The Snow I Won’t Miss

New Year’s Night. 8:47 PM PST.

COD Meteorology    Numerical Model Data

There’s a storm on the way to New England. There are one or two major storms there during any snow season. This will be one.

I’ve been working the numbers. It’s fun to forecast. I like maps, graphs and numbers. I can do it sitting in my chair here in Orange County.

I don’t miss the anxiety of forecasting. I know my fellow meteorologists sweat these out too. No one wants to be wrong.

At this hour radar from the Northeast is showing snow over Connecticut. Bradley’s been reporting light snow for over an hour. Most of the state is still quiet. The center of the upcoming storm is over Arkansas!

Here’s the setup: The low moves from Arkansas to the Northeast. A Canadian high will block the low’s northerly progress, but also provide an ample supply of cold air.

New England’s geography takes over.

As the low moves over the relatively mild (compared to land) ocean it will explode! A low’s strength is measure by its central pressure. The pressure will drop like a rock!

The prediction shows a rapid fall from ~1016mb to ~985mb. That will enhance both precipitation and wind! More of each.

Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a linear storm. There will be a long period of light snow, then the main course.

Thursday will be cloudy with snow showers and flurries. A few inches will accumulate during the day. If you have to drive you probably will, though you shouldn’t. The wind will being picking up.

After dark, windblown snow becoming heavy at times. Strong northeasterly winds. You’ll want to be safely home before this bad boy gets going.

Some areas might see a foot. 5-8″ will probably be the average.

The snow ends Friday morning. It will be replaced by bitterly cold air with many spots dipping below zero Saturday morning.

You don’t want to know what it will be like here in SoCal tomorrow.

Friday’s Storm: Ruh Roh!

My threshold for weather worry has been raised since I’ve been off the air. The potential for Friday goes beyond even that new threshold!

Nor’easter: yes
Big snow potential: yes
Power outage potential: yes
Snow/sleet/rain mix: that too!

This far out I’m making use of the GFS and ECMWF (European) models. They have similar solutions.

You can’t expect them to fully agree… at least I don’t.

Much of the state is in line for one to two inches of liquid. We’ll see rain, sleet and snow at times. Snow totals are impossible to pin down today–Tuesday. Our low pressure system is only now emerging east of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Northern Mexico!

The system moves northeast from Mexico to the Carolinas, hitting the beach early Friday morning. From there the trajectory bends left a little, allowing the low to pass south of Montauk Point, Long Island Friday evening then steam toward the Canadian Maritimes.

As the storm hits the ‘warm’ Atlantic its central pressure drops like a rock. Bombogenesis! Classic Nor’easter.

This will be a 24 hour event (maybe longer). Snow will be heaviest in the north. Winds will strongest in the east. Outages seem likely.

Friday looks to be a sloppy, slippery, difficult to deal with day.

I’ll update as we move through the week.

May I Have A Little Crow With That Forecast, Please?

Earlier today I razzed Karl Rove and Dick Morris for blowing the forecast in the presidential election. There’s probably a little razzing room to add me too.

Though my forecast was right for most of the state, it was very wrong for some people who mean a lot to me. The area from Middletown to New Haven on either side of I-91 then across toward Danbury is Connecticut’s snow capitol at this hour. My wife just told me we were approaching a foot of snow in Hamden

I am told the time to travel from Hartford to Waterbury on I-84 now approaches infinity!

These Nor’easters are tricky. Duh! No one should be surprised this one came, brought strong winds and made the commute home hell. That was all in the forecast.

What I missed was the extent and persistence of the snow. Where is the rain I thought would be overspreading us by now?

If it will make you feel better we don’t even have two inches here at the Courant/FoxCT’s building in Hartford. This is one place the forecast verified.

Not feeling better? I tried.

Please accept my apology for steering you wrong.

I’m still looking for the smoking gun which will tell me what I should have looked at, but didn’t. It might not exist. This storm might be one of those more complex than our scientific ability to dissect.

As penance I will be forced to drive home through this crap at 11:35.

Wednesday’s Storm Shifts

Do forecasts change? Yes. Absolutely.

There’s still a Nor’easter coming Wednesday, but every part of it has changed just a little since I last wrote about it.

