Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Southern New England Weather Review

Coming off a wild 2011 no one knew what to expect in 2012.  Thankfully mother nature blessed the United States with a warm year and a relatively calm year for New England.  Ski resorts, plow operators, and others who rely on snow for income suffered during the winter season.  Save for two or three light snow events winter was non-existent and after the pounding New England took in 2011 this was welcome many others.  It looked like New England and the rest of the East Coast would escape damage from tropical weather as August and September went without any hurricanes.  October was looking to trend the same way and it looked as if danger had passed.

1. Hurricane Sandy
Then came Sunday October 21, 2012.  That is the day nearly all major weather models showed a complex interaction of a Hurricane and an Arctic cold front.  The guidance continually showed a transfer of energy when the two began to interact and the birth of "Superstorm".  The landfall was not certain until about Friday, but it was clear from way out that Washington, DC north to Cape Cod was the zone.  It settled in Southern New Jersey but was so large and powerful that there was significant damage in Southern New England.
The force of the storm surge pushed this house into the middle of the street
Another Home near Misquamicut Beach
Over one million New England customers lost power during the storm.  Wind gusts over Hurricane force were reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  The damage to the Mid Atlantic is staggering and Sandy will likely end up the second most costly Hurricane in US history when adjusting for just inflation.  However if one adjusts for population growth and developed wealth in Hurricane prone areas, Sandy ranks 6th.

Sandy is my top highlight of 2012, here are some others

2. March 2012
Until Hurricane Sandy the warm temperatures of March 2012 was the most impressive weather event from a meteorological perspective.  Only the Pacific Coast and parts of New Mexico and Arizona were near normal.  The rest of the country looked like
There were several stretches of temperatures in the 60's and 70's and some areas reached 80.  Across the US cities set records for earliest 80 degree day.  On a global scale, despite the record US warmth, temperatures were below average
US a "hotspot" for much of 2012
which leads to
3. January-February 2012
The winter that wasn't!  March 2012 was the highlight due to the pure ridiculousness of working in Maine and New Hampshire when the temperature was 80 degrees on the Piscataqua River Bridge (car thermometer, but hey).  However that was partially caused by a lack of North American Snowpack.  Rather than cold Siberian Air  being filtered into Canada, mild Pacific flow dominated as the cold air stayed bottled up in the Arctic circle.  We started the year off bad
Snow depth January 1, 2012
And never really recovered.  There were a few small storms in January including one right before the AFC Championship Game held at Foxboro
Snow Depth January 24, 2012
But it was already melting away by February
February 1, 2012
It was also bare in the Midwest so air masses moving over them did not cool as they usually do in winter.  Further there was persistent high pressure and the longer air is compressed to the surface the more it will warm.

4. December 29 Snowstorm
That's right I'm putting the most recent weather event in my top 5.  There were officially 11 inches in Northbridge, 12 inches Douglas, 13.7 in Milford.  Here is a map of the totals
NWS snowfall reports
That hole in Uxbridge is due to lack of a report as a heavy band of snow sat over the area from 4 PM until 11 PM.  The snow was so fluffy it was piling up over an inch an hour it was a great site to see.
Radar Image 630 PM 12/29
The Blackstone Valley was in the perfect position for this last storm.  We were close enough to the rain snow line to get the intense snowfall rates, but far enough from it that our snow was light and fluffy.

5. November 7, 2012 Rain/Snow Storm
A powerful Nor'Easter passed through the Northeast just a week after Hurricane Sandy.  It produced stronger winds over the majority of Cape Cod than Hurricane Sandy did.  Even though computer guidance suggest snow was possible, it was not well forecast.  Here was one computer model projection from the Saturday before the Thursday event
GFS for the win! 5 day had it right on
The total amount that fell was about 4-6 inches
NWS upped totals a bit too much before the end
Here is what the storm looked like on the models
EURO forecast 3 days before event
This storm ravaged the coastline left stricken by Sandy the week before and would have been memorable in its own right even had it not followed Sandy.

