Saturday, March 3, 2018

Saturday Evening Post for March 3rd, 2018: Big Winds and the Nor'easter Life of Riley Overview

**This entry was posted March 3rd, 2018.**

Waves crash into the seawall along Turner Road, Scituate, Mass., during a fierce nor'easter, March 2, 2018.

This extended blow entry focuses on this week's major nor'easter -- Winter Storm "Riley" in the Weather Channel's winter season naming convention -- that caused so much wind and/or flooding damage from Virginia to Maine. The pictures are taken from various sources including the CWG entries listed below as well as this photo-montage article.


A crashed and abandoned vehicle during a raging nor'easter, Marshfield, Mass., March 2, 2018.


OK, I wrote about half of this entry yesterday evening but I ran out of time to post it as I had to meet Fred at Annie's for the start of what ended up a shit night, although it was fine with him. (The shit part was later but I'm so sick of writing that sentence that I'm not even going to get into it.)

Flooding along Lighthouse Rd in Scituate, Mass., during a powerful nor'easter, March 2, 2018.

I sometimes wonder how the immediate coastal stretch of Scituate even has any structures on it. The place is forever being hammered by nor'easters.


I've bulked up the entry with additional pictures and updated the precipitation stats below. I just got back from the gym, but I slept so late today -- until about 415PM -- that I didn't have time to do anything except a half hour swim. I'll go on Monday and Wednesday, and maybe even Thursday.

Right now, I'm in for the night watching the MeTV Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night and Sunday Red-Eye Sci-Fi line up, although I'm skipping the Svengoolie-hosted monster movie ("The Revenge of Frankenstein") because it's just too gross.

The Star Trek: TOS episode at 11PM is "A Private Little War" and the Battlestar Galactica episode at midnight is "The Lost Warrior."

Later on, Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode at 1AM is "Spanish Moss Murders" and the Lost in Space episode at 2AM is "There Were Giants in the Earth." That stakes me into the wee hours -- maybe even to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea at 3AM and Land of the Giants at 4AM with Gary Conway.

I need to make dinner and to do my laundry, but I'll do the latter later tonight.

As for the topic below -- about the impact of nor'easter "Winter Storm Riley" -- I should note that as of tonight here in D.C., the winds have slackened off to just an intermittent breeze. Basically, it's just a quiet, chilly night with a waning gibbous Moon.

Well, as quiet as it ever is living in the city.

OK, below is my entry from last night.


A large fallen tree felled by the powerful winds partially destroyed a house in Kensington, Md., March 2, 2018.

My understanding is that the occupant was not injured.


Wind is the word that characterized the weather today (Friday) -- as in, a veritable windstorm associated with a powerful nor'easter and very strong pressure gradient. There were widespread wind gusts in the 60 to 70 MPH range across the Metro D.C. and Baltimore areas with the airport stations recording the following peak gusts:

KDCA: 62-mph
KIAD: 71-mph
KBWI: 61-mph

These winds were roaring all day rather than coming in a summertime-like thunderstorm quick burst. Tonight there are downed trees and power lines with widespread power outages, especially in areas with above-ground power lines (i.e., suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas).

A downed tree in Takoma Park, Md., March 2, 2018.


The winds and wind damage (and fear of wind damage) resulted in the federal government and most area school systems closing -- primarily, it seems, because Metrorail was disrupted and local commuter train service was suspended (both MARC and VRE).

The 1Z March 2, 2018 HRRR model showing hourly forecasted peak wind gusts across Maryland, Northern Virginia, and D.C., from 5AM to Noon, March 2, 2018, as prettied up by (with wind speeds converted into MPH).

This forecast more or less verified.


All of this was associated with the big nor'easter -- Winter Storm Riley in the Weather Channel's 2018 winter season naming convention -- that is impacting the Northeastern U.S. tonight. The wind is still intermittently roaring this evening and the entire region remains under a high wind warning with storm warnings on the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac.

GOES East satellite picture from March 2, 2018 (time uncertain) showing Winter Storm Riley.

GOES-East has a feature whereby it produces a composite colorized "visible" satellite image that includes an easily discernible night side featuring illuminated cities. I find it rather confusing since it is more of a cartoon image than anything else.


A tree on the National Mall that toppled over the high winds yesterday; photo by Jim Havard and featured in this CWG entry.


Hundreds of thousands of people lost power across the D.C. and Baltimore Metro areas, and as many as 1.6 million customers from North Carolina to Maine (a figure actually represents more like four or five million people since a "customer" is a household, residential building, or other single entity where there are multiple people.

