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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cold and Mostly Dry Period to Start 2013

Old Man Winter ended 2012 much better than he started the year as he graced us with another 4.5" of magical powder. Way to go, big guy! But you still owe us for last winter's anemic performance. And, yes, we're still bitter.

From the friendly folks of Accuweather
Speaking of bitter, let's talk cold. It's on the way. Temps will be 10 and 20 degrees below normal toward the end of the week. Geesh. Logically, the first question you have is will we have a freeze day or freeze delay? We'd love to see that scenario, but our cold weather expert in the GSD Office says "ain't no way." It will be chilly but not that chilly.

So it's on to 2013 and all the wonderful possibilities. The coastal storm train we were just riding on has sadly come to the end of its line. We have a series of very weak Alberta Clipper type systems heading our way, but there will be little moisture associated with these storms because of the dip in temps we're expecting. We may see a dusting late night Monday into Tuesday and a few snow showers here and there Wednesday and Thursday but nothing to get worked up about.

We're looking at some stormy action toward the middle or end of the week of January 7th as our next real possibility of a delay or full snow day. Until then...

Friday, December 28, 2012

WWA for Saturday

Good news, Snow Lovers...

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Berkshire County starting at 9 am and carrying through to 4 am on Sunday. We don't think this quick-hitter will last nearly that long, but we're in for a steady snow throughout the day tomorrow. Yes!

Thanks, Bob K.
We should see around 3 or 4" across the county, but some higher terrains will hit 6". NOAA is using something called "the Garcia method" to predict snow totals for this weather disturbance. This method involves evaluating isentropic lift and available moisture values. That's about as much info as anyone needs right now, especially if the end result is raised snow amount predictions.

Travel could be hazardous tomorrow. Look for snow to start around 10 am. The rate of snowfall will not be all that high, so travelers will just need to allow extra time to get where they need to go. Skiers, on the other hand, should make like crazy people and get to the slopes. Fresh powder, baby! Enjoy it--it's been a long wait.

Storm Totals & Saturday Snow

Here's a nice summary from Channel 6 over in Albany. Meteorologists were generally spot on with their predictions. At the GSD Office in Williamstown, final snow total was 8.5 inches with over half of the snow falling in the daylight hours yesterday.


We do have a few inches on the way for Saturday afternoon and evening. In February we would call this "nuisance snow," but right now let's call it a "the-more-the-merrier snow."

Pardon the pun, but we have good news on the cold air front--temps are not supposed to be quite as low as we indicated yesterday. It will still be frigid in the middle of next week but just low 20s as opposed to mid and high teens for highs.

Get out there and enjoy the white stuff!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Putting the Wraps on Bianca-Euclid

Pretty good for a vacation storm, isn't it? Enough snow to fire up the snowblower and to break out the sleds and skis, but not so much that you had to herniate yourself shoveling off the walkway or deck. We just need four or five more of these types of storms spaced throughout the winter and it will feel like the good old days again. Let the good times roll!

We'll see light snow and snow showers for the rest of the afternoon and into the night. From our vantage point at the home office, we have about 8" of snow on the ground, and we could tack on a couple of more inches before the storm lifts out of the region.

So, what's next? There was some talk of a substantial storm for the weekend, but that storm is heading out to sea to our south (if it becomes a storm at all). We're still in line for light snow on Saturday in the afternoon, somewhere around 2" with slightly more to our south.

Also in the pipeline is a major drop in temps. The high on Re-Entry Day (Jan. 2) will be 17 or 18 degrees. Fortunately, the deep cold will not stick around for too long. This is good because when it's too cold that means high pressure is over us, and when high pressure is over us, low pressure isn't over us, which means no snow storms. Just to remind you: high pressure bad, low pressure good.

With the warm up to more seasonable temperatures for next weekend, we may see a return to a less stable weather pattern for the week of Jan. 7 but right now no major storms are in sight. That will change, but we're not sure when.

Check out the latest poll (to your right) so we know what to name the next big storm system.


Bianca-Euclid Morning Report

Snow totals throughout the night were lower than expected. At the GSD Office, we have 4" and light snow right now. The secondary low has formed off the coast, and currently it is situated just south of Long Island. It is moving slowly to the northeast, pulling in moisture from the south that will, as the poets like to say, o'erspread our region.

Courtesy of WTEN
Look for another 2-4 inches throughout the day for the Berkshires with occasional sleet mixed in.

Would we have had a snow day? Tough call. Main roads are snow-covered but passable right now. With 2-4 inches still expected, we probably would have gotten the green light for full day off. But there definitely would have been some fingernail chewing going on in the office because the initial burst of snow was so light.

The heaviest snow should be finished by 10 am. You'll see snow showers throughout the day that could add on another inch to the totals.

