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!
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.
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).
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.