Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 7:19 PM GMT on February 23, 2008
***Update as of 1020am...
Heavy snow squalls have developed in northwest Pennsylvania associated with the passage of the weak cold front. High instibility and high moisture content has developed these snow squalls. They are moving southeast as nearly 45mph. Also there is another more broken snow squall that just passed through State College. This band shows signs of weakening. I expect these snow squalls to make it southeast into Perry County and Northern Dauphin county and then rapidly dissapate. Areas that recieve the squalls may get up to 1-2inches of snow in less than one hour. Also roads may become snow covered and icy. Snow drifting will also be a problem for many areas as areas in the north saw quite a bit of snow. These snow squalls will only build to the impressive snow depths across the state. I am going to make a new blog later today with all of the sections updated including short term, long term forecasts, regional forecast, weekly weather review, and afternoon thoughts. Have a great day!!!
Snow reports so far...
Boswell - Somerset County - 10.3inches
Emporium - Cameron County - 5inches
Harrisburg - Dauphin County - 1.5inches
Ashland - Schuylkill County - 1.3inches
Westmont - Cambria County - 6inches
Nanty Glo - Cambria County - 4.5inches
Brookville - Jefferson County - 6inches
Sarver County - Butler County - 6inches
Brookville - Jefferson County - 12inches
Johnstown - Cambria County - 16inches
Jerome - Somerset County - 13inches
Ridgeway - Elk County - 8inches
State College - Centre County - 3inches
Muncy - Lycoming County - 2.5inches
Carlisle - Cumberland County - 2inches
Good Wednesday afternoon!!! Well first off I want to talk about the recent winter storm that moved over the area yesterday. The storm track did go very similar to what I thought it would with it going just south of the Mason-Dixon line and then formed a secondary coastal low pressure just south of Cape Cod. Many areas saw snow or a mix on the onset of the storm by then quickly turned to rain for areas south of the I-80 corridor. But area the north of the interestate saw quite alot of snow. Many mountain locations recieved up to 8inches of snow for elevations above 2000ft. I saw Erie and Bradford came in at almost 7inches of snow. The snow was a very wet snow due to the somewhat mild temperatures that were just marginal for snow. My snow map went exactly according to plan. The only thing that did not go right was I had 2-4inches of snow for Wayne County, in the Poconos, but they ended up seeing over 6inches on the mountaintops. But other than that everything went accordingly. Also a intense deformation band of snow formed and moved into western and central Pennsylvania last night and this morning. Some areas saw 1-3inches with the band. Even here north of Harrisburg I got .25inches of snow this morning from the dying snow band. Then lake effect snow occured today with a favored flow for the Laural Highlands to see some significant banding of snows. Johnstown, PA and Latrobe, PA have been reporting snow all day there. Amounts of 4-7inches of new snow are being reported in that region. Snow advisories were even out for the Laural Highlands. Snow depths across the state are mostly confined to areas above the PA turnpike. There is some building very deep snow packs across the northern third of the state. Many mountain tops and even some valleys are reporting over a foot of snow. This snow depth will be relatively untouched over the next couple of days under the cold northwest flow. And a clipper system will only add snow to those snow depths. Interestingly I heard that the snow depth across North America is the most widespread since 1966. So much for global warming this winter. For seasonal snow totals they are well below in southern Pennsylvania to slightly below to normal in northern Pennsylvania. Well soon is the end of February and we enter our last snowy month of the winter. March can be very snowy in Pennsylvania. The most extreme weather of the year typically occurs in this month in terms of sudden temperature and precipitation swings. As for my long term pattern outlook it still looks very plausible and to appears like it will come to fruitation. Snowlovers do not give up, March can be very snowy. Even in April most areas see a little snow in the beginning of the month, the onion snow.
