Friday, January 3, 2014

D.C.-Style Snowy Night Musings and Pictures (Updated - N.J. Snow Info / Long Branch Pics)

Updated 7:38PM January 3, 2014: See below

Snowy night in the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 10:40PM January 2, 2014. This is the block where my apartment building is located.

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The snow has mostly ended although the radar shows additional broken bands have been forming over Maryland and brushing the District in the past two hours as the departing coastal low really starts to deepen. Snow totals were generally in the 2 to 5 inch range across the Metro D.C. and Baltimore areas with the higher amounts in the colder suburban locations.

Map showing preliminary snowfall totals on January 2, 2014 for the Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) including much of Maryland and northern and central Virginia and encompassing the Metro D.C. and Metro Baltimore areas.

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Updated 9:45AM 1/3/2014: The "official" snowfall totals for the entire event at the regional climate stations were as follows:

KDCA: 1.9"
KBWI: 4.2"
KIAD: 3.0" (daily record)
KDMH: (Not available)

These amounts were in keeping with what the models predicted, except at KDCA where the always - warmer boundary layer conditions invariably cut down on the totals. The same holds true in downtown D.C. including around Dupont Circle / Shaw where I live. This fact brings me to my next topic ...

Just to follow-up what I posted in my previous entry (specifically, in the two updates), I want to note what a disservice was done by the usually very on-top-of-things Baltimore / Washington NWS Forecast Office (called "Sterling" because it is located in Sterling, Va., and also "LWX" for its three-letter identifier) by failing to issue a winter weather advisory for the immediate D.C. area as the hours went by -- and the actual weather event was underway.

The NCEP SREF plume for KDCA based on the 22 GFS ensembles run at 15Z Jan. 2, 2014 showing snowfall through 18Z Jan. 4, 2014. The plot ran a number of day beyond that but I truncated it for ease-of-viewing. The dark black line is the mean amount and was 3.56" of snow.

To be clear, multiple SREF runs were showing measurable and increasing snowfall amounts.

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It's one thing to discount the models -- although I'm not sure how one justifies ignoring the European model and the runs of the NAM and GFS including its ensembles and the resulting SREF plume diagrams, all of which by early afternoon showed a measurable snowfall event that was in fact about what we received -- but I don't get the ignoring actual weather part. I refer to how the radar blossomed with precipitation that was mostly snowfall and reports were coming in left and right of the snowfall. (Note that Internet Explorer does not work well with the SREF viewer.)

The NCEP SREF plume for KBWI based on the 22 GFS ensembles run at 15Z Jan. 2, 2014 showing snowfall through 18Z Jan. 4, 2014. The plot ran a number of day beyond that but I truncated it for ease-of-viewing. The dark black line is the mean amount and was 4.89" of snow.

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Then there was the six hour gap between discussions (2:41PM and 8:41PM) and no mention in the latter that the winter weather advisory had been expanded -- and all on a day that required frequent updates and information. Of note, the Capital Weather Gang did a really good job in this way today.

A snowy night around 730PM as seen at the Rockville Metro in Rockville, Md., January 2, 2014. This picture was taken by DD as he walked home from the Metro station. This is about 13 or 14 miles to the northwest of where I live in D.C.

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Finally, I found it odd how Sterling removed its "min" and "max" snowfall maps and kept only the low-quality and ultimately inaccurate "most likely" one on its semi-hidden winter weather page. (This page requires something other than Internet Explorer to click on the map links, at least with my computer.)

The LWX CWA "likely" snowfall potential map issued at 3:39PM January 2, 2014 through 8PM January 3, 2014.

The updated one that was on the Capital Weather Gang in this entry issued at 3:37PM EST Jan. 2nd, 2014.

Note the tremendous difference for the immediate Baltimore area.

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Snowy night at the intersection of W and 14th Streets (looking south down 14th Street) NW, Washington, D.C., 10:32PM January 2, 2014.

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I'm also confused about the seemingly blasé attitude of LWX given how cautious and hyper-sensitive is the National Weather Service and its forecast offices (including LWX).

