Wxchaser97's Tropical Weather Blog

Hurricane excel comparison charts and half day NWS job shadow

By: wxchaser97, 9:21 PM GMT on March 29, 2013

Over the past couple weeks, on some of my free time, I made some charts/graphs regarding the Atlantic hurricane seasons. They range from ACE measurements to the amount of storms. Most numbers come from NOAA/NHC or Wikipedia(which gets its numbers from NOAA). Some acronyms used are listed below.

ACE = Accumulated Cyclone Energy

TS = Tropical Storm

H = Hurricane

MH = Major Hurricane

The first graph is all tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic from 2000 to 2012. This graph shows tropical depressions, storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes. You can see 2005 was the most active and 2009 the least active in terms of amount of cyclones. The amount of TS's and H's in 2005 broke records. A season like 2005 won't happen for a while.

The second graph is the ACE from 1950 to 1994. ACE was declining since the 50s, shown using a linear trend line. This is the period before the active activity period started(1995). Also, some hurricane trivia. What is the hurricane in this graph?

My third graph is ACE from 1995 to 2012. 2005 was also a record breaking year for ACE. 2004 was another high ACE year, as was 1995. The years of 1997, 2006, and 2009 featured low ACE, mostly due to El nino conditions. This year looks like it could be another active to really active year, including above average ACE. No hurricane trivia can be done here, as everyone knows what infamous hurricane this is.

An after-post edition should be added. I put together the two charts from above to get 1950 to 2012. Over this whole time period, ACE goes up slightly in the linear trend line.

On Wednesday, I found out that on April 24th I will have a job shadow at my NWS forecast office. While I have known that this thing would happen, I didn't find out the details until two days ago. I will be able to observe what goes on during a normal day at the NWS forecasting office. If severe weather happens on that day though, then it would have to be rescheduled for another date. I might also be able to do this again over the summer.

Have a happy Good Friday and Easter Sunday for everyone who celebrates it.

Hurricane Weather

Updated: 10:06 PM GMT on March 29, 2013


My top ten favorite tornadoes

By: wxchaser97, 9:41 PM GMT on March 17, 2013

Since spring is just a few days away, I want to make a list of my top ten favorite tornadoes. My favorite tornadoes range from the early 1900s to just last year. They range from weaker tornadoes to the strongest ever recorded. Their size, shape, strength, etc are all different. The one thing they have in common is that they are all my favorites. I'll start from number ten and work down. It has taken a little time sorting out which ones I like better. Honorable mentions are the Xenia, OH 1974 tornado(F5), the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham, AL 2011 tornado(EF4), the Grand Rapids 1956 tornado(F5), Jarrell, TX 1997 tornado(F5), and the Hesston, KS 1990 tornado(F5).

#10: Parkersburg, IA tornado; May 25, 2008

This EF5 tornado isn't remembered as much as some of the other EF5/F5 tornadoes. It was the second EF5 for the EF scale. This tornado destroyed the southern half of Parkersburg and then impacted parts of New Hartford. In all, 9 people died due to this tornado. Several security videos, like the one below, showed lots of destruction.

#9: El Dorado Lake, KS tornado; April 26, 1991
This tornado is the infamous highway overpass tornado. Several vehicles were destroyed with more damaged as a F2 tornado hit a Kansas highway overpass. Several people, including a television news crew, were taking shelter underneath the overpass. Luckily, no one was killed under that overpass or by the tornado in general. It is highly recommended that you do NOT take shelter under an overpass.

#8: Manchester, SD tornado; June 24, 2003

Here, a violent F4 tornado destroyed the small town of Manchester. No one died, but 4 people were injured. All of the buildings in Manchester were destroyed and they never were rebuilt. The town was abandoned after the tornado. Some researchers recorded the largest and fastest drop in pressure on record in this tornado.

#7: Bridge Creek/Moore, OK tornado; May 3, 1999
This tornado has the highest wind speed recorded by doppler radar, over 300mph. 41 people were killed, including 3 under highway overpasses. Oklahoma City, Bridge Creek, and Moore were among the cities that got heavily impacted. There was $1 billion dollars in 1999 dollars of damage done . There was a lot of destruction and it took a while to recover in some areas. Now they are "tornado ready".

#6: Andover, KS tornado; April 26, 1991
This tornado was the last F5 tornado to hit Kansas. The next F5/EF5 would be the EF5 tornado that hit Greensburg. The Andover tornado caused 17 deaths. The most famous parts of the tornado were in the McConnell Air Force Base and Golden Spur mobile home park. This tornado is very well know and studied by meteorologists. However, it is not my favorite tornado.