Here is my snow map for the clipper for Feb. 29
All right well another difficult forecast is headed our way. An Alberta Clipper is headed towards Pennsylvania. The center of the low will be headed north of the United States in Canada. This will put us on the south side of the storm. Now typically warmer air is located on the south side of the storm and this is the case with this storm. Southernly winds will gust up to 15mph bring some milder air northward into southern PA. But clouds will be around tomorrow and after lows tonight in the teens, it will be tough for temperatures to get near 40 even near Philadelphia. The upper air atmosphere rain/snow line is well too our south. Precipitation timing is a tough call, but by 5pm the snow should have already reached into far eastern Pennsylvania. Elevation will play a major factor in snow amounts across Pennsylvania. And my updated snow map is one of my most specific elevation forecasted snow amounts I have ever made. Generally for every couple 100ft snow amounts will go up 1inch. Anyone above the Pennsylvania turnpike should stay all snow for the entire storm. Areas at the turnpike and to the south will have boundary level temperature issues. But still probably an inch or two will even fall in the northern part of the mix region with a coating in the south. Up in the northern part of Pennsylvania snow ratios of 15:1 combined with forecast .5inch QPF will equal up to 8inches of snow in the very highest elevations of the northern border counties. The laural highlands will also see some substantial snows. The snowpack is going to be quite deep across parts of Pennsylvania nearing I imagine 2.5ft on the north sides of favored snow belt mountains. Remember clippers are difficult to forecast and seems always to have some good/bad suprises for us snowlovers. Dry air will be not too much of a factor, as precipitation should shortly overwhelm the upper atmosphere moisture levels. A major problem with this snow coming is the heaviest will fall around the rush hour evening commute and many problems may occur statewide. So this is my last snow map I will be making. Also when I made my snow outlook map I thought the coastal low pressure would develop off of New Jersey, but now this seems not to be the case as it will develop off of Cape Cod and deliver parts of New Hampshire a hefty 6-12inches of snow. After the clipper Saturday will be mostly dry with a few lake effect snow showers in the north and west. Highs will be in the 30s statewide. Then a slight moderating trend occurs for early next week.
*Note the positive trend.
*Note the steady positive trend.
"Just to throw out there"
My overall pattern outlook for the end of February into mid March. Finally I think us eastcoast snowlovers are going to get our snow. I am going to write about all of the factors leading to possibly a snowy March. And I will say it again, WINTER IS NOT OVER! Also I believe the 2008-2009 winter will be quite snowy due to the weakening La Nina. Weak La Nina's in the past have created some of the snowiest winter seasons, such as 1996. But anyway I will leave that for another blog to talk about. Back to our winter. Alright the let me first look at the cold air that is necessary for snows. Fist off I will start with the Northern Hemisphere Teleconnection Patterns. The NAO which is going +1 postive shortly will be headed towards neutral by the end of the month favoring colder conditions with a more favorible east coast storm track. We really do not want a highly negative NAO because this favors strong high pressures that send coastal storms out to sea in many cases. The PNA though is going negative which does not really favor on the east coast colder air. But the AO is going negative and this is what we look for when Siberian Cold airmasses head south into the United States. Now the pesky southeast ridge which has been pushing this warm air aloft northward during our coastal storms bringing our snow to ice is showing signs of weakening. I have been tracking the strength of the southeast ridge with every storm and in each storm the mix/snow line is falling farther south which shows the southeast ridge is having less of an impact on our weather. The La Nina is also showing signs of becoming less moderate. It still will be moderate through March, but it appears that it won't be as strong in the moderate stage, if that makes sense, lol. When we have a weak La Nina statistics prove that conditions become more snowy and cold in the east. Also a famous quote that winters tend to make up for each other shows that since we have not had a snowy winter so far maybe it will make up for itself in the last March. That is not exact science, but more of a wisetale. But still in past years the statement seems to be true. Also history shows some of the most extreme weather of an entire year occurs in March with many nor'easters occuring in the past. The Superstorm of 1993 occured in March. Even last year a widespread 5-12inches of snow fell across Pennsylvania on St. Patrick's Day in March. Now let me talk about the Global Models and what they seem to make of the overall pattern. The EURO 8-10 outlook shows quite a bit of blocking over Greenland and Scandinavia which favors an east coast storm track. The EURO also has a form of the NAO is shows it becoming negative. The GFS has been back and forth with the overall pattern so there is very low confidence in what the GFS thinks. But overall what I think is that a steep eastern trough will form by the very end of this month with a negative tilt. A weak to moderate high pressure will form in Canada ushering in the cold air, I do not think it will be arctic air or record breaking cold, but it will be cold enough for snow. The negative tilt to the trough will allow storms to track up the eastern seaboard. So for me it looks like a stormy March is ahead. Also long term meteorologists seems to agree with the above statement. Remember this is pretty much our last chance for winter in March. After about the 20th of March winter shortly comes to an end. So keep your fingers crossed. One good note is none of the models indicate any extreme warm up anytime in the forecasted future. So I will have updates on this long term throughout the upcoming week. Below you can find the latest NAO and PNA predictions. If you have any questions or opinions, leave them in a comment below. I am happy to answer any questions and take in consideration different opinions. Have a great day!!!
"Regional Forecasts" (Friday)
1. Eastern- (Allentown, Southern Poconos)-
Clouds then late day light to moderate snow. 1-4inches of snow possible. High 35.
2. South Central (Harrisburg, York, Lancaster)(my home)-
Light snow moving in by 3pm. Clouds. 1inch of snow in south, 2-4inches of snow in north. High 34
3. Southern- (Philadelphia)-
Light rain/snow with some clouds. Breezy (SOUTH). High 39.
