A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. -- Susan Orlean

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Return to School Storms?

Happy holidays, all you faithful followers of the flake. We hope you're enjoying your time with friends and family and, of course, all the new gadgets in your life.

Pretty lame winter so far, isn't it? It looks like vacation week is going to be snow-less, but we might have something stirring for the first day back from vacation. We have a rain/snow/ice event on the GSD Radar for Tuesday and Wednesday, January 3-4. At the moment it looks like it may be too warm for a big snow, but the prospects of ice certainly put a delay possibility fully into play.

A near miss...
We know everyone's impatient for snow, but we need to just give it time. Signs are pointing to a shift in the weather pattern that could bring us a series of storms throughout January, one each week. Keep your spirits up, and before too long it will look and feel like winter out there.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12.22-23: Winter Weather Advisory In Effect

Snow total predictions are on the rise for the Northern Berkshires, and the NWS is calling for 3-6 inches for our neck of the woods and points north.

Most schools are in session tomorrow, so we'll go ahead and roll out a prediction even thought the GSD Staff is on holiday. A delayed opening is a weak possibility for North Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, Pine Cobble, MAU, and even the Adams/Cheshire RSD. Given the track record of the under-performing storms of December, we're not at all confident school will be delayed tomorrow. The NWS says up to 6" could fall, but we're not endorsing such a high total. Look for 2" across the region, with less from Lanesborough southward.


 As for a full snow day, the only chance is if ol' Saint Nick himself hijacks the administrative office of your school and decides to give out early presents to all the good boys and girls of the Northern Berkshires.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12.22: White Stuff on the Way

Normally we don't get too excited about a whopping 2" of snow for our area, but it is winter (as of tonight) and we need nature to at least look the part.

Snow will start late at night on Thursday, and it will be a fast mover, but it could make for a messy drive-in--for those who have to go to work, that is! With most schools on vacation, this storm is in that "who cares?" zone, but the holiday does make it semi-relevant.


Probably not enough to sled on according to Accuweather, but there will be enough flakes to get even the grouchiest of Grinches into the holiday spirit. Here's hoping it's on the high side of the predicted snowfall total.

We'll update throughout the holiday vacation if there are any blockbusters, and we'll definitely have a few predictions for our first week back. Until the, enjoy the holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week of 12.19: White Christmas Still Possible

While this week is a complete bust for snow storms, there's evidence on the horizon that we could see some snow this weekend to coat the ground and at least make it look like winter out there. The timing of this snow could be perfect--just in time for stocking time and presents on Christmas morning.

Accuweather is throwing out this scenario, and the fellows over at Channel 13 were also hinting at the same scenario this morning on the Monday morning news.

Sorry, folks, but that's all we've got. We do see a more significant snow for the New Year weekend. We may be starting to creep into that wave of storms pattern--we're looking at 3 or 4 weeks of weathermakers--that is characteristic of the early part of the winter. We DO NOT endorse the weekend timing of these storms, but at this point any news is good news.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12.14: Winter Weather Advisory for Thursday after Midnight

No need to get excited about the Winter Weather Advisory this evening. The changeover to rain will happen well before school starts, but the advisory went out because there could be some sleet when the precipitation starts this evening. There's the tiniest of chances we'll get a delay, but the roads should be just wet when the buses roll out.

The prospects for our 12.20 storm are dissipating, but we're still clinging to hope. The latest development is a wintry mix for Christmas Eve. Not great, but we have to take what we're given.

Keep half an eye open for slick roads tomorrow morning, but you should be able to proceed with all systems normal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Storm 12.20: Prospects for a White Christmas

Predicting a storm seven days in advance is rarely a good idea, but times being what they are, we're pulling the trigger early and CALLING FOR A FULL SNOW DAY ON DECEMBER 20TH! WOOT-WOOT! Break out the wassail!

Actually, we're just funnin'.

While the current long range forecast is for snow that day, we're skeptical about a major snow event. Of course, you, as a faithful and educated reader of this weather brokerage service, want to know why, and herewith is your answer:


Hmmm, you may be saying, that weather map sure looks promising. Well, as my old junior high gym teacher used to say, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear." (As shocking as it may sound, he wasn't exactly the cheery, upbeat, glass-is-half-full type--the guy made Scrooge look like Dale Carnegie.)

