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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 01/21/2011

AM round-up: last night's "storm", cold & more

By Jason Samenow

Who got snow last night? I actually awoke to a dusting in NW D.C., which surprised me as little as bleak as snow prospects looked around 10:15 p.m. last night.

It turns out our forecast for a trace to half an inch in the immediate metro area pretty much verified as did the dusting to 1" forecast for our northern suburbs. Totals varied from a trace or so in Fairfax county to 0.1-0.3" in Montgomery county. Locations in Prince George's county also reported about 0.1-0.3" according to the National Weather Service. Further north 0.5-1" fell in Howard county. And from Baltimore north, about 0.5-1.5" fell as we predicted - with a few spots topping two inches in the high terrain in northwest Baltimore county, Carroll county and Harford county. On the other hand, amounts were less than we forecast around Frederick county, which only got a trace according to reports.

Cold air: As mentioned in Camden's forecast, it's going to be very cold tonight and through the weekend. The Arctic air arriving is some of the coldest of the season. How cold? It dropped to a stunning -42 degrees below zero in International Falls, Minnesota. Some other temperatures this morning: St. Cloud, MN -28, Madison, WI -7,Milwaukee, -2, and Green Bay -9. These temps will make our teens the next several nights seem kind of toasty by comparison. Of course, I shouldn't downplay these temps - as they will be dangerous for the homeless (remember call the hypothermia hotline if you see anyone needing help).

Rest of the winter: Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather released his outlook for the remainder of the winter yesterday along with an early look at spring. AccuWeather - summarizing Bastardi's thoughts - wrote: "More persistent cold is expected to hold strong through at least the middle of February across much of the eastern two-thirds of the country."

Joe Bastardi's graphical overview of the rest of winter. Source: AccuWeather

In keeping with the seasonal trend, Bastardi predicts "the biggest snowstorms in February will target areas mainly north of a line running from the Mason-Dixon Line to the Ohio River and I-40 across the Plains."

Bastardi forecasts some moderation in temperature late in February into early March before the possibility of more cold later in March. Into April and May, Bastardi mentioned that the La Nina pattern will favor an active severe weather season.

Nothing he says seems terribly unreasonable to me, and his comments about La Nina and severe weather season have some legitimacy. I'm skeptical, however, there is much skill in his specific (practically week to week) predictions about how March and April will unfold with respect to temperature.

We'll try to post some of our own thoughts on the rest of winter in the next week or so.

By Jason Samenow  | January 21, 2011; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Latest, Updates  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Some of winter's coldest air yet
Next: Potential storm Tues-Wed: more snow or rain?


The latest GFS run could make any snow lover around here freak for this Tuesday.

Too bad it's a Miller B with a cutoff just south of DC. Sure to move north by the time the event draws near.

Posted by: bbirnbau | January 21, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: snowlover | January 21, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

@snowlover, that does indeed look incorrect. The precipitation is not centered around the area of low pressure as one would expect.

Posted by: dcg35 | January 21, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I just read an excellent case study on PDII. According to the article, the keys to that storm were:

Cold Air Damning and massive high pressure- large temp and pressure gradient

Slow moving, week surface low over the southeast... the slow movement of the low favored a continuous over running and moisture feed in to the region but the weakness of the low restricted the amount of advection that occurred.

Tremendous amount of warm moist Gulf air being forced over the intense cold air mass

Here is the link. It is an excellent read.
Is anyone seeing similarities for next week?

Posted by: jac8949 | January 21, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse


looks to my untrained eye like the 12z GFS backs off on qpf for dc but stays cold enough throughout the duration to remain all snow:

yielding on the order of 7.5-10" of snow:

looks like the gradient is pretty steep and indicates we're about 100 miles from getting 15-20" and a 100 miles from getting 3"...

can we go crazy yet?

why is there something "obviously wrong" with those images? CWG, what say you re those lovely images?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 21, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

btw, notice how bastardi has dc EXACTLY on the line between merely "cold" (worthless) and "more winter storms" (worth suffering the cold). that's irritating...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 21, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

After the Dec 26th fiasco, I refuse to get excited about models more than 48 hours out- and I probably should hold off to 24 hours out the way this winter is going.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 21, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Let's wait a few more runs before "going crazy" - confidence is slowly rising but not nearly certain at all. Wes Junker may give us an analysis post later that would help characterize what is probable. :)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Well something happened in the latest run that was NOT good for us snow lovers. The NWS just reduced the chances of snow from 40% Mon nite, kept it the same for Tues which is/was 40% and lowered Tues nite back to 30%. I know it's too far out to really discuss but dreams keep getting dashed with each lowered %.

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | January 21, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately JB keeps moving the snow to our north.

