Lake-Effect Winter Storm Boomshakalaka

Lake-effect snow forecast for western PA this weekend (by Sunday night):

Erie: 3-6″ along near the coast. 4-8″ in the Boro. Local amounts up to 10″ possible.
Oil City: 3-6″
Pittsburgh: <1″

Locally there is potential for more, especially near the lakes in the snow belt and in higher elevations. Should start this afternoon. BE SAFE (Don’t drive like a Maryland driver in snow)!

I apologize, but it’s gonna be really cold this weekend

Since I’ve already written 6 forecast discussions today for locations across the country, I’m gonna keep it short today.
Western PA: Threat of rain continues today and into tonight. Lake-effect snow risk moves in through Sunday. Could see a few inches of snow that may Temperatures will hold steady throughout the day before dropping into the upper 20s to low 30s overnight. Highs in the low to mid 30s on Saturday will drop into the mid teens Saturday night into Sunday. Highs in the 20s will occur on Sunday while lows in the teens continue.
DC Area: Chance of rain into tonight before drying out this weekend. Highs in the low 60s today before upper 40s by tomorrow afternoon and then 30s by Sunday. Lows in the 20s and 30s are expected.

I guess I didn’t keep it short. Enjoy the snow in PA. Enjoy hot chocolate too because it is going to be mighty cold. Have a great weekend!

I’m dreaming of a white…Thanksgiving?

So the near term forecast is for temperatures to warm up over the next few days before, you guessed it, the cold moves in for next week. We’re looking at potential for highs 15+ degrees below average and lows 10+ degrees below average this Sunday. Why not bring a storm up the coast and add some snow Tuesday night into Wednesday? Still too early to tell the exact scenario, but the intense cold and enough moisture could allow for snow into PA, especially in the mountains. As for the next few days, looking at dry conditions over the next couple of days for western PA before a chance of rain moves in on Thursday night and into Friday. This threat of precipitation will continue into Saturday before lake-effect snow returns this weekend. Highs in the 40s will occur today before 40s and 50s move in the next couple days. Lows in the 20s will occur tonight before 30s/40s return for the next two nights. For DC, dry but cloudier conditions stick around over the next 3 days. Highs in the 40s today will give way to 50s and 60s through Friday. Lows in the 30s/40s are expected through the early weekend. As for me, I’m taking a break from the weather tomorrow. I have it off, so I am going to enjoy it. Take care folks!

“They say in the land of the blind, the man with one eye is king. Well in the land of the skunk the man with half a nose is king!”

This is one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite movies ever “Dirty Work.” If you’ve never seen it, do it now! Don Rickles won’t be talking to your belly today about ice cream because it is going to be a bit chilly. Clouds will decrease throughout the day today as highs reach into the mid 30s to low 40s in western PA. Sunshine will return by tomorrow and Thursday as highs bump back up into the 40s tomorrow before 40s/50s move in on Thursday. Lows will be cold tonight in the low to mid 20s before 20s and 30s move in through Thursday. In DC, clouds will decrease as well giving way to mostly sunny skies the next couple of days. Highs in the low 50s today will dip into the 40s tomorrow before 50s return Thursday. Lows in the 30s will occur. Time for me to start a revenge-for-hire business. Have a great two-for-Tuesday!

Because Hurricane Ditka Is The Only Storm To Watch Out For

As most know, a severe outbreak tore through the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic yesterday as 83 tornado reports, 554 wind reports, and 42 hail reports occurred from Iowa all the way to New Jersey. The worst hit were Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, with Illinois taking a hit from an EF-4 tornado in Washington. At least 6 people have been confirmed dead, which is 6 too many if you are a meteorologist like myself. My thoughts and prayers are with these people, as I cannot imagine walking out of my basement or closet and seeing my belongings and entire home strewn about like Legos in a make-believe world.

I am writing this to explain the severity of this situation and focus on the inaction taken by the NFL during the Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens game at Soldier Field. The EF-4 tornado in Washington, IL had already occurred before the game and the same intense line of storms was heading northeast towards the Chicago urban sprawl. The NFL continued on with the coverage, as more than 60,000 fans sat in the almost 90 year old stadium. The game began as scheduled and after a half hour of play, the fans were cleared from their seats and hunkered down in the concourse areas of the stadium, hoping and praying that they wouldn’t get hit by horrendous weather. Luckily, the tornado never hit, but 60 miles to the southwest of Soldier Field in Coal City, IL, a tornado developed and damage occurred, and the NFL dodged a bullet. The fans packed in the concourses could breathe a sigh of relief.