The map on the witness stand above has a glaring problem. That low that you see scootching across the country is too flat--its eastward movement will not allow it to suck enough moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico to bring us the blockbuster storm we desperately need right now. The only promising possibility out of the scenario above is that it will hit the coast, forming a coastal low (okay) or linking up with a secondary low (great, but unlikely) and taking a left hand turn up the coast.

Next week's lively pattern does very much warrant attention. Fortunately, friends, you can leave that heavy lifting up to us while you concentrate on your holiday cookie recipes and Secret Santa gifts. We'll update you on or around Friday with the latest developments.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2nd Half of December Predictions

Greetings to all you weather fiends. Despite the disappointing performance of our 12.8 storm, let's be honest--we really didn't think that one would be the one to break the ice, so to speak, for our first school-schedule alteration of the 2011-12 season.

To no one's surprise, the week of 12.12 is not looking particularly promising. Temps will warm up and then drop down, but it's as dry as Leake County, Mississippi here in the Northeast. We're not looking at anything until the 19th or 20th that might give the Superintendent agita.

The good news--and kudos to our weather tipster for alerting us to this article--is that the week before that big celebration of the birth of a major religious figure looks like it might be a lively one on the ol' weather front. With a big shift in the jet stream, the Northeast could be in the path of one, two, or three possible weather systems. White Christmas? The GSD staff is definitely saying there's a chance.

We'll update next Tuesday's storm as this week progresses. You'll just have to endure the week, but keep your hopes up for the week of the 19th. With Friday the 24th off for most folks, there's no enormously pressing need for a snow day that week, but it would be a nice Secret Santa gift from Mother Nature to us all if she could come through.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Storm 12.8 Recap: An Early Season Fizzle

In the end, the 12.8 storm only produced about 4 inches of snow. There was plenty of moisture for there to be more snow, but the storm just seemed to accelerate as it strengthened off the coast of New Jersey and Long Island. It blew through much quicker than we even thought it would.

Road crews were out about 4 am, and it appeared they had been practicing their technique in the off-season as the roads were completely fine by about 5.

The bad news is that there's very little stormy activity in the long-range forecast. Alas. Temps are going to come down to more seasonal highs (low 30s), which will only help the next storm. With cold air locked in place, the next storm should start as snow.

Next week looks very dry, but hopefully there will be some good news for the week after. With vacation just around the corner, some people are content to get to the holiday break without a snow day. We at GSD find that kind of thinking simply preposterous.

We'll update with a longer term forecast over the weekend. Get out and enjoy the few inches of snow while they last!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Storm 12.8: Delay Only...Maybe

We'd love to be the bearer of better news, but the harsh winter reality is that this storm, like James Dean, will have a brief, intense life. Odds are still better than not for a delay, but no one should be surprised if we have a full day of school.

We still will see close to 6" on grassy surfaces, but the warm wetness of the roads will keep the snow off those moving vehicle thoroughfares for the first part of the snow storm. Add in the early end to the event, and we're definitely looking at a partial day of school if not an entire day. Darn it.

Encouraging news from Bob K but we're still skeptical.

Don't forget that the GSD Staff is also slightly gun shy here. We can't predict a snow day and then have it not come through on the first legitimate snow day opportunity of the season. We got all caught up in the hype of the big April Fool's Day storm of 2010 and got burned. If we overshoot the mark on the first go- round of the winter of 2011-12, how will we be able to earn back your faith?

We're still somewhat confident that we'll have a delay of some kind. Robo-call will be coming in around 6 or 6:15...if it happens at all.

Storm 12.8: Latest Developments--Snow Totals Up

According to the NWS, the track has followed the ideal path to bring us our second significant storm of the season. At the NOAA discussion board late this afternoon, the consensus was that there was enough moisture to bring 8-16" for the Northern Berkshires, and those totals are reflected in the latest version of the Winter Storm Warning alert. Five to ten inches is being predicted for Southern Berkshire county.

The changeover is still several hours away. The good news is that there is a ton of moisture still to come. The bad news is the timing of the storm. It's zipping along. The Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 6 am tomorrow. This is, as they say, bad. Typically, storms end at least 2 hours before the end of the warning period. If the snow stops falling at 4 am, which seems reasonable given the radar, the GSD staff thinks the road crews will have enough time to get the main roads done in time for at least a partial day of school. Typically, road crews are a little rusty and slower for the December storms and not the well-oiled, efficient machines they are in late February. Still, their rustiness is probably not enough of a factor to move our delay to a snow day.