I would like to thank all of you who read the blog and trust my forecasting.  I plan to add more for 2013 for people who have an interest in weather outside the forecast.  Lets see what 2013 brings to the weather table! Have a safe and Happy New Year

PS 2011 Top 5 was
  1. Springfield Tornado
  2. January Blizzards
  3. Hurricane Irene
  4. Halloween Snowstorm
  5. July 100 degree heat

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cold Week Ahead

A cold Arctic air mass supported by a fresh snow pack will allow low temperatures to approach 0 across portions of Southern New England.  Areas of Northern New England are looking at low temperatures -20 below zero.  I measured 11 inches in Northbridge and received reports of 12 inches in Douglas from multiple sources.  Here is a link to reported snowfall totals.  Thankfully the jet stream was moving 150 MPH at upper levels or else last nights snow would have been one for the ages.  Still, it was the biggest snowfall since February 2011.

There is a low potential snow chance next weekend.  This is a low probability event; most likely we remain dry.  There is a chance for snow squalls with the passage of these Arctic fronts as well.  Wednesday/Thursday will be the days to watch for this.

Here is the average temperature anomaly for the next seven days according to the GFS ensemble
From Weatherbell, 12z GEFS temp anomaly
The coldest nights look to be Tuesday Night into Wednesday morning
EURO 12z run, Weatherbell
And then again Wednesday Night into Thursday
EURO 12z run, Weatherbell
This point to take away is that its going to be cold.  No major storms in the next 5 days and light precip.  The HPC likes no precip for Southern New England and only light amounts in the mountains

Seven Day rainfall forecast
The temperatures will be seasonable Monday and will begin to drop Tuesday.  The good news is there are signs that a January thaw will occur around the 9/10th.  Have a great New Year everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snow Chance Saturday Night, then Arctic Cold

The coldest weather in at least 3 years, if not 9 years will begin to invade New England early next week.  This will be preceded by a few inches of snow Saturday into Saturday night.  There looks to be multiple chances to get to 0 or below.  First let's start with Friday's weather and move forward.

EURO Forecast Max Temps today  (image credit Weatherbell)
A mainly sunny day with temperatures in the low 30's for much of Southern New England.  Colder in the north country where a deep snowpack will help keep temperatures down.  Winds will be blustery this morning, especially those closest to the coast but they will relax this afternoon .  Clouds will increase overnight and the temperature will drop into the low 20's/upper teens.  Then low pressure will form off the Maryland/Delaware coast and track south of New England.
Friday Morning Surface chart, storm energy and track highlighted
There is moderate agreement from computer guidance on this system but the total amounts are still being worked out.  There is a 10 percent chance of at least 4 inches of snow for much of Southern New England

HPC Day 2 Snowfall probabilities
There is a 40 percent chance of 4 inches for Bristol and Plymouth Counties in MA as well as much of RI.  I can say it appears that the classic "bombing" of the storm system will not occur until it is too far in the Atlantic.  So here is my guess at what happens

12/29 Snowfall Forecast
I'll monitor today's trends to see if I need to pull back on the amounts or expand the 4-7.  Plows will be needed in SE MA and RI but this may extend into CT.  The Cape is a bit of a leap of faith with 2-4 that may also need to be adjusted.  Regardless, the snow starts to fly around noon time for most and will be pulling away Sunday morning.  If the storm bombs sooner, expect a long lasting storm.

Here is the citygram for Worcester over the next 8 days
GFS forecast
And the EURO citygram
Cold is coming
This is great news for people who enjoy the ice as lakes and ponds will be freezing up within the week.  Just for fun here is Saturday January 5th at 7 am, from the EURO

Below zero to the MA/RI/CT border
This winter is shaping up to be like 2003/04.  That was the winter in which the Patriots played a playoff game when the temp was 4 degrees.  That was also the winter school was called off when low temperatures dipped to -10 degrees.  Something like that is possible later in January.  More later have a good day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snow tonight

A little tired after the two day holiday celebration so here is a map with my forecast snow totals for tonight's event.  More later but system will begin as snow tonight before switching over to rain tomorrow morning for the Blackstone Valley.

Made 12/26/12 6 AM
I expect the rain snow line to collapse back to Worcester.  This may take longer than expected in my forecast so the 2-4 could easily fall into 4-8.  Snow starts to fall around 5 or 6 and will switch to rain by daybreak.  The rain ends tomorrow around noon.

