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Small Craft Advisories

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am in Baltimore for the weekend. Today, we took one of Baltimore’s famous water taxis through the Inner Harbor and out to Fells Point and Fort McHenry. One thing that I noticed via a subscription weather service was that much of the Chesapeake, including the Patapsco River, which we were following, was under a small craft advisory.
That led me to a simple question. What is a small craft advisory? What are the qualifications for it? It’s not something that we have to deal with in the Upper Midwest all that frequently, and it is result dependent rather than weather dependent. Here is what the NWS has to say about small craft advisories:
” An advisory issued by coastal and Great Lakes Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) for areas included in the Coastal Waters Forecast or Nearshore Marine Forecast (NSH) products. Thresholds governing the issuance of small craft advisories are specific to geographic areas. A Small Craft Advisory may also be issued when sea or lake ice exists that could be hazardous to small boats. There is no precise definition of a small craft. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft. Other considerations include the experience of the vessel operator, and the type, overall size, and sea worthiness of the vessel. There is no legal definition of “small craft”. The Small Craft Advisory is an advisory in Coastal Waters and Nearshore forecasts for sustained winds, frequent gusts, or sea/wave conditions, exceeding defined thresholds specific to geographic areas. A Small Craft Advisory may also be issued when sea or lake ice exists that could be hazardous to small boats.”

That’s a mouth full. Essentially, what they are saying is that it is that there are weather conditions that are potentially disruptive to seafaring craft, but only smaller boats. It leaves a lot to the listener to decide what action to take. Additionally, different parts of the country have different criteria for the issueance of sad advisories. In the east and around the Chesapeake, the advisories are as follows:
“Sustained winds or frequent gusts ranging between 25 and 33 knots (except 20 to 25 knots, lower threshold area dependent, to 33 knots for harbors, bays, etc.) and/or seas or waves 5 to 7 feet and greater, area dependent.”

Today in Baltimore, the wind thresholds were met, but the waves were not. I’m happy to report me, my family and girlfriend are safe and sound, despite traveling the high seas in the midst of the advisory.

Buffalo, New York

In the Twin Cities today, it was just so cold it kept snowing even with clear skies. In Buffalo, the snow is much more easily explained. And theirs accumulates.

At 429PM, ET, Buffalo was reporting a temperature of 28 degrees with snow. A series of weak waves was passing through the Great Lakes as a more general dome of Arctic high pressure has seeped into the eastern 2/3rds of the country, driving stronger systems away from most of the country.
One such weak clipper is moving into the western Great Lakes, inducing a southwesterly flow, which is bringing fairly heavy snow to Buffalo off of Lake Erie. This snow will continue through the night and most of the day tomorrow as the low moves into New England. Later in the day, winds will shift to northerly, and light snow will be the result of flow over Lake Ontario. The next wave will develop over the upper Midwest as the initial low moves to the Canadian Maritimes. This system will be even weaker, which means the threat for snow is lessened, as flow may not be enough to carry the moisture into town. Still, expect a few inches of accumulation in Buffalo between now and Saturday.
Tomorrow – Snow likely, especially in the morning, High 32, Low 24
Saturday – Lighter snow expected, but still possible, High 34, Low 26

TWC: Tomorrow – Few Snow Showers / Wind High 28, Low 24
Saturday – Flurries High 28, Low 26

AW: Tomorrow – Clouds breaking for some sun with a couple of snow showers; windy High 30, Low 23
Saturday – Times of clouds and sun (flurries snow) High 32, Low 25

NWS: Tomorrow – A chance of snow showers before 8am, then areas of snow showers and freezing drizzle. Partly sunny, High 31, Low 28
Saturday – A chance of snow showers and freezing drizzle, mainly before noon. Partly sunny High 30, Low 26

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers. High 32, Low 26
Saturday – Partly sunny with a slight chance of snow showers. High 30, Low 24

Hmm, the Weather Service is calling for freezing drizzle. Not buying it. Clouds are low in western New York, so it doesn’t look to impressive on radar, but it’s snowing to beat the band. Poor band.

Buffalo

Storm comes in warm

The weather news today has been about the foot of snow seen from Iowa to southern Wisconsin. That system started around the 4 Corners, though, and we dealt with it in our forecast for Farmington. The total snow in the area was cut into by the fact that it mixed with some rain as the storm moved through. Plenty of cold air came on late, however, as the low on Thursday morning was only 1 degree! Brrr! I forgot to enter Accuweather’s Thursday forecast, somehow, so of the outlets that I acted properly with, The Weather Channel had the top forecast.
Actuals: Wednesday – .16 inches of mixed precipitation, High 39, Low 15
Thursday – High 27, Low 1

Grade: C

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence is just waiting for Sandy, to see what she will do there. The heaviest impact will be south of Providence, but that doesn’t mean Rhode Island shouldn’t be concerned.

