Unprecedented, Destructive October Snowstorm!

By: Zachary Labe , 6:27 PM GMT on October 28, 2011

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"Current Temperature"


"Current Dewpoint"


"Current Surface Map and Weekly History of Jet Stream Position"


"Regional Radar"


"Regional Satellite"


"Regional Advisories"


"12hr Estimated Precipitation"


"Forecast Max Temperatures"


"Forecast Min Temperature"


"Forecast Weather at 2pm"


"Current Storm Reports"


"Forecast Model Links"
-NAM model 12z...Link
-GFS model 12z...Link
-NMM model 12z...Link
-SREF model 9z...Link

This is a pretty quick intro on computer model forecasts along with beneficial links. Computer models use the complex calculus algorithms to print out the forecasts. Despite our complaning with the models, without them much of us would be lost except in the short time. Some of the earlier computer models consisted of the ETA, NGM, and AVN, which forecasted generally less than 84hrs. They were highly inaccurate, but provided a basis. The ETA was actually the computer model that helped meteorologists predicted the "storm of the century" in March of 1993 so well in advance. But now more than ever we have a myriad of computer models available to the general public with many mesoscale models only available to NOAA. Lets start with the general. All current computer models are based off on the Zulu time. Zulu time is also known as UTC or Greenwich time . Generally to forecast timing of storms my special BUFKIT data transitions UTC time to EST time, which is helpful. But BUFKIT is a special download, which I won't get into, but the transition is helpful as for some reason I never am able to understand time zones too well, hahaha. Anyways let me start with each computer model...

-GFS (Mentioned most of all as it is a global model (Global Forecasting System))
~Available in 0z (initiates at 10:30pm), 6z (initiates at 4:30am), 12z (10:30am), 18z (4:30pm)
~Forecasts out to 384hrs
~Typical biases
Cold bias on long range on 18z run
6z and 18z slightly unreliable
Northwest trend on lows within 84hrs of event

-ECMWF (This is another global model run by an international organization (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts))
~Available in 0z (initiates at 1:30am), 12z (initiates at 1:30pm)
~Forecasts out to 240hrs
~Typical biases
Overphases lows in 168hr range
Holds too much energy in southwest
Known as extremely accurate within 140hrs

-NAM (Mesoscale short range model)
~Available in 0z (Initiates at 9:30pm), 6z (Initiates at 3:30am), 12z (initiates at 9:30am), 18z (Initiates at 3:30pm)
~Forecasts out to 84hrs
~Typical biases
Highly inaccurate towards the 84hrs
Handles coastal storms very well and southwest overrunning events
Tendency for way too much QPF

Those three above are the most common models for a beginner in computer models, but there are many more. All of the global models consistent of ensemble models also, such as the GFS has a myriad of ensemble (small models) that create a mean solution known as GEFS. They typically are too cold and southeast with low pressures, but some reason the NWS seems to enjoy using them. There are also more global models than the GFS and ECMWF... The UKMET is run by an internation organization and forecasts out to 144hrs. This model typically comes out an hr before the ECMWF and usually is pretty similar to the ECMWF. The ECMWF may also be known as the EURO by the way. There is also a Canadian model known as the GGEM/CMC, which again contains ensemble models. All of the internation models only run 0z and 12z runs. This is probably for the best as all models only receive new upper air data in 0z and 12z runs, so this is why the American model runs of the 6z and 18z are usually worthless. There is also a high resolution Canadian model known as the RGEM, which is very similar to the American NAM. High resolution (mesoscale models) are important as they usually are able to pick up on fine details such as frontogenesis, advection, adebiatic cooling, convection, etc. Some of this high resolution models include the WRF, HIRES NMM, RUC, ARW. They all are usually very accurate, but the WRF and HIRES NMM usually have wet bias.

