North American Mesoscale Model Verification on January 26-27...

By: Zachary Labe , 10:34 PM GMT on January 29, 2011

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The North American Mesoscale Model (NAM) is a high resolution model courtesy of the National Center for Environmental Prediction. Another very common and referenced name for the model is the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). They are the same model and run out to 84 hours. The purpose of the model is to run a higher resolution determining mesoscale features that often cannot be picked up by the global models due to their larger scale. The NAM can be run on an 80km resolution with a broad view of the United States, or 40km which allows the viewer to zoom in on a localized region to put up on mesoscale features. Also a very high resolution form of the NAM exists using a 12km parametric and can zoom into different states. The model is released four times a day at 0z, 6z, 12z, and 18z. Keep in mind that time is zulu or more commonly known as greenwich mean time.

Computer models are critical to forecasting the weather as they use parametric and other mathematical equations to derive the current and predicted state of the atmosphere using a physical and chemical explanation as the background for the predictions. The NCEP is associated with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be the developer of these computer models. Each meteorological organization worlwide uses their own developed computer models to serve as a basis for the forecasts. Without computer models, we are not able to derive predictions on the weather greater than 24 hours out.

Like all computer models, the NAM shows all layers of the atmosphere in maps determining positioning and speed of the jet stream, surface precipitation amounts (quantitive precipitation forecast QPF), temperatures throughout the entire core of the atmosphere, convective indices, simulated radars, etc. Due to the higher resolution of the NAM, several problems do exist. It often produces convective elements in many middle latitude cyclones and these are known as convective feedback problems. This is where it developed these unstable regions and often associates them as surface lows causing the surface depiction to be distorted. This was a problem in the recent prediction of the January 26-27 winter storm and will be noted below. Also the NAM has a tendency to produce higher than normal precipitation amounts. I typically find myself cutting totals nearly by 30% as shown on the NAM. Finally the NAM has a bias to overamplify a low pressure and close them off to early particularily on eastern United States cyclogenesis off the coast.

The January 26-27 winter storm featured many model headaches do to some interesting variables. Early on it appeared likely for a low pressure to track up inland along the coastal plain. There was a lacking 50/50 low, unfavorable position of the western trough axis, neutral NAO, natural baroclinicity along the coastline, and stale antecedent cold air mass. This would produce rain along I-95 with heavy snows inland. The 500mb synoptic pattern showed very strong signals for this time of setup with most computer model guidance also in support. The GGEM and ECMWF led the pack with the heavy snows from I-81 on westward. The GFS suffered major problems with varying solutions for each run. But then the computer models began to delay the storm. In fact it was delayed nearly 48-60 hours from the original starting time. This caused a different scenario to unfold. The lacking high pressure to the north was still a problem as the anticyclone zoomed east-northeast, but now a high pressure and associated shortwave out ahead of it allowed sunk east-southeast across the Midwest and western Great Lakes. This acted as a 'kicker' helping to push the cyclonegenesis farther off the coast. This in turn allowed for a colder scenario along with precipitation to occur farther east. Therefore a turn of events allowed for a major I-95 snowstorm with 6in+ totals from Washington DC to Boston. This was very fortunate for snow lovers in that corridor due to pure luck given the poor synoptic setup.

Given the NAM's high resolution, it often overanalyzes prognostics post hour 60. It tends to enhance QPF, overamplify lows, and pick up on mesoscale features that really do not exist. Therefore I typically throw out hours 60-84. It would be a rare event where you would find the NAM 84 hour verifying anywhere close to accurate. But in the near term range, the NAM does an excellent job locating temperature thermals, QPF ranges, and picking up on mesoscale features; coastal fronts, enhanced convection, deformation bands, etc. But in this recent storm, it suffered a plethora of problems and even the 6 and 12 hour surface maps had poor verification especially in the QPF department.

Let us first look at the actual accumulated precipitation totals for the storm.

Given this is a 24 hour accumulated precipitation amount, about .01-.1in of additional precipitation fell south of the Mason-Dixon line in the previous 24 hours.

Here are the preceeding NAM total QPF forecasts...


(January 24; 18z) (January 25; 6z)


(January 25; 12z) (January 25; 18z)


(January 26; 0z) (January 26; 6z)

As you can see, the NAM had a lot of variance with the northwestern sharp precipitation gradients. These tight gradients this year have been caused by the rapid intensification of the coastal lows allowing the heaviest moisture to be confined closer to the center of circulation. Also in this instance, a very cold and dry air mass along with associated cold front was quickly advancing southeast across the Great Lakes and was even picked up on by the 700mb RH charts. This allowed the flow out of the northwest to dry up some moisture for areas more inland.