And some folks keep whining about a lack of rain...while three of three Tuesday night dances thus far appear likely to have been impacted by precipitation events!...see my post under "Forecast" below. If Nats' batters can bat like the much-unneded rain crowd we ought to have a heck of a baseball team here this summer!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 21, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Snowlover2 - that sound mathematically supported, sound reasoning, to me!

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

jac8949, I dont think there is too much similarity to PDII though I did see it thrown around yesterday after the midday run of the EURO which had a weaker system that was quite long duration.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

What's a "Miller B"?

Posted by: AdmiralX | January 21, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see a Bastardi map posted here. Some think he's a hack, but he really does know his stuff. His forecasts tend to favor heavier amounts based on "potential", but he does explain what happened when he misses. As for last night, ended with about an inch in Eldersburg. Par for the course this winter. All the models are onto the Tuesday/Wednesday, but all of them also have a period of mixing for DC and most of MD. Even with mixing though, the precip would be heavy enough for 6+ or maybe a lot more if this actually verifies. Four days out...too many model runs to go...we've all been down this road before this winter. But we are DUE....

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 21, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

@ Ian-CapitalWeatherGang I am seeing 30 hours for the surface low to go from FLorida to NJ coast on GFS... I am not sure how this compare... is this slow or fast compared to most coastals? Also in terms of strength... the output shows the low only at 1007 at hour 108. The high is 1034 over Maine at hour 90. Looking at the Surface Maps for PDII, the location of the high and Cold Air Damning (as indicated by the Isobars)is almost identical to the model output... not sure how strong the high was though... do you guys know?

Posted by: jac8949 | January 21, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

A litle to early to gets very excited about the next storm threat! Just like last year, this years current pattern is likely to hold until the large scale La Nina pattern changes.

Posted by: Jimbo77 | January 21, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

AdmiralX - A 'Miller B' is every storm that bbirnbau apparently thinks is hitting the east coast. Or, more correctly; a Miller B storm is where a clipper system dives out of Alberta, Canada and redevelops into a coastal storm then moves up the coast.

Posted by: parksndc | January 21, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

here we go again.... wx blogs already calling this one snowmaggedon, model hugging the 12z Euro :/ ppl are still stuck in last year imo.

Ive said it before and ill say it again, DO NOT GET YOUR HOPES UP PEOPLE.

Random wx blogger quote: "More amp'd with each run!!!!"
LOL, we are 5 days out jeez.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 21, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse


lol!! You just made me almost choke on my sandwich ;-)

Posted by: natsncats | January 21, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

KRUZ - Where are you reading snowmaggedon again? I read a small chance for rain & snow so far...and most have said it could be minor (too far north) and it's too far out. You're definitely not reading that on this blog!

Posted by: parksndc | January 21, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

bbirnbau, and others

There does seem to be something very wrong in the 12Z GFS. Bottom Line: best to discount this run!

Technical Discussion:

The approaching vort max (energy) aloft appears to kick off an outbreak of convective precip between 84-96 just off the southern NC coast. This area of precip looks to be a self-sustaining instability in the model's convective parametrization scheme (algorithm to simulate convection).

The (latent) heat release by the seemingly erroneous convection forces what looks to be a developing warm core secondary low to the east of the primary center - something which is highly unrealistic in the real world. This no doubt has an influence on the storm track relative to closeness to coast to bring snow around here.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse


just goto and check out all the comments posted in bloges about tuesdays storm/ the 12z euro run

Posted by: KRUZ | January 21, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

natsncats - Thanks...I hope you're ok though...that can hurt sometimes. Btw, Go Nats...hope some of these moves they're making pay off.

Posted by: parksndc | January 21, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

KRUZ - Wow, fair enough...I'm sticking it out here though...some of those people are nuts. Btw, looks like the rain/snow line definitely crosses over DC and heads east in the 12Z, although after a decent amount of precip. My guess is...a trace to an inch...haha. That's going to be my guess all winter!

Posted by: parksndc | January 21, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

To answer Jason's question about who got snow, we got nothing in northern Calvert county. A bit of frozen precip on the car windshield, easily removed. I work in SE DC, and there was a teeny tiny bit of snow on the grassy areas.

Posted by: WickedRose | January 21, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Only in DC do people talk with a straight face about variations in snowfall measuring in tenths of an inch ("0.1-0.3 in Montgomery county").

Posted by: sparman | January 21, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that we can't get out of this almost endless pattern of an Eastern-U.S. trough, northwesterly flow at the surface and aloft, below-normal temps, and weak upper-level disturbances every couple of days more than one day or so at a time? Is the block over Greenland STILL that strong, preventing the big trough from shifting eastward?

Posted by: MMCarhelp | January 21, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

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