#5: Dexter, MI tornado; March 15, 2012

This EF3 was a very rare March tornado in MI. It was the earliest EF3 or stronger in Michigan history. 128 buildings were damaged or destroyed but luckily no lives were lost. This tornado happened during a rare March heatwave. This tornado did not occur too far away from me, only about ~40 miles. This video does have some foul language.

#4: Tri-state tornado; March 18, 1925
This is the longest tracked and deadliest tornado on record. There were 695 deaths from it and it was on the ground for 234 miles. Many towns were damaged or destroyed by the twister. Scientists question whether this was all one tornado, or if a series of tornadoes kept on merging together so that there were no breaks in the damage path. The Hesston and Gossel tornadoes show what might have happened. Since we weren't there to see it and it wasn't documented well, we may never know.

#3: Flint, MI tornado; June 9, 1953
Until the Joplin, MO tornado in 2011, this was the deadliest tornado in modern history(1950+). 116 deaths occurred due to this tornado. Damage was in the tens of millions of dollars. This was the first of the only two confirmed F5's in Michigan history, with a possible F5 in 1896 in Oakland county, MI.

#2: Joplin, MO tornado; May 22, 2011
This was the deadliest and costliest tornado in recent history. There were 158 deaths and $2.8 billion dollars in damage. Most of southern Joplin was destroyed including a hospital, schools, and industrial area. The lasting impact on this area is enormous.

#1: Fridley, MN tornado; July 18, 1986

This was not a usual tornado, which is why it is my favorite. The tornado went through the process called vortex breakdown. This can lead to multiple vorticies. A helical vortex surrounded the air that was getting pulled downward, instead of going up. It had a single suction vortex at the ground and strong inflow winds. The structure of this tornado has always fascinated me since I first watched Tornado Video Classics when I was a little kid. The perfect use of the environment and structure is a once in a lifetime event. Some structures were damaged/destroyed, but the tornado spent most of its time in the Springbrook Nature Center where it snapped tons of pine trees and "picked them up thousands of feet". It was the first tornado to be filmed by a TV news helicopter. It was rated an F2.

I'm currently writing my 2013 forecast blog, but I don't know if I'll be able to finish it tonight or over the next day or two.

Tornado Severe Weather

Updated: 10:08 PM GMT on March 17, 2013


Berkley, Michigan weekly forecast 3/16-3/22

By: wxchaser97, 4:47 AM GMT on March 16, 2013

There are a couple storms systems that will be impacting the area over the next several days. The first storm, a clipper type system, is about to begin its impacts. Precipitation should be all snow and some decent, quick accumulations are possible. A winter weather advisory is in effect for Genesse, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and St. Clair counties until 10am Saturday. Snow accumulations of 2-4" in a 6hr time period can be expected. After this clipper moves out, there is the potential for a bigger storm early next week. Right now, it looks like there will be a mix of precipitation with not a lot of snow accumulations. Depending on if the models shift track/ trend warmer or colder this may change. It is something that needs to be monitored. Otherwise, the weather will be seasonably cool and partly cloudy. I did a quick snowfall map, seen below, to get my ideas out and since the clipper is affecting me.

Written Forecast:

Saturday: Snow in the morning. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 80%. The high will be near 34F. Winds should be 10-15mph. Storm total snowfall of 2-4".

Saturday night: Skies should be mostly cloudy with some clearing late. Winds will be steady near 10mph. The low temperature will be around 26F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 20%.
Sunday: A few clouds from time to time. High near 35F with winds of 5-10mph. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy skies. The low should be around 25F and winds near 5mph. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 0%.

Monday: A wintry mix of precipitation. High near 38F. Chance of rain 70% and chance of snow 70%. Some minor snow and ice accumulations possible.

Monday night: Rain/mix changing to snow late. A low of 30F can be expected. Chance of rain 70% and chance of snow 70%.

Tuesday: Some snow showers. A high near 36F is likely. Chance of rain 20% and chance of snow 40%. Minor accumulations possible.

Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy skies with gusty winds. A low near 28F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 20%.

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. A high near 35F. Chance of Rain 10% and chance of snow 10%

Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Low should be 27F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 10%

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 36F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low near 29F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Friday: Some clouds throughout the day. High near 38F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Graphical Forecast:

Have a great weekend and I'll be back with my 2013 forecast tomorrow(Sunday). I may also do a special blog on my top 10 "favorite" tornadoes today(Saturday).