It’s after 1:30 AM. Thanks to the switch back to Eastern Standard Time the computer models come in an hour earlier. The GFS, NAM and ECMWF are all present and accounted for.

This storm is projected farther east in its track than it was 24 hours ago. A position farther east is like turning the thermostat down. It’s colder here.

It looks like the precipitation starts Wednesday evening. The shoreline might see a little as early as 5:00 PM, but more likely later.

We’re right on the line. Some indicators are on the snow side. A few are working against.

Whatever we get will be wet and mushy. The warm ground is the wild card for accumulation. Maybe a few inches through much of the state. Probably less.

There will be some snow on the shoreline, but it’s going to be really tough for it to accumulate there unless it starts with a snow burst. Probably not.

The wind will howl! It won’t be as bad as Sandy.

The breeze picks up Wednesday evening. North or northeast winds will clock 15-35 mph inland and 20-40 mph on the coast. Gusts will be higher.

Also not as bad as Sandy will be the chance for coastal flooding. Tide levels will be at least two or three feet lower than Sandy.

It’s possible this forecast will change again. It’s the best I’ve got right now.

The Wednesday Trend Is Colder

A little after four this afternoon Rachel Frank took to Twitter:

You know it’s a tough forecast when @geofffox says he’s glad he doesn’t have to present the weather until 11 PM.

Yup. She’s right. I’m thrilled to stand back and have a little more data before going on-the-air tonight!

Unfortunately some forecasts can’t be put off. My daughter called from Los Angeles this afternoon. Her boss is heading to New York Wednesday. He wanted weather advice&#185.

“Early Wednesday or late Thursday arrival,” I said. “Wednesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon will be a problem.”

The European and GFS models have both gotten colder. That means some areas around Hartford and I-84 and areas farther north from there might see a little snow as the system starts Wednesday afternoon. The GFS spits out 1.4″ of snow in Hartford. It will probably be slushy. Most will melt on contact.

No promises, that’s just what’s most likely.

Through the evening most of Connecticut turns to rain. Higher elevations and portions of Litchfield County (and possibly the hills in Northeastern Connecticut) see rain too, just later.

Temperatures will be close to 32&#176. The models follow the early inland snow with freezing rain before going to all rain. Freezing rain is a tough sell for me. It’s possible, not likely.

If you live in a normally snowy location you’ll probably have some wet accumulation. The GFS shows as much as 4″ of snow in Canaan before they switch to freezing rain, then rain.

The biggest deal of this storm is the wind. The Weather Service is worried about gusts to 70 mph on the shoreline. That seems high. There will be strong winds, just not that strong.

If I lived on the immediate shoreline I’d be scared. It’s not warranted for this storm, but understandable.

This storm packs nowhere near the wallop of Sandy. The wind will be of a shorter duration, less ferocious. Storm surge will be feet lower. Flooding will be significantly less–no more than we get every winter.

As was the case with Hurricane Sandy, Wednesday’s Nor’easter will wallop those to our south. Haven’t they had enough weather already?

&#185 – Hiring my daughter comes with free weather forecasting. It’s part of the package.

Wednesday’s Storm On My Mind

Hurricane Sandy did what I predicted, but I still have trouble coming to grips with what Sandy brought!

I saw more photos today from Staten Island. Unreal!

How do you put your life back together after something like that?

And now there’s another storm headed our way. I’ll be following it closely on FoxCT and also writing about it in more detail here on my blog. This won’t be as strong as Sandy.

At this point does it have to be?

I’m trying to make the ECMWF (European) the model of choice, but it’s difficult. There aren’t as many parameters available to me as there are for the US models. The ECMWF isn’t BUFKIT friendly either. What I’m forced to do is use a blend of ECMWF and GFS.

This incoming storm is not likely to affect the election–certainly not here.

We’ll start getting breezy in Connecticut Wednesday afternoon with rain arriving by evening. There are hints this storm might produce some snow in the Northwest Hills and some towns right at the Massachusetts border, but it’s likely any snow will be mixed with rain. No accumulation, or minimal accumulation.

The rain is likely to continue into Thursday, tapering to showers in the afternoon.

