April’s Not Foolin’ for New England & Update on Opening Day

Here’s just an updated forecast on Thursday and Friday’s home openers.

Opening Day Thursday

Detroit at NY Yankees
Atlanta at Washington
Still looking at clouds, chilly temps, and scattered showers. I think NY is safe right now, but there are some signs that rain will envelope DC before game’s end, so keep an eye on that.

Milwaukee at Cincinnati
Still looks: Partly cloudy to mostly sunny and generally in the 40s.

LA Angels at Kansas City
San Diego at St. Louis
Still tracking a shower threat in KC. But those look more hit/miss, so I’m not anticipating any major disruption. Saint Louis looks pretty solid with sun and clouds. I’d take mention of showers out.

San Francisco at LA Dodgers
5 PM local time for first pitch at Chavez Ravine, and it will be postcard LA weather. Sunny, with temperatures probably 85-90 for first pitch, slipping into the upper 70s by the end of the game. Second place “Pick of the Weekend.”

Friday’s Home Openers

Minnesota at Toronto
Baltimore at Tampa
Dry and 70s…dome sweet dome.

Houston at Philly
It still looks like the worst of the weather will be in the morning in Philly. The snow/rain will lift into New England during the afternoon. It will be cold, breezy, raw, damp, gross. Should be some flurries around. Despite the fact that the worst will be long gone by game time, I would label this game as a risk to be rained or snowed out though, just because of how miserable the weather will be.

Pittsburgh at Chicago
Mostly cloudy here with some rain showers likely. I doubt it’s delay inducing stuff, but it may make Wrigley an unpleasant experience…sort of a raw, damp day.

Chicago at Cleveland
Still looks partly cloudy here. Looks like low 40s…a pleasant day for baseball, but still a bit chilly.

Boston at Texas
No changes in the ideas here either, except it could be a couple degrees warmer…low to maybe mid 80s in Arlington Friday. The Red Sox will be happy they’re opening there and not in Boston.

Arizona at Colorado
Not what you’d expect in Denver for baseball this early. Sunny, mild, and temps in the low 70s. This is the State of Occlusion “Pick of the Weekend!”

NY Mets at Florida
Taking out any mention of t’storms here. Looks good for the Mets/Fish. Temps upper 70s/low 80s at first pitch.

Seattle at Oakland
Partly cloudy after a nice day when highs should push into the 70s. We’ll see temps around first pitch in the 60s, easing back into the low 60s or upper 50s at game’s end.

Northeast Snow

The map to the left is this morning’s GFS model forecast for snow in the Northeast from Earl Barker’s model website. This is a pretty significant storm, for any time of winter, let alone early April. The GFS forecast is reasonable. Here’s how it breaks down.

NYC-Philly-DC: AM Rain, perhaps ending as some steady snow north and west, with a little coating possible there, and maybe some flurries into the cities.

Northwest NJ/Sussex County: Snow to rain to snow. Ending as a slushy 1-3″ accumulation I think. Higher elevations there could see snow continue longer, and there is definitely a risk that higher snowfall totals occur here. Still model disagreement in this area.

Boston: Mainly a mix in the city, but they could get 3-6″+ just north and west.

Interior CT/MA/Albany: 6-12″ easily, with higher amounts in the higher elevations. Some of those higher terrain areas may see 12-18″ of heavy, wet snow.

Interior NY west of I-87 to I-81 (Albany-Syracuse): Gradually diminishing snowfall gradient of 6-12″ near ALB to 1-3″ near SYR…. 5-10″ for Binghamton/Scranton.

This is just based on a cursory glance, so expect some changes, and refer to the NWS for the most local info. Either way, we’re looking at a large storm, with strong winds possible in New England as well, that could lead to power outages and downed trees/power lines. Just brutal for April.

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Facebook Us…Oh, And Snow.

It’s been a disruptive month for State of Occlusion! Transitioning my life offline from the West Coast to the East Coast, so haven’t had time to blog. I’ve discovered Facebook to be an extremely useful tool to communicate short bursts of information and post maps quickly. I will occasionally use this blog to elaborate on various significant events, but in the meantime, for the latest thoughts and information from me, like the Facebook page and tell your friends. We’ve already got 100 fans…let’s go for 200!

