Monday, January 31, 2011

Messy Week Ahead...

I'm not home today so I won't be able to post a snow map but I can give you the national weather service forecast map which I agree with (for the most part).

Not a bad little chunk of snow. Looking at the soundings for areas of NW Jersey it looks like the precipitation will remain mostly snow for late tonight (after mid-night) into Tuesday. Wednesday is a tricky forecast because we could start off as snow, then sleet, then HEAVY snow, then back to mix, and then back to snow to end. The reason for the heavy snow is because the precipitation may come down so hard that brings down colder air from higher up to weaking the strong inversion of warm air aloft. The warm inversion higher up is why we will see the mixing going on even though the surface temperatures are well below freezing.

Tomorrow I will post another blog with a better idea behind Wednesday's situation and a snowmap for that event. Also I'll look at the possible coastal storm for Friday night into Saturday. Yeah, another one...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ice Storm Of The Century?

There are a lot of weather events that affect our country, but one is more dangerous then tornados and hurricanes combine and can cover a much larger area. No it's not a snowstorm, its a freezing rain event. Currently across NJ we are measuring snow depth in feet and Tuesday could bring us yet another 4"-8" on top. Bad news is trailing that storm a larger storm is tracking up the spine of the appalachians putting us on the warm side this time.

Looks like a rain event right? No. When you have a cold air mass in place across the east coast and a system like this rides up into it the cold air damns up against the eastern side of the mountains and can create havoc. This is called cold air damning.

In the above figure you can see the warm air riding over top the cold air, this is called an inversion. The cold air is trapped by the mountains because it is more dense and settles to the surface, this set up is typical of the La Nina pattern. This can be seen in the atmospheric soundings as well. The yellow line is freezing and the blue lines are temperature and dew point. The inversion here is clear at the point where the blue lines pass through the yellow line. This sounding supports freezing rain/sleet in Sussex County NJ.

Let's keep an eye on this one....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Next Week Is Going To Be Rough

A major storm is coming in two parts for next week, and wintry precipitation will be falling Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. This time the storm will be cutting west of the mountains putting us on the warm side of things, but a stubborn high pressure system to our north will not give up without a fight. Most models right now agree that the storm will drop snow (plenty of it), go over to sleet, and then freezing rain to end. Maybe even some snow on the back side. Either way, by the time the storm is over the snow cover in North Jersey could approach or exceed 30".

Most the models have been tracking the storms to far west lately, and that includes the GFS and EURO. Then just a few days from the event it tracks it back to the east. So let's count on that happening again since it's happened that way since the Christmas storm. One model has been very impressive lately though, and may be my new favorite. The Canadian has been consistent with the storms so far this season and may have surpassed the EURO as the Guru of the models. It shows North Jersey really getting slammed and staying as frozen precipitation all week long.

To check out the 12z run of the CMC go to this link:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Re-Cap and Outlook


This winter has been absolutely insane. Newark is already at 62" for the season and will most likely beat the record set in the notorious 1995-1996 season. Snow records are being broken all over the state, and more will tumble with each snow event coming. The good (or bad) news is that there is no end in sight and snowpack will continue to build through February before it even starts to melt in March.

Snowpack is something that builds over the winter season, which we typically don't get a lot of. I call it "snow cover" if the snow on the ground is from one or two storms, but what we have now is snowpack. The snow depths are measured in feet across the region which is impressive, but more impressive is the liquid equivalent (Liquid equivalent - taking the outside snow and melting it down). Below is the snow depth image from today, and this consists of 3"-5" inches of liquid!

Usually this much snow would be 1"-2" inches of liquid, but our snow has compacted and built into a strong thaw resistant consistency. Meaning that this snow is going to last a lot longer than your average 1 to 2 feet. Now let's add more snow on top, sound okay?

Some snow totals:
Central Park- 19.0"
Frenchtown- 17.9"
Hopewell- 17.1"
Morristown- 14.0
Netcong- 10.5"
Sparta- 8.9"
Wantage- 4.0"

The cold:

One of the things I record when I keep track of winter is the number of days with below freezing high temperatures. I've been keeping track since 2000 and the record season was 08-09 with 48 days. This season so far is up to 40 days and it's only January 27th!


