Rome, Georgia

No, we aren’t going overseas, we’re just headed down to the Atlanta area for our forecast today. d

At 153PM, ET, Rome was reporting a temperature of 47 degrees with clear skies. A weak ridge is developing over the southeastern United States even as a trough was leading to a fairly significant storrm is organizing in the Plains. The combination of these forces will lead to a substantial warm up through the day today, with warm air in place tomorrow as well.
The system will move into the Ohio Valley through the day tomorrow, with a cold front developing southwest through Arkansas. Return flow will be moisture laden, and rain and embedded thunderstorms will outpace the front by quite a bit. The threat for rain and thunder will show up by tomorrow evening. Showers and thunderstorms will continue through the night, before dry, cold and stable air moves into Rome, leading to a fairly tolerable Monday afternoon.
Tomorrow – Increasing clouds, with showers and storms in the evening. High 55, Low 33
Monday – Heavy thunderstorms possible early, clearing shortly after sunrise, High 51, Low 27 (non standard)

TWC: Tomorrow – PM Rain, High 58, Low 38
Monday – AM Clouds/PM Sun (Ran early, High 55, Low 36

AW: Tomorrow – Periods of rain High 57, Low 34
Monday – Cloudy, breezy and colder (Rain early) High 54, Low 27

NWS: Tomorrow – Rain likely, mainly after 3pm. Cloudy, High 54, Low 37
Monday – A 30 percent chance of rain before 7am. Partly sunny, High 51, Low 31

WB: Tomorrow – A chance of rain in the morning…Then rain in the afternoon. High 54, Low 37
Monday – Mostly cloudy in the morning then clearing. High 55, Low 39

WN: Tomorrow – Cloudy with Chance of Light Rain High 54, Low 37
Monday – Partly Cloudy (Rain thru 6AM) High 52, Low 36

FIO: Tomorrow – Rain starting in the afternoon. High 57, Low 39
Monday – Light rain in the morning.High 57, Low 29

The outlets that don’t carry hourly forecasts all the way through are going to struggle with this verification. I’m also blown away by how early the NWS and Weatherbug are ending rain in Rome. IT looks to me like things are going to stall right over Rome, and keep it rainy until 7, and not “light rain” either. Here is the satellite, showing the system staging in the Plains.

The Week Ahead 2/1/15-2/7/15

We start February and the week with Super Bowl Sunday. From that point on, it’s still a winter week, which means a busy week.

Tuesday – Mobile, Alabama
Thursday – New Haven, Connecticut; Road Trip from Texarkana, Texas to New Haven
Friday – Missoula, Montana; Road Trip from New Haven to Missoula
Saturday – Weirton, West Virginia

Logan, Utah to Virginia Beach, Virginia

Time to hit the road for a weekend excursion from northern Utah to southeastern Virginia. It will take 4 1/2 games to cover the ground. There are, if you were curious, 2289 miles of ground to cover. We’ll be moving at a pace of 64.8mph, which will allow us to cover 518 miles on days 1-4, and a bit less on Thursday. There is a pretty nasty system rising out of the southwest, so it could definitely bring some interest to this trip!

DAY ONE (Saturday)
While we won’t get to enjoy the wet weather as we begin the drive, we will eventually see a little bit of rain. The start of the day will be dry, and though much of southern Wyoming will be cloudy, we won’t have any issues there, either. Where things will start to change is after we pass through Cheyenne. As low pressure emerges from the Rockies, it will start to send moisture north into southeastern Wyoming and southwest Nebraska. I would worry that there could be a little bit of sleet or ice in this round of precipitation, so thankfully, we will be stopping after we have freshly arrived in Nebraska. The destination for Saturday night is the Panhandle town of Brownson.

DAY TWO (Sunday)
The nice thing about areas of low pressure associated with deep upper level troughs is that they often move swiftly. We won’t see any active precipitation through most of the Sunday drive through Nebraska, but we will certainly notice a chill to the air. It will make sense when we see flurries flying all around us as we reach Omaha and head south through Iowa into Missouri. We will miss all the heavy precip, which will be a bigger problem in southeastern Iowa,but a stiff wind and even a little bit of snow can cause problems, especially if it snowed harder before we came on the scene. The day will end in Oregon, Missouri (north of St. Joseph). I suspect that the roads will be bad enough that we will be happy to get off of them.