Follow State of Occlusion on Facebook for the latest!

In the meantime, while many in the Northeast enjoyed record warmth this Friday, winter is around the corner ready to take its season back. It will be cooler and extremely windy Saturday, followed by a leveling off of temps Sun and Mon. One storm will swing through Monday, potentially dropping heavy snow on Upstate NY, far N PA, into Connecticut and Southern/Central New England. Round two will affect areas south of I-80, somewhere between DC and New York, bringing the potential for very heavy snow on Tuesday as colder, Arctic air pours in. Right now the best odds for this appear to me to be between Baltimore and Allentown, back west across all of PA into Ohio and east into NJ. Potential does exist for 6″ or more with this storm, so this may cause significant travel issues in the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday. Cold Wednesday followed by another semi-thaw (though not to the extent you saw this week).

I will post updates on Facebook through the holiday weekend.

Couple Things to Watch

Been a quiet few days after the New England Blizzard. I’m also in a transitional phase of life, moving from California to the East Coast starting next weekend. So apologies for that, though there hasn’t been much to talk about either. But let’s focus on a couple things. We have a couple main stories to discuss: A mixed precip event this week, followed by more cold, and then the potential for another major East Coast storm. Let’s look them over.

Messy Mix

The map to the left (click to enlarge) shows the precipitation type being forecast by the NAM model for Tuesday (credit Wxcaster.com: http://wxcaster.com/regional_snowfall.htm). The green is rain, purple/pink is sleet, red is freezing rain/ice, and blue is snow. Notice that as the precipitation moves in and through, especially across the higher terrain north and west of the Big Cities, it starts as an icy mix, before warmer air begins to gradually flood in, changing the mix to rain. The GFS shows a similar scenario, but with more precipitation. Total amounts range from about 1/3″ to 1/2″ liquid on average. So this won’t be a crippling storm, but there could be some localized nasty travel Tuesday and Tuesday night, especially in interior NW Connecticut, parts of NY State (especially south of Albany and north of the NJ border), and possible interior western Massachusetts. Some of the valleys further east in New England could also lock in the cold air at the ground a little longer and may see some localized issues. This looks more like an advisory level event rather than a warning level event. But keep it in mind if you’re traveling Tuesday or Tuesday night.

It will then stay rather cold heading through next weekend. The models seem to have backed off in the last couple days on how serious the cold will be, but it still looks relatively cold for the time being.

European model forecast for next weekend: Credit - http://raleighwx.americanwx.com

Then we have to watch the next area of concern. The map to your right is a forecast from this morning of the European model for next weekend. Yes, that’s a 976 mb low just east of Boston. The GFS model shows a lot of energy, but not quite the major storm scenario…for now. Both models have been showing some sort of storm possible in the Northeast around this timeframe for several runs now. What has to be watched is energy moving into the Western US later this week, likely bringing a quick bout of snow to the Intermountain Region and Rockies. As that progresses east, we’ll see if the pattern still looks ripe for storminess…but there’s a lot of energy around in the atmosphere starting late week or early weekend. This may be what is needed to generate the next round of excitement in the Northeast. Stay tuned.

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Quick Weekend Snow Risk Assessment

Not much to say beyond what was said yesterday. Just looking at the models today and going off past experience, I feel this first system Friday-Saturday is not going to be a backbreaker on a large scale. I think we’re dealing with a more localized storm in areas more suited to handle heavy/surprise snow…an Alberta Clipper system that starts to explosively develop off the New England coast, which may for some point carry one of my favorite descriptions: A ballistic clipper. These types of storms can really hammer areas north of I-80 if the situation is right.