Weather Snow


My 1 year anniversary at WU, 1 year since Dexter, MI tornado outbreak

By: wxchaser97, 10:43 AM GMT on March 15, 2013

One year anniversary at WU
I can't believe it has been one year at WU already, but it is. On March 15, 2012, the Ides of March, I joined WU due to severe weather impacting my area. I'd been lurking on a few blogs for a little while, but after record-setting severe weather, more on that later, in SE MI, I wanted to join. I am sure glad that I have joined. There has been so much about meteorology that I have learned here during my first year. There is still much I can learn from fellow wunderbloggers. I have seen severe weather and winter weather in different eyes since joining. In the past few years, I was mostly just tracking weather around the country. I would visit the NHC, SPC, TWC, etc... to monitor extreme weather. After joining WU, I was able to get a ton of new resources to monitor and forecast the weather. Now, as part of my directed study, I do weekly forecasts for my local area and winter/severe/tropical storm forecasts/updates. They aren't 100% perfect, but they are helping me learn what types of things to look for. I plan to write/release my first seasonal hurricane forecast this weekend. I have also done some comparative/research blogs. All of these things have greatly expanded my knowledge of the weather and have helped my writing skills. Thanks for everyone accepting me and I plan to stick around for a long time.

March, 15th, 2012 severe weather
March of 2012 was an extremely warm one in the eastern 2/3rds of the country. A big blocking high sat over the eastern US allowing very warm air to surge very far north. In SE MI, highs reached the upper 70s to low 80s at the height of the event. Dew points also were able to rise into the low 60s, a rarity for March. On March 12th and 15th, with the 15th being the bigger event, a couple upper level disturbances were able to spark off severe thunderstorms. There was plenty of instability for storms and with some lake breezes storms fired. On March 12th a tornado, the second earliest tornado in SE MI history, touched down near the town of Coleman, MI. This tornado was rated an EF1. The tornado was also the first March tornado north of I-69. On March 15th, a larger severe weather event set up in SE MI. The day started off as warm, muggy, and mostly sunny. As the day progressed, temperatures warmed into the 70s and the air moistened. Looking back at a satellite loop from that day, a lake breeze looks to have been the trigger that popped off the storms. That is a more summer-time pattern, not very late astronomical winter pattern. The SPC has SE MI in a larger area of a slight risk of severe weather, but tornadoes weren't expected. There was very little wind shear for thunderstorms to work with so rotation wasn't expected to happen. Of course though, it did happen. It is possible that some of the larger supercells used boundaries to get some rotation going, but overall it is still crazy to think tornadoes got going that day. In all, 3 separate supercells produced 3 separate tornadoes in Dexter, Ida Township, and Columbiaville. The Dexter tornado was rated an EF3 with 135-140mph maximum winds, the Ida tornado was rated an EF0 with 85mph maximum winds, and the Columbiaville tornado was rated an EF2 with maximum winds of 125mph. The Dexter tornado was the earliest EF3 or stronger tornado in Michigan history. This tornado damaged or destroyed 128 structures. Thankfully and remarkably, there were no fatalities or major injuries. These storms and others produced large, damaging hail and spotty damaging winds. I personally just got prolonged periods of thunder and lightning and some heavy rain. A soothsayer once said, "Beware the Ides of March". This warning was needed in Michigan, but for most, was ignored just like Caesar did a couple thousand years ago. This day will be remembered forever for its record setting tornadoes and the destruction they caused. A few images and videos of the tornadoes can be found below.

In know this video is long, but it gives good coverage of the aftermath.

A collection of images on the tornadoes, images courtesy of the NWS Detroit and WU.

Switching to severe weather blog
Since winter is basically over based on the calender, except I'm supposed to get a couple inches of snow tonight, this blog is switching into severe weather mode. From here on to May 15th or June 1st, I haven't decided, this blog will primarily be about severe weather. I plan to track and predict severe weather outbreaks. I will also create my own severe weather outlook areas, but only the Storm Prediction Center's(SPC) is official. If a major winter storm or an early season tropical system forms, then I'll focus on that. There could be some severe storms coming up if the models are right, but that is still pretty far out. There could also be some early next week, but it shouldn't be a big event.

Have a great Ides of March everyone and I'll be back with a local forecast late today and my 2013 hurricane season prediction this weekend.

Weather Severe Weather Tornado

Updated: 9:45 PM GMT on March 15, 2013


Tropical Cyclone Sandra weakening

By: wxchaser97, 2:26 AM GMT on March 12, 2013

Tropical Cyclone Sandra is a tropical cyclone over the South Pacific. Sandra has a one-minute wind speed of 90kts and is moving SE at 5kts per the latest update from the JTWC. Sandra should continue to move in a southerly direction and weaken steadily over the next few days. Sandra shouldn't be too much threat to any land areas, except for some islands to her east. Current Satellite image of Sandra is shown below in figure 1.

Figure 1: Satellite image of Sandra.