This should have never happened. The fact that the game began at the scheduled time put tens of thousands of people’s lives at risk or what…a few dollars in CBS’s and the NFL’s pockets? Below is the excuse given in a USA Today article by NFL spokesman Michael Signora:

“Weather is unpredictable and there was a chance that the game could proceed without a delay. When lightning dictated that a stoppage was necessary, the procedures for such an occurrence (below) were followed.”

Is weather totally unpredictable?

  • If it was, I wouldn’t have a job. It is the details of weather that can be unpredictable.
  • It was the details that killed respected meteorologist/chaser Tim Samaras and his colleagues in the El Reno tornado this past spring. It was the details that threw the vehicle of Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes into a field during that same event.
  • A severe event was predicted well in advance. Just look at the Storm Prediction Center’s forecast for Sunday from 3:30 am EST Friday morning:

…and from 2:59 am EST Saturday morning:

..and from Saturday afternoon at 12:32 pm:

and Sunday morning at 12:52 am EST:

And what preliminarily happened laid over Sunday’s forecast:

  • I’d say weather is predictable.
  • Even well before the game, I was on Twitter and plenty of meteorologists were upset and concerned as to why the game was still on schedule.
  • If in fact weather is so unpredictable according to you, then wouldn’t that statement would be more of a reason to delay/reschedule the game?

Looking at the statement:

“When lightning dictated that a stoppage was necessary, the procedures for such an occurrence (below) were followed.” 

  • Lightning does not always dictate the severity of a storm. There really was not a lot of lightning with these storms, but yet there were destructive winds.

I understand that being in a large stadium is better than being stranded in your small car that could become a projectile. Who is to say that other projectiles couldn’t be thrown around in the stadium with the funneling of the wind inside of the corridors, though? Yes, a large stadium is a better option than standing under an overpass on a highway (overpass can collapse onto you, so never do that), but not by much as a nearly 90 year old field probably has weak areas in the structure.

One of the only positive things that came out of this is that the storm stayed south of Soldier Field and downtown Chicago. The other is that Bears fans from the suburbs hit by tornadoes may have been at the game and, thus, were safe from the worst.

Overall, this game should have been delayed at least a day in advance. There was plenty of time to reschedule. Technology in meteorology has progressed enough in the past decade to tell the general time frame that the line of storms would come through.

Weather can be predicted in advance and lightning does not always tell the full story Mr. Signora. The NFL averted danger and can feel humble about it as they go to the bank, but this could have easily gone the other way. The other sad part about this story is that residents of Illinois were upset that severe weather coverage was on instead of the game. I hope lessons were learned. May God bless the folks affected by these storms and help them pick their lives back up soon.

Politics and Government: The Honest To God Truth

One of the many “do not discuss” topics of conversation around the Thanksgiving table is politics. You want the truth?

Politics. Many of us want to understand them, but we don’t. Many of us act like we don’t need them, but we do.  Many of us complain about them, but we don’t do anything about them…

…and you thought I was going to talk trash on Democrats and Republicans. That is all.

Happy Weekend!

It’s Friday. Get down on it. Look forward to the weekend.

It is Friday fellow Facebook friends (alliteration), and the good news is that warmer temperatures are on the way. Today is dry as partly sunny to partly cloudy skies span the region before a slight chance of rain moves into PA tonight. Similar conditions will stick around on Saturday for PA before a threat of wet weather returns on Sunday. Highs in the 50s today and tomorrow will give way to 60s on Sunday. Lows in the 30s tonight will give way to 40s and even 50s the next couple of nights. As for DC, a nice day today will give way to a chance of rain overnight. Saturday will dry out before a chance of rain tracks in on Sunday, although it could hold off til the overnight hours. Highs in the upper 50s today will give way to 60s the next couple of days. Lows in the 40s and 50s will occur throughout the weekend. Take care, let loose, and enjoy!

In the words of the NBA Jam announcer: “Heating up!”

Cold morning to you! Franklin currently sits at 27, Pittsburgh 26, State College 32, and DC 31. The good news is that partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies will span the region today before clouds move in on Friday. A chance of rain will move in on Friday before clearing out on Saturday. DC could see rain early on Saturday. Temperatures will warm up, melting what snow is left in western PA. For western PA, Highs in the mid to upper 40s today will give way to upper 40s to mid 50s tomorrow, and mid to upper 50s on Saturday. Lows in the 30s tonight and tomorrow night will warm up into the 40s Saturday night. In DC, we’re looking at mid to upper 50s today and tomorrow before reaching into the 60s on Saturday. Lows in the 30s tonight will give way to 40s/50s Friday and Saturday night. It’s Thursday. 1 more day of work for many, two for me. Take care folks! Enjoy the sunshine!