We have two quick shots of snow from a pair of clipper systems coming from the north and west. The snow totals won't be much of a big deal but 1"-3" out of both of them combine will be a common trend, but some areas could end up with 4". These clippers are extremely hard to forecast, sometimes they could through as flurries and other times they can look like a blizzard. I wouldn't get too excited for this weekend. Here is a map of total QPF between both systems:

Beyond this more arctic cold is on it's way and other storm is possible for the middle of the week. Right now we can only speculate where the storm will track and how much precipitation will fall, one thing is for sure.... it's coming.

Stay tuned, and keep doing those snow dances.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bring it...

For the storm I'm still staying with the map I posted last night. It may end up being an inch or two underdone. Even after this storm exits one for Friday threatens to bring us another 1"-2", and then another one on the weekend could bring 3"-5" more. On top of that another big mid-week storm is on the deck for next week.

It's going to be awesome. Enjoy the snow!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snow Map January 27th Update

Here is my final snow map, there was a westward shift in the models but it's look as the heaviest bands will go south of the area.

More updates tomorrow as to the specifics of the storm...

Snow Map January 27th

Below is the preliminary snow fall map for the upcoming storm. Right now most models agree that the heaviest snow bands will slide south and east of Sussex County again. This isn't my official map just yet. Check back later tonight for my finalized map if the models start to show a westward shift.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Storm Is Coming

It's been a complete head ache, but I think I may finally have an answer to the big question. No, I don't know who REALLY killed Kennedy. I do know what the next storm has to offer...

First off the models are still all over the place, but they all keep northwest Jersey as all snow. Second the storm is no longer Tuesday-Wednesday, but Wednesday-Thursday. And third it's not clear where the heaviest "band" of snow will be.

Right now most models show a situation like this: (NAM)
A tongue of precipitation on the backside of the storm system produces heavy snow for several hours and totals accumulations could range 8"-12" and better. And the possibility exist for the storm to become a total monster.

The soundings support an all snow event for areas west of I-95 at least. Some forecast are saying sleet or freezing rain which isn't going to happen. The upper air pattern will not support such precipitation for extended period of time because it lacks warmer air aloft.

We are just going to add onto our snowpack that's been building this year. And most likely double it with a wet heavy snowfall. Tomorrow I'm going to post a snow map so check back then. I have a feeling we are in the strike zone this time in NW Jersey...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Arctic In Dirty Jersey...

It's January and the next three days may end up being the coldest period of this winter season. Just take a look at my official forecast for a valley location and a mountain top location.

Sussex Airport:

Tonight (1.21) - Mostly Clear Skies
Low -1

Saturday (1.22) - Partly Cloudy
High 17 Low -4

Sunday (1.23) - Flurries
High 20 Low -9

Monday (1.24) - Mostly Sunny
High 15 Low 2

High Point (1,803 feet):

Tonight (1.21) - Mostly Clear Skies
Low 4

Saturday (1.22) - Partly Cloudy
High 10 Low -2

Sunday (1.23) - Flurries
High 14 Low -4

Monday (1.24) - Mostly Sunny
High 11 Low 3

My point is that the valley locations will get much colder over night into the early morning hours but warm up more during the day time hours. The higher elevations will not have as dramatic a change in daily temperature as lower non-urban areas. Some place in North West corner will approach -15 (probably Walpack Center), and some places won't break the single digits for highs (maybe High Point or Mount Olive).

Okay, that's some cold air but we all want more snow. So far the area is ranging from 25"-35" inches across western Jersey while areas east are 35"-45" as far a season-to-date snowfall is concerned. It's kind of an odd thing but I have strong confidence that the trend will switch a few weeks down the road. Let's talk snow?

To be completely honest, I nor any other meteorologist can tell you what's going to happen just yet for early next week. The models are all over the place but one thing is for sure, a storm is coming up the east coast into a negatively tilted trough. Someone could get a blizzard.

The European model is my favorite because it favors NW Jersey for the jackpot (blizzard with rain for the city):

The Canadian or CMC or "GEM", whatever it is shows a rain storm which would wipe out our snow cover (no me gusta):

The the good old GFS is right in between giving eastern areas the brunt of the storm, again.