Sandra has past her peak intensity. She once had a good-strength eye/eyewall with strong convection elsewhere. At that time, she was a category 3 SSHWS equivalent cyclone. Dry air has overcome Sandra and has induced weakening. The northern eyewall has been completely eaten away by this dry air. This is evident in microwave imagery seen in figure 2. The dry air is due to a trough to the north pumping in this dryness. While Sandra is listed to have 105mph winds, this is unlikely due to the lessening of organization. Cloud tops have also been warming showing that Sandra is weakening. ADT had been fooled by colder cloud tops that didn't represent the actual organization of Sandra earlier. ADT values have been dropping to more reasonable values and the weakening flag is still on. Dry air is entrained throughout the whole circulation, especially on the northern side. Also, moderate to high wind shear is impacting Sandra. This isn't helping with any efforts to stay alive. Sandra maintains a strong circulation shown in the most recent ASCAT image, figure 3. SST's are favorable for strengthening right now, but they will become unfavorable as she heads south. Even thought they are, the warm waters are cancelled out by waning convection, shear, and dry air. All and all, I expect Sandra to continue SSE and weaken steadily over the next couple days. Unfavorable conditions will continue to batter her until she degenerates in a few days from now. I wish I could do more of an analysis but I am not that familiar with southern hemisphere tropical cyclones and the geography down there. My general forecast for Sandra can be seen below in figure 4.

Figure 2: Most recent microwave image showing the not so great structure of Sandra.

Figure 3: ASCAT image of Sandra wind field and circulation.

Figure 4: My forecast for Sandra.

Have a great night everyone. Sorry it wasn't a lot but I felt like I needed to get something written out. Oh and if the last image doesn't show up please let me know because I have been having a little trouble with seeing some of my imgur images. The larger amount than usual of images is to hopefully cover anything I missed. I'll be back on Friday with my special severe weather/ 1 year anniversary blog, Friday or Sunday with my local forecast blog, and sometime this weekend with my 2013 hurricane season forecast, busy week for me.



Berkley, Michigan weekly forecast 3/11-3/17

By: wxchaser97, 4:05 AM GMT on March 11, 2013

Written Forecast:

Monday: Rain. Chance of rain 100% and chance of snow 10%. The high will be near 52F. Winds should be 10-20mph. Rainfall up to a half an inch.

Monday night: Rain mixing with snow late. Winds will be steady near 10mph. The low temperature will be around 32F. Chance of rain 60% and chance of snow 60%. Little snow accumulations.

Tuesday: Mix of rain and snow changing to all snow flurries. High near 39F with winds of 10-15mph. Chance of rain 30% and chance of snow 30%. Little snow accumulation.

Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy skies. The low should be around 29F and winds between 5-15mph. Chance of rain 20% and chance of snow 20%.

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. High near 36F. Chance of rain 20% and chance of snow 20%.

Wednesday night: A few clouds from time to time. A low of 24F can be expected. Chance of rain 20% and chance of snow 20%.

Thursday: Partly cloudy. A high near 39F is likely. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 0%.

Thursday night: Partly cloudy. A low near 27F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 20%.

Friday: Mostly cloudy. A high near 40F. Chance of Rain 10% and chance of snow 10%

Friday night: Mostly cloudy. Low should be 31F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%

Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 39F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low near 32F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High near 40F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Graphical Forecast:

Have a great last full week of astronomical winter everyone. I'll definitely have a blog post on Friday on the 1 year anniversary on the Dexter, MI tornado, switching to a spring-time/severe weather blog, and my 1 year anniversary at Wunderground. I'll try to have my 2013 hurricane season prediction out by this upcoming Sunday.



Saturn is over, new winter storm, severe thunderstorms ongoing

By: wxchaser97, 5:20 AM GMT on March 09, 2013

Winter Storm Saturn
Winter Storm Saturn has finally finished dropping snow in the US. From the northern plains to the Northeast, there were multiple places were 1-2 feet of snow fell. Places in Montana, WV/VA, and Massachusetts got 2 feet or more of snow. Travel was disrupted/shut down in many major US cities. I believe that this storm definitely deserved a name, even with the DC fail. The last, but not least, part of the storm was in the NE. Winter storm warnings were posted for parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode island for 6-10" of snow. This area would end up getting over a foot of snow. Continues moister being pumped into the area along with temperatures staying favorable for snow in all levels allowed for more snow than expected. Coastal flooding has also been occurring in coastal areas of Massachusetts. Warnings and advisories for this were posted and are still in effect, there has been reports of flooding. Besides totals overachieving, my snowfall forecast turned out fairly good. I got the area of accumulating snowfall down good and where the higher totals would be. Here is my forecast snowfall totals from Thursday night for some selected cities compared to actual totals. My graphical forecast from then can be seen below in fig 1. It was a surprise overachiever snowstorm to likely end winter.