The NAM simulated radar vs. the forecast QPF did not match up. Often the NAM simulated radar showed the heavier mesoscale bands lining up in northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania where as it only showed total QPF to be .25in-.5in. In fact looking at total verification, the NAM did very well for its simulated radar.


(Actual NEXRAD National Radar) (6z NAM January 26 Simulated Radar)

The NAM did seem to have a hold on the 500mb map showing the negatively tilted trough producing the coastal low along with the placement of the upper level low and associated shortwave kicker just to the west.


(18z NAM January 24; 500mb) (0z NAM January 26; 500mb)

In general the differences in the 500mb maps were very subtle with just a general strengthening in the closed 500mb low, which verified a tad north of the January 24 18z model run.

The NAM did a very excellent job in identifying mesoscale band using the UUV/700mb RH charts.

(6z NAM January 26; 700mb)

It indentifed the enhanced snow growth over southeastern Pennsylvania up through New Jersey and New York City. The problems with the NAM generally existed in the QPF fields. The model likely suffered a very convective feedback issues in QPF totals. This is why it is important to note other maps than surface maps to help locate the heaviest precipitation. The 700mb map screamed that snow totals would be farther inland with the enhanced deformation band and UUV rates. In general the high resolution models handled this the best with the HRR scoring an amazing victory for QPF along with the ECMWF. The GFS/NAM did a very poor job for QPF, but as noted above QPF does not always tell the story. Sometimes it is important to note other layers of the atmosphere to help make a forecast. This point is why many forecasters missed the boat. Many forecasters (especially broadcoast meteorologists) are drawn to the easy to understand QPF/surface maps, but one has to look at all layers of the atmosphere to make a prediction.

Lower Susquehanna Valley Doppler...

(Courtesy of WGAL)

"Here northeast of Harrisburg 2010-2011 winter statistics"
(Snow Stats)
Current Snow Cover- 0-3in
Monthly Total (November)- Trace
Monthly Total (December)- 0.6in
Monthly Total (January)- 18.90in
Monthly Total (February)- 1.35in
Seasonal Total- 20.85in
Winter Weather Advisories- 7
Winter Storm Warnings- 2
Ice Storm Warnings- 0
Blizzard Warnings- 0
Freezing Rain Advisories- 1
Winter Storm Watches- 2

(Temperature Stats)
Lowest High Temperature- 23.7F
Lowest Low Temperature- -1.7F
Wind Chill Advisories- 0
Wind Chill Warnings- 0

(Snow Storms Stats)
First accumulating snow - December 10 - 0.50in of snow
Clipper light snow - January 7-8 - 2.25in then another 1in of snow
Double Barrel Low - January 11 - 4.5in of snow
Coastal Low - January 17-17 - 1.8in of snow/sleet
Arctic Front - January 20-21 - 2.1in of snow
Upper level/coastal low - January 26 - 5.75in of snow
Two clippers - January 28-29 - 1.5in of snow

Ice Storm 2011... (Blizzard92)
.4-.5in of freezing rain
Ice Storm 2011...
Ice Storm 2011... (Blizzard92)
.4-.5in of freezing rain
Ice Storm 2011...
Ice Storm 2011... (Blizzard92)
.4-.5in of freezing rain
Ice Storm 2011...
Ice Storm 2011... (Blizzard92)
.4-.5in of freezing rain
Ice Storm 2011...
Ice Storm 2011... (Blizzard92)
.4-.5in of freezing rain
Ice Storm 2011...
Ice Storm 2011... (Blizzard92)
.4-.5in of freezing rain
Ice Storm 2011...
Ice Storm 2011 (Blizzard92)
Melting begins...
Ice Storm 2011
Ice Storm 2011 (Blizzard92)
Melting begins...
Ice Storm 2011

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Quoting SoLanCo96:
Hello to everyone im new to your blog...


Nice to see you here!!
Member Since: December 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1744
216. Finky
Quoting Blizzard92:

There is a definite possibility especially given the snow pack. Stay tuned! Ice storms are a lot more serious than snow storms.


At what time do you think the Mets will have a good idea on what is really going to happen? Are we still in the ball game for a decent snow fall. Thanks
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Quoting Finky:
Blizz,

Should i expect major ice problems down here just north of the mason dixon line?