As mentioned above there are ensemble models which come up with a mean solution instead of using one computer model's algorithms like the global models use. These ensemble mean solution are known as the MREF and SREF with MREF being in the medium range and SREF in the short range. SREF is usually pretty accurate and forecasts within 87hrs of an event. There are also other computer models used for hurricane forecasting, but I will not get into them. For instance one is the GFDL, which you may have heard of. I find I use mainly the GFS, NAM, and WRF/NMM in the summer, but use all of the models in the winter.

A few models to avoid...
JMA
KMA
CAMPASS
DGEX

Here is a list of links for explanations on how to interperate the models...

-PennState E Wall, which runs all of the models
http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~gadomski/ewall.html

-PennState E Wall tutorial on computer models (Check it out)
http://www.personal.psu.edu/adb241/eWallTutorial/ Main.htm

-Severe Weather parameters used on models, explanation
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/n=severe_weather_chec klist_paper

-Forecasting winter weather
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/soo/docu/precip_type. php

-NCEP; used to find American Computer models
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/

-Severe Weather Models
http://www.wxcaster.com//conus_0012_us_models.htm

-Winter Weather Models
http://www.wxcaster.com/conus_snowfall.htm

-Model Soundings
http://wxweb.meteostar.com/sample/sample.shtml?te xt=KMDT#

The last link is listed above as model soundings which takes all of the data to print out all sorts of information including precipitation type along with dynamics such as Omega. This is very complex and takes some time getting used to. Also you may see this data instead of in charts, it is sometimes used in SKEWT T charts.

I hope all of this information helped out... Keep in mind precipitation amounts is QPF, with 500mb aloft being the jet stream, 700mb aloft measuring relative humidity, 850mb aloft measuring 5,000ft aloft temperatures, 925-1000mb measuring surface temperatures. Generally I would look at the GFS and NAM first to get a hang of it along with reading the tutorial links. Use the 850mb and 2m charts for the GFS especially as they are pretty self explanatory and color coded. You will find some maps for international models are confusing and black and white.

Lower Susquehanna Valley Doppler...

(Courtesy of WGAL)

Follow my 24hr forecasts on Twitter... Link and Facebook... Link.

Please post storm reports in this blog from across the Northeast during the winter storm and please post location of observation in each report...

This blog is in progress. Check back soon...

Winter Forecast 2011-2012... Link

Historic October Nor'easter...
Higher cirrus will begin to flood the northern Middle Atlantic later in the day Friday after high temperatures in the mid 40s with partly cloudy skies. Clouds will begin to thicken and lower Friday night with precipitation moving northward as a 1000hPa coastal low pressure moves up the coast. The low pressure will follow an ideal track up and along the coast and if it were winter... this would be a major snowstorm for all of the Northeast including towards the coast. But given climatological means during late October, snow will only fall in certain locations well to the northwest. Precipitation will move northward as rain into Virginia and Maryland Friday night and move up into southern Pennsylvania also as rain. Evaporational cooling will begin as 2m temperatures fall to near dewpoint values late Friday night changing over to snow for southern Pennsylvania particularily for elevations above 800ft with a rain/snow mix in the valleys.

As the low begins to intensify further, a deformation axis will likely form well to the west of the center of circulation. The placement of this axis is key to the snow accumulation region as it will bring cold air down the surface in the form of dynamic cooling. Given the low track this axis is likely to form in eastern Pennsylvania up through central New England. Saturday will feature well below normal highs withs highs not reaching 40 as far south as Washington DC. Precipitation will intensify during the day. Ground temperatures initially in the 40s and marginal boundary layer temperatures will keep the highest accumulations in the higher elevations with several inches possible above 200ft (perhaps up to 12in as far south as South Mountain, Pennsylvania). Elsewhere valley locations can also expect some light snow accumulation as far south as northern Maryland. For the I-95 corridor, a mix of rain and snow is likely with no accumulation. Snow accumulations up through New England are likely 4-7in for the valleys and 8-14in for the higher elevations. I could even envision higher amounts given the strength of the deformation axis. Total QPF printout from guidance such as the ECMWF and GEFS suggest 1.0in-2.0in across the entire Northeast.

Most of the snow will fall during the day Saturday. If timing were a bit more favorable such as Saturday night, this would have been a potentially record breaking, rare October snow event.