Snowfall Risk Assessment for the Northeast Friday-Saturday (Click to enlarge)

So anywhere from about Rochester or Syracuse eastward is fair game for this possibly overachieving. Right now, I think the odds of the “clipper” overachieving are highest in the Catskills, but this could easily be extended north toward the Mohawk Valley or even the southern Adirondacks and Berkshires. The secondary area is where the intense coastal development will take place, which is off the Massachusetts coast, possibly putting Portsmouth, Boston, Providence, and Cape Cod under the gun for a period of heavy snow. I’m non-commital on that area though, and more enthused with the idea of parts of the interior being “surprised” by this. For now, you can see my highest risk areas. These may be expanded or contracted later. Additionally, the area of 3″ accumulating snow could end up pushing a little further south, but if I lived south of I-195 in Jersey, I wouldn’t be too concerned or enthused for snow at this point. I think this first event will be primarily a north of I-80/east of I-81 storm. I’ll keep you posted.

We still have this other system showing up on the models for midweek next week, and that one I’m still not writing off or committing to at this point…but I will say, given recent model trends and the overall pattern, it would make sense that someone will see a significant winter storm for the middle of next week. Stay tuned.

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Winter Starting Off Strong for Some

CPC Graph of NAO and Forecast

Winter is off and running. It’s not terribly uncommon for La Nina winters to start off bursting out of the gate. But this winter is almost a carbon copy of last. And one of the big reasons we have to thank is the NAO. If you look at the image on the right (top frame), it shows a chart of progression of the NAO index since late summer and the red lines indicate the forecast. The NAO has been negative for months. We’re clearly in some sort of funk or cycle of it. When the NAO goes negative, in a nutshell, you get a large ridge of high pressure centered near or over Greenland (NAO is often synonymous with “Greenland Block.”). When you get large ridges, that usually means there are large troughs on opposite sides of the ridge. And geographically, Europe and the Eastern US are on the opposite sides of Greenland, so…there you have it.

Greenland blocks can often be favorable for lake effect snow, and there has been a LOT of lake snows. We’ve seen this pattern several times in the last few years, but because often times the winds have been either too northerly or too westerly, the snows have hit more remote areas. Now, Syracuse is getting hammered with over 30″ of snow so far this month (and potentially a LOT more coming)! When snow records start being set in the ‘Cuse, that usually means we have a pretty impressive weather pattern or storm ongoing. Here’s a look at the NWS watch/warning map from this afternoon. You can see the lake effect snow warnings in Central and Western New York, as well as the deep blue on the Gulf Coast, indicating hard freeze warnings. This is VERY early for cold of this intensity in places like Florida. So we’re in it pretty hard right now, and it’s only going to continue for the next 10+ days.

Want relief? My forecast highs out here in SoCal are in the mid 80s for early next week…that’s balmy! It’s all related though, as the sharp trough in the East, generally means an amplified sharp ridge in the West.

So what about the storm for the weekend? I’ll probably talk more about this tonight after a nap and some errands. But the operational models track the storm over NY, with both the Euro and GFS ensembles slightly further east with the center of it. To me, this would imply the operational models are a little too far west, and I’d hedge my bets a little further east. This means: Heavy interior snow, with some area of freezing rain somewhere in between, and mainly rain on the coast and for the big cities. I have a feeling that parts of Central or Western NY might get clobbered with this. Especially if we trend more toward a slightly flatter GFS storm.  Expect a sloppy mess in the interior regardless Sunday and Monday. Again, more on this later

Catching Up

Been out of town the last few days for a conference, so here’s a rundown of some things I’ve marked of interest. Plus we’ll talk about the weather for the weekend.

 

CIMSS Satellite Blog Capture of Satellite Loop/Lightning From Weekend Midwest Snow Blitz

So the Upper Midwest got absolutely spanked over last weekend. Just a massive snowstorm, even for that part of the country. Here’s some information on that storm.

 

The image on the right is courtesy of the CIMSS Satellite Blog, showing the development and movement of the storm as it lifted through the Midwest, along with lightning strikes. Thundersnow isn’t too rare or uncommon, but it still seems to be surprising when it happens. That usually means though that you’re dealing with a bigtime storm or some very heavy snowfall.  The storm set a few daily records at Minneapolis and Duluth. But the snow was quick to compress…it is still somewhat early in the snow season. Overall, the maximum totals looked to sit around 6-12″ in a band from Duluth back through MSP, Mankato, and down to the Iowa border.

