Friday, January 22, 2016

The Blizzard of '16 "Snowzilla" Arrives: "It is one we will remember for years, if not generations"

Sterling LWX NWS standard base mode reflectivity loop from 12:09PM to 12:52PM EST January 22, 2016.

This radar loop captured when the snow first started falling in the District of Columbia in this historic storm.

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It begins ... The Blizzard of '16 ... Unofficially dubbed "Snowzilla" ...

The snow started around 12:45PM and the final GFS and NAM guidance still show snowfall amounts of 20 to 30+ inches across the entire Baltimore/Washington area including right here in D.C. I posted some thoughts on the improbably snow forecast totals at National Airport in my previous entry.

Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) advisories as of 2:25PM EST January 22, 2016.

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The NWS in Sterling states:

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW ACCUMULATION 18 TO 24 INCHES ALONG AND EAST OF INTERSTATE 95...AND 24 TO 30 WEST OF INTERSTATE 95. THE CITY OF WASHINGTON DC IS EXPECTED TO RECEIVE AROUND 24 INCHES.

Blizzard warnings remain in place through 6AM EST Sunday.

Mt. Holly / Philadelphia (PHI) county warning area (CWA) advisories as of 2:38PM EST January 22, 2016.

Blizzard warnings are in effect across New Jersey, New York City, and all of Long Island.

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It appears that the CWG is calling this storm Snowzilla, rather than the Weather Channel's 2015-2016 season alphabetized winter storm name Jonas.

Here are links to some of the current, informative CWG entries and some associated images.


Colorized satellite image showing, I believe, water vapor imagery of the developing storm over the Southeastern U.S., January 21, 2016.

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"Snowzilla" timeline of precipitation, CWG

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The sub-headline to this is: It is one we will remember for years if not generations.

The top 25 snowstorms in Washington, D.C., in the official weather record periodtthat for snowfall stretches back to January 1888.

This includes both the pre-National Airport (pre-1945) and National Airport record. Nothing in the National Airport era even reaches 20 inches, much less 24+ inches. (My guess is that M.R. will see that it stays that way.)

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The following two images are from that entry, which includes appropriate credit:

Forecasted surface winds and mean sea level pressures for 7AM EST January 23, 2016.

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Jet stream (approx. 30,000-foot) winds associated with the storm as forecasted for 7AM January 23, 2016.

I'm unsure what the black contours and numbers represent -- they don't seem to be geopotential heights or thicknesses at that level.

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Below, I am reposting part of this morning's 10:04AM Sterling (LWX) area forecast discussion along with images -- snowfall forecast maps and histograms -- taken from the 6Z and 12Z GFS runs. (The NAM runs were about 5 to 10 inches lower in their snow totals and more in line with the 0Z Euro run.) Barring something extraordinary (which this whole storm seems determined to be), this will be the last entry containing any model guidance on forecasted snow totals.

Map of the 6Z Jan. 22, 2016 GFS snowfall for the northeastern U.S. valid through hour 86 / 06 Jan. 26, 2016 based upon a 1:10 ratio.

This image shows, nonsensically, a 54 inch bull's eye over northern St. Mary's County, Md., as well as 35+ inches over the District, which is completely unrealistic. However, this was enough to get me up out of bed.

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CLOSED UPPER-LEVEL LOW HAS ALREADY DEVELOPED IN THE SOUTHERN STREAM OF THE JET ACROSS THE GULF COAST STATES. HIGH PRESSURE TO OUR NORTH IS FEEDING IN COLD AIR ACROSS OUR REGION...AND SURFACE LOW PRESSURE IS RAPIDLY DEEPENING OVER ALABAMA. SNOW HAS ALREADY MOVED INTO CENTRAL VIRGINIA WELL AHEAD OF THIS SYSTEM...AND IT WILL CONTINUE SPREAD OVERHEAD FROM SOUTHWEST TO NORTHEAST TODAY.