Given the high leaf foliage in some areas, the combination of wet snow will cause major tree damage in some locations especially in eastern Pennsylvania. Power outages are possible. Snow ratios will be near 6/7:1 with rates up to 0.5in/hr at times. Given the heavier snow rates at times, even areas with boundary layer temperatures at 34-35F may see a quick accumulation.

I want to raise a few critical points...

1) Current ground temperatures really have little to do with snow accumulation when rates fall above 0.5in/hr. Snow can accumulate even on roads. The sun angle in late October is like mid February and has little impact. Combine this with marginal temperatures, cloud cover, and heavy snow rates this will cause snow to accumulate very easily after the initial lighter snow.

2) The biggest concern is the trees which I have been hyping for the last 24hrs. Snow accumulations possibly over 10in in some areas of south-central Pennsylvania up through New England could bring devastation to trees. The heaviness of the wet snow on foliage is a disaster. And looking a records, this has never happened before in many areas!

3) I-95 is a tough forecast and is dependent on exact low track. But given the dynamics of this storm which may cause even thundersnow, the big cities should all change to snow at some point.

4) Given the time of year, water temperatures are very warm and the temperature gradient and the natural baroclinicity along the coast will cause the storm to rapidly undergo bombogenesis with very unusual mesoscale features. This will cause some areas to see rapidly high QPF totals.

Selected City Accumulations for the Northeast...
Hagerstown, MD- Rain/snow then heavy snow. Accumulations 5-12in
Baltimore, MD- Rain changing to snow. Accumulations up to 4in especially the higher hills.
Salisbury, MD- Mostly rain with a trace of snow
Pittsburgh, PA- Rain/snow then snow. Accumulations 2-4in
State College PA- Moderate snow. 5-7in
Williamsport, PA- Heavy snow. Accumulations 5-10in
Altoona, PA- Moderate snow. Accumulations 5-7in
Harrisburg, PA- Heavy snow. Snow accumulations 6-14in
Lancaster, PA- Heavy snow. Snow accumulations 6-13in
Philadelphia, PA- Rain/snow changing to snow. Accumulations 1-3in+
Allentown, PA- Heavy snow. Snow accumulations 6-14in
Scranton, PA- Heavy snow. Snow accumulations 6-12in
Washington, DC- Rain changing to rain/snow. Spotty 1-3in accumulations are possible
Wilmington, DE- Rain changing to rain/snow. Spotty 1-4in accumulations are possible
Dover, DE- Rain changing to rain/snow with trace accumulations
Trenton, NJ- Rain/snow changing to snow. Accumulations 2-4in
New York City, NY- Rain/snow changing to snow. Accumulations 1-6in depending on location.
Poughkeepsie, NY- Heavy snow. Accumulations 5-10in
Binghamton, NY- Light snow. Accumulations 3-6in
Ithaca, NY- Light snow. Accumulations 2-4in
Albany, NY-Moderate snow. Accumulations 4-8in
Hartford, CT- Rain/snow changing to heavy snow. Accumulations 4-7in
Concord, NH- Heavy snow. Accumulations 5-10in
Providence, RI- Rain changing to rain/snow. Spotty 1-3in accumulations
Worcester, MA- Heavy snow. Snow accumulations 6-13in
Boston, MA- Rain/snow with spotty accumulations 1-3in
Nantucket, MA- Heavy rain and high winds up to 60mph
Hyannis, MA- Heavy rain and gale force winds in excess of 60mph
Portland, ME- Heavy snow. Accumulations 4-9in
Bangor, ME- Heavy snow. Accumulations 6-12in
"Subject to Change"

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steady cold rain here in westmorland county, PA, temps are now down to 36 degrees
UPDATE : rain is now beginning to mix with some light sleet/snow .. temp at 35 degrees
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Im not sure which way its going.. What I do know is that the remnants of Rina where never forcast to be part of the nor'easter.. But who knows.. abc6 philly was showing the L developing off the carolinas.. I would imagine its counter clockwise rotation would draw moisture from the se, not send it that way.