More this afternoon.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A White Christmas After All?

EURO snowfall totals Christmas Day
While there has been a lot of brown ground in 2012 (both early and now late) mother nature is sending a Christmas snowstorm to New England.  A piece of energy from the trough off the West Coast will combine with energy streaming out of Southwest Canada to form an Alberta Clipper.  Clippers tend to bring light snows to the Midwest and Great Lakes but they tend to bring Arctic conditions behind them.  This is important for another storm Wednesday and Thursday; more on that later.

Weatherbell EURO 2 M Tmax Christmas Day 1 PM
Bitter cold will invade the upper plains for Christmas Day.  There will be plenty of cold for snow in the Northeast.   Here is the North American Model forecast for 11 AM EST Christmas Day
NAM snowfall Christmas Day 12z 12/22 run
Here is the 8 day forecast for Worcester, projected by the American Global Forecast System (GFS)
Graphics produced by Dr. Ryan Maue and Weatherbell
And the EURO forecast for Worcester
Goes out 10 days
EURO is a bit warmer than the GFS but still puts out close to 20 inches of snow for portions of Southern New England
240 hour snowfall accumulations EURO
This is not snow depth as some will melt and compact but you get the general idea; winter has begun and soon will begin her assault on Southern New England.  There is a potential major storm during the middle of next week, but with predictability low at this range I won't go into specifics.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Day of Winter Arrives with Rain

A quick band of snow, sleet, and rain moved across the area around 130 AM.  That was not unexpected but probably a bit startling to those who woke up to the sound.  The next batch of rain is right along the MA/CT border.  Areas like Douglas, Sutton, Webster, Dudley, Charlton, and Southbridge will certainly see rain by 730 AM. Areas east may avoid this rain band.  Don't worry there is plenty more and the rain could fill in for Eastern MA.
630 AM Northeast Radar Image
A new low pressure wave has been spawned along the front.  This usually happens and sometimes the coastal low becomes dominant and produces a major nor'easter; more on that tomorrow (next week a storm possibility).  Regardless Southern New England should enter the warm sector for a period this afternoon.  There will be isolated thunderstorms in the sector during the late morning/early afternoon hours.
Highlighted is the warm sector and direction of movement
The Storm Prediction Center highlights a chance of convection (thunderstorms)
Thunderstorm Outlook for 12/21/12 
Strong winds will be the biggest threat with any thunderstorms that develop.  I was just outside myself and it is already windy.  Here are some upper level winds that can mix down

From the Rapid Refresh
900 mb winds for 1 PM, image credit Weatherbell
From the NAM Hi Resolution 
900 mb winds for 1 PM, image credit Weatherbell
The bulk of the rain should be clearing SNE by early afternoon so after this surge of wind and rain we will be left with a blustery afternoon.  Temperatures will begin to plummet and I expect some snow showers overnight and even into Saturday.  More on next week's weather tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Major Storm Ripping Across United States

A blizzard, tornado outbreak, arctic outbreak, and flooding rains are tearing across the United States this morning.  No its not the end of the world, its a potent winter storm tapping Gulf of Mexico moisture and interacting with an arctic air mass and the result is plethora of weather to talk about.
Tornado Watch until 1 PM EST
There have been unconfirmed reports of tornado striking Mobile, AL this morning
Mobile is at mouth of Bay in Southern Alabama 
Meanwhile there is a cold side to the severe weather and this will drop over a foot of snow in some areas in the Midwest.  Here is what the HPC is thinking for snowfall probabilities.
Probability of snowfall greater than 4 inches
Notice how Chicago is in the 10 percent chance of greater than 4 inches.  They haven't had measurable snow since March 4, 2012.  This will break the record streak.  Here are the probabilities for snowfall greater than 1 foot.
Wisconsin and Michigan to be the big winners today
This system will move into New England tomorrow.  High winds and heavy rains are the major threats.  Here is tomorrows snowfall probabilities
Friday 4 inch snowfall probs
The low pressure system will cut through New England leaving the region on the warm side.  Temperatures should jump into the 50's tomorrow 
From Weatherbell, 00z EURO temps for tomorrow afternoon
Hopes of snow are not completely dashed; the very end of this system on Friday night or Saturday could coat the ground with a dusting to an inch.  In fact tonight it may begin as snow/sleet before changeover occurs.  Southeastern MA including Cape and Islands is under a High Wind Watch.
NAM hires 900 mb windspeeds from Dr. Maue and Weatherbell
These will not all mix to surface but some models are hinting at convection firing with these storms.  Trends indicate this is likely especially seeing whats going on in Dixie this morning.  Here is the projected radar image for noon tomorrow.
These bands would help mix down those strong 900 mb winds
Its not out of the question to see power outages tomorrow.  More later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Rounds of Rain but Cold Air Lurking