Other models are showing even more different solutions. The NOGAPS sends it out to sea (OTS), which is notorious in always doing that in the long range. And the JMA has no clue the storm even exists...

Anyway keep checking back. As we get closer to the event things will start to become more obvious. Pray for a massive blizzard to the snow gods...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Map January 21st

This is going to be a quick blog today so I'll start you right off with the NMM QPF (total liquid precipitation).
The map has most of the area with less than 0.50" of liquid precipitation, although a few areas will get a little more toward the city and around high point ridge. After looking at the QPF and taking in account snow ratios here is the snow map:

After the snow comes in the coldest air of the season so far with temperatures falling below zero for one or two nights. Beyond that could be more snow potentials! Check back tomorrow for another blog that will look at the coming week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow then more snow

It hasn't really been a "snowy" season here in North West Jersey. It's actually just average as of right now. Another snow event is coming through tonight, but it will mix and eventually go over to just rain in some places. First off the system will come up from the south and precipitation will be heavy to start, accumulations will range from around 2" inches at lower elevations to as much a 6" inches above 1000 feet.

Here is the sounding a few hours into the storm for Andover airport:

The red line is the freezing line and long blue line are temperature and dew point. The two blue lines are close together meaning the atmosphere is moist, and the fact that it is primarily below freezing means this is a snow sounding. The only problem is a little layer of the atmosphere is above freezing (in the yellow circle), which would indication a few sleet pellets are mixing in.

The next sounding is a few hours out:

Now this time a large layer of the atmosphere is above freezing which indicates the melting of all the snow on it's way down. Now the surface has a thick layer of cold air, this would be mostly sleet with freezing rain mixing in as the liquid precipitation freezes in free fall.

Most sounding data supports the idea that the surface will remain below freezing all day long above 500 feet, which means most areas in North West Jersey with stay wintry. A solid 3"-5" inches of snow will fall before the change over to sleet. Once the sleet starts to fall the snow will get compacted down into a hard, durable, and thaw resistant surface. The freezing rain will follow and put down a good layer of ice on top of the snow cover.

I know it's not the best storm, but by tomorrows end we will have a few inches on the ground that we didn't have today. So it's a good thing.

The snow map:

After this mess is all over with another storm potential for Friday could bring another plowable snow event.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Update from Jay Peak

Currently I am at Jay Peak in northern Vermont. It's been snowing since we got here yesterday but surrounding areas are just getting flurries. It's absolutely amazing. The extreme winds today forced the Tram to the summit to close down, so we decided to hike up. The trail on the way up had all it's snow blown right off, but on the way down we took another trail. For the first time in my life I was over my waist in the best snow I've ever seen. Went through it like butter. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

I know the rest of you are back in Jersey and I can't leave you all hanging. You want to know about tomorrow upcoming snowstorm. This one isn't a blizzard, as the winds will not be as strong as the last one. The current NAM is printing out between 0.50 to 0.75 inches of liquid over the area. Typically that means a 6" - 9" inch event. Amounts will be greatest further east, yet again.

Latest NAM QPF:

The snow map:

Unfortunately I don't have a copy of my snow map so I'm just going to post the NWS map. It's pretty close to what I am thinking anyway.

Will school be closed?:

Schools will be closed in eastern areas on Wednesday where at least a solid 8" inches will fall. The timing of the system may allow roads conditions to improve in western areas by Wednesday morning. I would say most schools in the area will at minimum have a delay.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 8th Snow Map

It's going to be one snowy week. Tomorrow another round of snow could move through the area with higher accumulations to the south this time. This one is a tough call, but it looks like at least a coating for most areas.

After this storm we need to keep watch on a big potential Nor' Easter which could bring significant amounts of snow for the middle of the week. As of right now it looks like southern and eastern areas will get hit the hardest, but it's still several days out and a lot can change from now till then.