Philadelphia, PA: T-2" - Airport: 0.2"
New York City, NY: 3-5" - Central Park: 4.0" and surrounding areas saw 3-6"
Providence, RI: 5-8" - 5.1"
Boston, MA: 6-12" - 13.1"
Albany, NY: 2-4" - Airport: 9.6"
Portland, ME: 2-4" - ~2"

Fig. 1: my snowfall forecast from Thursday night.

On a different note, the extra-tropical cyclone is still spinning over the Atlantic ocean. Since it is a strengthening extra-tropical cyclone, there is some latent heat being released. This should cause some warm-core seclusion to occur. This is only at the low levels, thus it is a shallow warm core. this is not to be confused with a subtropical cyclone as a warm seclusion still doesn't have any common characteristics with a tropical/subtropical cyclone. We know it isn't a subtropical cyclone as it still has fronts attached to it. This is shown in the cyclone phase evolution images on models. Figure 2 shows this on the GFS, a shallow warm core cyclone for a little while.

Fig. 2: Cyclone evolution diagram showing the shallow warm core before weakening and turning cold core again.

Winter Storm Triton
A new winter storm is currently impacting the inter-mountain west. This storm has been named Winter storm Triton by TWC, the 20th winter storm. It is bringing snow to higher elevations and rain/storms to the valleys. It will bring snow to cities like Denver, CO, Grand Island, NE, and snow, sleet, and rain to Minneapolis, MN. I may or may not make a graphic for this storm, but I will at least provide some forecasts for a few select cities. Even if I do decide to make a graphic, it will be added in later to the blog or as a comment. The low is currently in the Colorado region with it expected to further strengthen as it heads ENE. This system is also responsible for the development of severe thunderstorms in Arizona and Texas. Dynamics aren't great but a few damaging wind gusts have been reported. As the system moves east tomorrow so will the severe threat. The snow and ice threat will begin to move into the plains over the next day as well. Travelers and residents should use caution when traveling during the storm, especially where blizzard and winter storm warnings are posted in CO. Here is my forecast for selected cities. First, a rainbow IR satellite loop of the US showing the system in the west (Triton) and the extra-tropical storm off the east coast (Saturn) in fig 3.

Fig. 3: Satellite loop of Triton.

Selected cities forecast:
Salt Lake City, UT: T-1"
Denver, CO: 8-12"
Grand Island, NE: 3-5"
Goodland, KS: 4-6"
Fargo, ND: 1-3"
Minneapolis, MN: 2-4"
Sioux City, IA: 3-6"

The Drought
Recent rainstorms and snowstorms over the central and southern US have slowly been trimming away at the drought. Most of the drought in the Southeast has been knocked down due to recent heavy rain events. More rain can be expected in the next two weeks thus reducing drought even more. The Plains have been impacted by several snow/rainstorms in the past couple weeks. This has put a dent in the exceptional and extreme drought. More precipitation is expected and the eastern part of the drought area should see improvement. Hopefully once the ground unfreezes even more water can get into the soil and reduce the drought. Also, with this precipitation any effect the drought has been having on tornado season can be minimized. Here is the latest drought map, fig 5, put out by NOAA and released on Thursday the 7th.

Fig. 5: the latest drought monitor map.

I'll be back with my local forecast Sunday afternoon/evening and I'll be releasing my 2012 hurricane season summary in the next couple weeks as I am pressed for time. Have a great rest of the weekend everyone.

Winter Weather Snow Severe Weather Drought

Updated: 5:57 AM GMT on March 09, 2013


Parts of the Virginia's get dumped with 12

By: wxchaser97, 3:38 AM GMT on March 08, 2013

Winter Storm Saturn has been impacting the US for the past few days. Snow has fallen from Montana to Massachusetts. Some major cities that have been impacted or a getting impacted are Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Richmond, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, and Portland. Most, not all, of these cites got good amounts of snow. However, there is one city that totally busted, Washington DC. Most meteorological agencies, including the NWS, had DC getting 8"+. I had DC getting 8-12" of snow. How much did DC actually get? Reagan international airport picked up a whopping 0.2" of snow, more on what caused this later. Western suburbs of DC picked up 4"+. Areas farther west and higher up in elevation saw up to 2 feet of snow, 24" in Franklin, WV. Coastal flooding has occurred in parts of the Mid Atlantic. Ocean City, NJ, Norfolk, VA are among the cities that got coastal flooding. Remember that these areas got severe flooding from Hurricane Sandy so this is unneeded. Parts of New England could also get some coastal flooding. Minneapolis got around 9.3", Chicago got 9.2"

Fig. 1: Current satellite loop of Saturn

Before I get to the bust for DC and the success elsewhere, snow is still falling from this system. Areas in New England are seeing the most snow. A disturbance that came from the Great Lakes is helping extend snow from a powerful extra-tropical cyclone off the east coast. The snow should continue into tomorrow. This is the last part of "Saturn" that will be affecting the US. Here are some predictions for affected cities.

