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Widespread Lake Effect/Upslope Snows Expected Later this Week...

By: Zachary Labe , 8:05 PM GMT on December 18, 2012

Posted Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A closed upper level low will continue to slowly move through southern Canada and upstate New York during the later half of the upcoming week. A deep trough and subsequent northwest flow will allow for the first prolonged lake effect snow event of the year. Widespread upslope snows are also expected across the Appalachians up through the White/Green Mountains. Accumulations will be widespread in the snow belt regions, but generally light to moderate amounts.

Lake Effect Snow Outbreak December 21-23, 2012
A significant winter storm will be tracking through the Midwest and Great Lakes by the middle of this week. This 992mb surface low will track across the Great Lakes and begin to weaken across western New York. A closed upper level low will begin to slowly meander across southern Canada increasing moisture under a northwest flow behind the steep cold front. H85 thermals will fall to a meager -6C, but given that lake temperatures are near 10F above normal, there will be enough of a gradient to spark a widespread lake effect event. The flow for the duration of the event will be around 300-315 degrees with possibly an even more northerly component depending on the track of the ULL. Limited instability will prevent significant banding, but nevertheless with PWATs +0.5SD there will be widespread snow shower activity for several days across the region.

This flow will increase snows across favored upslope and orographic locations from northern West Virginia up through the Laurel Highlands. Favored peaks in Garret County, MD up through Mt. Davis, PA and Laurel Summit, PA may see upwards of 10" of snow during this period. Current model QPF is already at an impressive ~0.5 inches. Across the Chautauqua Ridge in southwestern New York, upslope totals may also approach 10" of snow. This will help lay a fresh snow pack to several ski resorts in the region that are featuring a seasonal snow deficit of nearly two feet to date. As drier air begins to rotate into the region on Saturday, widespread light snow shower activity (with a few enhanced SN bands) will begin to focus into a more cellular nature under diurnal forcing. Mesoscale guidance indicates the development of several stronger bands off of Ontario down through possibly Rochester and Syracuse. UUV and omega growth peak during this period allowing for excellent dendritic growth. Snow ratios during this period may approach 17:1 with snow rates at 1in/hr in some locations. Northern Cayuga County through Onondaga and Madison Counties in New York will see the highest accumulations. During this period upslope snows will increase across northern Vermont in the higher elevations. This will be a multi-day event for this area with amounts approaching two feet above 3000ft by Monday.

Given the length of the fetch and typical northwest flow, a few snow bands may stretch east of the mountains into the central ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania and Poconos. Any accumulations in this area will be isolated and generally around 1-3 inches. A bit of Huron connection may be possible Saturday night during the peak of the lake effect snow event. At this point in the medium range, it is too early to highlight typical bands such as the 322 streamer.

Drier and more stable air will cutoff the cyclonic circulation by early next week with more seasonable temperatures. Winds will also begin to relax.

Regional Radar...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Regional Advisories...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Storm Reports...

Storm Impacts...
1. Sustained winds of 20-30mph with gusts approaching 40mph are expected over the region with whiteout conditions possible in snow squalls.
2. Deep moisture field and long fetch will allow snow showers to stretch east of the mountains.
3. Heavy snow accumulations in favored 300 degree snow belts are expected with totals approaching up to 10"
4. First widespread lake effect event of the winter will have greater impacts than normal due to the the infrequency this December.
5. Temperatures and air mass will be marginally cold and generally in the upper 20s to mid 30s for most areas.

Snow Map...

*The heaviest snow accumulations will be confined to the higher elevations and favored northwest flow snow belt regions. The highest accumulations are expected near the Syracuse metro region and across the upslope effect region of the Green Mountains near Stowe in northern Vermont. Heavy accumulations are also likely up through West Virginia and into the Laurel Highlands. Outside the snow belts snow amounts will be more isolated and dependent on the exact location of the bands and showers which are impossible to forecast exactly at this point in time.