Snow Update

The heavy band of snow is passing through the area. I know it's a little late to change my mind on snow totals but it looks like the forecasted totals on my snow map are a little to much in northern areas (around Sussex, West Milford, to NYC) as the pivot point is going to a little further to north. Some places in Connecticut will pick up around 8 inches.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fridays Snowmap

The 12z NAM QPF is shown below, and really doesn't show much liquid equivalent over the area. Just around 0.25" which equals about 3" inches of snow.

The NMM show a different picture with up to 0.75" QPF and the storm hasn't moved all the way through yet. This would be around 8" inches of snow.
Here is my snow map for now. I may adjust and edit sometime tonight if I have a change of heart.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snowy Pattern Setting Up!

Winter so far has been an interesting one. Mountain Creek currently has more open terrain than Stowe Vermont and in fact only three resorts in Vermont have more trails open than Creek. Some Mountains in Vermont were forced to temporarily close! Not typical of a La Nina season, which usually brings ample amounts to snow to northern tier and leaves us with ice and rain. Not the case this season.

It's easy to see what has been causing the brutal winter on the northeast coast and especially in Europe where this winter has been the worst in hundreds of years. Most of you may know that I am obsessed with blocking patterns in the atmosphere, I have no idea why, and sometimes it scares me. Anyway, last year the arctic oscillation reached a record minimum level and what resulted was the worst winter in the mid-Atlantic states history with blizzard after blizzard. Then this winter came around and the arctic oscillation (AO), tanked even lower! Just take a look.

The image below shows the blocking over the northern hemisphere. Just watch that persistent block over Greenland (shown as red) and how it traps the cold weather over the northeast and Europe. It's a classic negative NAO, but also the AO is causing the cold air to be displaced from the north. With this kind of setup the storm track is forced south and has to cover a larger area of the hemisphere which makes it more prone to negative tilts. A negative tilt in the jet stream typically produces massive blizzards, as we have seen.

The only problem is that we just don't know what is causing the extreme negative values in the arctic oscillation. Some speculate high latitude volcanoes, the current solar minimum, or global cooling may be the cause. Global warming is said to cool the stratosphere over the arctic, but this is the complete opposite in every way because a negative AO is caused by warming of the stratosphere over the arctic. The age of global warming could very well be a done deal.

Let's talk about our snow potentials. First one is for Thursday night into Friday, but it really doesn't look like a big deal. I was thinking 3-5 inches, but this system will come through and pivot. The pivot point on the models right now looks to be across southern upstate NY into Connecticut but that point can always change. I mention the pivot point because where it occurs is where snow totals could be up to a foot. We need to keep an eye on it, and expect a snowfall map tomorrow.

After the system rolls through cold arctic air will pour into the region, with the heart of it right over our region. As you go north, the air will actually be warmer. It's a negative tilted trough setting up and a storm could potentially get wrapped up into it.

Check back tomorrow night for details on the storm(s)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Things are going to be a little different....

I want to start off by saying that the "warm up" is over, and now winter will be back in full force for at least the next two weeks. Right now northwest Jersey is right on track to get average snowfall, while northeast Jersey already is at or over their average seasonal snowfall. Yeah I know it's sad.

Let's take a look at the forecasted over the next 7 days:

The map above is typical of negative arctic oscillation, that is cold air displaced further to south. When the cold air is displaced further south a block sets up and storms will travel around the block and be sent back onto the continent instead of out to sea. This is how our region keeps getting all these blizzards! (Example below: Black line is jet stream or "storm track" and L represents a storm or low pressure system)

This January looks like it will get bitter cold at times, typical of a la nina season. In the last la nina season temperatures in Sussex NJ approaches -15 and Walpack recorded -20! A similar event this month seems likely. The good news is snow cover will return to the region!

Let's talk about our snow potential. Thursday into Friday is looking real good for accumulating and plowable snowfall. Right now it looks to be in the 3-5 inch range.



This storm is going to be blocked and end up back tracking from east to west, but in the polar jet stream. Which means bitter cold, high ratio snowfall, and very little liquid equivalent. As of right now it looks like the heart of the storm will occur over Maine to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where several feet of fluff will accumulate. (I'll be at Jay Peak so I'm excited)

After the quick moving and weak storm leaves the region the coldest air of the season will move in, and clipper systems will rule our weather pattern. That's it for now, and happy new year!