DESPITE THE SYSTEM BEING WELL TO OUR SOUTH...STRONG JET DYNAMICS WELL AHEAD OF THE SYSTEM...AN OVERRUNNING COMPONENT TO THE LOW- LEVEL FLOW AND DEEP MOISTURE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SYSTEM WILL CAUSE SNOW TO ACCUMULATE QUICKLY RIGHT AFTER THE ONSET TIME.

KDCA 180-hour cumulative snow total based upon the 12Z January 22, 2016 run.

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BY 7 PM...SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 12 INCHES ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE CENTRAL SHENANDOAH VALLEY INTO CENTRAL VIRGINIA. SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA INTO EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA. SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS AROUND 1 TO 3 INCHES ARE EXPECTED NEAR AND JUST SOUTH OF BALTIMORE INTO CENTRAL MARYLAND. SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS AROUND AN INCH ARE EXPECTED NEAR THE MASON-DIXON LINE AND TO THE NORTH AND EAST OF BALTIMORE.

KBWI 180-hour cumulative snow total based upon the 12Z January 22, 2016 run.

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.SHORT TERM /6 PM THIS EVENING THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT/...
BY 00Z SATURDAY/FRIDAY EVENING THE SFC LOW WILL TRANSITION TO THE COAST AND RAPIDLY INTENSIFY. THE BAROCLINC ZONE ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE SFC LOW WILL BECOME STRONGER TONIGHT WITH A 50-70KT EASTERLY LLJ ACROSS THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION. WINDS ARE GOING TO RAMP UP CAUSING CONDTIONS TO WORSEN OVERNIGHT...

KIAD 180-hour cumulative snow total based upon the 12Z January 22, 2016 run.

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BLOWING SNOW WILL CAUSE NEAR ZERO VISBILITIES AND DRIFTING SNOW. LAPSE RATES ARE ALSO EXPECTED TO INCREASE TONIGHT INTO SATURDAY AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE POSSIBLE MAINLY EAST OF THE BLUE RIDGE. THIS WILL CAUSE SNOWFALL RATES TO INCREASE TO 2+INCHES AN HOUR ACROSS THE REGION.

The Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) most likely snowfall range forecast valid from 7AM January 22, 2016 - 7AM January 24, 2016.

This snowfall map image was generated at 12:45PM EST today but it is unchanged from the one I posted in my previous entry.

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View from my apartment overlooking the 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., as the snow started to stick in earnest, 3:07PM January 22, 2016.

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As a brief update, I didn't get to bed until nearly 5AM and then I was up by 9AM in order to telework today (our office like most shut down). When I looked at the 6Z GFS snowfall map -- with that nonsensical 54 inch bull's eye over St. Mary's County (see snow map image above) -- I decided I better get up and do what I needed to.

Without even shaving / showering (which I have since done), I got dressed and went to the little market next to my apartment building and bought $67 worth of groceries. Except for bananas and meat, it had most things -- just the usual marked up price versus the Safeway.

I then walked to the Bank of America at Dupont Circle and took out $300 from the ATM and then doubled back to the 17th Street Safeway, which was mobbed, to buy about $30 more in groceries.

Blurry picture inside the crowded Safeway on 17th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 10:48AM January 22, 2016.

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At this point, I'm more or less stocked up for a few days.

I'm doing a load of laundry and waiting for Gary to come by to drop off his things for his planned overnighter here. I will meet him a few hours from now again and we'll go to Trade and then walk probably via Floriana to Larry's Lounge. For tomorrow, we'll take a longer walk in the snow (conditions permitting).

Actually, in the time I wrote this, Gary came by to drop off his stuff -- and that included quite a bit of food, as well, doubling my own food supply.

I'm not planning on going to the gym until Monday. In fact, I suspect the YMCA Anthony Bowen will be closed tomorrow.

Sterling LWX NWS standard base mode reflectivity loop from 3:06PM to 3:48PM EST January 22, 2016.

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OK, I guess that's all for now. I'm extremely tired -- fatigued -- after so little sleep last night. The snow is picking up in intensity outside. I'll try to post updates as the situation warrants during the course of this blizzard.

--Regulus

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