Enjoy the winter weather!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Storm Bianca-Euclid: Late Evening Update

Snow overspread the Berkshires between 7:00 and 8:15, which was right on schedule. Temps are down a little, so we might not see as much mixed precipitation as we originally thought. Despite the certainty from the models leading up to this storm, it still is a complex system with forecasters predicting anywhere from 3" to 12" for the Berks.

Some of that bifurcation we talked about could impact our area, which explains this wild-looking map:


We've been studying the radar and we think that this map is slightly off. The center of the storm appears to be more toward the west, which will bring the brunt of the moisture through the Berkshires. The slot of lower snow totals you see in the map above (to the west of the Berkshires) will move even more to the west, bringing the sliver of heavier snow more directly over the Berkshires.

What this means is that we at GSD think that we'll be on the high end of the predictions: more toward 6 and 7" in the South County and upwards of 10" in North County.

Because we didn't have much practice last season--and we've made more hurricane day predictions than snow day predictions this season--we are treating this storm as if it were a true snow day scenario in the home office of GSD. Our prediction would be a 95% chance of snow day tomorrow, with the bifurcation of the two surface lows the only thing holding us back from offering up the whole enchilada with a 100% guarantee.

We'll check in tomorrow morning with some early snow measurements. Enjoy the storm!

Storm Bianc-Euclid: Late Afternoon Update

We don't have too much to report other than the precipitation may start a few hours earlier than we expected. A quick glance at the radar will show the snow is nearly on our doorstep. There will likely be a period of virga, which means the radar will make it look like it's snowing but the snow is evaporating before it hits the ground. Still, look for things to start around 7 pm.

As of 3:15 on Wednesday (courtesy of The Weather Channel)
There's a ton of moisture with this storm, and the classic "comma" shape to the storm is ideal for a bucket load or two of snow. There will be sleet and freezing rain mixed in toward the morning which will act like a tamp and compress the snow, keeping the totals down.

Expect a few very heavy bands of snow this evening toward midnight. One to two inches per hour will not be uncommon. Our predicted snow total of 4 or 5 inches in South Berkshire county and 7-9 inches for North Berkshire county is still what we are likely to see.

Storm Bianca-Euclid to Whack the Region

Greetings, Weather Hounds! It's like Christmas all over again in the GSD Office as Storm Bianca-Euclid begins to crank up across the Southeast and head our way for tonight.

The Winter Storm Warning did get announced around 4:30 am--much rejoicing in the office!--and the NWS threw in a High Wind Warning kicker as well.

By all accounts we are in for a plowable, shovelable snow fall. The official NOAA prediction is for 6-12 inches. The boys over at Channel 13 have us in the 6-10" range, and, in the big shocker of the day, the hype-machine Accuweather has the region getting 4-8 inches. We still like our 6-9" prediction for the Northern Berkshires and we'll see 4-7" in the Southern sections of the county. Sleet and freezing rain could mix in around 5 am tomorrow to keep the totals down, and there is some evidence of drier air aloft which would also keep the snow rate as moderate, not heavy.

Thanks WNYT!
Look for the snow to start around 8 or 9 tonight, and then you might as well prepare those hatches for battening. If this week had been a regular school week, we'd already be in with a 90% chance of a snow day on the True North Confidence Meter.

The timing of the storm looks great. The main thrust of snow should end in the mid-morning hours, so everyone on vacation will have a great opportunity to get out there and play in the snow. The wind will make it less pleasant to be outside, but the allure of 8" of new snow will be too much to pass up.

Keep your eyes on the skies; we'll keep you posted about any developments.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Storm Bianca (a.k.a. Euclid) Timing

We're going to officially inaugurate the GSD storm-naming system--not to be confused with the Weather Channel's storm naming system--by calling Thursday's storm Bianca. Welcome, Bianca--hopefully you'll enjoy your stay in the Berkshires.

Here's the latest on the timing of the storm, according to Accuweather:


The storm should arrive between 7 and 10 pm on Wednesday and give us a good 8 to 12 hours of intermittent moderate and heavy snow. We still like our initial prediction of 6-9 inches, but with more cold air in place than forecasters originally thought, we could be in the 10-12" range.

There is a chance this dual low pressure system could bifurcate somewhat and create one of those scenarios where there are two swaths of snow--one to the north of us and one to the south--and we end up with diddly-doo. We don't think that's going to happen, but this storm set-up with two surface lows has been known to dupe us before.

Still no movement from a Watch to a Warning, but we will see that upgrade happen tonight. We surmise it will happen around 10 pm.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter With a Vengeance

Happy Christmas, Followers of the Flake!

As of 8:45 pm, December 24th.
Looks like a good shot of light snow is on our way for tonight (1" or so). If we're lucky, the snow will stick around for Christmas morning while all the good boys and girls of our region our opening Santa's deliveries.

