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Posted at 7:45 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Weekend storm: Glancing blow or blizzard?

By Jason Samenow

model-war.jpg
Source: StormVistaWxModels.com

The images above show the latest simulations for the potential weekend (extending into Monday for the European model) storm from the most recent operational versions of the GFS (American) and European computer models. The GFS model (run this afternoon) indicates very light snow Christmas afternoon and evening with the modest storm mostly going out to sea. The European model (run this morning) simulates the same system as a full-fledged blizzard Sunday into Monday.

Our thoughts about the most likely scenario for this storm haven't changed from our post earlier today - but I just thought I'd post these images because the differences are so striking.

Nobody said forecasting snow in the mid-Atlantic was easy...

By Jason Samenow  | December 21, 2010; 7:45 PM ET
Categories:  Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Cold transitions to cool
Next: Forecast: Cold through Christmas. Will it be white?

Comments

I want to cancel my trip so that I can be here for Monday 1am, Euro model style.

Posted by: JDK4 | December 21, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I got a terrific idea, how about we meet in the middle. That would be fine by me.

Posted by: dannythe357 | December 21, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Since CWG is my go-to source for weather no matter what, I was hoping you could give me your two cents on the probability of accumulating snow for Xmas along the Jersey Shore and central Jersey (where I'll be for the holidays driving back and forth between families)? Is the chance for snow greater? I trust your opinions, so I'd love a forecast even though it is likely too soon to tell.

Posted by: amandap2986 | December 21, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the NOGAPS and Canadian are all on board with the GFS and the south track the Xmas storm is taking. Im really feeling like this is a repeat of last weekends storm. Not saying we get no snow, but I just cant see this storm riding the coast.

Posted by: KRUZ | December 21, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

dannythe357, not a bad way to forecast usually! Probably more likely to lean one or the other though I suppose... EURO if verified would be one for the ages up and down the East Coast. Much more impactful than last yrs storms if you count all the population hit etc. Don't see those too often...

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

@amandap2986

For Jersey looks like all or nothing... either a big hit (40% chance) ... or little to no snow (60%). Timing would be Sunday into Monday if it materializes. Too early to say much more than that.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Bastardi is the man he says we are getting it , and we will. for those of you who love the weather like myself it is worth the 25 dollars a month to have the accu weather pro site . you have access to all the forecast models, and also to the big dog and long ranger videos from Joe Bastardi, and videos from Henry mad man margasity ,(mateo madness). GREAT STUFF FOR A REAL WEATHER LOVER.

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Jason! I'm glad for the timing too! I want a big storm, but I'd prefer it after Xmas and after I'm done driving all over the state!

Posted by: amandap2986 | December 21, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

How would this impact North Carolina on Sunday? Travel plans include family coming up from there.

Posted by: dbokie1 | December 21, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

@april: I"ll save you the 25$ - I predict that every model run that comes within 1000 miles of DC will be a monster historic Blizzard. His calls that are right are because he calls everything and no one ever takes him to task for his many, many, many misses. A walking steroid abuse PSA, and that's coming from a "real weather lover"(no caps were used in the making of this quote).

Posted by: awshux | December 21, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

UPDATE: $25 a month?!! I will build you a robot that is more accurate and less annoying for 4 years of that nonsense. Here I was thinking that it was 25$ a year. Seriously, give the money to a charity and spend 10$ on a Farmer's Almanac. That's $300 a year. Scrap the Almanac idea, I can find real estate to sell you.

Posted by: awshux | December 21, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse


Any ideas on how the evolution of this storm may be related to the NAO trending neutral or potentially even positive toward the end of the month?

http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/pna/nao.sprd2.gif

Posted by: triplephaser | December 21, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

@dbokie1

Depending where you are in the state, chance of lingering rain (east) or snow (central). Again, too early to say much about details.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

How far out before the blizzards of last year did we have a definite idea that they were in fact blizzards? It seems that most of these storms are shrouded in doubt this far out?

Posted by: authorofpoetry | December 21, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Those two models are so drastically different it's hard to believe they're for the same period of time. Just about the only thing they have in common is there will be moisture in the atmosphere and some kind of low pressure somewhere at some point.

