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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Storm 3.1.12: Final Evening Report

This storm is like a bad relationship--on, off, on again, off again, and back on again.

This is it--our final decision. Everyone really is pulling hard for a snow day, but your heart can't guide you in these life-and-death matters of snow days. So, we are still not impressed with the way this storm is shaping up. Take a look at this radar from 10 pm Thursday:


See the bifurcation? That corridor of non-green space that stretches diagonally over Pennsylvania is not working in our favor. The nice pocket of precip that's just to the west of Binghamton has promise, but we need to see more moisture expansion! Unfortunately, the big green blob over southern Jersey and PA is going to slide to our south.

Yet, just when we were ready to throw in the towel for the Leap Day debacle, there came this lovely little nugget from the 9:44 pm NOAA report:
BY SUNRISE...SEVERAL MORE INCHES SHOULD HAVE
ACCUMULATED...ESPECIALLY FOR AREAS FROM THE SCHOHARIE VALLEY
EASTWARD INTO THE HELDERBERGS...CAPITAL REGION...AND NORTHERN
BERKSHIRES 
NOAA is still refusing to lower their snow totals--8 to 16" for the Northern Berkshires; 4 to 8" for South County. The coastal low will give us snow around 4 am, and the Midwest low will hit us later in the morning. We really like the folks over at NOAA, but they're a little crazy and we don't trust them entirely. We agree with them that there's a better chance of a snow day, but the bifurcation has us a little on the edge of a large precipice that we might just jump off.

If we win with this one, we lose, and if we lose this one, we win. We're sure that makes sense to you all. If the Super goes with the forecast, she or he will shut 'er down (as Savoy and Hoosic Falls have already for tomorrow!). If she or he goes with the eye test, you'll be drooling on your first period desk at your normal time. Remember, the critical hour is from 5 to 6 am.

We strongly advise that you set your alarm for tomorrow, but make sure you have the portable phone nearby just in case get that beloved Robocall.

Storm 3.1.12: Chaos in the GSD Office

To put it mildly, this storm is beginning to freak the GSD Staff out. Some of us were sent from the office and made to run a few laps around the GSD Complex just to get their heads on straight.

Earlier in the day we praised the storm for behaving nicely. Now? Not so nice. As you all have recognized, part 1 of the storm has been a predictable bust. The radar around noon sure looked robust, but the cool air aloft dried up much of the moisture and has left us with a paltry 1.5" in the Village Beautiful, not the 6-8" we were expecting.

We hope some of you will appreciate just how complicated the Leap Day storm is proving to be. We told you this would be a two-part storm in previous posts, but what we neglected to tell you is that there's a part 3 to this storm as well. Part 2--the secondary low off the coast of NJ--is alleged to develop after midnight and bring snow to our area around 4 or 5 am. Part 3 of the storm--an additional primary low that has been dumping snow on the upper Midwest--is now bearing down on us like a runaway train in a big budget Hollywood blockbuster (Unstoppable for you youngsters; Silver Streak for the over-40 set). If--and that's a big if--the coastal low and the low from the Midwest meet at precisely the right time, we'll see snow all day tomorrow. Score one for a snow day!

The NOAA folks actually are confidently predicting this scenario. In fact, at around 7 pm this evening NOAA raised their snow totals back up to 8-16 for the Northern Berkshires and 4-8" for the Southern Berkshires. This elevation of snow totals is the result of that colder air that is predicted to be in place longer. While South County may still see some sleet, most of the precip from parts 2 and 3 will fall in the form of wet snow.

While this news is encouraging, the GSD Staff is skeptical everything's going to fall into place so conveniently. The storms are moving eastward rapidly, which worries us. We are seeing incipient signs of the moisture beginning to fill in and overspread the region, which is an indication that the coastal slow is slowly starting to take shape and impact the moisture in our area. However, we don't like how the parts are so disjointed. Score one against a snow day tomorrow.

Right now, we're very bearish on this storm. Also, this appears to be an all or nothing deal tomorrow. Either we'll have no school based on a prediction of 6-10" throughout the day, or there will be school. There will be no delays.

We're not happy about it but it's what we're going with. We still will do one more update later this evening, but you'd be silly to blow off any key assignments this evening. We'll do one more update later--fingers are crossed for more encouraging data.

Storm 3.1.12: Leap Day Storm Brought to You by Miller (Type B)

The NWS has lowered their snow forecast for the Northern Berkshires for this afternoon and evening. Earlier in the day it was 8-12" but now they're calling for 5-8". This isn't great news but it isn't devastating either. A good base of 5 or 6" inches is all we need as long as the secondary low forms off the coast and brings us more snow (and sleet, too, which wouldn't hurt our chances).