I assume that part of it is because of all the many snow-busts of the past few winters including the notorious "Snowquester" bust in March 2013 that nevertheless resulted in widely-derided Federal, state, and local government and school system delays and even shutdowns. In addition, I also suspect that another part of it may have been the criticism directed at Sterling by the folks at the Capital Weather Gang with their high-visibility weather blog on The Washington Post's website.

Snowy night on the intersection of 15th Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 10:37PM January 2, 2014. This is the view looking south along 15th Street (possibly 2100 block). I was walking the short distance home from the Anthony Bowen YMCA.

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But more than that, I think some of it was just driven by the forecasters' egos (one in particular) and that curious effect you see in organizations in which groupthink helps people latch onto an idea, plan, or method no matter the evidence. (Actually, that's the entire GOP today, but never mind that.)

Anyway, I wonder if CWG is going to have a piece criticizing LWX for failing to issue a timely winter weather advisory for our area. God knows Jason has criticized LWX for "overdoing" it on the advisories and watches.

Snowy night along the sidewalk in the 2100 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 10:38PM January 2, 2014.

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Section clarified...

It is going to get very cold and blustery by tomorrow with highs in the 20F to 25F range and overnight lows tomorrow night around 13F in downtown D.C. / National Airport and into the single digits in the far outlying suburbs. Then it will warm up somewhat with another weather system on Sunday -- mixed rain and snow is forecasted -- that precedes the next Arctic blast.

That Arctic onslaught will begin Monday and run into Wednesday. Highs on Tuesday may not even reach 15F and lows in the outlying northern and western suburbs conceivably reaching -2F to -4F. It will be the coldest weather in the D.C. area since January 19 - 21, 1994 (20 years ago!).

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Snowy night view in the 2000 block (my apartment block) of New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 10:40PM January 2, 2014.

You realize that if we switch entirely out of the orange-glowing sodium vapor (or rather, mixed sodium / mercury vapor) street lights (sodium vapor alone would be more yellow) to the harsher, more austere blue/white LED ones, this kind of golden/sepia-toned view of the nighttime "soft city" that is most evocative when it is snowy, foggy, or drizzly / misty would be a thing of the past. Of course, LEDs do not have to come in just these "cool" colors.

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UPDATED 7:38PM January 3, 2014 ...

I would like to post the two pictures that my cousin Tony* in New Jersey sent me from Long Branch earlier today -- my childhood hometown where he lives. 

I looked at the Mount Holly / PHI snow totals for the entire event, and Long Branch came in the grand snow prize winner at 11.0 inches, higher than any of the reports in the Mount Holly NWS forecast area, which includes all of New Jersey, Delaware, the northern half of the Maryland Eastern Shore counties, and eastern Pennsylvania. It was nearly double what fell in Manasquan (5.8 inches).

The snow-blanketed streets and yard in (West?) Long Branch, N.J., morning of January 3, 2014

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*To clarify, Tony and I became acquainted at Aunt Babe's 100th birthday last January. Also, it turns out that he is the son of my late paternal grandmother's late younger brother Billy. His wife, Aunt Antoinette ("Toni") is Tony's mom. Both Tony and Aunt Toni are doing fine.

Nearly a foot of snow on Tony's deck, (West?) Long Branch, N.J., January 3, 2014.

End of update.

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Changing topics ...

I'm exhausted at this late hour. I made it to the gym -- finally after three days off and my first visit in 2014 -- and while I got in a full 5.4 mile jog, I only did about 40 minutes of weight-lifting and skipped swimming. The snowfall outside and the fact it was a Thursday and I wanted to be somewhere else sort of distracted me.

Oh, yes, the Hallmark Channel is back to showing its regular nighttime line up including The Golden Girls. That is, it's Christmas holiday movie marathon is finally over after a full five or six weeks. (In previous years, the Christmas movies have been aired until just after Epiphany.)

Finally, I've had in my head of late the first part of the little jingle I came up with set to the tune of Frosty the Snowman to Chris H's absolutely adorable little puggle puppy dog, Brady. I've adapted it a bit below.


"Brady the puggle / Is as cute as he can be! / There's so much love in that little wet tongue / And he'll chew your gloves with glee!"

--Regulus

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