Right now we're still favoring a delay over a snow day. We're taking our snow day percentage up to a 50-50 proposition, and we're bumping the chance of a delay to 80%. If you're thinking about blowing off homework for the evening, you're playing with fire. We still could up the chance of a delay to 100% by the 11 pm report. Keep working on your snow dance, and check in then!

Storm 12.8: Winter Storm Warning!

This just in...a Winter Storm Warning has just been posted as of noon. Snowfall expected to be 6-12 inches. Read the post below, but things are, as they say, trending upward!



Still no guarantee of a snow day, but we'll give a full report at 8:00.

Storm 12.8: More Precipitation Than Expected?

Greetings, Weatherhounds. Here's the GSD schedule for the rest of the day: we'll make a preliminary call by 8:00 pm today and then we'll do a final follow-up around 11 pm.

Certain models are showing there's more moisture with this storm than originally predicted. It's going to come down hard at some point this evening. If it's before the changeover, we're looking at possibly an inch of rain. If it comes after the temps dip low enough for snow, the snowfall rate could be 2-3" per hour. According to NOAA, if it does come down that fast, the predictions for snowfall will need to double (taking us up to 6-12"). If that happens, we would have a Winter Storm Warning in place at least for NorBerk. That scenario is certainly realistic and reflected in our latest Confidence Meter.

The radar reveals that a strong line of moderate to heavy precipitation is taking a track toward the northwest corner of Massachusetts and the southeast corner of Vermont. Earlier in the week, it looked like South County was going to get the fat part of the storm, but moisture has definitely lifted more northerly. Again, any kind of movement of this heavy precipitation line is going to radically change the prediction. That is, of course, if it turns to snow early enough.

We're still saying around 10 or 11 pm for the shift to snow. If it shifts earlier, that's not necessarily a good sign because the storm is moving quickly. We'll try to nail down the time span of the storm at the 8:00 pm report, as that will give us the clearest indication if we're sleeping in tomorrow or not.

If you see a Winter Storm Watch or Warning this afternoon, we could be in for a big one.

Storm 12.8: WWA Posted--4-6" Expected

At 4 this morning, the NWS posted a Winter Weather Advisory for our area calling for anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of snow. The NWS is as unsure as we are about the actual time of the changeover from rain to snow. Even though the storm will race through, there is a lot of moisture with the storm.

The GSD Staff concern is that the bulk of the moisture is going to fall as rain, leaving us only a few inches of snow once the changeover comes. Despite Accuweather's bold prediction of 7.1 inches for NorBerk, the GSD Staff is calling for 3-4 inches.

Rain will fall for most of the day, and we think the changeover will take place between 10 and midnight this evening for Northern Berkshire. We're still not feeling the love for a snow day and are going with the delay as our strong play of the day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Storm 12.8: Shovels at the Ready

Channel 13's latest snowfall prediction map:


This map indicates a couple of things:
1. NorBerk may be just slightly out of the range of this storm;
2. SoBerk could get the brunt of the snow, with upwards of 8 inches in the higher elevations;
3. A 50-mile shift in the track of the storm will affect snow totals radically

Under normal circumstances, we would want the low to track more northerly to bring more moisture over our area. The downside to a more northerly track is that not enough cold air will be pulled into place to give us a mostly snow event after midnight.

Given how many factors need to line up for us, the GSD Staff is still very skeptical about too much coming of this storm. We're still firmly behind the real chance of a delay, but the full snow day seems less likely.

Storm 12.8: Delay More Likely Than a Snow Day

Greetings, Followers of the Flake. Signs are still fairly positive that we're in for snow late Wednesday night into the early morning hours. Here's the word from NOAA:
IT APPEARS THAT [THE PRECIPITATION] MAY START AS RAIN OR A
RAIN/SLEET/SNOW MIX...BEFORE CHANGING TO SNOW...WITH PERHAPS A 1-2 HOUR
PERIOD OF MORE INTENSE SNOWFALL RATES OF 1-3 IN/HR ACROSS HIGHER
ELEVATIONS MAINLY S AND E OF THE CAPITAL DISTRICT. THIS SHOULD
YIELD SNOWFALL TOTALS WITHIN THE ADVISORY RANGE ACROSS THE EASTERN
CATSKILLS...BERKSHIRES AND SOUTHERN GREEN MOUNTAINS
Encouraging but not a blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination. We do like the 1-3 inches per hour snowfall rate--that would certainly up the ante and give us a better chance of a snow day.


Check in throughout the day tomorrow for the latest dope on the storm. Things are looking up!