DAY THREE (Monday)
That system will clear out of the Ohio Valley faster than it does the Upper Midwest. Since we’ll be hitting interstates exclusively, and our drive will take us through the larger metropolises of Kansas City and St. Louis early in the day, which will certainly be plowed out.the roads might be a little slick in southern Illinois and Indiana, but again, we aren’t going to be dealing with any actively falling snow. We’ll stop between Evansville and Louisville, checking in at the town of Ferdinand, Indiana.

DAY FOUR (Tuesday)
The snowstorm is definitely moving faster than us. While we sleep in Ferdinand, the Nor’Easter will wind itself up and kick off shore, leaving no trace of itself in the mid-Atlantic. In fact, a cold front moving out of Canada into the Upper Midwest will start catching up to us late in the day. Our drive through Coal Country will end in Jolivue, Virginia, just before our turn east towards Hampton Roads at Staunton.

DAY FIVE (Wednesday)
We’re going to get squeezed between systems to finish our trip. There will be a clipper moving through New England, and another massive storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico, but nothing in Virginia. We’ll hit the Hampton Roads in full sunshine.
Virginia Beach

January Forecaster of the Month

As it turns out, we don’t have any more verifications scheduled for the month of January, so we already know exactly who will be named the forecaster of the Month. With a clipper moving through New England today, and the potential for another significant system moving though the northeast at the beginning of February, it seems like this is an appropriate time to chat about this, so we can focus on real time weather conditions over the weekend and into next week. So, enough about all that. The top forecaster is the same one who dominated the end of 2014 and is now off to a great start in 2015. Accuweather had the top forecasts for the first month of the year, securing the title of forecaster of the month. The newcomers, nearly finished in 4th, but a rough forecast in Bellingham bumped them down to 5th, behind the NWS. Congrats to Accuweather for the continued dominance of the forecast game!

Clear as a Bellingham

Clouds and rain were indeed on the menu in Bellingham on Tuesday. It was only a little bit of drizzle, but enough to verify the forecasts of those who called for rain. Temperature forecasts were pretty good across the board, as there wasn’t much variation through the day. The real problems came on Wednesday. Skies cleared out fairly early, and temperatures, expected by some to be cooler than they were on Tuesday, actually climbed a few degrees and outpaced every forecast. The clear skies then led to a significant drop in temperature. Those that called for non-standard days were correct, but they didn’t anticipate just how much it would cool off. Temepratures ended up in the mid-30s. Accuweather and the Weather Service collected the top forecast for the day.
Actuals: Tuesday – .03 inches of rain, High 52, Low 44
Wednesday – High 55, Low 35

Grade: B – D

How much snow did fall?

Rather than go site by site and regale you with the individual storm reports, I thought it would be much easier if I shared an image from the NWS with aggregated snowfall totals. IF you actually want to dig into the numbers, you can find some of them here. If not, you can simply marvel at this map. Note the stretch northwest of Boston (which saw over two feet as well) where accumulations were up to 3 feet.
dumped upon
All that snow with winds of 40-50mph through the day. Sheesh. Here’s what it looked like from Boston (via Jim Cantore)