And if that news isn't good enough for you, we have a Winter Storm Watch already (!!) for Wednesday night through Thursday night. The models--both domestic and abroad--have come into agreement and the forecast is for snow, snow, and more snow. Some sleet will mix in to keep snow totals down but we'll throw out a hearty 6-9" initial prediction. Break out the sleds! Look for the Watch to be upgraded to a Warning some time tomorrow, most likely in the evening hours. Once the Warning goes up, we'll dub this storm Bianca. Yay, Bianca!

And if that news is still not good enough for you, we have another possible storm predicted for the weekend. Yikes. Can there be such thing as too much of a good thing? Not as far as we're concerned.

Have a great holiday--we'll have an update on the impending storm at some point tomorrow. No days off for the GSD Staff!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

White Christmas & Thursday's Storm

Not much new to report since our previous update, but the Christmas Eve snowfall is still on--1 to 2 inches--and the Thursday storm is still somewhat up in the air.

The two different models are still fighting over the exact track of the storm. NOAA likes the more easterly track, which means more snow. Still, it sounds like sleet will get into the mix around midnight on Wednesday whichever track the storm chooses.

Here's the important info for the Wednesday/Thursday storm: the amount of moisture. Right now the prediction is anywhere between .7 inches and 1.5 inches of liquid. Generally speaking, the snow to liquid ratio is 12:1. When it's colder, this ratio can be higher, and warmer air lowers the ratio. So, if we get .7 inches of moisture, we can anticipate at least 7 or 8 inches of snow. If we get all the way to 1.5", then we're looking at 18" of snow! Sleet mixing in (which is likely) will keep the total inches down, so we'll have to factor that into the equation.

We really don't think we're going to get 18" of snow. More likely, we see 4-6" with the aforementioned sleet mixing in. The storm will start late on Wednesday and carry through the afternoon on Thursday. If we get a Winter Storm Watch or Warning on Wednesday, we're going with the name Bianca for this storm (see our poll).

Stormy Week Ahead

Yesterday was nice, wasn't it? Enough snow to make things pretty but not so much that it really interfered with anyone's plans. At the GSD Home Office, we measured this suprise bounty at three inches. We took a field trip to Mid-County during the afternoon and totals looked to be around 1" down there. No reports from South County, but those down there can weigh in with a comment and we'll let everyone know.

The best news is that there is more on the way, with a significant snowfall still in the works for Wednesday night into Thursday. First on the docket is a tidy little disturbance that will move in from the Ohio Valley, reform off the coast, and then make like Santa on his big night. This little guy won't be around for long, but long enough to give us 1-3" in North County and 2-4" in South County. Ideal. All those bad things we said about Old Man Winter just a week ago? We're taking them back.

Thanks to Accuweather for this Christmas gift.
After the Christmas Day system quickly leaves, we'll have about 36 hours of relative quiet before the next storm arrives. Wednesday/Thursday's storm is much more potent and has the potential to dump snow on us. The computer models have set up two scenarios. One has the storm going tracking northeasterly but to our west; the other tracks the storm right along the coast up through the Gulf of Maine.

If the storm takes the first track, we'll start as snow but warm air will get sucked in and it will change over to sleet then rain and eventually back to snow. Office policy dictates that we categorically dislike this computer model and hold a grudge against it. Model two is predicting snow, snow, some sleet, and snow again. Obviously, GSD supports model two (the ECMWF model, a.k.a. "the European model," if you were curious about its technical name).

As for the timing, both models predict precipitation to start late Wednesday night and to last for a good part of the day on Thursday. Travel on that day could be difficult at best, if not almost impossible. We'll definitely monitor this storm carefully even though it can't possibly give us a snow day because so many people will be traveling that day.

Happy Holidays to everyone, and we'll update our two scenarios later tonight or tomorrow early. Cheers!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

WWA Until 1:00 am Sunday

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Berkshires until 1 am tonight. The forecast is for 3-7" of snow and blowing and drifting snow. The remnants of Draco are streaming in from the northwest and north, creating the "stuck" effect we mentioned in the previous post.

The bulk of the moisture looks like it will be to our west, but we might see steady light snow all day. Despite NWS's big numbers, we're still going with our 1-3" projection that we made yesterday evening.

Enjoy the snow, and let's hope much more of it is waiting in the wings.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Saturday Night Snow

The latest weather news to come down the pike is a prediction for 2-4" of snow for Saturday night. Storm Draco is in the process of falling apart, but the wrap around snows from this system could regenerate moisture in our area and give us some snow.

Four inches sounds like a lot, but sometimes these scenarios can lead to a kind of snow machine that stays over us. With the colder air in place, a light, fluffy snow could pile up tomorrow afternoon and evening.