Speaking of the secondary low, here's more information than you need (but it's interesting just the same). The storm pattern today and tomorrow is called a Miller Type B storm. Type A storms start in the Gulf of Mexico, race across the south, and gain strength as they work their way up the coast. Our typical Nor'easters result from Miller Type-A's. The Type B pattern occurs when the low pressure system comes out of the upper Midwest and transfers its energy to a secondary coastal low. The map below shows a typical Type B pattern. For our storm, the primary low is moving more due east than the low in the map below, which means our secondary low will form higher up the coast near NJ or Long Island.


We still will see heavy bands of snow this evening. Eventually--around 9 pm--we'll make the final call on our prediction for a delay or snow day tomorrow.

Leap Day Storm: The Midday Report

Just about as predicted, the snow began to fall in the Northern Berkshires around 11:15 today. This is good news as it is a sign that the storm is behaving as predicted.

As we've discussed before, this storm is really two storms in one. This initial blast of snow will be the stronger part and should give us a good 8" by midnight. For this reason we at the GSD Office feel strongly that no after school activities will take place. Many NY schools have already called off after school events. Any meetings or engagements you have scheduled for this evening should be called off or already have been called off.

Snow forecast through tomorrow morning...
Part two of the storm is still up in the air, and--of course--that's what's going to determine our snow day (or not) tomorrow morning. There is general consensus that I90 is the dividing line. Those near I90 and south will get sleet mixed in the early morning hours and during the commute. In that case, South County schools will be looking at delays for sure and some cancellations. North of I90, the precip should remain all snow, with an additional 3-6 inches throughout the day. If that forecast holds true, it's highly likely we'll have snow days in North County.

We're going to bump up the percentages on the Confidence Meter on the strength of the storm's predictable behavior so far. Keep your browsers open...and we'll keep you informed.

Storm 3.1.12: Upgrade to Warning

Right on cue, the NWS (at 4:08 am) elevated the storm from Watch status to Warning status. "Watch" means it probably is going to snow. Warning means it is going to snow.

Bob's latest map--encouraging news for So. County
The NWS is still sticking with the snow starting this afternoon--probably right around 12:00--and continuing all the way to tomorrow afternoon. We should not rule out the possibility of an early release, as Bennington has already called in theirs in advance of the snow. This scenario is unlikely to happen, but there's still an outside chance. The Confidence Meter has been updated to reflect that change.

See earlier posts for more detailed information about the sleet and changeover back to snow.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Storm 3.1.12: Tuesday Evening Report

Not much new to report since the previous two posts. Read those to get caught up. We are liking Channel 13 Bob Kovachik's map that appeared earlier this evening:


Things look very promising for the Northern Berkshires. If this map holds true, South County is in for a long day of school on Thursday. In the north, schools will be delayed or cancelled.

We still think these prediction are a little too high based on this latest (Tuesday at 10 pm) picture of the radar:

This picture shows that our storm is a little moisture starved for our area. The low (L) over Nebraska is pushing eastward--which is good--and the H at the top of NY is responsible for the cold air that we need kept in place as long as possible if we want a foot of snow out of this storm.

What isn't pictured here is the energy transfer that will take place. The L will--we hope--transfer its energy to another "L" off the coast of NJ or Long Island. As we stated earlier, where this secondary low (L) begins will determine how much snow we get. If it sets up more to south--we're in business. If it sets up more northerly, snow totals will be held down to the point that we might only get a delay on Thursday.

Your biggest fear right now should be the timing. The storm could be 80% done by midnight tomorrow night, giving road crews plenty of time to clear the roads. We don't like this scenario one bit, but it's the one we see playing out--at the moment.

Stay tuned all day tomorrow--we'll have frequent updates to so you can plan accordingly for Thursday. TTFN.

Storm 3.1.12: Snow Totals On the Rise

The NWS has revised its snow prediction for this storm, and the Northern Berkshires are now in the 8-14 inch range. We think that's just a bit ambitious--don't be surprised to see those totals come down as clearer information comes in about the changeover to sleet and the timing of the return to snow on Thursday. But also don't be surprised to see the NWS upgrade the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning for Wednesday afternoon. Look for that announcement to happen tonight between 12 and 4 am.

48-hour snowfall forecast--courtesy of The Weather Channel
 The bulk of the snow will fall on Wednesday afternoon and evening, and could come down as much as an inch an hour. In this scenario, activities after school and tomorrow night would be very much in question.