The NWS in Minneapolis has a fantastic write up on the storm.

Another solid write up from the NWS in Duluth for Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin.

Also a good write up from Minnesota Public Radio on some of the more unique aspects of this storm…particular the convective aspect, as well as the fact that temperatures were in a prime range for good accumulations.

Keeping on the topic of winter weather and convection: Big Sky Convection’s Dann Cianca has a good write up and very nice pictures from catching some convective snow in Denver on Tuesday.

Congrats to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang for having the phrase “Snowmageddon” make the list of the top words of 2010. They were likely the original ones to coin this term. I’m not sure who coined “Snowpacalypse,” but while it was clever and useful for last winter, I hope this trend of coming up with clever catch phrases for every snowstorm stops. I’m still comfortable with “Super Bowl Snow” or “President’s Day Storm.” But in rare instances (and last winter was very rare), it’s manageable.

Shifting gears to climate stuff. Here’s the statement from Judith Curry for today’s Rational Discussion of Climate Change. The word is that the hearing was relatively uneventful, save for a few occasional heated discussions here and there. Setting the tone for the next couple years perhaps. More details and links for the testimony from the Dot Earth blog at the NY Times. So check that out if you have some interest.

A lot of times you’d think supercells were strictly an American thing. But you’d be mistaken. Check out some photos from this beauty off the French coast. The article is written in French, so if you don’t know French, oh well..the pictures tell the story.

As hurricane season winds down, Greg Nordstrom has a look at how the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) stacks up compared to some other hyperactive years. This year isn’t in the top 5, despite I think being there for actual *number* of storms. There was some pretty pathetic named storms this year (Nicole and Bonnie come to mind). Now, ACE is a decent gauge of a season or storm’s intensity, but it only factors in wind velocity and duration. We’ve learned in recent years especially that there is a LOT more to a hurricane than wind speed, pressure, surge, etc. Not all 125 mph storms are alike. So while this season may go down with the perception of sort of a bust (since the US was spared) and even ACE to some extent, this season was definitely hyperactive and worth the insane forecasts put out prior to the start of the season. I think we just simply dodged a bullet this year. It doesn’t make anyone more overdue or less overdue or anything…it just is what it is.

Here’s just a pretty simple overview as to why this may have been…sort of explaining how the pattern from last winter translated into what occurred this summer/autumn.

In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic this morning, what a mess. Some crazy gusty winds, as well as tornadoes. A friend of mine had some family in and crazy pictures from the Town of Ghent in Upstate NY, which was hit by an EF-1 tornado. Wind gusts seemed to be widespread in the 35-55 mph range from Virginia up through New England. The wind did a lot of damage to an inn under construction in New Canaan, CT. The Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing, NJ was especially hard hit with a number of small planes that got flipped over. A link to The Trentonian here. This sort of thing is more common earlier in autumn, but still wicked, but I don’t think too unprecedented. And lastly, the CIMSS Satellite Blog with some mountain wave captures…never fun if you’re flying.

Lastly, in what could be the coolest minor league sports move ever, the Omaha Royals have changed their name to the “Storm Chasers!” I don’t know if the Royals “brand” has been tarnished in recent years, which prompted the change, but it’s really cool regardless. The article does point out that things have changed in recent years (see: Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, etc.). I’m all for cool minor league team names.

PSU E-Wall GFS Model Map for Saturday Evening

Just a quick synopsis here on what’s coming. The image to the left shows the GFS model’s depiction of weather on the West Coast come Saturday evening. This is a MUCH different look than we’ve seen of late out here, with almost 60-70% of days I would suspect having offshore flow, dry weather, and oodles of sunshine…a nice respite after an awful summer. Well, the storm door has officially opened. And it starts this weekend. Strong low pressure off the British Columbia coast is driving a series of cold fronts, rain, and snow into the Northwest and eventually down the coast. By Saturday evening, that low pressure parks along the Oregon coast. As we go through the next few days, each one of the cold fronts swinging through is going to reinforce and strengthen cold air over the Northwest, driving down snow levels to around 2,000′ initially, then below 1,000′, and then perhaps down to “ground level” by the time we get to late in the weekend, so places like Seattle and Portland may not be exempt from snowfall. And this could set the stage for a White Thanksgiving for a lot of places in the Northwest.

