Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19: Next Potential Storm Still Highly Uncertain

In year’s past, I have blogged about the lessons learned from the 1942 Palm Sunday (March 29) snowstorm, which buried Baltimore in 22 inches of heavy, wet snow.    It was outright crippling in terms of downed trees, broken utilities and clogged transportation arteries.    There was a real “shock and awe” factor with this one – as the following pictures attest:
Library of Congress

Library of Congress
So, even though this is an extreme “outlier” event, there is precedent;  it could happen again.    Today, the computer models continue to advertise a significant coastal low or Nor’easter in the March 25-26 timeframe.    This, thanks to an unusually cold late-March air mass coming down from Canada.    When air this cold moves along the warm Atlantic’s Gulf Stream the Polar Front becomes prime breeding ground for a coastal storm.
With the possible storm still about a week out, there continues to be a lot of uncertainty in the model projections…in terms of storm location, intensity, track and manner in which it taps the cold air.    Odds are against a major snow storm during early spring, due to high Sun angle and warmer air masses to our south and east.  Also, the western Atlantic water is very warm, and if this air invades the D.C. – Baltimore region (in the lowest few thousand feet), it means a rainy day, not snow. 
At this point, I give equal probability to all of the following options:  All rain, mix of rain and snow, a big snow, nothing at all – which means I have about zero confidence in what may happen seven days from now.
Stay tuned, and as usual, this next “event” will probably have everyone on edge as the weekend draws near.

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