Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Storm Coverage Is Brought to You By...


…the book that tells the deeply human story of how America's unique storm warning system was created and the people who created it. It is that storm warning system that is creating the forecasts you are seeing on this blog and elsewhere. If you enjoy this blog, you'll love Warnings!

To be quite honest it is the best book I've read in years. I couldn't put it down and read the whole thing in a day and a half. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting book where you can learn something too.     ---- Elysium


I'm an admitted severe weather geek, and so I read rabidly in this genre. Quality tends to be all over the place, but so far I've only read one book I couldn't finish because it was so poorly written (and it's hard to write so badly that it overshadows the cool factor of this subject). Still, it's something I'm always aware of, and so I had put Warnings on my holiday gift list instead of just going out and buying it.

WHAT A MISTAKE! I got this book as an Easter gift and immediately began devouring it. I was instantly sorry I hadn't bought it sooner.
I'm a very busy person with little time to read, but I MADE time as I got into Warnings, and buzzed through it in four days of brief reading periods. Not only is this book about a really cool subject -- our modern-day severe storm warning system and how it almost didn't happen -- but it's written very engagingly with nary a slow spot in the entire book. As an author myself, I know how truly difficult it is to keep up such a pace without losing steam, but Mike Smith does a bang-up job all the way through. --- Author Mary Shafer 


Meteorology, in his telling, has the same bare-knuckle energy we see in politics or sports. These battles, many of which Smith himself fought in, reveal how much of our modern, weather-safe lifestyle is contingent on personalities, and could have gone another way.While weather forecasters often appear starchy and bland, Smith makes the weather into an urgent concern, and a remarkable victory. This story turns the weather into a quest, and meteorologists into the most unlikely heroes in recent literature.  --- University of Nebraska

Eastern Storm Timing

Here is the forecast radar for various times tomorrow. Blue shades are snow, darker = heavier. The small area of purple is sleet or mixed precipitation. 

7am EST Wednesday

1pm Wednesday

6pm Wednesday
NBC Nightly News had a story about the family that rebooked the trip from Boston to Phoenix and left a day early and a second family that headed down I-95 to Florida a day early. Smart people!!

Good luck tomorrow. I'll have additional updates in the morning.

Northern Rockies and Plains Storm

Pink is a winter storm warning. Blue is a winter weather advisory. Green is a flood advisory. The browns are various high wind warnings and high wind advisories. Check AccuWeather for specific local forecasts.

Winter Storm Update: 1:30pm CST

Here is an overview of the storm total amount of snow expected. Note that amounts have gone up a bit in parts of New England.

Here is the Boston-New York closeup. Note the extreme gradient between the coast (Logan Airport where 3-6" is expected) and areas farther inland and at higher elevations.

Here is the Washington-Baltimore closeup. Reagan airport will have 2-4 inches with higher amounts at Dulles.

Much farther south, these are the snowfall amounts expected to be on the ground at 9am EST Wednesday. I-40 will be a mess over the mountains. The storm will spread northeast during the day Wednesday.
Again, my airline survival guide (free!) is here. If you can, take advantage of the waivers to beat the storm.

UPDATE: 3:10PM. Here are the warnings issued by local NWS offices. Pink is a winter storm warning. The bluish is a winter weather advisory (a lesser condition) for lighter amounts of accumulating snow.

A Good California Soaking

A rainy period will begin in far northern California on Saturday and will slowly spread south into the first of next week. This rain is desperately needed for the drought-weary state.
Yes, it is possible there could be some travel issues late Sunday at SFO but it should not lead to widespread Thanksgiving travel issues. 

The map depicts ten-day precipitation and is courtesy of Dr. Ryan Maue. 

Tuesday: 8:40am: Update on Travel Weather

From AccuWeather
AccuWeather has a city-by-city summary and timing at the link.

There is a second area of snow today that will move toward Chicago, causing flurries, tomorrow. AccuWeather has that story here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

More on Gov. Cuomo's Inaccurate Criticism of the National Weather Service

Another excellent article about New York Governor Cuomo's inaccurate and highly unfortunate criticism of the National Weather Service has been written. I'm running the article because what we are now forecasting -- pre-Thanksgiving snow as far south as North Carolina -- is also an unusual event and the article, hopefully, complements this blog's storm coverage. The article tells why the Buffalo blizzard forecast was so difficult, so amazingly good, and why Gov. Cuomo is so far off base.