We're still very optimistic about our inch or so for Christmas Eve, but a bonus Saturday night snow would be just delightful.

Keep your eye on the radar tomorrow (as we will) to see if those snow bands move in from the west and lock over us.

Snow in Santa's Bag?

Good news, ladies and germs! Conditions are now favorable for a white Christmas. Once we get past the driving rain and wind of the spawn of storm Draco, we should settle into a pattern that will bring to mind this thing called "winter" that we used to have a few years ago.

Snow showers are in the forecast for tonight, tomorrow, and perhaps even on Sunday. The temps will drop down around freezing, and we could get into the teens at night time, which will be great for freezing up the ponds and lakes.

Monday will be dry during the day. Old Man Winter, however, could redeem himself big time by following through on this latest prediction from NOAA:
EVEN THE BERKSHIRES HAVE AN EXCELLENT CHANCE OF HAVING AN INCH (OR
BETTER) OF SNOW ON THE GROUND CHRISTMAS DAY.
Well, wouldn't that be special!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Better yet--and this needs to stay just between us and you--we might have heard the word "nor'easter" whispered the other night over at the big meteorologists' holiday shindig in Albany. We can't say exactly who whispered these words, but "they" were talking about a Wednesday into Thursday scenario. Mum's the word until we can gather more information.

Finally, Some White Stuff

The GSD Staff spotted some weird white frozen bits falling out of the sky this evening right around 10:30 pm. Great balls of fire, it was snow! As Joe Castiglione would say, can you believe it?

NOAA slightly missed the mark on this one, as the initial burst of snow for the Northern Berkshires was a forecasted possibility but a low one at that. Regardless, we'll enjoy it while we can as it was great to see a little frozen precip coating the grassy areas and roadways throughout Thursday evening.

Unfortunately, the rain is still going to dominate the weather picture for early Friday into Friday afternoon, and the winds will pick up considerably. All in all, Friday looks pretty miserable. Get indoors and enjoy your time there because the rain, wind, and cold will not be conducive to any outside activities, including shopping (for all those Last-minute Leo's and Larry's out there).

We're still confident we're going to see wrap-around snow once the low pressure system makes its way to the St. Lawrence valley. We may get up to an inch once we change over from the rain, but not much more than that.

After this storm departs, we should be in a quiet period for a few days. There still is a chance of snow showers on Christmas, but then things turn decidedly unsettled in the middle of the week. Computer models are in DATTATOTS mode. A significant snowfall is not out of the question for Wednesday into Thursday. Because temps will be slightly below normal, we're liking all the signs we're seeing for a mid-vacation snow fall. Finally!

Enjoy the last full day of school for a while. We'll update throughout the weekend about the possibility of a measurable mid-week snow. And odds are 50/50 for a snow day on the first day back from vacation. More about that scenario next weekend!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Is Getting Closer

It's a fairly sad state of affairs when the source of our recent round of weather excitement (at the GSD Office, that is) centers around the close proximity of a snow storm and not an actual storm for our area.

The potent storm for tonight and tomorrow will bring snow to parts of the Adirondacks. They could see as much as foot up there in God's country. Good for them.

We will see beaucoup de rain overnight tonight, and we do have a high wind watch for Northern and Southern Berkshire, as we mentioned in the previous post.

There is a chance of very light snow later in the day on Christmas. We do have our eye on a potential, honest-to-goodness snow storm for Wednesday/Thursday of next week.

Optimism from TWC.
Enjoy your holiday film festival tomorrow afternoon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rain, Rain Go Away

There's a better chance of a flood day on Friday than there is of a snow day. Boo.

Friday will actually be quite miserable. If you thought the last few days of cold rain and drizzle was unpleasant, then you're in for a real treat on Friday. Anywhere from 1" to 3" of driving, torrential, pneumonia-inducing rain is in the offing. Oh, and then there's the wind--perhaps up to 50 mph in the Berkshires. We may see some snow showers in the afternoon but don't get too excited about it.

We strongly suggest going home right after school on Friday and hunkering down for a holiday film marathon. Here's what we suggest:

1. Frosty, the Snowman -- At only 22 minutes, it's kind of like an appetizer before the entrees later on. It also never gets old saying "Busy, busy, busy" in that evil Professor Hinkle voice.

2. Elf -- Modern, light-hearted, and you can't go wrong with Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell. Also, next to Psycho, one of the great shower scenes of all time. Or certainly the most innocent.

3. For the grand finale we'd put A Christmas Story here, but you wouldn't want to spoil the fun of the annual 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon on TBS on Christmas Eve. Wrapping gifts, sipping eggnog, and an opportunity to bone up on your Italian--it's a tradition so you need to hold off until the 24th.