There is a definite possibility especially given the snow pack. Stay tuned! Ice storms are a lot more serious than snow storms.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Hello to everyone im new to your blog...
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213. Finky
Blizz,

Should i expect major ice problems down here just north of the mason dixon line?
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Quoting TrentonThunder:


Lol yeah. 95% of folks on this blog are big snow lovers.

Welcome...


Thanks.
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Hope this doesn't mimic the ice storm we had a few years ago that cut that swath up just West of Worcester through Leicester, where pretty near every tree got topped about 30' off the ground. That must have been 2007 or 2008?

Lob
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Quoting guaguapichincha:


I'm supposed to root for the snow?

My wife and I were saying tonight that if we get another big one, we might just have to hang a white flag out the window.

We surrender!



Lol yeah. 95% of folks on this blog are big snow lovers.

Welcome...
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 796
Quoting HeavySnow:
I didn't mean tonight. I meant Tuesday/Wednesday.

I did too. No destruction this time around for Washington DC, sorry, hahaha.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
I didn't mean tonight. I meant Tuesday/Wednesday.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
Quoting HeavySnow:
Light sleet and snow in Annandale, VA right now. Didn't expect that. Any hope at all for me Blizz with this one? I know it doesn't look promising at this point.

Probably not more than anything other than nuisance amounts; sorry! lol.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Light sleet and snow in Annandale, VA right now. Didn't expect that. Any hope at all for me Blizz with this one? I know it doesn't look promising at this point.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
Quoting wxgeek723:


Ugh it's almost like a New England Snowmaggedon, which bothers me because I take pride in experiencing the true Snowmaggedon in the Mid Atlantic, lol.


I went to grad school in Delaware.

We got hammered there one year. There were a lot of broken roofs. I think it was 2002 maybe? 2003? 2001? Can't remember.

Up here it's more likely to be snow and not have water in it, which is what caused all the problems for you guys last week.

Also, we just pretend that we aren't really buried in snow, or else we'd go crazy.
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All,
It's a bit off-topic, but can anybody suggest a good substantive wx blog for the Chicago area? My daughter lives there now and they are about to get thumped by a full-fledged blizzard. (I'm jealous!)
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I am supposed to fly to Columbus Tuesday Morning and then I will have a layover in PGH on Tuesday Afternoon, how is it looking for those place and the temp?
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i love snow but it would be nice to just have one of these be nice a fluffy this cement snow is getting the best of me and it keeps messing up the backyard rink
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It does not even get to freezing on the 0z NAM here in the Harrisburg area with likely over .75in of freezing rain verbatum on this recent run.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Quoting TrentonThunder:


Banned!


I'm supposed to root for the snow?

My wife and I were saying tonight that if we get another big one, we might just have to hang a white flag out the window.

We surrender!

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Quoting guaguapichincha:
Holyoke, MA here.

We do NOT need another 20 inches of snow.


Ugh it's almost like a New England Snowmaggedon, which bothers me because I take pride in experiencing the true Snowmaggedon in the Mid Atlantic, lol.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3714
Quoting guaguapichincha:
Holyoke, MA here.

We do NOT need another 20 inches of snow.


Banned!
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 796
There are say many watches and warnings up across the US---by tomorrow just like last week things will change---who knows when the exact forecasts will come in place...when are the next model runs---can anybody post the Euro?
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Quoting tinkahbell:
Looks like central DE may be spared. You all know how much I love snow but not ice and no anything this weekend. Does anyone know if we have had some sort of bad weather in the forecast every week since Christmas? It seems like it.


Yeah, It sure does seem that way. It's been relentless and it doesn't look to end anytime soon.
Member Since: January 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1521
Holyoke, MA here.

We do NOT need another 20 inches of snow.
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ch7 here in boston is now saying some mixing of sleet so they are going colder with the storm too
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Quoting DM125:
Can the storm still move south and east at all?

If the coastal low develops a bit sooner, then yes it will probably be considered a southeast trend as thermals will be colder.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
192. DM125
Can the storm still move south and east at all?
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Quoting weathercrazy40:
walesmass were abouts im in attleboro


My nick implies my location; I'm in Wales, MA.
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walesmass were abouts im in attleboro
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Looks like central DE may be spared. You all know how much I love snow but not ice and no anything this weekend. Does anyone know if we have had some sort of bad weather in the forecast every week since Christmas? It seems like it.
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Looks like a pretty nasty storm on the way- I've already heard it being called the "Groundhog Day Storm." That would be terrible if it canceled Groundhog Day! Obama is supposed to visit State College Wednesday that also could be greatly impacted.
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Those are some nice photos, Blizz. Thanks.