I dont know. I just want SNOW. lol
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Quoting CapeCoralStorm:
Just talked to my brother in Boca Raton,FL. He said its raining buckets right now and has been for a bit.. Is it possible for all that moisture to get sucked into our developing Low off the carolina coast and add to the precip for the N.E.????? Looks like the mid level remnants of Rina...

Anyone.....Anyone..............Bueller.....??


I'm thinking the other way, that the moisture feed is being rained out over Florida.

To get a record breaking early snow in the big cities all the conditions have to be perfect. Or nearly so. I'm not seeing perfection here.

And it's too bad cause I want some snow!
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8868
Just talked to my brother in Boca Raton,FL. He said its raining buckets right now and has been for a bit.. Is it possible for all that moisture to get sucked into our developing Low off the carolina coast and add to the precip for the N.E.????? Looks like the mid level remnants of Rina...

Anyone.....Anyone..............Bueller.....??
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The inner Balitmore Harbor site is representative of the city. It's not dropping much, despite a little light rain falling into drier air. Still 47.


I just don't think we'll see accumulating snow in the city. Temps have to fall a long way before we do.

Was that storm complex over Florida forecasted? It seems like it may steal moisture before it reaches here.

We need heavy precip to cool the air column down too.

I think interior PA, NW Jersey, and 30 miles NW of NYC will see good snow. Worcester in MA. But I'm just not sold on accumulating snows in the big cities.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8868
Rina remnants already into central florida going at a pretty good clip..
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Quoting testbenchdude:
Also, this:



12-15 inches for SE PA? Is this for real??? Oops, I edited out the scale. The innermost pink before the red is 12-15 inches. Link provided for details:
NAM Storm Total

I don't buy the NAM. Just seems too cold in its thermal profile.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Also, this:



12-15 inches for SE PA? Is this for real??? Oops, I edited out the scale. The innermost pink before the red is 12-15 inches. Link provided for details:
NAM Storm Total
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Thanks, guys. Besides, I prefer things like "Snowmageddon" myself!
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I was wondering if you guys might be able to clear up several things for me.

1. Looks like the remains of Rina are linking up with our system. Is that going to really get the moisture pumping, or more the fact that our system is going to move out over the relatively warm N. Atlantic, or are the two items going to produce a "perfect storm" scenario?

2. Speaking of Rina, why aren't the models tracking it anymore? They all still have it as stalling off Cancun.

3. Water vapor loops for our storm don't show much of anything, which is counter-intuitive. Is this again a result of the system not yet being out over the Atlantic? If so, then why is there so much precip on the radar already (Northern VA). Can't all be orographic lift can it?

Sorry for all the questions; I'm trying to learn as much as I can about these things, and my Intro to Meteorology class just isn't cutting it (great class, just a little too basic for these types of questions). If I have time next semester, I'm def signing up for the advanced class. TIA and Cheers~
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Quoting shoreacres:
Blizzard - Curious about something. I saw someone refer to this storm as "Allison". Do they name winter storms now? That could be a little confusing, since TS Allison wreaked havoc on Houston a few years ago! LOL


That blog is not official. I googled the "DCWS WINTER STORM CENTER" and found it is the abbreviated name of the Dublin Coffman Weather Service. It seems to be a site for a high school weather club.

Three months ago their account on wikipedia was deleted for spamming.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8868
Quoting TheRasberryPatch:


Where in Baltimore are you? I grew up in Towson.

Stan - you had a cold day I guess with all of the snow still visible


Federal Hill.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8868
Quoting shoreacres:
Blizzard - Curious about something. I saw someone refer to this storm as "Allison". Do they name winter storms now? That could be a little confusing, since TS Allison wreaked havoc on Houston a few years ago! LOL

Hi! That sure is odd. I have not heard anything nor am I familiar with any naming technique. Huh.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Blizzard - Curious about something. I saw someone refer to this storm as "Allison". Do they name winter storms now? That could be a little confusing, since TS Allison wreaked havoc on Houston a few years ago! LOL
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First report of snow in PA already coming in from Bedford, PA around 1000ft.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Sounds great Gams! This storm is going to cause some major societal headaches.