The Blizzard and the sort of bust

There are a lot of outlets and people complaining on social media about how badly forecasters missed on the forecast for the blizzard that hit New England last night (and is still ongoing in some regions). Let’s address what went wrong for meteorologists (and this was indeed a loss for meteorologists, and not just those that had an incorrect forecast) and why it happened.
Snowfall everywhere from New York City on west and southward was overestimated by 10+ inches, which is a pretty unforgivable offense. It will be pointed to as proof that weathermen have no idea what they are doing from this day forward, perhaps for all time. The storm of the century in New York City instead just turned into the storm of the week. In Philadelphia, it was just a nuisance.
So what happened? The weekend issuances of the European model were what happened. The Euro shifted things further west than it had when the system started showing up in forecasts, and more significantly, stared pumping more moisture into New York and Philadelphia. New York still wasn’t getting 30″ in these new forecast models, but the threat was there. The “up to” part of the “up to 30″” wasn’t heard loud enough, certainly, but that’s hardly the biggest problem.
The Euro gets a lot of credibility because it has a better track record than many American models, and outlets, most notably the National Weather Service, were quick to latch on to its shift towards a robust, western track scenario. The newly revamped GFS was much more conservative in its forecast for New York City and Philadelphia. I’m sure many foreasters aren’t ready to trust the GFS yet, but the Euro started trending away from the monumental snow totals as early as yesterday morning as well. Why weren’t the forecasts tempered then?
I think the problem here is two fold. First, it’s stubbornness, and second it was hype. Sure, maybe it is a failure in communication, like the Washington Post asserts, but an unwavering regard for increasingly questionable series of model runs is not an error in science, but rather a lack of maturity. It’s OK to be wrong sometimes so long as you can admit it. Secondly, the way the media latched on to the NWS forecast, mostly because it was the most dramatic. The government fueled the panic in this storm more than the media did. In a strange reversal, The Weather Channel tempered their forecast opposed to the cataclysmic forecast the NWS put out. Heck, nearly everyone tempered their forecast. That said, all anyone heard about was the high end forecast. It spread like wildfire. Even though I didn’t think there was a chance for that much snow, all anyone will talk about is the 30″ forecast in New York City.
Just because the snow didn’t build up in New York City as had been so widely advertised, it didn’t mean that the storm was any weaker than forecasts had indicated. The onus was always on southeastern New England as far as I’m concerned, and places from downstate Maine to eastern Connecticut have already seen or will ultimately end up with 30″ or more. Worcester, just west of Boston saw more than 2 feet. Heck, Long Island, as near to the city as Massapequa saw 20″. Those 20″ accumulations were only 30 miles from New York City. It’s not like the storm didn’t happen. It just didn’t happen in two very high profile locations.
Additionally, the terrifyingly high forecast winds out of this system were indeed borne out in the observations. Nantucket has seen winds of over 50mph through most of the day, while Boston has registered more than 40mph through much of the day. Even in New York City, winds of 30+mph were reported through much of the day yesterday and through this morning. 8 inches or 30 inches, winds of that nature with snow falling hard creates treacherous travel conditions. The crazy snowfall forecast likely ended up keeping people off the roads, and even saved lives. Sure, the NWS made meteorologists look silly in the process, but the net result was a safer city.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that for residents of Connecticut, Long Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, the forecast was spot on, all anyone will remember is the whiff in New York City. Will people heed weather alerts in the future? Not until trust is rebuilt with some high profile correct forecasts. What are lessons for meteorologists to take from this event? First, be willing to adapt and change as guidance and observable conditions change and unfold. Second, ensure that you communicate the most likely scenario with the worst case scenario available to those who need to prepare for it, but not the main headline. Last, continue to relay the fact that forecasts are often area forecasts. Just because you didn’t see a bunch of snow doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a ton of snow seen nearby. And don’t just focus on the snow totals in a dangerous winter storm.
Hopefully, meteorologists’ reputations within the public eye aren’t completely ruined over this system, and forecasters everywhere aren’t too proud to learn something from it all.

Overwhelming overcast

Thick clouds kept temperatures in check after a cold front moved through Columbus overnight Sunday into Mondy. High temperatures were suppressed, and ultimately, when the clouds cleared out late last night, temperatures dropped like a rock. It wasn’t supposed to be a non-standard day, but that’s just what it turned out to be. Accuweather came into the forecast with the lowest low temperature forecast for yesterday, and that played to their advantage, as they secured a narrow victory.
Actuals: Sunday – High 62, Low 29
Monday – High 48, Low 33

Grade: C

Bloomington, Indiana to Bellingham, Washington

It took a long time, but the active clipper pattern finally turned into a massive Nor’easter out east. We were able to track it from the upper Midwest and Great Lakes all the way through the Ohio Valley to its present state, where it is crushing the east coast. Let’s see if we can find any other clippers or looming disasters on the way from Bloomington to Bellingham. It’s a 5 day, 2402 mile journey. The 5th day will be shorter than the first 4, which will cover 512 miles. Our pace will be about 64mph. Let’s rock and roll.