A mother and baby rescued on flooded Post Island Rd., Quincy, Mass., March 2, 2018.


The CWG has had multiple dire entries with photos of damage. Below are the main ones (in no particular order) from the past few days -- and note the one that introduces the term "sting jet" (more on that a bit later in this entry):

Dangerous, long duration wind storm rakes Washington region with 60 to 70 mph gusts

Nor'easter will create record storm surge Friday night. Some homes 'may be destroyed.'

D.C.-area forecast: Dangerous winds roar today and tonight; showers end with snowflakes

Destructive 60- to 70-mph 'sting jet' winds possible during Friday morning commute

Once-in-a-generation flooding possible in Boston -- for the second time this year

Friday's nor'easter may bring worst wind storm to Washington region since Sandy in 2012

P.M. Update: Winds continue to whip tonight into Saturday, additional outages and damage possible

For major weather events, some of the entries are updated over the course of several days -- and the entry titles (but not the URLs) even change.

Here are the NWS advisory products in effect tonight:

Philadelphia / Mt. Holly (PHI) county warning area (CWA) weather advisories as of 7:28PM March 2, 2018.


Boston / Taunton (BOX) CWA weather advisories as of 7:29PM March 2, 2018.


I should point out that "Riley" brought very little rainfall / precipitation to the D.C. area, but a bit more to the Baltimore area. Places from Philadelphia, across New Jersey, the New York City area, Long Island, and southern New England were hammered with a lot more precipitation in the form of a mixed bag of wind-driven rain and snow.

Some radar imagery:

National Weather Service (NWS) Fort Dix (DIX) radar in standard composite mode looped 5:48AM - 6:29AM
March 2, 2018.


NWS composite radar mosaic for the northeastern U.S. looped 1518 - 1628UTC March 2, 2018.


NWS composite radar mosaic for the northeastern U.S. looped 2258UTC March 2 - 0008UTC March 3, 2018.


For the entire event (Thursday and Friday), KDCA recorded a paltry 0.10" while KIAD had 0.13". By contrast, KBWI recorded 0.46" and KDMH (located in the Damnation Alley-like setting that is Baltimore City) had 0.62".

Other major climate station totals for the entire event included the following in increasing order:

KACY: 1.08"
KBOS: 1.18"
KPHL: 1.42"
KLGA: 2.18"
KNYC: 2.24"
KEWR: 2.40"
KJFK: 2.73"

Snow showers rotating around the low -- which stalled for a period of time -- made it last night all the way to the Delmarva (see last composite radar image above), but not unexpectedly, nothing measurable reached west of the Chesapeake Bay.

Here are some additional photos of the impact of Winter Storm Riley:

Another sea-side image from Scituate, Mass., during the fierce nor'easter, March 2, 2018.

Again, I don't see how there are any permanent structures along the seafront section of that town.


Daniel Cunningham rides in a kayak along flooded E. Squantum Street in Quincy, Mass., during the nor'easter, March 2, 2018.


There were wind gusts in the 85 to 90-mph range across parts of southern coastal New England including 89-mph in Nantucket, 88-mph at Woods Hole, Mass., and 81-mph in Barnstable, Mass. Along the Jersey shore, there were gusts in the 65 to 70-mph range with Cape May reporting 71-mph gust.

A snowy scene in Marple Township, Penn., March 2, 2018.


I should note that one of the Friday Sterling (LWX) area forecast discussion, the term "sting jet" was introduced -- and bandied about in one of the above-linked CWG entries including in the title. As explained in this 2017 scholarly article by David M. Schultz and Keith A. Browning, a sting jet refers to "a mesoscale wind maximum associated with descent from the mid-troposphere that formed along the bent-back front, close to the tip of the cloud head."

This is a figure taken from the Schultz and Browning 2017 article linked above explaining a sting jet formation.


The term was coined Prof. Browning in this 2004 QJRMS article -- and it is meant to suggest "the sting at the end of the tail" with the tail being that of a scorpion.

European windstorm conceptual model showing the evolution of extratropical cyclone with sting jet feature.

It was the "Great Storm of 1987" -- a massive extratropical cyclone that struck the UK and France on Oct. 15 and 16, 1987 that led Prof. Browning to come up with the term "sting jet."


I have this hunch that there exists a positive statistical correlation between first-time use of "scary" new meteorological terms such as "polar vortex," "Arctic Oscillation," "Omega block," and now "sting jet" in rightwing mass media and media entertainment outlets (Fox, Drudge, Breitbart, Limbaugh and talk radio in general, etc.) and gun sales in the United States.

