6/29 Wilcox, AZ 110 110 6/28/1994 108
6/30 Garden City, KS 109 108 7/15/2003 55
7/2 Ypsilanti, MI 101 100 7/15/1977 49
7/9 Medicine Lodge, KS 114 113 8/22/1984 32
7/9 Oklahoma City, OK 110 110 7/6/1996 71
7/10 Northway, AK 94 91 6/15/1969 70
7/10 Hutchinson, KS 112 111 7/17/1980 50
7/10 Blanchard, OK 112 112 8/5/1964 60
7/10 Fort Supply, OK 110 110 6/27/2011 72
7/11 Northway, AK 97 94 7/10/2011 70
7/12 Shamrock, TX 117 115 6/27/2011 50
7/13 Magnolia, AR 109 109 9/1/2000 61
7/14 Magnolia, AR 112 109 7/13/2011 61
7/14 Wilmington, NC Co-op 104 104 8/2/1999 61
7/21 Ypsilanti, MI 103 101 7/2/2011 49
7/21 Waterford, MI 98 98 8/9/2001 34
7/21 Elmira, NY 104 102 7/17/1988 42
7/21 Altoona, PA 101 100 7/16/1988 56
7/21 Dubois, PA 98 98 7/16/1988 46
7/21 Fort Atkinson, WI 103 102 8/2/1988 71
7/22 Homer, AK 84 81 7/10/1993 80
7/22 Hartford, CT 103 102 7/6/2010 52
7/22 Windsor Locks, CT 103 102 7/6/2010 68
7/22 Bridgeport, CT 103 103 7/22/1957 68
7/22 New Haven, CT 101 100 7/6/2010 58
7/22 Tipton, IN 98 98 7/21/1999 35
7/22 Boston, MA 103 103 7/22/1926 92
7/22 New Bedford, MA 102 100 7/6/1999 38
7/22 Walpole, MA 102 102 8/2/1975 39
7/22 Norwood, MA 101 101 7/6/2010 34
7/22 Hingham, MA 101 100 8/14/2002 51
7/22 BWI Airport, MD 106 105 7/6/2010 67
7/22 Salisbury, MD 102 102 7/6/2010 64
7/22 Newark, NJ 108 105 8/9/2001 77
7/22 Trenton, NJ 106 104 7/6/2010 36
7/22 Teterboro, NJ 104 104 7/10/2007 41
7/22 Bath, NY 102 101 7/16/1988 51
7/22 Geneva, NY 99 97 8/10/2001 43
7/22 Shippensburg, PA 105 104 7/16/1988 80
7/22 NE Philadelphia, PA 105 104 7/6/2010 42
7/22 Altoona, PA 103 101 7/21/2011 56
7/22 Williamsport, PA 103 103 7/15/1995 64
7/22 Lancaster, PA 103 101 7/6/2010 38
7/22 Stevenson Dam, PA 102 101 7/17/1988 43
7/22 Dubois, PA 101 98 7/21/2011 46
7/22 Tionesta, PA 100 99 7/16/1995 73
7/22 Bradford, PA 97 97 7/16/1988 55
7/22 Dulles Airport, VA 105 104 7/16/1988 50
7/23 Norfolk, CT 94 93 8/6/1955 74
7/23 Birch Hill Dam, MA 99 99 7/8/2010 63
7/23 Norton, MA 99 98 8/27/1948 37
7/23 Natl. Arboretum, DC 105 104 8/1/1999 64
7/23 Salisbury, MD 103 102 7/22/2011 64
7/23 West Buxton, ME 98 98 7/20/1991 57
7/23 Williamston, NC 101 101 7/8/2010 57
7/23 New Brunswick, NJ 105 105 7/7/2010 44
7/23 Bath, NY 103 102 7/22/2011 51
7/23 Stevenson Dam, PA 106 102 7/22/2011 43
7/23 Renovo, PA 105 104 7/4/1966 53
7/23 Lock Haven, PA 105 104 7/15/1988 36
7/23 Ford City, PA 104 101 7/30/1988 69
7/23 Blue Marsh Lake, PA 103 102 7/6/1999 34
7/23 Lancaster, PA Co-op 103 102 7/16/1988 36
7/23 Slippery Rock, PA 102 102 7/16/1988 63
7/23 Tionesta, PA 102 100 7/22/2011 73
7/23 Bradford, PA Co-op 99 98 7/7/1986 70
7/23 Kane, PA 98 98 6/30/1944 73
7/23 Sterling, VA 104 104 8/21/1983 35
7/23 Buckeye, WV 97 96 7/6/1999 51
7/24 Twin Lakes Resvr, CO 88 88 7/18/2003 44
7/25 Downsville Dam, NY 95 95 7/6/1987 32
7/25 Beltzville Dam, PA 101 101 7/11/1988 41
7/27 Salina, KS 113 113 7/14/1954 60
7/27 Hutchinson, KS 113 112 7/10/2011 50
7/28 Hutchinson, KS Co-op 113 111 8/6/1964 50
7/28 Sterling, KS 112 112 6/27/1980 63
7/28 Marion Resvr, KS 110 109 7/20/2006 46
7/30 Natl. Arboretum, DC 106 105 7/23/2011 64