Down here in California, it’s going to get colder as well, with Sierra snowfall likely, and even snow in the SoCal mountains. Just assuming from the maps, without specifically forecasting, that snow levels will approach or dip below 5,000′ in the San Gabriel and/or San Bernardino Mountains early next week. The question I guess becomes whether or not we see any precipitation at that time. This is a very interesting and cold pattern for the West Coast though, so the next few days definitely should be fun to watch.

This cold air should also work its way to the east during Thanksgiving week, bringing a  pretty strong cold shot to the East cities just after Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!

Intriguing Scenario Next Week, Video of a Tennessee Tornado, and More

Looking ahead, we might have some interesting weather on the horizon around or just after Election Day. Both of the main models we assess…the GFS (American model) and ECMWF (European model) are suggesting low pressure to develop in the East early to middle next week. But, the models disagree on exactly how things are going to pan out. The GFS is a little flatter and slower with the system, which means it doesn’t draw in nearly the same amount of cold air, and doesn’t really deepen the storm as much. The European model is much deeper and is enough to draw in cold air and flip rain to snow over many interior locations (well west of I-95 and the Big Cities).

Wednesday Morning's European Model 500 mb Forecast
Wednesday Morning's GFS 500 mb Forecast

So at left, I’ve posted both 500 mb (maps of what’s happening about 20,000 feet up) maps for next Wednesday morning. And I think one of the keys is what’s happening out west. If you notice, the Euro (left) paints a fairly robust ridge of high pressure over the West (which is going to create significant heat for California and the interior for the first half of next week). If you compare that to the GFS (right), the ridge is a little skinnier, tilted northeast, weaker and slightly further east (and also has a much broader upper low centered over Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana).

A good rule of thumb for those of you in the east is that if there is a Western ridge centered around the same longitude as Boise, ID, that’s a favorable position for getting interior snow and a decent East Coast storm. The Euro has that; the GFS does not. So which model is right? Generally, this far out, you put your money on the European model. My philosophy when forecasting for California today was that the Euro had the right idea (though not quite AS aggressive as the model is showing) and the GFS broke the western ridge down too quickly. If you look at the ensembles (each model has a set of similar models run with different conditions to provide a forecast blend), you’ll clearly see that the Euro is a little too aggressive with this ridge in the West, and the average falls somewhere between it and the GFS solution.

So my current thinking? Rain, maybe ending as snow for interior locations like Syracuse, State College, and much of West Virginia. If the Euro is right, we will be talking about some accumulating snow in interior parts of New York, Pennsylvania and the mountains of WV and MD. If the GFS is right, don’t expect much. I’ll watch it evolve and post more as we get closer.

More on the Midwest Storm

A good article from WLFI in Lafayette, IN summing up the damage in their viewing area. Some good pictures and details here.

Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel, as always, has a great write up putting the storm in some historical context…in that, while it was a really, really strong, epic storm…it really lacked some of the features of those truly epic storms of the past. The reason? Well, I’ll let him explain.

A couple of fantastic NWS post-mortems with great imagery and details: Duluth, MN and Grand Forks, ND

Bonus video: Surveillance footage of a tornado near a dam outside Chattanooga, TN.

And I’m not 100% sure if this is included in the above, but this is absolutely ridiculous footage of that tornado (I think), destroying trailers. Incredible…and scary.

Other Links

Speaking of The Weather Channel, it sounds like they’re backpedaling somewhat from their comments about going away from weather only programming.

It’s been a year of extremes nationally, but looking at it more locally, it’s been a rather incredible year in Baltimore, MD.

The Washington Post reports on the last home on a sinking Chesapeake Bay island that has collapsed. A rather interesting read.