One wild wag of a commentator has suggested the possibility of an early release tomorrow and a snow day on Thursday. Oh, the follies of youth! We like the way you're thinking, but in these times of paltry precipitation, one should not be so greedy.

We're upping our percentages on the Confidence Meter on the heals of this good news, but the GSD Staff is still not in love with the timing of the initial snow burst and the lack of consensus from the models on the secondary low on Thursday.

We'll role out on more report this evening and then tomorrow will be a very active day. Check in early and check in often!

Storm 3.1.12: Midday Update On Our Storm

Oh, it's good to back in the saddle again...

The latest news from NOAA is good. Look for 3 or 4" of snow tomorrow afternoon...and then the fun begins. If the secondary low forms quickly off the coast of NJ, we're in for another 4-6" in the overnight hours, which would almost guarantee a delay or full snow day. If the low takes its time to develop and forms over Long Island, then we'll be in a band of sleet for an extended amount of time. Gotta love sleet.

Either scenario would appear to be working in our favor. The snow totals have been downgraded to 3-8" for our area, but the upper end of the forecast amount would raise our chances of a snow day significantly. There is also concern about a significant period of icing.

We're still a little hesitant to go all out on this storm--18
 times bitten, once shy--but the GSD staff is pretty jazzed by what it's seeing on the radar.

We'll have a detailed evening report around 10 pm tonight.

Storm 2.29.12-3.1.12: Winter Storm Watch Already

The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch for our area for tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday. The watch calls for the oh-so-specific 4 to 12 inches of snow. The pattern they're suggesting is snow starting in the afternoon, a changeover to sleet toward midnight, and then a return to snow for Thursday morning. If that holds true, a snow day is the more likely outcome of our three choices in the Confidence Meter. See the last post for more details...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Storm 2.29.12-3.1.12: Snow for Certain--But How Much?

Just when you thought you could dust off the ol' baseball cleats and get the golf clubs out of the closet, here comes a little late winter snow.

We like what we're hearing from our various feelers out there in meteorology land. The computer models are decidedly NOT in agreement, but we think we're going to get all snow on Wednesday. The snow should start in the afternoon, as we stated earlier, but what it does late at night is going to be the make-or-break moment of this storm. There definitely will be a period of time Wednesday night when the snow stops, but the secondary low is supposed to form off the coast of New Jersey and bring us snow, sleet or freezing rain Thursday morning. So many different factors are yet to be determined--amount of moisture, track of the low, how much cold air will still be in place--that we can't possibly determine just yet if it's going to be all snow or a mixed bag during the critical morning hours.

Things are looking up.
 The GSD Staff can confirm that you are allowed to get just a little bit excited. Don't overdo it, but you can walk with a little bounce in your step for the next few days knowing that something is coming. We are aware that some of you are, like, so done with snow days for 2011-12. For those naysayers, we have but three words--"Phooey on you."

Real snow lovers never waver in their quest for the coveted snow holiday.

Storm 2.29.12-3.1.12: Moderate Snow in the Forecast?

It looks like we have a real shot at a moderate snowfall (4-5") for Wednesday afternoon and into Thursday morning. We are going to temper our excitement this far in advance, but many of the computer guidance models are trending in an upward direction for an all-snow event for the Northern Berkshires.

A typically ambitious Accuweather snowcast, but it sure beats temps in the high 40s!
Right now the forecast is for the snow to start in the early afternoon on Wednesday. There is some talk of a secondary low forming on the coast, which could turn the event from light to moderate to moderate to heavy. Again, we advise extreme caution about not getting too fired up for this snow event, but at some point Old Man Winter will make his name known in 2012. This could be his last stand.

Our finger is on the pulse of it all at GSD--we'll bring you the latest as it develops over the next 72 hours.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Storm 2.24.12: Winter Weather Advisory

Vacation Week for the public schools, so the GSD Staff has been taking it easy this week. But for all you private school followers, here's the latest:

The timing of this storm is just about spot-on perfect for a snow day. Look for the snow to begin around 5 am in the Berkshires. While the warm temperatures of late indicate that this event will change over to rain by late morning, we still think we'll get around 3" in the Northern Berkshires. Moderate to heavy bands of snow could make for a very dicey commute but the roads should be fine by the end of the day. So, if a head of school is feeling generous, she might pull the trigger for the three-day weekend. If she wants to stay consistent with previous decisions on these low snow-total storms, she could easily justify having school. A delay would make sense because it's likely the snow will have turned to rain by about 11 am.

It will be nice to see some snow, as it is February after all. Look for another few inches on Friday night.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2.16.12: Slushy Snow for Thursday Evening

There's no need to get worked up into a lather for this latest weak system. We are looking at about an 8 hour window of precipitation (which has already started as of Thursday at 3:00), so it will be long gone before the buses roll tomorrow morning.