At 1251PM, ET, Providence was reporting a temperature of 55 degrees with overcast skies and a stiff northeast breeze gusting to 25mph. There was also rain being reported, though it was, at the time, fairly light. Rain and wind will continue to pick up through the day, but fortunately, Rhode Island should avoid the storm surge that will be a problem further to the west.
Winds and rain will be the greatest Monday evening as Sandy makes a dive towards New Jersey. The heaviest rain, again, will be well south of Rhode Island, but winds of up to 50mph are certainly not out of the question in Providence. Rain will be in the 1-3″ range through Tuesday, with Tuesday a much more tolerable day, as winds abate to the 30mph range.
Tomorrow – Heavy rain, strong, damaging winds, High 63, Low 51
Tuesday – Lighter rain, still breezy, high 69, Low 58

TWC: Tomorrow – Rain / Wind High 61, Low 51
Thursday – Showers / Wind High 65, Low 58

AW: Tomorrow – Heavy rain and strong winds from Hurricane Sandy; winds will be locally damaging High 63, Low 52
Thursday – Some rain and wind from Tropical Rainstorm Sandy; winds will be locally damaging High 67, Low 59

NWS: Tomorrow -Showers. Patchy fog High 60, Low 50
Thursday – Showers. Patchy fog before 10am. High 63, Low 55

WB: Tomorrow – Showers. Patchy fog High 60, Low 52
Thursday – Showers. Patchy fog. High 63, Low 55

The hurricane will be bad, but it won’t be terrible in Rhode Island I do enjoy The Weather Service and Weatherbug… masters of understatement. Can you find the hurricane?

Manchester, New Hampshire to Waterloo, Iowa

We have a two and a half day drive ahead of us with this forecast, perhaps getting out of the way of Hurricane Sandy which moves ever closer to the east coast. Will the 1304 mile journey be in time? Plan on a pace of 61.9. That will mean our first two days will be through after 495 miles, with the final leg, of course, being a half day. Let’s go dodge some hurricanes.

DAY ONE
Our concern on our Saturday leg will actually be a boundary moving through the Great Lakes and not Sandy. The trip through southern New England and eastern New York will be surprisingly calm, given the storm that’s to come. We will start to see clouds after we pass through Utica, with the threat for rain starting as we pass through Syracuse. Heavier rain with a good dose of cold air behind it, will be a problem when we hit Buffalo. This storm has caused snow in the Midwest, but I think, strange as it sounds, that we will have too much moisture to create snow, as temperatures in Buffalo won’t cool quite enough. Still, it will be rainy and dreary when we arrive in Blasdell, a southern suburb of Buffalo.

DAY TWO
Sandy will keep that boundary pinned in the eastern Great Lakes, and will keep rain in the forecast through Cleveland. At the back end of this system, don’t be surprised if at this point, precipitation begins to change over to snow. That won’t last too long, and by the time we get out of the Cleveland metro, we should be in for drier roads. It will still be cloudy through northern Indiana and the south side of Chicago. We will make it through Chicago before stopping in the equally cloudy but by this point fairly day Princeton, Illinois, just west of La Salle.

DAY THREE
While Manchester gets blasted by Sandy, we will only contend with some clouds and a very isolated drop as we cross the Mississippi into Iowa. Waterloo will be on the cusp of a warming trend, but it won’t be there yet.

Wednesday morning has an autumnal feel


After yesterday’s overinflated severe weather outbreak swept through the northeast, temperatures have reacted across the country. No doubt, the cold front that generated a moderate outlook and tornado watches from Massachusetts to South Carolina was a strong one, just not a severe weather maker that warranted the acclaim that it did. The strength to the front had everything to do with the cold air behind the system.
The map above is the temperatures from 8AM, ET, this morning across the country. Temperatures were from the 30s-50s across the land, except for places like Florida and the Mojave Desert. There always seems to be one front that is a real season changer, and it appears this weeks was it, at least in the Upper Midwest. We are done with 70s, let alone 80s in the Upper Midwest for a long while.

Inundated

The weather in Burlington went down hill quickly this weekend. After a fairly nice day on Saturday, rain moved in. Two days ago, the models didn’t really quite have a handle on the deluge presently being from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Carolinas. Like I said, we were anticipating a short wave yesterday, but it turned into a soul sapping rain out. Temperatures didn’t reach 70 thanks to the clouds and about 3/4 of an inch of rain. The top forecast went to The Weather Channel, though they were off on yesterday’s high by 11 degrees.
Actuals: Saturday – High 80, Low 57
Sunday – .75 inches of rain, High 66, Low 59

Grade: C