Philadelphia, PA: T-2"
New York City, NY: 3-5"
Providence, RI: 5-8"
Boston, MA: 6-12"
Albany, NY: 2-4"
Portland, ME: 2-4"

Fig. 2: Snowfall total forecast map for New England.

Fig. 3: Radar image of Boston area taken at 8:55pm EST using GR2Analyst.

Here is a question that many people are asking: What the heck happened to the snow in DC? The forecast was a bust for DC. They really underperformed on snowfall totals, while areas just to the west got a good amount. Moister wasn't a problem as there was plenty of moister available and plenty did precipitate down. Upper and mid level temperatures weren't the problem as they were cold enough for snow. It was the surface temperatures that were the problem. Model soundings show this was the case, fig 4. Surface temperatures were in the mid to upper 30s, even reaching the low 40s, for most of the event. The low pressure ushering in relatively warm air from the ocean wasn't a good thing for snow lovers. This was keeping a rain or a rain/snow mix for areas near the coast, fig 5. The urban heat island effect may have also played a role in keeping precip more liquid in DC itself. Dynamic cooling wasn't able to take place with this storm either in DC. The environment was too saturated to get this to happen. Thus, it was a sad day for snow lovers in DC.

Fig. 4: RAP sounding for DC, thanks to 1900hurricane as that was the sounding on Dr. masters blog comments.

Fig. 5: A depiction of what partly caused rain on the coast. This also shows why there was snow in Richmond a little longer than expected.

Of course, now you're asking: Why did all the mets get this wrong? Well, no one was really expecting this to happen. Computer models (ECMWF, GFS, NAM etc.) were showing DC getting at least 6" of snow. The 00z GFS and NAM runs the night before the storm had at least 10". With the past history of the storm, it really looked like this would be the snow-drought buster. The NWS, TWC, Accuweather, news stations, CWG, wunderbloggers(besides Wash), and everyone else was thinking that the snow would materialize for DC. Higher elevation/ farther west locations did receive the predicted snowfall that models/NWS showed. Even though the temperatures were expected to be in the low to mid 30s, it was expected that snow would still be able to fall. Well, that really didn't happen either for DC. For meteorologists and amateur forecasters, this is not a thing to give up over. Actually, this bust only makes me interested in the study of weather more. I want to find out why these things happen and what to learn from them. Hopefully in the future, big busts like what happened in DC won't occur. My first forecast, fig 6, can be found below. Besides DC failing and not picking up on the NE snow(models weren't showing this yet in my defense), my forecast turned out pretty well. I admit for the DC and coastal areas that I was wrong.

Fig. 6: My first snowfall forecast for the US.

Have a great TGIF and weekend. A new winter storm has been named by TWC, but I don't know if I will be writing about it as it won't be as significant as "Saturn" was. I will be switching this blog to a more spring time/severe weather blog starting March 15th, the ides of March. That is one week from tomorrow and I will post about my top 10 favorite tornadoes plus the one year anniversary of the Dexter, MI EF3 tornado.

Winter Weather Snow Blizzard Rain

Updated: 11:58 AM GMT on March 08, 2013


Winter storm impacting northern United States

By: wxchaser97, 5:56 AM GMT on March 05, 2013

A winter storm, with blizzard conditions in the far northern plains, is in progress. Winter storm warnings, watches, advisories, and even blizzard warnings are in effect for parts of the northern tier. Heavy snow and gusty winds are occurring in parts of the plains and Mid west. This is part one of this winter storm, the first shortwave. Part 2, the second shortwave, is in Oklahoma. They are currently phasing and should be done phasing sometime tomorrow. The main feature will take shape in the southern Ohio Valley and track eastward. It will continue to track eastward and deepen over the next couple days as it heads off shore. As models indicate, there will be plenty of moister to work with and there could be some pretty decent snowfall totals in the Virginia's. Of course, we still have to get through the next 24hrs of the two waves coming together. Chicago, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee are some major cities that will get heavy snow from the northern wave(and some from the merged system). Models are coming more in line of where the heaviest snow will be, in these areas. They do still have some minor differences on timing and precip type for some areas, but that will be worked out. Snow totals in North Dakota and Montana have been up to a foot with gusty winds. People in the path of this winter storm need to be taking it seriously. Also, snow may not be the only hazard with it. On the southern, warmer side of the storm, some strong to severe thunderstorms are possible. Dynamics are not all that great, but a damaging wind gust or two is possible in Georgia and South Carolina. There shouldn't be too much rainfall on the southern side, mostly <1" expect very near the low, for a change. The south has been getting a lot of heavy flooding rain, even though it is beneficiary, lately so they could use a small break. I think a state by state impact analysis is necessary to fully get my ideas out. But first, figure 1 shows a satellite loop of the US with the winter storm shown.