I have to fly on Wed afternoon and I was wondering what you think about precip type. It's looking to me like it will be all rain by late afternoon, but maybe you see something different. Hoping for rain...
Member Since: January 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1521
This is how WHDH TV 7 (Boston) calls it:



http://www1.whdh.com/images/weather/producer_uploads/special-560x389.jpg?01301722

Are we talking about this whole thing shifting a little SW in latest models? That would put me in the 20-25" area. (Per their current map, I'm about 20 miles SW of it.)
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...A LARGE WINTER STORM IS FORECAST TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY FOR PORTIONS
OF THE NORTHEAST USA...

.SNOW TUESDAY MORNING WILL TURN TO RAIN...SLEET AND FREEZING DRIZZLE
SOMETIME TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND THEN RESUME AS HEAVY RAIN OR FREEZING
RAIN EARLY WEDNESDAY BEFORE TAPERING OFF LATE WEDNESDAY.

NJZ001-007>010-012-015-PAZ054-055-060>062-068-069-310945-
/O.NEW.KPHI.WS.A.0004.110201T0800Z-110202T2200Z/
SUSSEX-WARREN-MORRIS-HUNTERDON-SOMERSET-MIDDLESEX-MERCER-CARBON-
MONROE-BERKS-LEHIGH-NORTHAMPTON-MONTGOMERY-BUCKS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NEWTON...WASHINGTON...MORRISTOWN...
FLEMINGTON...SOMERVILLE...NEW BRUNSWICK...TRENTON...JIM THORPE...
STROUDSBURG...READING...ALLENTOWN...BETHLEHEM...EASTON...
NORRISTOWN...DOYLESTOWN
835 PM EST SUN JAN 30 2011

...WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOUNT HOLLY HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM LATE MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

* GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: EAST CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA
AS WELL AS MUCH OF NORTHERN NEW JERSEY.


* PRECIPITATION TYPE: SNOW TUESDAY MORNING CHANGES TO SLEET OR
FREEZING DRIZZLE DURING THE AFTERNOON OR EVENING. PERIODS OF
HEAVY SLEET OR FREEZING RAIN ARE EXPECTED LATE TUESDAY NIGHT
INTO WEDNESDAY.

* ACCUMULATIONS: 2 TO 6 INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET TUESDAY. GLAZE
MAY ACCUMULATE FROM ONE QUARTER TO THREE QUARTERS OF AN INCH.

* TIMING: SNOW BEGINS BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND 4 AM TUESDAY. THE
CHANGE TO SLEET OR FREEZING DRIZZLE SHOULD OCCUR BETWEEN NOON
AND 6 PM TUESDAY.


* IMPACTS: THE TUESDAY MORNING COMMUTE WILL LIKELY BE HAZARDOUS
WITH AT LEAST SOME SNOW AND TEMPERATURES NEAR 20. THE WEDNESDAY
MORNING COMMUTE IS ALSO LIKELY TO BE HAZARDOUS DUE TO ICE AND
THE WEDNESDAY EVENING COMMUTE MAY STILL BE HAZARDOUS FOR ALL
UNTREATED PAVEMENTS. IF GLAZE REACHES OR EXCEEDS ONE HALF
INCH...POWER OUTAGES MAY OCCUR. ALSO...THE WATER EQUIVALENT
PRECIPITATION FOR THIS STORM MAY EXCEED ONE INCH AND THIS ADDED
TO SNOW LOADS ON SOME ROOFS AND ATTEMPTING TO RUN OFF INTO ICE
ALREADY ICE CLOGGED ROOF GUTTERS MAY CONTRIBUTE TO STRUCTURE LEAKS.

* CONFIDENCE: ABOVE AVERAGE ON BOTH SNOW AND GLAZE OCCURRING BUT
TOP END AMOUNTS OF 6 INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET AND THREE
QUARTERS OF AN INCH OF GLAZE ARE BELOW AVERAGE CONFIDENCE.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 796
Quoting Blizzard92:

Hahaha... yay! Maybe the had to do some sort of accuracy verification over time.


i think they wanted to make sure i was the real deal before showcasing my site lol
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Quoting Mason803:
blizzard92,

after 3 years of being a coop observer, i finally made the daily temp. and precip. summary.

Link

Hahaha... yay! Maybe the had to do some sort of accuracy verification over time.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
blizzard92,

after 3 years of being a coop observer, i finally made the daily temp. and precip. summary.