Ode to All Meteorologists

  • Are you on TV?!
  • Do you work for The Weather Channel?
  • Must be nice. It’s the only job you can be wrong  (insert %)  and still be employed
  • What did you study in college to do that?
  • Is it going to (insert weather)   (insert time) ?
  • Do you chase storms?
  • (Lick finger and point it in the air) 

…or my all-time favorite:

  • That’s pretty cool, how do you like studying space?

I’m sure about every meteorologist can tell you that at least one of these are responses they have received when telling someone what they do for a living. For many of my friends and colleagues, the first response is a good one because they are actually on TV. Plenty of others are meteorologists, though, but what do they do?

I can tell you one thing, the life of a meteorologist for most, if not all, is not like this:

or this:

How did we become meteorologists?

We got a degree in meteorology of course. As lovely as it sounds to have most classes in front of a green screen and look at clouds, this is not what our classes were like. Our first two years paralleled those of an engineering student, taking 4 semesters of calculus, at least two semesters of physics, dynamics, and thermodynamics before turning more towards a weather focus. If you hated math, you were warned that a meteorology major was not right for you.

What do we do if we’re not on TV?

We wait for our big call from Jim Cantore at The Weather Channel, right? Wrong.

In the operational meteorological field (what I am in), this is some of what we do:

  •  Forecast for energy companies so they can put the right load amount in for electricity so your power doesn’t go out on a 103 degree day or on a -40 degree day.
  • Change oil/natural gas prices in the stock market by forecasting a hurricane to hit the production areas in the Gulf of Mexico or a strong cold shot pushing into the U.S. from Canada
  • Forecast for shipping companies, whether they are sending parcels through UPS or liquified natural gas
  • Forecast for renewables like wind and solar
  • Forecast for the water supply out west, because clean water is much more scarce in that region
  •  Forecast for agriculture companies, because Mars Chocolates needs to know how cocoa crops are going to do this year and farmers/traders need to know about corn planting/harvesting
  • Forecast for aviation.
  • Forecast for sporting events, ski lodges, and other recreation
  • Forecast for much, if not all, of the world

Outside of television and operational meteorology (and not in my areas of expertise) there is research, climatology, policy, teaching, modeling, programming, etc. All of these work together as one in the weather enterprise. There’s a lot that meteorologists do to affect your everyday life than you think.

Do you work good hours?

Not usually. A 9-5 job in the meteorology field is not typical. My day starts at 2am when the deer and foxes on the sides of the road wake me up. This is a promotion from the 10pm (vampire) shift I used to work. Most operational meteorologists I know start before 7am if they’re not working overnights. Other operational meteorologists rotate shifts, a number of weeks on the midnight shift before switching to days for a number of weeks. TV meteorologists will wake up around 2am as well, or in the afternoon depending on the shift they work on. If you’re a professor or in research, you probably have a more normal schedule, but you’ve gone to school for 6+ years so you have truly earned it. On top of the abnormal hours, you usually work some weekends and holidays. Merry Christmas!

So you make a lot of money right since you work unusual hours?

Overall, most meteorologists don’t make very good money. In most jobs, working overnights gets you more money. In meteorology that is not usually the case. Also, despite what I have heard non-meteorologists say about meteorologists making 6 figures, most make well less than that. Most TV meteorologists probably make the least because of such a large field of people to choose from who want to be “famous.” What I’m trying to say is that we’re not riding in limos to work.

Why are we meteorologists then?

We’re meteorologists for many reasons, including:

  • Everyone needs us
  • We love what we do
  • We love helping people like you in everyday life
  • You may find it nerdy, but we find it fascinating
  • Most jobs you cannot talk about outside of work. After all, who wants to hear about assets and liabilities.
  • We’re a bunch of odd ducks riding in the same boat, and according to Gordon Bombay, “Ducks fly together.”

…and the number 1 reason for being a meteorologist:

  • Global warming (the reason for everything)

So the next time you meet a meteorologist, don’t ask him/her if he/she knows Al Roker or is on TV, ask them about the quasi-geostrophic equation. Hopefully they don’t remember it. If they do, they’re a smart cookie. If they don’t, you’ll have a new knowledge of one of the coolest professions to continue the conversation. To all of the meteorologists I know and don’t know: Thank you for your hard work to help make this world run somewhat smoothly.