What, then, should you watch? It's time for a classic--It's a Wonderful Life. This film requires a commitment, but it's worth it in the end. Jimmy Stewart is outstanding, and the heartwarming message about the value of community is just what you'll need to cap off a soggy, blustery day.


I'm sure you have your favorites, too. Let us know what your top three choices would be.




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Temps on the Rise?

You may have already seen this forecast, but our School Street office has put us on high alert with this weekly outlook. Hold onto your hats--it doesn't look good!

Please make sure all pets and small vehicles are indoors for Friday.
[We'll have an update for Friday's powerful storm tomorrow. There's a chance NOAA will be making adjustments to this forecast.]

Rain and Snow for Friday...

Once again, Old Man Winter lets us down. A week ago things were looking very encouraging for multiple days of snow, and as we stare longingly out the windows of the GSD Office, all we see are water droplets hanging from bare limbs and dead, dull-green grass. It's just such a struggle getting in the holiday spirit when Winter doesn't cooperate.

So, what we have to tell you next isn't going to put much spice in your gingerbread cookies. A deep low pressure system will come at us from the west and form a coastal low for Thursday night into Friday. Unfortunately, temps are going to be in the 40s for the next few days so this event will start out as rain. There is an outside chance there will be enough wrap around energy from the coastal low for it to pull in cold air from the north and cause the rain to change over to snow. While this snow (possibly 1-2") will make it look nice out, it will be too late in the day on Friday to bring us a delay or cancellation of school.

Technically, it's not winter yet (and, of course, the world is going to end on Friday), but we're not liking  how this season is shaping up so far. It just feels too much like last winter. The active weather pattern we've been seeing is encouraging, however. We are just missing on some of these storms, which suggests that when the really cold air becomes entrenched in our area that we'll be in business.

So close yet so far...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tuesday Delay?

The School Street office of GSD alertly recognized that a Winter Weather Advisory has been posted for Northern Berkshire county for tonight through 5 am tomorrow.

Big green blob approaches--it may turn pink.
There was some talk in the NOAA report about sleet and freezing rain extending as far south as the Northern Berkshires tonight, and they obviously feel strong enough about that likelihood to give us the WWA.

Still, GSD is not at all optimistic about a delay for tomorrow for most County schools. There is a remote chance the WWA will get extended through the morning hours (similar to today), but we think there's just too much warm air involved in this wave to give us widespread icing conditions.

Tonight will be very similar to last night but with heavier rain in the morning hours. We will monitor the sleet and freezing rain carefully, but almost all activities tomorrow will proceed as scheduled. You may need an extra few minutes to clean off the car in the am, but that's all you'll need to worry about.

WWA Extended to 1 pm

The WWA that was supposed to end at 9 am has been extended to 1 pm today. There are still a few bands of showers on target to come through our area, and the fear must be that those showers will lead to freezing rain.

We will see relatively heavy rain tonight. There is a chance of some sleet to blend in with the rain in Northern Berkshire county, but we do not see delay conditions developing at all for Tuesday morning.

We'll have more about Friday's storm later tonight.

Delays for 12/17...

Adams-Cheshire, BaRT, and Central Berkshire have all phoned in delays. Enjoy the extra hours of sleep if you're in those districts!

WWA Still in Effect for Monday

A light to moderate band of sleet came through the Berkshires after midnight, giving us the expected coating. Road crews were out during the night treating roads and doing some plowing. Secondary roads will be slick so be careful if you're driving in to school today.


No delays have been posted (as of of 5:44 am), but we won't be surprised to see a few 1-hour delays pop up on the scroll on the bottom of your TV screen. The bulk of the precipitation for this round of messiness is almost over, so a regular school day is more likely than a delay today for your district.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

WWA Update for Monday (12/17)

Sorry for the dearth of updates today. Technical difficulties in the GSD home office. Won't happen again. At least for tonight.

At this point, making the prediction for tomorrow is all about watching the radar. And if you watch the radar, there just isn't much there in our corridor. We see lots of green down south--heading out to the sea--and there's a good chunk of blue to the north and northeast, but that's lifting toward the potato farm regions of upper Maine. What's in the pipeline for us are a few patches of spotty winter weather over the next 6 to 8 hours. You may hear a few sleet pellets tapping away at your storm windows tonight, and you'll hear a few warnings about icy patches on secondary roads on the TV and radio, but that's about it.

So, the GSD Staff strongly advises you set your alarm for tomorrow morning per usual, and at least try to get some homework done during halftime of the Patriots game (if that's your thing).

We'll still leave a 10% chance on the True North Confidence Meter just to keep some of you really optimistic types happy, but the reality is ain't nuthin' happening tomorrow.

As for the rest of the week, we'll let you know tomorrow. The picture is less rosy than a few days ago, but we'll still be monitoring the situation carefully.


WWA until 9 AM Monday...