Of course, it would be necessary to control for important but unrelated variable terms such as "Hillary Clinton," "Nancy Pelosi," "Obamacare," and "activist judges."

The null hypothesis is that there is NO correlation and the alternative hypothesis is that there is a correlation. Now I am aware that correlation doesn't imply causation, but in this case, I suspect that it would.

A downed large tree blocks a residential street in Swampscott, Mass., March 2, 2018.


A few other weather items of note from late last month that I had intended to post ...

Northern Hemisphere 2-meter temperature daily maximum [in Celsius] for February 25, 2018 based upon GFS data; Climate Reanalyzer.

Note the warm tongue of air that reached the North Pole itself. The high temperatures are at or above freezing. Vanishing Artic Ocean sea ice is allowing these sorts of warm air intrusions to happen more frequently even as the polar vortex itself is getting more wobbly and prone to displacements into the Eurasian or North American hemispheres.


Temperatures at and around the North Pole surged to about 50F above normal for late winter -- reaching the freezing mark or even a bit above (satellite estimated at 35F since there is no thermometer at the geographic North Pole itself). Sea ice is rapidly disappearing from the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea -- and is likely to hit another record low later this summer as climatic warming continues apace in the Arctic.

Northern Hemisphere 2-m temperature anomaly [in Celsius] versus the 1979 - 2000 baseline period based upon GFS 1-day data for February 25, 2018 and the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) product


On a related note, this North Polar warmth was associated with a polar vortex outbreak over western Eurasia with Arctic air spilling across Europe and even the British Isles with "sea effect" snow squalls hitting parts of England near the North Sea. British media dubbed it "the Beast from the East." The New York Times had this article on it while the CWG had this entry earlier in the week.

A snowsquall engulfs portions of Greater London during an Arctic outbreak this past week; February 27, 2018; Photo source: London National Police Air Service (NPAS).


The Arctic outbreak brought accumulating snow to Rome and Venice:

The Colosseum (or Coliseum) in Rome on a very rare snowy day, February 26, 2018.

According to this Vogue article (!) where I got the above picture, the snow total in Rome was about 1.5 inches and it was the first snowfall in 6 years in the Eternal City. What's more, prior to that one, it had been 30 years since it had snowed.


A Venetian gondolier clears snow off his gondolas; photo taken at some point in the last week of February 2018.


Earlier in February, Paris had a snowstorm in the 2 to 4 inch range:

Snow in the Champs de Mars with the Eiffel Tower nearby, February 7, 2018; photo by Alain Jocard.


Lastly, here is an article from on how early spring has come to parts of the United States as measured by the "leafing out" of the vegetation. Earlier this week -- at the end of a warm spell -- it was put at 20 days ahead of schedule in the mid-Atlantic.

The National Phenology Network / USGS map of the Spring Leaf Index Anomaly for February 27, 2018.


It should be noted that Feb. 2018 was well above normal temperature-wise for the eastern U.S. Officially here in Washington, D.C., KDCA recorded its third-warmest February on record (back to 1872 to include the pre-National Airport record) at 6.3F above normal at 45.3F.

As noted by Matt Rogers in this CWG entry, this means D.C. has had its warmest and third-warmest Februarys in 2017 and 2018.

The good news is that it was aa wet February after the prolonged fall and winter dryness. KDCA picked up 4.79" of precipitation or +2.17 inches.

For KBWI, it was 6.0F above normal at 41.8F and monthly precipitation was 5.30 inches or +2.40 inches. For KIAD, it was 6.2F above normal at 42.4F with precipitation at 4.60 inches or +1.86 inches.


Downs Park, Pasadena, Md., looking across the Chesapeake Bay, March 3, 2018 during a very low water episode created by the powerful offshore winds at the end of the nor'easter.

My mom sent me this picture and the one below.


OK, that's about all for now. Right now, I'm in the office alone with the lights out -- just my desk lamp with its old incandescent bulb giving a warm yellow light -- and my little desk fan whirling away. I'm also listening to Bryan Wright's weekly Shellac Stack podcast, specifically, episode no. 112.

I can't even begin to post a political-themed entry, so I'm not. As a brief personal update, I've been rather depressed today. I didn't get into the office until afternoon, but no one was here anyway (the weather basically made it a "snow day").


Another view looking across the Chesapeake Bay from Downs Park, Pasadena, Md., March 3, 2018 during a very low water episode created by the powerful offshore winds at the end of the nor'easter.


And I will now wrap up this entry as well. Jukebox Saturday Night entry to follow shortly.


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