July 22, 2011 Northeast Heat Records

US Record High Temperature Map (http://www.coolwx.com)

Based on official NWS Climate Sites in most cases, daily climate reports and NOWData tabs on the NWS websites. Should be considered unofficial until NWS issues record reports on them. Feel free to post any corrections/additions.

Best of the best

Newark, NJ 108 (All-time record)

Hartford, CT (Bradley) 103 (All-time record)

Washington, DC (Dulles) 105 (All-time record)

Salisbury, MD 102 (Unofficially ties all-time record)

Trenton, NJ 106 (Ties all-time record)

Bridgeport, CT 103 (Ties all-time record)

Best of the Rest

Portland, ME 100 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Concord, NH 100 (Daily record)

Boston, MA 103 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Providence, RI 101 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Islip, NY (Long Isl) 100 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

New York City (Central Park) 104 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

New York City (JFK Airport) 103 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

New York City (LaGuardia Airport) 103 (Daily record (#3 all-time)

Scranton, PA 98 (Daily record)

Williamsport, PA 103 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Atlantic City, NJ (Pomona) 105 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Allentown, PA 104 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Philadelphia, PA 103 (Daily record, #4 all-time)

Wilmington, DE 102 (Daily record #7 all-time)

Harrisburg, PA 103 (Daily record, #7 all-time)

Baltimore, MD (BWI Airport) 106 (Daily record, #2 all-time)

Baltimore, MD (Inner Harbor) 108 (Not an official record, but impressive)

Washington, DC (Reagan National) 102 (Not a record)

Wallops Island, VA 100 (Daily record, #3 all-time)

Norfolk, VA 102 (Daily record, #9 all-time)

 

A few notes about the heat. I think you can thank overnight low temps for this…temps started off incredibly warm this morning, with many areas not getting below 80 degrees. That helped lead to a very rapid warm up during the climatological hottest time of the year. This was essentially a perfect storm of heat…an anomalously strong mid-summer ridge building into areas during the peak temperatures of the year. Timing is everything, and this was timed out rather well (or probably not if you are sick of the heat already). Was it because of global warming? The answer I want to give is “no,” but the answer that is correct is that we simply do not know. Singular events are impossible to link to a warming planet because of greenhouse gases. Singular events should NOT be used as proof one way or another regarding global warming. It takes years of trends to prove the argument one way or another, and one day we’ll figure that out. For now, just accept that it’s summer and it’s hot, and try and keep cool the best you can.

One more day of excessive heat tomorrow, though I believe thunderstorms will be more scattered about, so that will help the situation some. After a cooling trend early next week, we look to see impressive, significantly hot temperatures return late next week and weekend. Though likely not quite as bad as today, there’s a lot of potential then as well to be record breaking type heat, but more on the low scale…not the all-time stuff. I sincerely believe we will see at least 1-2 more blasts of substantial heat (stronger than the usual stuff) through August before this summer starts to loosen its grip. So stay ready to keep cool!

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Cold, Flooding, Snow…Just Another Spring!

Trying to hit a few key issues today. First, the potential for accumulating snow in the Mid-Atlantic over the weekend. It’s snowed, sleeted, thundered, etc. across much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in the last 36 hours…why not add something else to the mix?