As expected, the NWS issued a Winter Weather Advisory for all of Berkshire County (and other places, too) last night. The advisory goes all the way to 9 am tomorrow, which certainly creates a delay possibility. We'll keep you updated. We're still not in love with the low amount of moisture from this little disturbance, but we can't rule out a delay.

See the previous post for a look at the week's bigger picture.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Quick Update for Dec. 17 Storms

We're going to keep this one brief...

Snow will start around midnight Saturday night and will give us a coating of snow throughout the Berkshires. Temps are a little lower than expected, so we could see a Winter Weather Advisory during the day on Sunday. This WWA could extend to Monday morning, giving us a better chance of a delay than we originally were thinking.

Monday into Tuesday's storm is looking more and more like rain. We're going to be on the wrong side of the low pressure system, so too much warm air is going to make its way into our area.

Another optimistic Accuweather forecast, but GSD isn't buying it.
The forecast for the end of the week is still up in the air. Some models have the storm following a similar track to our Monday night/Tuesday storm, which would again mean rain for us. We're still guardedly optimistic about a Friday delay or snow day, but we're not ready to bet on it just yet.

We'll do our best to update any developing situations on Sunday. A delay on Monday is very much in play. Have a great end to the weekend!

Ice, Ice, Baby

In the words of US poet Robert Van Winkle, "All right, stop, collaborate and listen/Ice is back with my brand new invention."

The latest word is "ice" and it's coming to a town near you. The coastal lows that we so desperately wanted do not look like they are going to be forming in a way that benefits us (at least not in the beginning of the week, but we'll get to that nice piece of news shortly). We're sorry about that, but it doesn't make the week ahead any less exciting.

There are still four waves of precipitation that we've got our eye on, two of which could involve icing scenarios.

Sunday -- Still going with our snow in the morning, a changeover to a mix around 11 am and then rain in the afternoon. Light precip overall--maybe a coating of snow.

Sunday Night -- Possible ice accumulation of a tenth or two tenth of an inch for the Northern Berkshires only. Schools below Lanesboro will see rain or drizzle. We're not very optimistic icing conditions will be so unmanageable that road crews can't stay on top of it. Expect a full day of school.

Monday Night into Tuesday -- Another round of sleet and freezing rain is possible, this time for all of the Berkshires. At the moment, this wave of precipitation looks to be moderate and delays for many schools are a possibility, albeit a low one at this point. Sleet and freezing rain in the overnight hours would change to rain and then possibly back to snow showers by Tuesday night. Again, not a ton of precipitation associated with this wave, but the morning commute on Monday could involve ice.

Thursday Night into Friday -- "Moderate to heavy snowfall" is a phrase the folks at NOAA are using right now to describe the storm for the end of the week. The long-awaited coastal low could develop. What better way to start a vacation than with an extra day of vacation? Much more to come on this one.

It will be a crazy week, but when isn't the week before Christmas not crazy? Right now our best prediction is no issues Monday, slight chance of a delay Tuesday, and then fasten-your-seatbelts-for-some- excitement for Friday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Just a Mess"

As much as we like a tight, well-defined storm build-up, we're just not getting it with this series of storms. The weather will most certainly be unsettled starting late Saturday night and extending all the way to Wednesday. The Sunday/Monday situation now looks clearer--with a possible ice surprise for Monday--but few people or computer models can make any sense of what's going to happen on Wednesday.

Here's what we do know:

Sunday: Snow will move into our area late Saturday night or very early Sunday. The precipitation will be light and it will be stay light before it transitions to rain and drizzle in the late morning hours or early afternoon slot. There may be a brief period of sleet or freezing rain on Sunday before it becomes rain. The best we're going to get out of this initial shot of weather is an inch of snow to put everyone in a more festive holiday spirit. We're more likely to get a coating only to see it disappear later in the day as the temps rise.

Courtesy of Accuweather
Monday: There is some concern about ice for the Monday morning commute. Another wave of light precip is supposed to come through in the overnight hours, and it could create icing conditions. We're really not sure on this prediction just yet, so we'll put a slight chance (20%) of a delay on the True North Confidence Meter.

Tuesday into Wednesday: Make a dartboard with "nothing," "rain," "light snow," "moderate snow," and "heavy snow" on it. Put a blindfold on. Spin around three times. Throw the dart at the dartboard. Tell us what you get because your answer will most likely be better than ours. One of the models--let's call it Model A--has the storm coming across the region and transferring its energy to a coastal low on the mid-Atlantic coast. Another model--Model B--has the storm slowly making its way across the Northeast and then transferring its energy to a low off of New England. If we are to have a snow day on Wednesday, we need Model A to come through for us. There are also serious concerns about the temperature--even if Model A turns out to be right, it might just be too warm for an all-snow event.