Posted by: SpeedLimit186000 | December 21, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

So does New England (specifically Boston) get destroyed in all of these scenarios? Visiting family up here and I'm completely fine with a major weather event happening... got my Jeep, my childhood sled, and a week off. Let's do this!

Posted by: CuseFan07 | December 21, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Jason, one question for you. Are you excited about this storm? Thanks

Posted by: dannythe357 | December 21, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I notice the timeline for this keeps getting pushed back. My flight home arrives Monday morning... sounds like that potentially could be in jeopardy?

As an aside - I know that it's wayyyy outside the forecast area but any thought on on this storm for Cincinnati, OH? From what I'm seeing, it looks like there's less potential for a huge event, but more certainty there'll be at least a few inches. Thoughts??

Thanks, CWG rocks!

Posted by: jahutch | December 21, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I notice the timeline for this keeps getting pushed back. My flight home arrives Monday morning... sounds like that potentially could be in jeopardy?

As an aside - I know that it's wayyyy outside the forecast area but any thought on on this storm for Cincinnati, OH? From what I'm seeing, it looks like there's less potential for a huge event, but more certainty there'll be at least a few inches. Thoughts??

Thanks, CWG rocks!

Posted by: jahutch | December 21, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

The ECMWF (Euro) model atmosphere hit the jackpot in getting the phasing of weather systems, low and high-level jet stream coupling, and energy (latent heat) from condensation, etc exactly right (by chance)to produce something close to a Perfect Storm.

Coastal "bombogenesis" like this is not unprecedented/unrealistic, but many more times in models (GFS or Euro) five or more days out than actually occur.

Bottom line: Not out of the picture, but it's going to be AT LEAST as difficult for the actual atmosphere to hit the jackpot (CHANCE coincidence of multiple factors) as the ECMWF model. Not impossible, but not very likely.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

sorry to affend someone, i just never knew until last year that you could look at all these models everyday, and find a meteorologist that would say more than we will see what happens . I personally enjoy a little hype on a good snow storm , but i respect your opinion on joe, but do think he is the only one I have seen that will go out there like that and get a little excitment into the HYPE. if you know another site please tell me, my name is steve

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps TMI but anyone interested in the vagaries of forecast models in predicting snowstorms

See: The varying predictability of snowstorms:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2010/03/snowmaggedon_snoverkill_snosup.html

And:

The Super-Predictable Superstorm of 1993
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2009/03/between_march_12-14_1993_almos.html

And:

Models Knew Monster Storm Was No Certainty

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2009/02/the_model_madness_behind_monda.html


Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Steve,
What has Bastardi said this evening about the store for our area?

Posted by: barryg2 | December 21, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

please dont go there with the almanac, that is a joke, and i personally like joe, and if you watch him everyday you would see that he gets things right that not many others have the you know what to try to predict. dont knock it til you try it. seriously if there is another site that has similar models and forums please someone tell me, I really enjoy all the people talking about the weather, and knowledgable opinions

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

barryg2
I have no idea since I will not pay for his "professional" aggrandizement. It must mean something than the "free" access personages at AccuWeather seem to be going out of their way not to hype the current possibility - perhaps since they seemed to buy into JB's hype about the big I-95 snowstorm that never happened.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

"Glancing Blow or Blizzard"

We won't know until we reach model consensus, probably tomorrow... or Thursday.... or Friday...................

Posted by: AugustaJim | December 21, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I actually meant to address the question to April. I am just curious a I am a former subsriber there and now rely on this site for far and unbiased comments. Capital Weather Gang rocks.