Current Great Lakes Water Temperatures...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Current Lake Erie Wind Direction and Speed...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Current Lake Erie Water Temperature...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

"Selected City Accumulations"
Erie- 4-6" of snow with higher amounts to the south and east of the city
Meadville, PA- 4-8" of snow
Bradford, PA- 3-6" of snow with higher amounts near Warren County
Butler, PA- 2-4" of snow
Pittsburgh, PA- 1-4" of snow with isolated higher amounts
Latrobe, PA- 1-4" of snow
Indiana, PA- 2-4" of snow
Johnstown, PA- 5-10" of snow with higher amounts possible
Somerset, PA- 4-8" of snow with higher amounts possible
Altoona, PA- 1-4" of snow
Du Bois/Clearfield, PA- 3-6" of snow with locally higher amounts
Philipsburg, PA- 3-5" of snow
State College, PA- 1-3" of snow
Lock Haven, PA- 1-3" of snow
Williamsport, PA- Locally 1-2" of snow
Mt. Pocono, PA- 1-2" of snow
Selinsgrove, PA- Locally 1-2" of snow
Harrisburg, PA- Isolated C-1" of snow
Hagerstown, MD- Isolated C-1" of snow
Cumberland, MD- 1-3" of snow
Frostburg, MD- 2-4" of snow
McHenry, MD- 4-8" of snow
Oakland, MD- 4-9" of snow
Snowshoe, WV- 4-9" of snow
Buffalo, NY- 2-5" of snow with higher amounts to the south and west
Watertown, NY- 3-5" of snow
Syracuse, NY- 6-12" of snow with locally higher amounts
Albany, NY- Locally 1-2" of snow
Ithaca, NY- 1-4" of snow
Binghamton, NY- 1-2" of snow
Saranac Lake, NY- 3-5" of snow
Utica, NY- 5-10" of snow
Burlington, VT- 1-2" of snow. Higher amounts to east approaching 12"
North Conway, NH- 1-4" of snow
"Subject to Change"

Current Northeast Snow Depth and Northeast Wind chills...

(Courtesy of Wunderground)

Model Analysis
The GFS is a low resolution global model that typically does not do well in mesoscale events such as lake effect snow. But forecast QPF maps already suggest widespread high amounts over the Northeast snow belts, which is very impressive at this forecast range. A deep moisture field and long northwest fetch is suggested. The ECMWF is also in full support of this event especially across the upslope regions of northern Vermont where an extended multi-day period of heavy snow is possible. Isolated amounts in this region could reach 24" in some areas above 3000ft. All guidance supports a closed low that will allow for a bit of synoptic influence favoring some lighter snows outside the typical snow belts especially for western Pennsylvania and upstate western New York. These amounts will remain light though with QPF less than .15" for most areas. At this range, the NAM and other high resolution guidance is a bit too far out for their time frame. Latest trends in the GFS/ECMWF are showing a possible increase northerly component which would decrease the widespread activity of the snow showers. At this time it looks like the Buffalo metro area will be spared the worst of the event, while areas towards Rochester and Syracuse will be more favored.

After the Storm
As temperature anomalies approach +6F for the month of December for many climatological reporting stations across the Northeast, many are left asking where is winter. A majority of the cold air is locked well to the northwest of the contiguous United States in northern Canada. Even across areas seeing the next bout of winter weather in the Midwest, H85 thermals never even fall below -10C south of the Canadian border. This is a clear indication that much of the nation is well above normal in the temperature department. A +EPO in correspondance with a -PNA will continue to keep the cold air locked up to the north through the end of the month. A few energy meteorologists have been hinting at winter storm chances post Christmas in the Northeast, but given the latest tropical monsoon forcing indices out of the Indian Ocean and the status quo of the current NAO, it is likely these middle latitude cyclones will continue tracking through the Great Lakes. If any secondary cyclogenesis occurs on the east coast, it will only favor far northern New England with wintry precipitation. Unless we see a dramatic change in ensemble guidance and teleconnections, period through the end of December will be snowless across much of the east. While temperatures will likely average near normal, they will feature an oscillating pattern of unseasonable warmth as lows track to the northwest, and then brief arctic air behind the cold fronts.

After a near record dry November, the polar jet has begun to increase in activity as we continue a stormy pattern with several shortwaves per week. This pattern will continue through early January with precipitation totals averaging above normal for all climatological stations. While the MJO forcing remains meager and few changes in the NAO are expected, there are a few signs that the EPO will shift negative and begin to dump some arctic air farther south. As we also enter the coldest portion of the year, it is likely snow chances will begin to increase by early January. That being said, there are no signs of any abnormally snow periods.