Fig. 1:

To explain my snowfall forecast, see below in fig 2, a state by state explanation is needed. I will go in order of which states are getting impacted first. Hopefully this is something that helps. For more deatails and the latest alerts, please visit www.weather.gov

Snowfall accumulations of up to over a foot and blizzard conditions have been observed in the eastern part of the state. Lesser amounts of snow and lesser winds elsewhere in the state. Traveling has been difficult to near impossible at times. The storm is winding down over there however.

North Dakota
Heavy snow and gusty winds are ongoing in most of the state. This is expected to wind down soon with not a lot of additional accumulations. Snowfall has totaled up to a foot with 6 counties current;y under blizzard warnings. Travel is not advised unless necessary.

South Dakota
South Dakota has gotten less amounts of snow, and only in the northern part of the state. Winds still have been gusty over there.

This is where snow is really getting going. As the wave moves SE and phases with the southern one, the snow will go SE too. The eastern part of the state should get the most amount of snow, 6-12", with the western side getting 1-6". Snowfall rates may get up in the 1-2" per hour range at the height of the storm. Strong winds will cause blowing and drifting snow. Schools may be closed tomorrow in some areas. Travel is not advised as conditions are poor, with visibilities dropping below 1/2 mile at times.

The western part of Wisconsin will be in the heavy snow axis, with central and eastern parts seeing less and less. Conditions will be similar as in Minnesota.

Iowa will get clipped by the heaviest amounts of snow, northeast corner. Most other areas seeing snow should see 1-6" of snow with poor travel conditions. The storm will continue into the early Wednesday.

Chicago will see some of the highest totals in the Mid west with this storm, 8-12". This will be the most significant March storm in the past few years for northern Illinois. Snowfall rates could reach 1-2" per hour and gusty winds will drop visibilities to less than 1/2 mile and poor travel. The snow will blow and drift around causing further travel troubles. In the central and southern part of the state, precipitation issues may be present. A mix of wintry precip is possible before all snow.

Southern Michigan will be on the edge of the deformation band. pretty much the first row of counties north of the Ohio border will see a semi decent snowfall. Conditions still need to be monitored for any slight changes.

Indiana will see similar conditions as Illinios. Fort Wayne should get between 5-10" of snow and Indianapolis 3-6". Precip type could bee a problem in the southern part of the state. The precipitation should begin in the middle of the day today.

Central Ohio is where the highest snowfall will be. The southern part will deal with some warm air and the northern part will the edge of the precipitation shield. Gusty winds will create blowing/drifting snow and travel will be disrupted.

Kentucky will be on the southern edge of the snow and won't get as much as states to the north.

The southern and eastern parts of the state have the best chance of seeing heavy snow. Most people should be prepared for 3"+ of snow.

West Virginia
Snowfall will likely be over 6 to even 12", especially in the higher elevation areas.

Virginia is where the forecast is tricky. Models show some of the heaviest totals in the DC area, but there could be some issues. it is possible that it is a little too warm it is a little harder for snow to stick and the rain/snow line is over DC. Personally, I think DC has a high likelihood of seeing 6"+ of snow. Mixed precip at the onset could cause icy conditions so be advised of that. The far southern portions will deal with a rain/snow mix and only pick up a couple inches at best.

The Appalachian mountains could see 1-6" of snow.

North Carolina
The Appalachian mountains could see 1-6" of snow.

Most of Maryland, besides the far southern area, should see 6"+ of snow. Some parts in the western side could see a foot or more. Gusty winds will cause blowing snow. Travel will be fully disrupted.

There should be a good event 4"+ for Delaware, and the northern most part of the state will see more. Warm advecting air could create a problem but that will be dealt with later. Coastal flooding is possible due to the strong onshore winds.

New England(New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, new Hampshire, and Maine)
A major snow event is possible in parts of New England. Models are only starting to latch onto this idea and it needs further watching. As we get closer to the storm, the better idea I will have of a snow event.