Posted by: barryg2 | December 21, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

@jahutch

I think Cinci has just about a 40% of some front running light snow.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

April is right...if you are a fan of snow you are a fan of Bastardi. He called the December cold trend and potential for storms well in advance. It's that potential that he highlights/hypes week after week before most are talking about storms that keeps things exciting. He's usually one of the only ones sticking his neck out there with a forecast...and more often than not he's rewarded. But because he sticks his neck out when other aren't, he's also prone to miss once in a while. He definitely acknowledges a miss when it happens (like last weekend) and moves on. It's one thing to forecast based on models. It's another to forecast (like Bastardi does, based on models, historical data, and experience). This is a great blog, but the Accuweather Pro site and Bastardi are well worth the $ during the winter months as well. I agree with April...don't knock it until you try it. Better yet, just read the posts here because someone usually provides updates from Bastardi's blog.

Posted by: DLO1975 | December 21, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Bastardi has said he thinks the euro is a little overdone, but likes the idea of it. he thinks the gfs has feedback problems and will correct north west. he has said the same thing for 3 days in a row, a swath of 6-12 inches 175 miles on either side of I-70 (n and S) from topeka to DC. And then the coastal taking over and becoming a monster off the south jersey shore on sunday night, with additional snows up the I-95 corridor from richmond to new england, he says very possible not garanteed the euro could happen. thats exciting, I like that, and if hes wrong no one gets hurt on to the next. But he called every one last year witch was my first winter watching him, so who knows but its more than just here are the two model runs wait and see, no science in that and no fun.

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

barryg2...No updates from Bastardi tonight yet. There's no question that this is a great site and that there are a lot of good ideas and information exchanged here. Just want to be clear that statements regarding Bastardi have no reflection on the CWG blog.

Posted by: DLO1975 | December 21, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

absolutly no disrespect to CWG, actually just found this site from henry madmans blog on accu weather. I like it, do they ever do videos or have any in depth graphical discussions

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

absolutly no disrespect to CWG, actually just found this site from henry madmans blog on accu weather. I like it, do they ever do videos or have any in depth graphical discussions

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I understand all the caveats and how "hitting the jackpot" with the European model seems unlikely at this point. But if the European model proves correct, what kinds of precip totals are we talking about for DC-Metro? Akin to the three biggies last year?

Posted by: lmf-DC | December 21, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I love "don't knock it till you try it, but hey we'll post the summary here, and it's absolutely batsh*& crazy" - You do understand that bastardi is the pro-wrestling version of a meteorologist, and you paying $300 a year is even sillier than the pay-per-view? He's claiming that there will be 6-12" for 1000 miles east to west (Topeka to DC), and *then* it will get "big"?! You ever once think that he is predicting Hoth on the regular to prop up his even crazier climate views? I'm sorry April, who apparently is a man named steve, and DLO, but it comes across as someone trying to explain Scientology.

Posted by: awshux | December 21, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Change of topic for the moment...any chance some of the snow developing on the radar drifts into MD tonight? Looks like there's a chance.

Posted by: DLO1975 | December 21, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

@DLO1975

Somebody somewhere could see a flurry tonight...that's about it...

@april_milligan

I do a video every Thursday at 1 p.m. May do more moving forward--just getting the hang of it and we're working on the technology.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

look my name is steve, our e-mail adress is in my wifes name april, nothing wierd. I just like talking about the weather. I dont think the fact that Bastardi likes to workout has anything to do with this weather discussion, Im just a weather nut who has not a clue, or even cares about scientology, just a big snow storm. now if he is right what would you, as a mature adult say to that. what is so far fetched about a swath o 6-12 inches of snow half way across the country, in a pattern like this, with all this cold air running around.

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

awshux... I only subscribe during the winter months and the first month is free. I don't know April/Steve, but can tell you there are a lot of Bastardi followers that visit this blog. Not sure what your deal is with Bastardi, so I'm just going to drop it. I enjoy this blog and Bastardi's...but mostly....like many others...I enjoy a really good snowstorm.

Jason...I will definitely check out the video this Thursday. Thanks.

Posted by: DLO1975 | December 21, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I know its only one run but that 00Z gfs looks EXACTLY like last weekends storm. And that run we didnt have even a flake.

Posted by: KRUZ | December 21, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Tonight's GFS is great because if you were to overlay it with the max precipitation on today's 12z EURO it would match up pretty well with the area of no precipitation on GFS.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan just said he thinks the storm stays south and the chance of a noreaster has decreased a bit. Is he model hugging the GFS or is he onto something here?.... I still see this taking the same track as last weekends storm.