Despite another snowless and record warm start to the meteorological winter, the synoptic pattern is very different than last winter. Whether that is encouraging or not, it is critical for snowlovers that we do not see any development of a PV in Alaska. This would disrupt the potentially favorable Pacific by January and allow increasing upper level heights over the eastern United States. The main idea to take from the long term will be a continued stormy pattern of Great Lakes cutters, while the east coast sees mostly rain in association with frontal passages. Any front end warm air advection winter precipitation will likely be confined to northern New England. If any pattern change does occur, it will likely be post New Years.

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 2012-2013... Link

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

Lower Susquehanna Valley Doppler...

(Courtesy of WGAL)

"10mi northeast of Harrisburg 2012-2013 Winter Statistics"
(Snow Stats)
Monthly Total (October)- 0.0in
Monthly Total (November)- 0.8"
Monthly Total (December)- 9.5"
Seasonal Total- 10.3"
Winter Weather Advisories- 4
Winter Storm Warnings- 0
Ice Storm Warnings- 0
Blizzard Warnings- 0
Freezing Rain Advisories- 0
Winter Storm Watches- 0

(Temperature Stats)
Lowest High Temperature- 36.1F
Lowest Low Temperature- 18.5F
Wind Chill Advisories- 0
Wind Chill Warnings- 0

(Snow Storms Stats)
First Trace of Snow - November 24 - Lake Effect Snow Showers
First Measurable Snow - November 27 - 0.8" - Overrunning event
Enhanced Clipper - December 24 - 2.1" - Christmas Eve Snow!
Miller B - December 26 - 3.3" - 0.15" of freezing rain also
Miller B - December 29 - 4.1" - Moderate all snow event

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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465. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
Blizzard92 has created a new entry.
Brrrr! Listener!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
-14.8F here
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Quoting listenerVT:
Thanks for the kind words about my snow photos. Holler if you'd like more.
Yes, definitely, more photos! I actually got a sense of the quiet that snow generates from your last ones of the trees and land. Thanks, Listener.

I'm counting the days until we get up to Lake George and I can be in a snowy environment. Are we're starting to look at areas in Vermont to buy some land and eventually build. I can't see going through many more of these practically snowless winters.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
When Time Permits, Blizz, may we have a new thread to play on? This one's getting a bit heavy...nearly 500 posts!:-D
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Well, listenerVT got some sweet snows (tires!) on Monday!! My Mini now has wings! :-D

You know it's cold when you have to wear a fleece vest to bake in the kitchen!

Currently, on the back porch, it's -10F.
It builds character. ;-)
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Euro is showing a very long period of warmth for the east to the end of jan. After this week.
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OK this is a change. Heavy and an open door policy ea, no the oven door, L in VT marooned in snow wo tires, P-C like Tom Dooley, will he ever get off of that train, PPN fighting snow, now nothing. Well for openers, the last trace of warm temps is found in two spots on L. 's M & H. Looks like streamers off L. O hitting SE towards Amsterdam. Did Lake Champlain help with snow amounts east of the Green mountains?
If it stays cold with the Lakes no longer a hot area in the cold will this help near surface development? We have 20 % of normal snow already on the old nj shore. Is this the year I should have bought a snow blower?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Thanks for the kind words about my snow photos. Holler if you'd like more.

Dare I tell you that we woke up today to falling snow and got about 4".

It's now about 4F, on the way to sub zeros tonight.
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Quoting bwi:
Wow, NWS and WU Best Forecast calling for dry and light winds for the next 7 days. Bad for winter weather lovers. Excellent for January bike rides though...

January for the most part is usually cold and dry.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
455. bwi
Wow, NWS and WU Best Forecast calling for dry and light winds for the next 7 days. Bad for winter weather lovers. Excellent for January bike rides though...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Happy New Year, everyone!

Thanks for the snow pics, Listener. Wow. I want to be there. And MM for the maps - very cool. :)

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Oh no, I see the oven door gets left open sometime soon. Ugh.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting goofyrider:
Lincoln Gap on the Vermont Long Trail

That's the one! :-)
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Quoting Blizzard92:

Wow! Where is Lincoln? I assume it must have a pretty high elevation.

Near Ripton and Bristol...the Lincoln Gap road gets closed in Winter!
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GIS map I made of average annual snowfall within the Mount Holly CWA. I think this came out pretty good.
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Happy New Years everyone! There may not be anything to watch for this week, but at least the snow on the ground won't melt.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Happy new year
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Popped in to wish a Happy New Year to all who visit the blog.