4. Central- (State College)-
Moderate snow moving in by midday. Cloudy. 3-5inches of snow. High 31.
5. Northern- (Erie, Bradford, Williamsport)-
Snow, heavy at times. Cold. Cloudy. 4-6inches of snow, locally higher snow totals up to 7inches in far north. High 28.
6. Western- (Pittsburgh)-
Snow with a mix of rain/snow in south. 1-3inches of snow in south, 3-5inches of snow in north. High 35.
7. Johnstown, Altoona-
Snow moving in after noon. 3-7inches of snow. Cloudy. High 33.
***Note on regional map, the number equals which region in Pennsylvania. I chose regions with similar climates, geography, and elevation to make my overall forecast for the region.
Weekly Weather Reviews
This weeks weekly weather review is for the popular internet website, weather.com, and for the handheld winter meter, Skywatch Xplorer 2.
This section will be dedicated to weather stations, weather technology, weather books, weather websites, weather magazines, etc. reviews that I write. I am going to try to write a review once a week on Sunday about some of the above topics. Also I am going to rate each item out of 5 stars. (*****)
Also if anyone else has a topic idea or something to add about my review you can leave it in a comment. Hopefully this will give you some knowledge about all of the fascinating weather accessories that are out there. And maybe you can try some out yourself.
Internet Website- weather.com(***)-
I chose weather.com for an internet website because it is the most popular weather website out there. I will admit though I hardly ever use the site to get information. But weather.com is perfect for the avid weather watcher. Weather.com is based off of the telavision Channel THE WEATHER CHANNEL. The site forecasts weather for all over the United States and across the rest of the world. They also have some expert opinions when it comes to Tropical forecasts. I find though that weather.com handles tropical forecasts better than any other website in terms of information available to the public. Along with the forecasts the site posts and active NWS advisories for areas. Outside plain weather forecasts there is information on climate change, outdoor projects, gardening, sports weather forecasts, etc. With all of the information on the website it is overwhelming when navigating around. Also it takes a long time to load pages. Overall this website is perfect when looking for quick access to the weather and the forecasts are not too scientific, which makes them easy to understand.
The goods (+)
Full of information including travel weather
Great section on outdoor forecast including golf forecasts
Forecasts for the entire United States and some foreign country forecasts
Lots of information on climate change
Very modern looking website full of animations, videos, pictures, etc.
The bads (-)
Slow loading time between pages
Too much information makes navigating the site overwhelming
Forecasts do not have a good accuracy rating, seem to have warm bias
Technology- Skywatch Xplorer 2 Handheld Wind Meter(**)-
Alright well my next review is on a handheld wind anemometer that I own called the Skywatch Xplorer 2. The windmeter is portable and easy to use. All it has is one large button that navigates through the small menu and choice of options. There is a backlight to see the wind/temperature readings in the dark. Overall I am not fond of my wind meter though. The temperature readings are plain horrible. For example taking it outside in the winter the temperature reading does not adjust to the cold winter readings. It takes about 15minutes for a reasonable temperature to be reached outdoors. Even then the reading is always 3-5degrees too warm. When I look for weather technology I look for top notch accuracy. Then since the temperature reading is off then the windchill reading is off. One thing though very nice about the meter is it is water resistent. The wind measurement gauge is a propeller fan, that appears to be very sturdy. The wind measurements seem very accurate though and are updated every second a gust goes through the fan. The price of the windmeter $73.95 at most places. The one I have was ordered from the internet from the Accuweather store online. The Skywatch Xplorer 2 I would consider a good handheld anemometer for beginners and weather observers, but it you are looking for accuracy this is not the best handheld anemometer to get.
The goods (+)
Accurate wind measuremants
Sturdy structure with easy to navigate main, central button
Wind fan that it is protected and not able to be broken easy
Well known company that makes the product
The bads (-)
Very poor accuracy for temperature readings
Poor accuracy with windchill calculations
My snow totals (10miles northeast of Harrisburg)
07-08 Seasonal Total so far... 25.5inches
Monthly Total... Trace
Daily Total... 2.5inches
Snow Cover... 2.5inches in shaded locations
My accuracy for Harrisburg snowstorms, 07-08
Jan. 26........C-2inches........Coating of Snow
Feb. 4.........C-2inches........Coating of Snow/Sleet
Feb. 9.........1-3inches........2inches of snow
Feb. 10........C-3inches.......1nch of snow
Feb. 12-13.....1-4inches.......5.5inches of snow
Feb. 20........1-3inches.......1inch of snow
Feb. 22-23.....3-7inches.......4inches of snow
Feb. 26-27.....C-1inch......... .25inches of snow
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.