Quoting Alee6k:
Hey Bizz,
Wanna add New Brunswick, NJ
or Cheesequake / Matawan , NJ
to the expected list?
:)

Looking forward to some snow... but fear for my 100 year old oaks... they are still laden with leaves that only started to change color this week.

One thing i have noticed... not many acorns. I was once able to predict a good winter by the amount of acorns. They are almost non-existent this year (yet, it is early for them to drop. Usually, in Nov. i need a hard hat to rake). Don't know if it's a fluke from Irene.

New Brunswick is probably looking at around 1-4in of snow starting mainly as rain.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
Hi Bliz, I know I have not been here in a few months..but.. that daughter of mine that use to live outside Philly in West Chester, PA, now lives outside of Boston, MA in Wellesley Hills, MA...

I sent her a Tex message this afternoon to let her know she has a snow storm coming..

she text me back.. Mom we had snow this morning and expecting more this weekend!!!

and they are not happy about already getting snow and it is still October...



So now I will continue to check in at your blog since my daughter and her husband and my grandson ,now live in Eastern Mass!
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Hey Bizz,
Wanna add New Brunswick, NJ
or Cheesequake / Matawan , NJ
to the expected list?
:)

Looking forward to some snow... but fear for my 100 year old oaks... they are still laden with leaves that only started to change color this week.

One thing i have noticed... not many acorns. I was once able to predict a good winter by the amount of acorns. They are almost non-existent this year (yet, it is early for them to drop. Usually, in Nov. i need a hard hat to rake). Don't know if it's a fluke from Irene.
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Quoting TheF1Man:
Hmm no update from Blizz in a while, maybe nothing's changed?


No changes really since early this afternoon. I think solutions and forecasts are beginning to hone in and settle down. A heavy swath of 6" - 14" seems highly likely northwest of the I-95 corridor.
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
Evening all! Not too many changes to the forecast right now. Remember it will start as light rain in most areas.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
light rain/mist starting here in southwestern PA..
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Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Forecast of 1"-3" in Baltimore itself!

I am amazed and a little skeptical. Snow accumulating during the day in the city. In October. But I hope the forecast verifies. I like snow :)


Where in Baltimore are you? I grew up in Towson.

Stan - you had a cold day I guess with all of the snow still visible
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 72 Comments: 6276
Forecast of 1"-3" in Baltimore itself!

I am amazed and a little skeptical. Snow accumulating during the day in the city. In October. But I hope the forecast verifies. I like snow :)
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8868
Hmm no update from Blizz in a while, maybe nothing's changed?
Member Since: February 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 685
Hello All,

Checking in here from Bucks County PA! It's nice to see some familiar names posting, and I'm glad that Blizz has been able to make time to check in with his old friends!
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Sounds Educated...............
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Quoting PengSnow:
what are the latest models saying


I've heard, "duh", "like that is so, um, like cool", "give me another cigarette", "purge time". They're saying just about the same things as the old models. Wait, what, not that kind of...
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
what are the latest models saying
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Once again... I will be cold but just to far north and west.

I think I hate LA Nina!LOL

We did get 1"+ last night tho and it's still on the trees and the ground.
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Quoting PalmyraPunishment:


No violence, no violence. Let us gather in a renewed peace, break bread, and exchange niceties, and all that crap.


Tequila shots in the igloo bar?
Day After Tomorrow viewing together at the Ice Hotel in Sweden while complimenting each other's blinding awesomeness?

I come in peace.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
Someone in the LSV needs to be in charge of posting some pictures. Can't believe I'm missing this.
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Quoting HeavySnow:

igloo tools at the ready. Defense weapons prepared for when Palmyra shows up.