12Z NAM Snowfall Forecast (From Earl Barker's Site: http://wxcaster4.com)

Map to the left is the NAM model depiction of snowfall for the next 72 hours. It shows you snow stretching from Omaha to Kansas City to St. Louis to Louisville to Cincinnati to just south of Washington, DC. This has been shown off and on throughout the week on all the models. It looks like we’re game on for a snow event. The problem is (of course) the exact storm track. The GFS forecast is *slightly* further north, which would bring more snow into DC and much less around Richmond. I would side in between the two right now…with light snows south of Baltimore to south of Richmond, with an axis of heavier snow, probably in the middle, through, say Fredricksburg, VA. Could be a decent event for the  northern part of the Blue Ridge. This will not be a *major* event, but given that it’s almost April, every snow event is extra painful.

So if you have weekend plans, specifically Sunday, keep this in mind. It is the time of year where it’s tougher to get snow to stick on the roads, but given that we’re leading into this event with several cold days, we could see more sticking than we normally would in late March.

In other news, spring may be delayed somewhat in the East. Just got a look at the latest weekly forecast from the European model…and, yeah, it looks cold if you live anywhere north of about Florida. Not guaranteed to verify, but this is certainly not what you want to see if you live in the Northeast, Plains, Great Lakes, or Mid-Atlantic.

However, this may help slow snow melt some over the northern tier…which is good because the latest river forecasts show major flooding likely on the Mississippi near St. Paul. Could be another painful Upper Midwest flooding season.

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Winter Doesn’t Give Up That Easily…

If you’ve lived in the Northeast for any length of time (in years), you know full well that spring almost never comes without a price. Temps in the 60s, 70s, and even 80s over the last week are going to give way to the harsh reality that winter can still rule in March and even April.

Latest plot of recent and forecasted NAO from CPC

To the left you’ll notice a plot of the NAO..the North Atlantic Oscillation. You’ve probably heard of it before, but in layman’s terms, it’s a measure of atmospheric blocking (high pressure) in the vicinity of Greenland. Traditionally in winter, a negative phase of the NAO spells more troughing and thus colder conditions in the Eastern US. You’ll notice from the graph that since the beginning of February, the NAO has been almost locked in a neutral or positive phase. As such, you haven’t seen quite the harsh conditions you all experienced earlier in the winter. But the red lines indicate the forecast, and that, my friends, is what we call a tanking NAO.

Latest Plot of Recent and Forecasted PNA from CPC

Off to the right, you’ll see another, similar chart…this for the PNA, or Pacific-North American Oscillation. This measures blocking near the West Coast. When this is positive, there is traditionally a ridge present out west, which usually can translate to a downstream trough. When you have the NAO in a negative phase and the PNA in a positive phase, that’s a usual rock solid combination to generate warmth out West and cold in the East. It appears, we have these factors ready to lock in for a good 10+ days, with the +PNA holding on a little longer perhaps than the -NAO.

What’s this mean? With them both in concert, it spells strong cold conditions for the Eastern US and a developing warm pattern and end to storminess out West. As the NAO starts to fade, but the PNA stays relatively positive, it means the cold in the East will ease some, but there’s absolutely no sign of a return to the 60s and 70s you’ve seen recently. Expect some 30s, 40s and maybe occasional 50s if you live in the Northeast Corridor through at least next weekend.

How about snow?

A few snow chances exist over the next week or so. I won’t go into many details about the one on Sunday and the one next Wednesday, but suffice to say, the conditions do exist for potential snow.

3/22 12Z GFS Snow Forecast from Earl Barker's Model Site: http://wxcaster.com/regional_snowfall.htm

In the immediate term, we’ve got a situation tomorrow. The map to the left is this morning’s projection of accumulated snowfall from the GFS model. If you live in NYC, you can ignore this for the most part (think the model is a little too aggressive with snow there). This is mainly west of I-287 and north of I-80…but you can clearly see the risk. For Northwest NJ and the Scranton area, despite what this model is showing, I’d be shifting those bands south a bit, and a solid 6-10″ thumping seems likely…very elevation sensitive this time of year, so the higher up you are, the better your odds for snow. The highest amounts seem banded in an area east of I-81, north of I-80, west of I-87, and south of US Route 20. There is some model debate as to how far south the snow will get (one model brings heavy snow as far south as Central NJ). I am going against that model for now due to a poor track record this winter. But you will want to keep an eye on this situation. And if you live in Northwest Jersey/Northeast PA, tomorrow and tomorrow night look very unkind.

Wish I had better news, but enjoy this last gasp of winter if that’s your thing.

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