Expect about an inch of slushy accumulation this afternoon and into the evening as the system moves through. Totals could nudge slightly higher but the warm temps will not allow the rain to change to snow very quickly.

In the meantime, have a great vacation. We're looking at the potential for a few storms upon our return to school for the week of the 27th--we'll keep you updated throughout the break.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week of 2.13.12: Quiet Week, Jousting & Whitney

Despite the very wintery temps we felt this weekend, the week ahead is again mornfully quiet. We will warm up into 40s once again, and we'll see some snow showers early in the week. There is a disturbance moving our way for Thursday night into Friday but the early runs of the computer models do not indicate anything but rain and improving conditions by Friday afternoon. We'll keep an eye on the storm for the end of the week, but we don't have our hopes up.

Because of the slow week ahead, you're probably going to need some excitement in your life to get you to the start of February vacation. We have just the fix--Full Metal Jousting on the History Channel at 10:00 on Sunday. Watch the Grammy's until 10 and then, "Let's get Medieval, baby!" It's going to be gruesome, but expect the unexpected--we can not wait.

On a side note--and we're not ones to get too sentimental (given the winter we've had, there's plenty of room to wax poetic about the past)--but a certain GSD staffer is a little teary-eyed about the passing of Whitney Houston. There was a time when this staffer saw Whitney live and in person at Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in November of 1985 in a small hall performance (2000 patrons? 3000?) and she simply blew the roof off. She was the Adele of the 1980s, and her songs "The Greatest Love of All" and "Saving All My Love For You" were Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and "Set Fire to the Rain." When her voice was still good--before all the trials and tribulations--her range would make you catch your breath. Back in the 1980s, she was a ridiculous talent.

Have a great week, everyone. We'll let you know about Friday's storm later in the week.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dry Spell Continues Through the Weekend

As has been the case all winter long, our chances at snow this week have fallen through, and we are looking at another long period without snow. We could see snow showers on Saturday that could cover the grass and coat the roads, but the shovel can stay right where it's been all winter.

Our best guess at the next possible chance for precipitation after Saturday is Thursday, February 16th. There could be some icing early in the morning so we'll keep an eye out for that one.

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to get yourself through this capital-D dreadful winter for us snow lovers:

1. Check out "The Voice," one of the better singing competitions on TV these days.
2. Make a "Countdown to Vacation" tear away chart.
3. Watch all the Oscar-nominated films and enter this contest.
4. Write that English paper (under 18)/ Do your taxes (over 18).
5. Take a drastic step to reverse jinx Old Man Winter (take out the deck furniture; put the snow blower away; take the snow tires off; put the snow boats in the Winter Boot bin; etc.)

Punxsutawney Phil did predict six more weeks of winter a week ago, so we need to keep hope alive, but the GSD Staff is concerned that we're simply running out of time. Keep your eyes peeled for next Thursday's weathermaker.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week of 2.6.12: Quiet and Dry [Grrrr...]

Welcome back, faithful followers. Once again Old Man Winter is still on vacation as we have a relatively quiet week ahead of us.

Right now our best chance of measurable snow is Tuesday night into Wednesday and possibly a larger storm on Saturday. Perfect. Just perfect.

If it snows Tuesday night, it will be an inch or two at most. Saturday's storm, however, could be much more potent. Two models are predicting two very different outcomes. One has the high pressure (and colder temps) pushing into our area quickly and giving us just a dusting. Another scenario that has been proposed is the cold front will stall over our area and allow a coastal storm to develop just off of Cape Cod. If this situation plays out, we'll be looking at a moderate, school-closing snow. Unfortunately, it will be Saturday when this happens.

Look on the bright side--only two more weeks until February vacation.

We'll have updates throughout the week on the Tuesday night and Saturday snows.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2.1.12: Breaking News!

This just in from our hard-working GSD Staff....

We're going way out on a limb for this one. But we think that...

(Wait for it.)

(Wait for it.)

(Here it comes!)

...there is a 100% chance of school tomorrow! Yes! Woo-hoo! Get that homework done, boys and girls, 'cause school's in session tomorrow. And Friday. And every day next week! Weeee!

(Sadly, it has come to this. Fifty-nine degrees in Albany today, and the long-range forecast is abysmal. Sure, it's 51 degrees below zero in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Istanbul is getting pounded with cold temps and snow, but absolutely nothing's going down in the Berkshires. Alas. We'll still keep up the good fight. And we encourage you to stay positive as hard as it may be to do so.)