Wes, time for your expertise here, what do you see/think so far?

Posted by: KRUZ | December 21, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

once again its just steve, i have no strong ties to joe, like you said just enjoy the weather, sorry that me paying 300 a year makes you upset. but i think its well worth it, just my opinion, not trying to push it on anyone else. but it sounds to me like you are the one that has somthing with joe, merry christmas awshux.

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

0z GFS leaves DC completely dry, but it slows down the southern storm by about 6 hours and also makes it moure southerly. To me this seems a little more in line with the Euro than the 18z was. It would appear that scenario 1 from Jason's post earlier today is becoming less likely and we're going to see all-or-nothing

Posted by: cleombrota | December 21, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

0z GFS leaves DC completely dry, but it slows down the southern storm by about 6 hours and also makes it moure southerly. To me this seems a little more in line with the Euro than the 18z was. It would appear that scenario 1 from Jason's post earlier today is becoming less likely and we're going to see all-or-nothing

Posted by: cleombrota | December 21, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

@cleombrota

You may be onto something. Unfortunately, the more southerly track increases the uncertainty.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 21, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

steve milligan,
i would really love to see a study of or a "post mortem" of JB's predictions.

for instance, do you remember what he said about last weekend's snow storm (that didn't happen) 1, 3, 5, 7 days ahead?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 21, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

hey jason and wes, what do you think about the GFS having feedback issues, and what model do you think is most successful with east coast storms, the 00z of thr gfs does have more of a precip shield than the 18z and is more north west by a little.

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

anybody notice the nws "at a glance" now shows those pretty snow clouds for sat, sun and mon?!

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 21, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Re: Accuweather, I'm not a paid subscriber but do check the site and like Henry M's videos.

Unless I'm not looking at the right page, the new GFS isn't completely dry.

Veronica Johnson tonight seemed to think we'll be getting some snow...

Posted by: spgass1 | December 21, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

If i recall, all he said on that one was it was possible it could turn up the coast. He did not hype that storm to extremes, But did say that the block up north was to far east and pushed it out to sea. For this storm he says the block is over hudson bay and will allow the storm to turn north sooner, just like the euro says. we will see, i hope hes right. now remember i was asked about this, not offering info about joe that is intended to offend, he is just a weather man. personally i cant wait to see the next run of the euro to see if it is consistant.

Posted by: april_milligan | December 21, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Jason,

My heart is with the ECMWF and the MRF, but my head is with the GFS, especially with its most recent run. Can't remember the last time it would have made such a large type 2 error with this type of storm in this time frame. I really want it to be wrong, but this horse has the best form for this race...boohoo. The GFS grinch just ate the vort max. Wah!

Posted by: pmichaels1 | December 22, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Steve: here's a model site made by professional meteorologists with tons of graphics. And it's free! In fact, if you live in the U.S., you're probably paying for it already. ;-)

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 22, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

@april_milligan

I slightly prefer the Euro for East Coast storms outside 72 hours but look at all of the models/ensembles, the trends, etc.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 22, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Ugggh! Model Watching is just not good for one's mental health. Until Wednesday morning..............

Posted by: greg2010 | December 22, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

@KRUZ

Wes has a cold and has gone to bed. I think Bob is probably basing his thoughts on the latest GFS... I think he would be right if he said the odds of snow had slightly diminished because it tracks the low further south. On the other hand, one could argue the GFS run trended in the right direction for a 'noreaster as it slowed down the southern stream wave which might give it a better chance to phase with northern stream wave and amplify like the euro shows. trends are important.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 22, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

@pmichaels...

I think the Euro is probably overdone, but wouldn't be surprised if the GFS becomes a bit more amplified in subsequent runs. This is going to be really close.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 22, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

On the subject of paying for access to a professional weather site: note this interesting tidbit from Wikipedia.