Link



adams county
cashtown 1s
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The only ice storm I can remember off-hand is one in January 1997. I was in kindergarden and although I liked the weather, I hadn't started to seriously follow it yet (that started a year later, in 1998), but I do remember it pretty well. I remember it was one of the rare times my dad would take me to school because he didn't want me to stand out at the bus stop. We also ended up losing power, and we cooked a few things in the fireplace, which I thought was super-cool. I also remember slipping around my slanted driveway alot (there aren't any hills in the Houston area, but my house was built a little up from the street for flooding reasons, which turned out to be a very wise decision when Allison rolled through). It remains to this day the most significant winter weather event that I have ever gone through. Unfortunately, I haven't found very much information about the event itself anywhere really. I was also suppose to see a bad ice storm in January 2007 and they even let out school, but it ended up being pretty much a bust with nearly negligible ice amounts.
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MDT will be a mess the next few days. It will be a challenge getting there.
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Freezing rain at the top of Blue Mountain back in December of 2008 amounting to about .5in.









Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Quoting Blizzard92:
From the mid December 2007 ice storm here in Harrisburg with just a touch under .5in of freezing rain. There was quite a bit of damage here along Blue Mountain.


luckily i was @ Disney. I actually left a day early in anticipation of the storm. my house was without power for 2 1/2 days. It ended up killing my sewer pump, the spike of having the power come back on

Just in my neighborhood there were over 10 ornamental pear trees that split in half. not good trees for this area anyway.
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6276
same storm as blizz's

.75" of ice on south mountain




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Quoting wxgeek723:
So should we worry about ice accumulations in Philly? Ice storms are rather rare around here, and we could probably handle 25 inches of snow better than a half inch of ice.


They were actually extremely frequent in the 90's. Not so much / pretty rare since 2000's. I remember in the Blizzard of '96 that it was pretty weird we were seeing all snow and no ice. Ice may be a problem for us Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 796
So should we worry about ice accumulations in Philly? Ice storms are rather rare around here, and we could probably handle 25 inches of snow better than a half inch of ice.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3714
Quoting danielb1023:


Oh yeah....that's the one where I told you all that I swallowed my pride and crawled across my front yard to get to the front door


I did that last November in a much less situation. I went to go outside to get something from my car and was not aware of the ice accumulation on the sidewalk. Took one step and went down. Twisted the crap out of my knee, it immediately began swelling. I had to Vietnam-crawl up 2 flights of stairs. I didn't walk on that knee for a month.
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Quoting Mason803:
patch,

here's a pic of the '94 ice storm in b-more



it was HARD HARD work just trying to clear the sidewalk. as you can see from your picture
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6276
From the mid December 2007 ice storm here in Harrisburg with just a touch under .5in of freezing rain. There was quite a bit of damage here along Blue Mountain.

.5inch of frz rain

mountain covered in ice

Here comes the sun...finally!

Wintry Wonderland!

Ice Storm
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Quoting TheRasberryPatch:
The winter of '94 was terrible ice storms. the ones we talked about a couple of weeks ago with freezing rain and 18F. in southern Maryland where MDgirl lives got the ice real bad. they had lines down for weeks because they were in forests that took down the lines.


Oh yeah....that's the one where I told you all that I swallowed my pride and crawled across my front yard to get to the front door
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patch,

here's a pic of the '94 ice storm in b-more

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Quoting PalmyraPunishment:
The Montreal ice storm is always one that I immediately point back to when I hear about ice storms. They got 3.75 inches of frozen liquid and it shut everything down, downed trees, lines, etc etc etc. Then everything caught on fire. A real disaster.


That's barely even in the realm of imagination. Those poor souls.
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The winter of '94 was terrible ice storms. the ones we talked about a couple of weeks ago with freezing rain and 18F. in southern Maryland where MDgirl lives got the ice real bad. they had lines down for weeks because they were in forests that took down the lines.
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6276
167. bwi
I'm hoping we don't get the freezing rain in DC. Sleet would be OK -- rain I can deal with. Freezing rain is tough though. Even a light glaze makes my commute near impossible, and I've used up all my work-at-home days. There's a lot of cold air to the north waiting to be dragged down into a cold air damming situation. Highs in the single digits and lows below zero in upstate NY, SW Quebec, E Ontario.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1407

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Cornell University- Atmospheric Sciences Undergrad; Research Assist.- Onset of Spring Indices Toolbox; Interests- Small spatial scale climatolology

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