As you can see, the forecast is just a wee bit messy. There's even a possibility that a wave of moisture will come through our area Monday night into Tuesday. Again, the precipitation will be light but it still adds to this complicated weather picture.

The only thing we can promise you is some snow early Sunday.

We'll be updating throughout the weekend to help sift through the good info, the bad info, and the hype to give you the straight weather story. Good day!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Storm(s) Update for Dec. 17 Through Dec. 19

We're twenty-four hours closer to measurable snow. Hoo-ray!

Here's skinniest skinny you will read on the impending winter weather:

1. Snow most likely moves into the region some time in the evening on Sunday. There's not a lot of moisture associated with the storm (.6 inches over 24 hours) so we'll probably have consistent light snow in that period. The snow could get up to 4" or so but because it will be stretched out over a longish period of time, we're not likely to see a cancellation or delay for Monday. We're not setting this prediction in stone, but we're not feeling as much love for this storm as we are for storm #2.

2. We may have to break out the name "Bianca" for storm 2. As always when we're still five days away from a storm, computer models are in DATTATOTS* mode. Worst case scenario is that storm 2 boogies on out to sea on Tuesday. Best case scenario is that it slows down, hugs the coast, and gives us a snowfall with some hair on it in the order of 6-9 inches. Either way, the timing of the storm (Tuesday afternoon and night) is not favoring school cancellation...as of today. We know that the timing can easily swing 12 hours in either direction.

The latest snow cover prediction map for Dec. 25. Blue=White Christmas. Another good sign about next week!

What's very curious about next week's scenarios are how close (timewise) the two storms are to one another. Usually we see more space between two low pressure systems. But the climate being what it is these days, we should know to expect the unexpected.

*Disagreement about the track and timing of the storm.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday Storm (12.8) Likely

For you weather wimps out there, enjoy the next few days of placid weather because things are in for a big change over the weekend into next week.

The weekend looks unsettled but conditions are ripe for light precipitation. The air is fairly warm still, so precip could be in the form of rain this weekend with some snow mixing in depending on your altitude. Any activities, games, parties should still be fine--we don't see anything alarming indicating cancellations or postponements during the weekend. We still could see some kind of snow impacting the area for the Monday morning commute, but our attention is mostly on Tuesday.

Ohhhhhh, Baby!!!!
We just might see that long-awaited significant snow event on Tuesday. The NOAA folks are bullish on this one. To quote: "A RATHER HIGH SIGNAL THAT A STORM WILL IMPACT THE NORTHEAST...A STORM WILL DEVELOP ALONG THE SOUTHERN CONUS AND TRACK NORTHEAST DURING THE TIMEFRAME BETWEEN MONDAY LATE MONDAY AND TUESDAY NIGHT."

[We at GSD have no problem with NOAA's all caps format. We know lots of people find all caps abrasive, but we'll certainly give the weather nerds a pass as long as they're shouting out good weather news. And a note on the term "southern CONUS": That would refer to the southern CONtinental United States, akin to POTUS. Essentially it's a US Department of Defense word adopted by meteorologists.]

The GSD Office is very excited about this one even if it may wreak havoc with the annual Secret Santa  luncheon (rats!). We're ready for this one. The shovels are out, the coffee pots on, the internet connection is running at top speed, and we're fully staffed. Check back in for the latest breaking news on our developing weather situation all week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More Good News...

Signs are pointing that Sunday and Monday could bring us the first official snow event of the 2012-13 season. In the immortal words of Harry Wayne Casey, Do a little dance, make little love, get down tonight!

Bring it on.

We're five days out but we're fully on board here in the GSD home office. We can't wait. As for the particulars, here are the latest, most pertinent words from NOAA's long-term forecast:

THIS SYSTEM IS FORECAST TO MOVE EASTWARD INTO THE NORTHEAST SUNDAY...WITH
A SECONDARY COASTAL LOW DEVELOPING OFF THE MIDATLANTIC COAST
WHILE THE EXACT TRACK OF THE SYSTEM IS DIFFICULT TO PINPOINT THIS
FAR OUT...THE SIGNAL IS THERE FOR A MODEST/SIGNIFICANT RAIN/SNOW
EVENT 

Not too shabby. You regular readers know that we need that secondary low to deepen along the coast and move ever gradually northeastward. This deepening is what we refer to as "cyclogenesis," and that's always a favorable term when we're talking about storms.

Typically we'd ask you to cool your jets on this one and not believe the hype. Forget that. Go all in. It probably won't be the biggest storm of the season, but it's snow just the same. And if we don't get it right on this one, there's another storm right on its heals that could be even bigger. Finally, 'tis the season.

Storms on the Horizon?

Last weekend the GSD staff confidently claimed there would be no snow days before the New Year. Moaning about a lack of movement with the Pacific low, staffers just didn't see a break in the pattern until Kris Kringle had made his annual sojourn to our area.