Listener, I enjoyed looking at your photos. It's a reminder to put out feeders for our feathered friends. The sunflower seed feeder I have up has attracted a good number of cardinals with the chicadees and titmice equally as eager for their turn at the feast.

Our snow on the ground is perfect for snowman building and we have begun construction. Some sledding may be in order for the grands. I have a healthy hill in the back.

Happy 2013 to all yinz.
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Lincoln Gap on the Vermont Long Trail
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Happy New year,to all.Hope you had a great New Year's Eve.Looks to be a cold week,but mostly storm free.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting listenerVT:
My son in Lincoln, Vermont has nearly 3 feet of snow!!!

Wow! Where is Lincoln? I assume it must have a pretty high elevation.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Nice pics listener.

Happy news years all.

Well, we're in a bit of a boring stretch weather wise. About all to note here in TF NJ is that we've run a good 3-5F above guidance and 5-8F above forecasted temperatures going back to the 26th. Right across the board.

Seems like the "south and east of I95 will be warmer" cliche has held quite true so far this winter. And with these types of winters in classic style when you have a storm that almost nobody gets...the "shore" gets the worst of it and that's what the post-Sandy storm has illustrated.

On my train ride to work as soon as we got to Woodbridge which is where we cross north of I95 we went from a few scraggily patches to actual accumulated snow. Two storms in a row right on the money in regards to the I95 line.

These systems thus far are indications of one of the most common garden variety winters us here in Monmouth County NJ get. It would be what I would call "Average" if anyone asked about our winter weather here. The I95 rain/snow tiptoes, a big hit or two that everyone else misses but us, and a couple of slushy one inch systems.


For the near term...

GFS keeps us cooler and drier as small systems flare up in the South East US and head right off the coast.

Seems around Day 10 a central US storm makes it to WV - and it's tough to tell if we're looking at a zonal system that will slide through or an Appalachian riding low (Thus another I95 NW Snow, and I95 SE Rain, and north of Mason-Dixon heavy, south of it light type storm)

ECMWF has been crap ever since the Sandy/Following Blizzard hit. Shows far too much amplification to be taken seriously.

So we wait and see what ten days brings...and the GFS seems to have been in the drivers seat for weeks now so let us see how it looks as the days wear on in regards to that 10th day system. In the meantime it's a January desert out there and thankfully it's not one of the more brutal colder ones. 40/30 splits are acceptable to be sure.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
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Quoting doom22015:
Listener, Yes I am a snow lover. But looking at your wonderful pics makes me mostly a snow envier.

Awww! Send me a refrigerated truck and we'll fill it up for you!
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Listener, Yes I am a snow lover. But looking at your wonderful pics makes me mostly a snow envier.
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HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE. I am looking forward to another good year of good blogging and posting

I am just north of South Bend, IN in Niles, MI. They go their first good accumulating snow fall on Wednesday that stuck around and then about 6" of lake effect on Friday afternoon into evening. Pretty incredible watching the radar and it was just a small finger on the radar where we got snow all day long and it got heavier into the evening.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
❄ . ❄ .❄ ❄ . ❄ ❄ . ❄. ❄ ❄ ❄ .❄ . ❄ . ❄. ❄ ❄ ❄ .❄
❄ ❄ ❄ .❄ . ❄ . ❄. ❄ ❄ ❄ .❄ . ❄ ❄ . ❄ ❄ . ❄ ❄ . ❄
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It's getting mighty cold up here. We're looking at minus temps and some bitter days.
At least it means we'll get to keep the snow, eh?
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My son in Lincoln, Vermont has nearly 3 feet of snow!!!
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Happy New Year folks.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Happy New Years to everyone on the blog!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Stormfront:
Still waiting for the first snowfall over here in south jersey Zach! Think maybe you could send some of your snow my way? Hope your doing good kiddo! Happy New Year!

Stormfront you didn't get a quick coating on Christmas Eve or the Saturday event?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Still waiting for the first snowfall over here in south jersey Zach! Think maybe you could send some of your snow my way? Hope your doing good kiddo! Happy New Year!
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On radar there still is snow heading towards the LSV, do you think you will get any Blizz? Also Happy New Year to Blizz and all on his Blog!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Thanks for the "Pics." Listener, very pretty. Just looking at radar over the whole US. there is quite a bit in the mid-section of the country, kind of surprised they are only calling for "flurries" here I guess the storm does not have much support. Guess it will really start to weaken.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Great photos Listener!! Thanks so much for sharing.So beautiful........wish it was out my window!
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As promised, here are some photos from after this week's two snowstorms here in NW VT. We got 16" in the first storm and another 6" in this weekend's storm.