A wave of low pressure riding along a frontal system is moving into Southern New England this morning bringing with it some heavy downpours.
Northeast Radar Image 611 AM EST
While the rain is heavy it is moving quickly and should be clearing the area by 11 AM.  Temperatures for the next four days will be above average and Wednesday is a sunny and mild, by December standards.  Today's temperature will be near 50 degrees.  Here is the surface chart for early this morning; note the warm front lifting north.
This will keep temperatures above average for a few days
Here is the temperature anomaly for the first 5 days of our forecast period (through Saturday) in Celsius 
GFS ensemble 00z 12/18/12 temperature anomaly forecast (image credit Dr Maue and Weatherbell)
Now look whats coming in time for Christmas
Days 5-10 temperature anomaly 
The Upper Plains are in line to see some wicked Arctic cold in this period.  This is only the GFS which has a questionable reputation...but the EURO agrees.  Here is the EURO ensemble for Christmas Eve at 7 PM EST
Sees the warmth holding on in Texas and Arctic air surging into  Plains
No surprise with the Arctic Oscillation crashing to negative values.  This is allowing the polar vortex to send shots of cold Arctic air into the United States.  I posted my weekly snowfall thoughts over at Tornado Titans which can be found here.
AO or Arctic Oscillation
The NAO wants to remains somewhat neutral and the PNA wants to move towards average.  The PNA is Pacific North American Pattern.  When negative mild Pacific air tends to stream across the US.  Never the less the cold air looks to be in place for next week (and beyond?) so get the ice fishing poles ready, sharpen up the skates, wax up the boards, fire up the snow blower winter is ready to make a comeback.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter Weather Advisory today, Rain this week, and a Look at Climate Change

What looked to be a promising week for snow lovers has fallen off the table completely.  While there will be some snowflakes flying today and tonight it will not be the event I envisioned several days ago.  The National Weather Service in Taunton has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Worcester County, Northwest Middlesex County, Franklin County, and Hampshire County in Massachusetts.
From NWS Taunton
A coastal flood statement has been issued for much of the MA shoreline.  Minor coastal flooding is likely in areas prone to splash over.  The main concern today and tonight will be freezing rain.  A inch or two of snow is possible especially north of Worcester.  Southwest NH will pick up a little more.  Roads that are not treated will be slippery tomorrow.  After this first storm guidance keeps up with an active pattern.  A rain storm Tuesday and another Friday will impact Southern New England.

Storm Number 1
Snow begins to move in around 3 PM.  Will be change over to a mix in the early evening and eventually all rain.  The Pats should place in mostly rain tonight which is too bad; they are unstoppable when it snows.  The rain, sleet, and snow move out by Monday afternoon but there isn't much time before storm number 2 moves in with wind and rain.  One wild card is that there is cold air at the surface which is of course more dense than warmer air.  Models often move the cold air out to quickly and thus snowfall amounts are underdone.  However in this situation there isn't a northerly wind locking in the Canadian cold so I am not expecting this.