No violence, no violence. Let us gather in a renewed peace, break bread, and exchange niceties, and all that crap.
Member Since: January 31, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 2250
Hearing crazy reports here at Jersey Shore (Toms River area). Just don't see it. Hope I am wrong. Reporting be prepared for heavy snow and downed trees and power lines.
Member Since: January 10, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
Holy hell accuweather saying 9.1in NWS 5-10in and weather.com saying 10-15in for the 17011 zip code
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Quoting doom22015:


Well you can either use your little bit of snow to make a snowball, or use it on your mini-igloo. Your call...


Good point. I'll scrape it all up and put it in some ice cube trays.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
A question for anyone - I saw this upcoming storm referred to as "Allison". I didn't realize they named winter storms. If so, what are the criteria? Who does the naming?

I tried poking around a bit and found some names for the 2010-11 winter, but nothing for this year. Just curious.
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Quoting HeavySnow:
Snowball throwing commences tomorrow! I'm coming for you doom!


Well you can either use your little bit of snow to make a snowball, or use it on your mini-igloo. Your call...
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Snowball throwing commences tomorrow! I'm coming for you doom!
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
Good luck to wunderground members in the path of the Sneaux and Winds.

New York, NWS


Storm Total Snow Forecast
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41. bwi
NWS just put my part of the DC area in a 1-2 inch band -- their first snow map just had us in the trace. As usual, Blizz pegged it earlier, ha ha.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1407
If that GFS 120 pans out its going to be big trouble. I am just left of the bullseye in CT. Lots of leaves here in new Milford ct. I'm skeptical but excited at the possibilities of such a storm. Power outages are goong to be a problem Thanks everyone for the great info
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Here in Fairfax County W of DC, I expect to get maybe a shushy inch or 2. No jackpot but maybe decorative.

But the thing I like is seeing a good storm track setting up this early in the season. I'm looking forward to several months of storms churning thru the area following in the rut that this storm is gonna cut in the atmosphere.
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Quoting Jmedic:


Where in Westmoreland are you? I used to work in New Ken and Lower Burrell.


Im in Greensburg, but got a cabin in Ligonier
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May I say, trick or treat, ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah


igloo tools at the ready. Defense weapons prepared for when Palmyra shows up.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2990
PCroton those NAM and GFS solutions would bury me here in springfield. Still we're looking at a foot of snow here, and I was supposed to play soccer tomorrow too!

A bit off topic but to TRP, Listener and LT I did OK on that test, but not as good as some of my friends. I'll just have to keep working at it though.
Member Since: February 23, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 685
Quoting weatherman321:
here in Westmorland County,PA our snow accumulations have been upgraded. 2-4inches from 1-2inches for most of the county and 5-9 inches from 4-8inches in the ridges(Laurel Highlands) Winter Weather Advisory for the county and Winter Storm Warning for the ridges


Where in Westmoreland are you? I used to work in New Ken and Lower Burrell.
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Hey Blizz what do you think Westminster, MD might get? We're in North Central MD and live in a densely wooded area. There is one report that we could get as much as 10"...is that accurate? Worried for all the trees around my house :0/
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here in Westmorland County,PA our snow accumulations have been upgraded. 2-4inches from 1-2inches for most of the county and 5-9 inches from 4-8inches in the ridges(Laurel Highlands) Winter Weather Advisory for the county and Winter Storm Warning for the ridges
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Hi folks! This is just crazy. Solutions have gone colder with higher QPF. I'm skeptical...but, we'll find out.

Official NWS upped me to 8" now here in NY up from 5" earlier today.

Here's the new maps.





NAM and GFS going "clown map" with this system. I have to say I'm very surprised that so much cold air is modeled to meet up with this moisture to produce now a near-blizzard event.

NAM 84HR Accum:



GFS 120HR Accum:




I'll believe it when I see it!

Hope you're all doing well.

Goofy, I trust you're holding down the fort in Monmouth County in my absence!

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New snow graphic from the HPC gives us a 40% chance of over a foot of snow:
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I am just in awe of this whole scenario!!! Interesting to see how it all plays out!!!! Keep safe everyone!
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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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