DAY ONE (Tuesday)
This is fun. You know that nasty, historic storm headed for New England? Well, it’s being chased out by a pretty strong ridge. It will be cool in Bloomington as we leave, and we may even be under a fine dusting of recent snowfall, and it could be a little cool as we head northwest through Illinois, but we will pass into the surface thermal ridge around the Quad Cities, and rather than temperatures cooling off after sunset, they may even sneak up as we head west West Des Moines, Iowa.

DAY TWO (Wednesday)
There will indeed be another wave moving into the northern Plains as we head west through South Dakota. The best news of all, though, is that on Wednesday, this wave will only draw warm air north, as opposed to bringing precipitation to our route. There will be a splash of rain out in the Black Hills very late in the day, but our day will be marked by unseasonably warm temperatures and partly cloudy skies. Winds could get a little brisk, so keep an eye out for swaying semi trailers. We will nearly make it to Wyoming by the end of the day, stopping in North Spearfish, South Dakota.

DAY THREE (Thursday)
That system over the northern Plains, the one that will kick up some light precip over the Black Hills Wednesday night will indeed blossom over the Great Lakes, and then move into New England as a decent snowmaker in New England late in the week. For us, hardly a thing. By the time we get going Thursday, there won’t be anything to worry about. Time to don the jacket though, as it will be a bit cooler through Wyoming and eastern Montana. We’ll make it to Livingston, which is in the south central part of Big Sky country.

DAY FOUR (Friday)
A wave will be moving through Canada, and a deep system setting up over the Four Corners will be impacting the Rockies rather significanty on Friday. Between those two features lie the northern Rockies and interior Pacific Northwest. We shouldn’t have any problems, save for fog in the Spokane Valley, and we will make our way to Warden, Washington, without really struggling with anything beyond visibility and elevation.

DAY FIVE (Saturday)
We’ll be arriving along the Puget Sound at an opportune time. For once, there won’t be a Pacific system slamming into the coast, not at the time we head from Seattle north to Bellingham. Kick back and relax and enjoy a pleasant day of mostly cloudiness with little chance for drizzle. That’s a good day in western Washington in the winter! Especially when New England willj ust be getting done with another snow storm.

Bellingham, Washington

We’re going clear to the other side of the country from a massive system slamming New England. Let’s check out the situation on the west coast and see if we can’t catch some other outlets sleeping.

At 753PM, PT, Bellingham was reporting a temperature of 46 degrees with dense fog and low clouds. A weak ridge has moved over Puget Sound, leading to a persistent, unwavering inversion over the north end of the sound, Everywhere from Victoria to Bellingham was seeing the dense fog.Further to the south and north, dew points were slightly depressed and winds weren’t off the Sound, and fog was not as dense.
As the tail of a jet departs the region, overall flow will become westerly off the Pacific Ocean. This will help to eliminate the inversion, but it will render the region cloudier at higher levels, with some showers in the higher terrain to the east of town. Temperatures will continue to be cool.
Tomorrow – Cloudy, High 52, Low 45
Wednesday – Cloudy, High 49, Low 40

TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy, High 52, Low 46
Wednesday – Mostly sunny, Highh 52, Low 40

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with a bit of rain; areas of fog in the morning High 52, Low 44
Wednesday – Mostly cloudy Mostly Cloudy, High 53, Low 41

NWS: Tomorrow – A 40 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, High 52, Low 44
Wednesday – Mostly cloudy High 54, Low 42

WB: Tomorrow – Cloudy with a chance of rain High 52, Low 42
Wednesday – Mostly cloudy.High 53, Low 42

WN: Tomorrow – Mostly Cloudy with Scattered Showers High 52, Low 43
Wednesday – Partly cloudy, High 52, Low 43

FIO: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High 49, Low 44
Wednesday – Partly cloudy throughout the day. High 48, Low 41

I feel it’s necessary to point out the NWS, Weatherbug, WeatherNation and are calling for calling for non standard days tomorrow. That’s something. Here is the fog imager, showing some bright spots up by our forecast site.

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