Storm Number 2
Heavy rain to move into Southern New England overnight Monday into Tuesday morning.  Low pressure will track into New England or just to the west of us leaving Southern New England in the warm sector of the storm.  
Euro model early Tuesday morning- image credit Dr Ryan Maue and Weatherbell
Temperatures will be above average for mid December.  Here is the EURO ensemble mean temperature forecast Tuesday afternoon followed by the American GFS operational forecast
EPS ensemble prediction forecast
Both forecasts for 1 PM Tuesday
Image credits to Dr. Ryan Maue and weatherbell
Several inches of rain are forecast to fall by the end of the week.  I am not ruling out some snow at the end of the Friday system and it is several days away so for now I'll show the HPC 5 day rainfall totals
Pacific Northwest and the Eastern Half of the country are being pounded
It is interesting to contrast this with the current US Drought Monitor which was updated on 12/11/12
From the CPC
The areas that need the rain are not getting it, save for the Southeast.  Unfortunately this will continue for most of the decade because of the Cold PDO/Warm AMO combination.  Here is a look at the averaged December to February Palmer Drought Severity Index from 1950-59

Note- rest of discussion is on climate
From NOAA Earth Physical Sciences Lab
Not every winter featured these conditions, but on average there was more drought than excess rain in the center of the country.  Here are a few years from the 50's and their summers

Summer 52
Winter 52-53
widespread drought
Summer 54
More drought for much of country
Winter 54-55
Drought in the Midwest isn't all that unprecedented during Warm AMO/Cold PDO
Keeping those images in mind lets look at 2011 and 2012

Summer 2011
Like Summer 52 the drought began in the south
Winter 11-12
Not much of a rebound for the south
Summer 2012
Very hot and dry summer
It will be widely reported in the coming days that 2012 was the hottest year on record.  It may very well be in the United States but the United States is a tiny fraction of the Earth's surface.  The Earth is running only 0.047 degrees C above normal using the 1981-2010 baseline
From Dr. Ryan Maue and Weatherbell
Its suppose to be called Global Warming right? The United States is emitting co2 at a 20 year low.  China is emitting the most co2 in the world yet it and India are below average for the year while the United States is above average.  Also as warm as March 2012 was in the United States the world was below average during that time.
March 2012 Temperature anomalies 
World temps -0.106 during March.  Meanwhile the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has just been leaked and FINALLY  acknowledges that the sun is playing a far bigger role than these "climate scientists" previously estimated.  I've always believed in climate change, just not that co2 is causing it.  There is a balance between the sun's energy output, the strength of the earths magnetic field, and ocean cycles that determine whether or not the earth is in a warm phase or a cooling phase.

As a meteorologist my first love is Hurricanes.  Hurricane Edouard is the storm that sparked my fascination with the wild ocean storms and I religiously followed every storm as a child.  There was no doubt what I wanted to study in college and I decided on Umass-Lowell to study Atmospheric Science.  Lowell is a religious believer in man made climate change yet the school taught me how to think like a scientist and not a sheep.  I studied North Atlantic Hurricane frequency as a senior and it was at that point I learned about ocean cycles.  I learned about the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and how important the phase of these oscillations is to the earths climate.  The PDO has shown a clear tendency to favor El Nino's and thus a warmer earth in its positive phase and La Nina's and a colder earth in its negative phase.

This led to the connection between the 1950's and the 2010's.  The PDO flipped in 1946 and 2007.  The AMO flipped in 1925 to positive and again in 1995.  New York City has been in the cross hairs of two hurricanes the past two years.  Is this unusual? NO!
MAJOR HURRICANES making landfall in 1950's
More storms will hit the East Coast in the coming decade.  Lets go to tornadoes for a moment.  We are beginning to enter a more active tornado period as the Pacific turns cold and allows more arctic surges to interact with the warm tropical moisture of the Gulf of Mexico
Trend is down, but will pick back up
The 1970's featured some extremely destructive tornadoes.  We saw the increase begin in 2011 and it will continue to increase for the next 20 years or so.  The two most notable New England tornadoes are the EF-4 Worcester tornado of 1953 and the EF-3 borderline EF-4 Springfield tornado of 2011.  Just another connection from the 1950's to the 2010's.  Anyway that is all for now, have a good Sunday and go Pats.

Biggest Snow Storm Of The Season Heads To Impact Region Tonight

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Norton, MA has issued a * Winter Storm Warning * from 7 PM tonight until 10 AM Wednesday.  A widesprea...