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Quoting Blizzard92:
Wow, those snow totals out of New England are unbelievable! Over a foot in some places!

We got about 6" overnight, for a total on the ground of 22"! Most of it has compressed to about 17" now, but it's pretty dense. I found a line of ice on my car, too, so we must have had a brief warmup during the storm. I have shoveled and am going to take a nap. Got some great photos today which I'll post later tonight.
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Didn't see your 4.1" until after I made this Blizz. Wasn't in State College PWS.

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424. Gaara
Final tally in both Milford and Stratford is in the 3.5-5" range. They left about a half dozen UH-60Ms out on the flight field over the weekend and their blades are drooping a few degrees more than usual.
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Yea we got nailed! About 12.5 at my house, it is blowing around some now with the high winds though!!
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Wow, those snow totals out of New England are unbelievable! Over a foot in some places!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I think we can say with certainty, that other than depicting a disturbance coming through the region on Saturday, the modeling and forecasting for this system from Philly to Boston was a straight up failure.

Widespread 12" totals CT into MA.

No model had this right at all. The GFS did pretty good with Rain/Snow lines despite getting very little else correct - so that's certainly an odd interesting bit. The NAM was the first to pick up on a heavier hit of snow somewhere in SE Mass but other than that it too was way too warm and dry and then went too warm and way too wet for the western reaches. So while both models had little tidbits correct - overall they were failures.

Mt Holly had it right six days ago when they first brought up the system - and then descended into a quagmire of trying to get the fine details down and ended up a mess in the end. New York seemed more hesitant in putting out their forecasts - because they likely saw the difficulty in the rain/snow lines - but even once they thought they had it right and released their updates - they didn't either.

Overall a bizarre system that on first glance you wonder why it was so impossible for it to be modeled or forecasted. There wasn't much to it to be honest. It wasn't rocketing through, and it wasn't meandering. There wasn't all too complex of a setup just a bit of if/when involved (which pretty much everyone got wrong).

Modeling seemed to grasp the general nature of the system a few times but forecasters largely ignored them - specifically the NJ rain/snow lines that models continuously had NW of I95 but forecasters ignored. Then Forecasters seemed to ignore the models showing larger and larger totals towards the RI/MA area....finally upping their forecasts far into the event.

Forecasters in their long range outlooks at the start had a better feel for the storm than they did as they got closer.

Just...really a strange one. I'm always one to say we can't forecast the second hit until the first system is out of the way - and this certainly fell in that category - but to have such failures even while the event was well underway is strange to me in this day and age.

We could also throw in the 'pattern change' bit where it's always tough to get that first storm of the new pattern right but still...this thing was a good old F- on the grading board.

In the end we know what happened...the Ohio low was more vigorous and likely too far west to allow a quicker energy transfer to the coast. Honestly I don't see any transfer at all. Coastal system formed later and further away. Inland low never lost it's identity. Played havoc with the thermal profiles in NJ.

But....these are simple things that seasoned forecasters with billion dollar hardware and programs at their fingertips SHOULD have picked up on.

What gives...who knows. Bet they just sweep it under the carpet instead of trying to learn from it tho-

Now, we're in the new pattern, cooler, drier, more zonal for what about ten days.

CPC hints at warming in the east and cooling in the west in the 8-14 (probably more like 10-14) day period.

So we go into the January desert and come out of it with what...another warm wet I95 storm?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Great photo, MariettaMoon!
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Quoting PengSnow:

Sorry Listener by mistake, i was kind of sleepy this early am.

No worries at all. :-)
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Just talked to my brother who reported moderate rain in Cambridge, 20 minutes outside of Boston. With how quick this storm is moving its virtually impossible for them to reach the 4-8 inches forecasted even if it turns to snow now.

Great pics posted btw!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Yeah, very nice pic. MM, I'm sure you took it in color, but it's totally black, white ,and shades of gray!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Nice pic, MM!
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415. Gaara
The old f-bomb!
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Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)

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