"[The GFS] is the only global model for which all output is available, for free in the public domain, over the internet (as a result of U.S. law)"

So when it comes to the GFS, don't pay anyone but your internet provider. And personally, if you live in the D.C. area, I would take the Cap Wx team, which focuses on the DC area, over someone covering the whole country any day. Hundreds and hundreds of words each day about this city, this metropolitan area. It doesn't get better.

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 22, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

If anyone is up, the latest Euro (0z) run is just like the earlier one today - huge hit for mid-Atlantic and southern New England.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 22, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Just for kicks and giggles what's the qpf associated with that 0Z Euro?

Posted by: Asymptotic_Unlimited | December 22, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Tom Kierein on NBC4 is calling for a major storm on Sunday, per his 4:50am update. "Heavy snow" on Sunday, and a big storm for the "whole east coast", with "consistency" in the models (obviously favoring the Euro).

The others aren't as hyped.

Posted by: ChaseLuray | December 22, 2010 4:56 AM | Report abuse

Kinda surprised at Kierein making that call so early. Don't think we're in that window where one can definitively call for heavy snow 4 days out just yet. Especially with the divergent model solutions that currently exist.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | December 22, 2010 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Are you serious about Kierein? I thought he was usually pretty conservative, and with suck uncertainty among models I wouldn't think ANYONE was jumping on the Euro just yet.

For the record, I think JB hypes storms, but I also think he works his tail off. Don't care much for the climate stuff from EITHER camp, but he has taught me a ton about weather. I still pay for him in the winter. You don't have to hate on me, just my opinion.

CWG, this site has really become my go-to, you guys have done an amazing job adding the technical discussion some of us crave while still giving "weather for the masses" to those who don't care for vort maxes and triple phasing. Just one request-please....PLEASE...do something about the slow load times for the site if possible.

Posted by: 4seams | December 22, 2010 5:49 AM | Report abuse

It is true, Keirien calling for "Big Storm" right now on tv. Very suprised to see someone jump on it this early. Then again, if he is right, good for him for going out on a limb.

He seriously just said heavy snow saturday, saturday night, through sunday, and maybe into monday. He may actually be OUTDOING the EURO, if that is possible...HA!

Posted by: 4seams | December 22, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

My guess is that on air mets are being pressured by their stations to go out on a limb since we have a slow news week and a holiday coming up. No one wants to be the media outlet that fails to warn it's audience, or calls it out to sea then be hit by a crippling blizzard.

Models are not in agreement and mets are picking and choosing which model they 'feel' is right. The GFS is OTS, yet the Euro shows a big event from Richmond to Portland (Maine). Following the advice given to me, it means: No one knows which way this will go, when it will get there, or with how much potential. We know there is potential for a storm and people should keep an eye on it. The bottom line: We are going to be watching the models wiggle and disagree for another few days.

If you have travel plans, be prepared to make other arrangements should the storm materialize. Stock up now on non-perishables and make sure you have good snow gear... just in case.

For full disclosure: I am not rooting for or against snow. I am watching to see if I need to adjust my plans this weekend to take care of responsibilities that arise when it snows.

All: Sorry for the snarkiness earlier in the thread.

Posted by: Weathergeek | December 22, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Euro QPF is over 1" liquid, 6z GFS is nada.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 22, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/medr/day5nav_pre.html

This would be huge, if it happens...

Posted by: HurricaneSpud | December 22, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

so looks at this point like the gfs is in line with the euro now. So with both models pretty much in line i guess its now game on for sunday-monday storm. Still 20 more gfs runs to go LOL.

Posted by: KRUZ | December 22, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Miller A?

Posted by: ennepe68 | December 22, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

If you are going to post 2 maps for comparison, use the same time frame. One model is 40r 10pm Christmas, the other is over a day later. The storm just happens to be intensifying DRAMATICALLY Sunday and Sunday night. I am a meteorologist....Turns out the GFS and the European are in aggreement, just an error in timing and positioning of the low. The NAM is also in agreement. This storm RAPIDLY intensifies. I wont go on and on, its not worth my time. But at least put 2 maps up there that are valid for the SAME TIME FRAME!!!

Posted by: liftedindex | December 26, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

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