Fig 2:

Have a great Tuesday everyone and stay safe! I'll have a new update Late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Winter Weather Snow


Major winter storm likely Mid West and Mid Atlantic

By: wxchaser97, 4:45 AM GMT on March 04, 2013

A winter storm is taking shape for parts of the Mid West, Great Lakes, and Mid Atlantic. Winter storm warnings, watches, and advisories are in effect for areas in the path of this storm. This system has the potential to drop a swath of 6-12" of snow in some areas. Winds will be gusty in some of these areas, but not high enough to warrant blizzard warnings/watches. The low is currently on the Montana/Canada border moving southeast. It is expected to continue to move southeast and slowly weaken as it gets into Minnesota. A new low should form, partly by the energy from the old one, and move east bringing the Mid Atlantic snow.

Fig. 1 A loop of the current low.

Computer models are still uncertain with the evolution of this storm. They don't agree on where the low will track and where the heaviest snowfall will be. Obviously, the farther north the low goes the farther north the heaviest snowfall will be. The NAM and SREF are the northern models with the ECMWF and UKMET the southern ones, GFS and GEM are more or less in the middle. This means that the heaviest snow could set up from S Michigan/N Ohio and moves ESE or south central Indiana/Ohio and move ESE. As we get closer to the event, this should be ironed out. Personally, I would like models to shift north some to put SE MI in the heavy snow axis. It looks like Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Washington DC are cites that should get 6"+ of snow from this storm. It is possible that the low, once out to sea, turns northeast and brings the Northeast some accumulating snow. That is something that is uncertain and needs to be watched in later runs. For the Mid Atlantic, precipitation may start out as a rain or rain and snow mix before changing to all snow. This, combined with iffy temperatures, could create issues for accumulating snow in the DC and coastal areas. I still think DC should get between 6-12" of snow. Snowfall rates, however, will be very intense and that is a plus for accumulating snow. Snow won't be the only problem, there will also be gusty winds with the storm. Areas could see gusts up to 30mph in some instances throughout the storms path. Blowing and drifting snow would be a problem, even in areas where snow is wet. Coastal flooding could be a problem as winds will be onshore. My snowfall forecast for the entire storm can be seen below. While I am pretty confident in it, models can and will change resulting in changes in track/snowfall amounts. I will have to likely update this map in the next 18-36hrs.

Fig. 2: My current snowfall forecast.

I will definitely have a new update tomorrow or Tuesday regarding this winter storm. If you are going to be in the path of this system, heed the winter weather statements and be prepared. Have a great Monday, if that's possible, everyone.

Winter Weather Snow


Berkley, Michigan weekly forecast 3/2-3/8

By: wxchaser97, 4:10 AM GMT on March 02, 2013

Happy first meteorological day of spring everyone! I know I have been inconsistent with these lately, but here is my weekly local forecast for Berkley. Besides some flurries tomorrow and a chance of snow showers on Wednesday, there isn't much weather to talk about. A potentially major winter storm, which I plan on blogging about, will be passing to our south bringing at the most some snow showers. Over the weekend and into most of next week, the temperatures will be at or below average. As a ridge moves into the area, temperatures will moderate and rise to at or above average late in the week. The radar at NWS Detroit/Pontiac will be down for 2 weeks starting March 5th for the dual-pol upgrade, so hopefully this quiet pattern will continue.

Written Forecast:

Saturday: Off and on flurries. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 30%. The high will be near 26F. Winds should be 5-10mph.

Saturday night: Skies should be mostly cloudy with some clearing late. Winds will be steady near 10mph. The low temperature will be around 18F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 20%.
Sunday: A few clouds from time to time and cool. High near 26F with winds of 5-10mph. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 10%.

Sunday night: Mostly clear skies. The low should be around 19F and winds near 5mph. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 0%.

Monday: Mostly sunny. High near 32F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 10%.

Monday night: A few clouds from time to time. A low of 20F can be expected. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 0%.

Tuesday: A few clouds. A high near 34F is likely. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 10%.

Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. A low near 26F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 20%.

Wednesday: A few snow showers. A high near 35F. Chance of Rain 10% and chance of snow 30%

Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Low should be 27F. Chance of rain 0% and chance of snow 20%

Thursday: A few clouds, but mostly sunny and warmer. High of 41F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low near 29F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Friday: Some clouds, more sun though and even warmer. High near 46F. Chance of rain 10% and chance of snow 10%.

Graphical Forecast:

Have a great start to meteorological spring and weekend. I plan on picking this back up full time over the next couple weeks. Slowly, I'll start the transition from winter blogging to spring/severe weather blogging. Also, I am in the process of writing a 2012 hurricane season summary. This is to cover any TCR's that I am not able to write.



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I'm in high school and love meteorology and extreme weather. I've been fascinated by weather since I was 5, and I plan on becoming a meteorologist.

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