Yesterday, on Twitter, I got quite a bit of criticism for linking the governor's comments to his belief in global warming. Perhaps I wasn't clear. Here is my logic: Politicians often hear the climate cult (NOT all climate scientists) constantly hyping "storms being made worse by global warming" even though there is little to no scientific evidence that is actually the case. So, we have a series of hugely inaccurate statements by senior officials:
None of these were extemporaneous remarks (where errors would be understandable). In each case, they were delivering prepared comments. So, I believe it is reasonable to conclude these politicians and/or their speechwriters are so used to hearing about global warming-alleged catastrophes it doesn't even occur to them to question these ridiculous statements.

My hypothesis is further bolstered by comments Gov. Cuomo made trying to clarify his original remarks:

Cuomo (who is still probably thinking about running for president) is considerably less interested in information about the cause of all the disastrous weather he believes his [mesonetwork]system will predict, which he called "a matter of life and death" on Sunday. "We are experiencing a pattern of extreme weather that we have not seen before," he said. "I don't want to get into a political debate at this time about climate change causes, et cetera. Forget the causes. Is it global warming? Is it reliance on fossil fuels? Forget the causes. What is inarguable is the result."

Snow in Buffalo in November can't happen without global warming? I rest my case. 

Why Human Meteorologists Are Still Needed

If you were a resident of Baltimore and you received a forecast of snow accumulation between zero and sixteen inches you would laugh. Yet, that is the range of the latest set of computer models with regard to Wednesday's forecast snow.

Meteorologists use their experience and know-how narrow down the alternatives and make useful forecasts. BTW, AccuWeather is forecasting only a coating to an inch or so in downtown Baltimore.

Great News: Airline Waivers Issued

Here are details from USA Today

What this means is that you can leave a day early (or otherwise adjust your plans) without additional charge. If you are headed to the storm area (see below), it would be a good idea to leave tomorrow (no precipitation) or as early as possible Wednesday before storm conditions worsen.

Here is the step-by-step of how to handle it. Remember: If your hub (a place where you change planes) is affected by the storm, it can cause even more problems than if your destination or origin airport has adverse weather.

Good luck!!

Monday 2:20pm: Eastern Winter Storm

This is a "storm total" forecast map. There is a very sharp gradient on the east side of the forecast snow field due, in part, to elevation and to the fact it has been mild before the cold air moves in. So, for example, it may be primarily rain at Reagan Airport with light accumulations with significantly heavier accumulations at Dulles.

Timing: The snow will begin in western North Carolina and western Virginia during the pre-dawn hours Thursday Wednesday and then spread rapidly northeast.

My advice is unchanged: Even if it is just rain and gusty winds at your destination airport, earlier is better.

Monday: 8am Snowfall Update

From AccuWeather:
This will be a major winter storm from Asheville to Maine. There will be drifting snow with the storm.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

We Now Suspend Our Normal Blogging

While there are other things going on in the world of weather and climate, there is so much interest in the storm in the East with Thanksgiving travel weather, we are going focus on the storm plus a second that may affect California the end of the week. 

My forecast of snow amounts to 5pm EST Wednesday. More will likely fall Wednesday night and into Thursday. This storm will likely disrupt holiday travel.

European model precipitation forecast of precipitation amount for late Thanksgiving weekend. While this will bring welcome rain, it also has the potential to cause more travel delays.
This coverage is brought to you by Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC, which brings you a great book about how meteorologists warn of these storms.
This account of people who do something about the weather should appeal to just about anyone who enjoys talking about it. 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tornado Watch Until 1am EST

Considerable damage has already occurred from tornadoes today.

The Volcano Monitoring Gap

A genuine problem that poses huge issues…right here in the United States.

Traveling East? Consider Modifying Your Plans

If you are traveling Wednesday or Wednesday night between Asheville and Boston, you have a chance of major travel disruptions. At best, it will be windy and rainy. At worst, there will be heavy snow with high winds. Here is a preliminary forecast snow accumulations from 4am until 4pm (EST) Wednesday.
This is is not a storm total forecast (totals may be higher) and much can change between now and Wednesday. If it were me and I was planning to travel to this area, I would try to change my plans. The best approach would be to see if you can leave a day earlier. Sure, you may have to pay for a extra hotel night but being there, safe and secure, makes an extra hotel night a small price to pay. The same advice applies to driving.

My (free) airline survival guide tells you, step by step, how to do it. I suspect the airlines may issue waivers (some call them "exemptions" now) as early as Monday.