More than just rainy, this is a storm! We’ll see 20-30 mph winds with higher gusts. The Jersey Shore and parts of Long Island will probably see 25-40 mph sustained plus higher gusts.

This weather will stop the cleanup and might even push some back! There are still around 40,000 UI and CL&P customers without power in Connecticut, a fraction of where we started. In New York and New Jersey the numbers are much worse and the progression much slower. Much.

Unlike Hurricane Sandy there’s nothing really unusual about this storm. Weather patterns have begun their shift toward winter. This is a type of storm New England and the Northeast get often.

It just seems unfair it’s coming now!

Everyone’s Talking Wednesday’s Storm

There has been much more interest in Wednesday’s potential storm than I can ever remember for a system this far away. I’m sure it’s the Sandy effect. Maybe a little fear of snow too thrown in for good measure!

I have good news and bad news. The good news is, it’s likely the upcoming storm will be rain and not snow. The bad news is, it’s likely to be a raw rain adding insult on top of injury for anyone still powerless.

The low itself is expected to form as cool air hits the Gulf of Mexico early Tuesday. From there it cuts across the Florida peninsula, then north hugging the Atlantic Coast as it climbs the eastern side of a deep upper air trough. The first effects in Connecticut get here Wednesday.

If the low tracks far enough east we’re on the cold side and get snow. Far enough west and we see rain. Right now (and this stuff can always change) we get rain, except for Northern Litchfield County where it is mainly snow.

Unfortunately it will be chilly, wind driven rain!

As bad as the next few cold days will be for those without power, this storm will make it worse!

Homes and businesses are coming on line at a faster pace than 2011. One can only hope that pace continues.

For those in New Jersey, Long Island, Manhattan and Staten Island, where the recovery will be measured in months not days, this will be brutal.

It Doesn’t Snow In October… Right?

I can’t forecast this weekend’s weather without keeping that fact in mind. There are climatological reasons it’s tough to snow in October.

There was a teeny bit of snow Thursday. Hardly enough to care about.

SXUS71 KBOX 280534

0129 AM EDT FRI OCT 28 2011



All it took was a trace to set the record in Boston. That’s because October snow is rare! I can’t forecast this weekend’s weather without keeping that fact in mind. There are climatological reasons it’s tough to snow in October.

That being said the computer guidance does paint a very unusual October picture.

What was Hurricane Rina is headed our way. Rina has lost most of her wind and will lose all of her tropical characteristics before arriving. However, Rina’s packing moisture.

Cold high pressure over New England will back off enough to allow entry and provide the cold air necessary for snow.

The solution I most favor at the moment is the GFS model. It starts us off with rain then moves the rain/snow line down from the northwest. That gives Northwestern Connecticut a longer period of snow, hence more snow. It also keeps a sloppy mix going for an extended period on the shoreline. That will hold down accumulations there.

For Hartford the changeover happens early afternoon. Farther south and east the change happens later, north and west earlier.

How much of this storm will melt on contact? Looking back on older blog entries it’s a question I ask all the time. If it doesn’t rain first not much. With rain before snow it might take a few hours before the sticking begins.

Most likely we’ll end up with 7-14″ in the NW Hills, 4-8″ in Hartford, Middletown, Waterbury and the UCONN campus. It’s possible the shoreline will get no accumulation, but I’m more inclined to forecast a few slushy inches. Areas near I-395 will have a blend between the inland cities and shoreline slop.

Whatever falls will be heavier inch-for-inch than a typical storm. The snow to water ratio will be low. It’s the kind of snow that’s good for snowballs and extra slippery for drivers!

There’s one more element of this storm which is worrisome. Sustained 20-30 mph northeasterly wind with higher gusts is likely. If this wet snow clings to trees and leaves we’ll have enough wind to bring down limbs and power lines.

Saturday is supposed to be my Sunday, but I’ll be working at FoxCT. We’ll have a double strength staff of meteorologists on all weekend. The boss is even re-shuffling commercials to allow for extra airtime.

Even with all the computer guidance and ground based plus radar observations I’ll be leaning on viewers (like you) for help. If you’re on Twitter keep and eye out for @WeatherCT. We’ll be asking for your observations from time-to-time.

It’s storms like this which cause me the most angst.