Well, not so fast, powder hounds!

The weather models are percolating with good news. Something is definitely afoot for Sunday and Monday. The latest forecast models have colder air in place on Sunday and a low pressure system intensifying and staying along the coast for Monday.

It's much too early to get too jazzed about this forecast, but we're liking the trend.

We also like Accuweather's forecast for the 19th and 20th, which is, respectively, for "snow" and "snow of varying intensity." We haven't seen the phrase "varying intensity" from the Accuweather folks before, but we like it. "Varying intensity" is really a perfect catch-all phrase. Some of the GSD Staff do their jobs with varying intensity. Men engage in Christmas shopping with varying intensity. The Celtics defense is played with varying intensity. Grandpa's gas comes at you with varying intensity. The only things not done with varying intensity appear to be wishing for snow days and watching "Homeland."

So, with varying but increasing intensity, we will monitor the Sunday/Monday situation and the possible Winter solstice storm. Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Believe it and it will be so!



Sunday, December 9, 2012

WWA for Sunday into Monday (12.9 & 12.10)

Just so our readers are aware, NOAA has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for tonight into Monday morning. The concern is for possible sleet and freezing rain at the onset of this brief weathermaker.

Despite the advisory, GSD is confident we'll have no issues tomorrow morning for the commute. We'll put the chance at a delay at 1% just in case we see the surprise of the year.

We'll monitor the weather reports throughout the evening, but in no means should anyone be optimistic about a possible delay.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Why Isn't It Snowing?

Another week of winter gone by, and another week without significant snow or the signs of significant snow. Ho hum. This whole no snow thing is starting to feel dreadfully similar to last year. This year and last year we had the blockbuster late October/early November storms followed by a fallow period of considerable length. Last year the dead weather pattern lasted almost the entire winter, and this year we've endured over an entire month of zippidee-doo-dah on the ol' storm front.

Do not sell your stock in GSD. We repeat, do not sell your stock. We'll definitely see our share of storms this year. November was one of the driest months on record, but the wet weather we've had this week is an encouraging sign.

I'm sure a few Grinches out there are quite content with another winter of no sliding, no winter radials, and no snowball fights, but we know you're not one those social misfits. Still, you must be wondering...where in the Sam Hill is the snow?? Await no longer--here's your official GSD answer:

1. The West Coast Trough: Problem number one is that there's a size XL trough of low pressure hanging out there off the coast pumping plenty of moisture into that region. Unfortunately, that trough leads to problem number 2:

2. An Eastern Ridge: With the trough in the West, in the East we get a ridge. This ridge is allowing warm air to stream in from the Gulf, and it is keeping the cold air to our west and north. There's plenty of storminess on the East, but because the air is so warm we're stuck in a wet pattern.

3. The Jet Stream: The Jet stream flows west to east. The typical winter pattern that creates storms is a giant U-shape that covers the US. The upper left of the U starts in the Northwest and dips down towards the Texas/Mexico border then comes up the Appalachians. This is the shape of the jet stream that leads to nor'easters. Right now our jet stream is simply too high--the bottom of the U barely touches the top of Kansas and the right side of the U is too flat.

Notice the "U" in the northern plain states and the southwesterly flow towards New England.
So...what needs to happen? Once that low pressure trough shifts eastward, the ridge will push eastward,  and that will push the cold air/warm air line to our east. Once the cold air starts to move in from Canada, we'll see a significant increase in our winter weather. Sadly, it looks like we'll see the first fruits of the trough/ridge shift during the late December holiday break. At this point, however, any storm is a good storm. We need to break the ice, so to speak, in order to prime the pump to get the winter storm engine chugging along. Toot, toot!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Week of December 3rd: Mild Start, Unsettled End

For the second year in a row, a wild end of October has yielded a very quiet and dry November. November of 2012 was one of the driest Novembers on record in our area. Hopefully this is not a precursor to another dry winter. We're thinking the tide will turn in December and we'll see much more normal levels of moisture. Should we return to normal, we will likely have one snow day before the late December holiday break.

As for this week...

We'll feel extremely mild temps early in the week. We may even hit 60 in the region on Tuesday. After that, a cold front passes through our area and temps settle back down into the the high 30s. At the end of the week we'll see unsettled weather. It looks like we'll be too warm for snow--even though a cold front will have come through--and rain is possible Thursday into Friday. There is a chance of frozen precip on Friday into Saturday but computer models, both European and American, are not in agreement on the amount or type of precip. Conventional wisdom suggests all rain, and the GSD staff is pretty much in agreement that only rain will fall over the weekend.

Long term models are bearish on a snow day for December, but we're going to stay optimistic. December is already setting up to be a much less stable month than November. Where there's instability there are storms. Where there are storms there are snow days.