Storm 12.8: Snow Will Fall for Thursday

More weather services are now on board for snow Wednesday night, and it looks like we'll be shoveling on Thursday. Break out the holiday music!

The low is going to go up the coast but stay just enough away from us to pull in the cold north air. When the changeover from rain to snow occurs is anybody's guess--we're still 36 hours away from the onset of the precipitation.


As you can see from this lovely map from the Weather Channel, the timing is absolutely delightful and will jack up the percentages for the delay or full day off.

For our prediction, we have to factor in that meteorologists can get a little ahead of themselves with these storms in the early part of the season. Right now we're definitely still feeling luke warm about the storm but that can change if the moisture prediction increases (which some models are indicating is likely).

Factors against the storm: 1) warm air; 2) it's a fast-mover.
Factors for the storm: 1) the track of the low; 2) timing

We'll keep updating our chances as we move closer to Wednesday night. As you regular readers know, a lot can happen in the twenty-four hours leading up to the storm.

Storm 12.8: More Good News

Here's the latest from NOAA courtesy of our GSD satellite office:

MODELS ARE TRENDING MORE AND MORE TOWARDS A SIGNIFICANT [PRECIPITATION] 
EVENT FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT AS A SHARP SHORT WAVE [TROUGH] SWINGS AROUND 
THE BROAD UPPER LEVEL [TROUGH] OVER THE MIDDLE OF THE COUNTRY...AND 
INDUCES STRONG CYCLOGENESIS ALONG THE FRONTAL BOUNDARY TO OUR SOUTH. 
THIS LOW IS FORECAST TO REMAIN SOUTH OF LONG ISLAND AND THE NEW
ENGLAND COAST WHICH WILL ALLOW TEMPS TO GET COLD ENOUGH FOR RAIN TO 
CHANCE TO SNOW ACROSS THE ENTIRE REGION. RIGHT NOW IT APPEARS THAT 
AREAS SOUTH OF ALBANY HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL

As far as storms go, "CYCLOGENESIS" is a very good word to see--not quite as good as "BOMBOGENESIS," but for early December beggars can't be choosers.

This storm will move fast, so it's unlikely to really pile up the way it did in October. If it does turn to snow--and  we're very concerned about the lack of cold air in place despite the report above--it will be of the heavy, wet variety.

Be aware that some models are still predicting all rain. Others see a shift to a mix in the end. At this point, based on the information we have, it's extremely unlikely we'll have a snow day, but a delay is very much in the mix.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Storm 12.7/8: Plowable Snow Potential

The GSD Staff is officially in frenzied alert stage. The NOAA discussion page is all abuzz about the possibility of a measurable, plowable snow event for Wednesday into Thursday. The models are still all over the place, but more and more of them are pushing a coastal low's precipitation range into the Berkshires. Bring it on, Old Man Winter!

Here's what they're saying over at NOAA:

A PLOWABLE SNOWFALL COULD EASILY OCCUR ACROSS S/E
PORTIONS OF THE REGION...FROM THE CATSKILLS INTO THE MID HUDSON
VALLEY...NW CT AND INTO THE SOUTHERN BERKSHIRES...WITH SOME
POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW TO OCCUR EVEN FURTHER N/W. 

You definitely need to check in frequently as this storm will develop quickly if it develops at all. There's still a strong chance it will go out to sea and not affect our area, but the latest signs are becoming increasingly positive. Keep those fingers crossed...

Courtesy of AccuWeather

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Long Range Winter Forecast: Stormy but Warmer

The good people at Accuweather unveiled their updated long-range forecast for the winter, and the survey says....STORMY!

That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, we like it.

It appears that our La Nina is weak-to-moderate this year, which will give us plenty of storms but temps will be slightly warmer. This will make forecasting a nightmare, and we'll be riding out those long nights of determining the snow/ice/rain changeover lines and times. But with major upgrades to the GSD main frame computer in the off-season, you can count on Your Official Snow Brokers to deliver the goods the night before any decision is made. There's no question that school administrations will make some head-scratching decisions, but you'll always know that the GSD call will have been the right call. We didn't get to a 97.65% by happenstance.

December's still not looking that desirable. Mother Nature's going to get her beauty rest to close out 2011, but then she's going to wind up and bring the cheese again and again after the New Year. Prepare to button up the ol' chinstrap.

For many more details and the national forecast for the winter of 2012, check out Accuweather.

Wednesday of next week is looking more and more like rain with a chance of snow showers late Wednesday night into Thursday. This storm's pulse is barely perceptible.