Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What happened...or rather, why it didn't

I've done some thinking and analyzing this morning, and I think I know where I went wrong with my forecasts last night. Lets start by looking at the last radar image I posted.

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As you can see by the radar loop from last night, the snow developed mostly over Western Pennsylvania, West Virgina, and Eastern Kentucky, with lake snows further northwest over Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Now we did and are still getting the lake enhanced snow, but the other area of snow never formed. Why? The answer lies in the two images I made below:

The area where the snow broke out was just west of and along the spine of the Appalachian mountains. These mountains acted as a lifting mechanism. As the winds hit the mountains, they had no where to go but up. Rising air cools, and with all the moisture left over from the storm, condensed into clouds and moderate to heavy snow. This is called upslope snow. Since there is not nearly the elevation gradient over our area as there is to the south, there was not enough lift to cause a secondary outbreak outside of the light lake effect. This just goes to show that there are so many factors that go into forecasting, which is why it is such a tough job.

And just in case you were wondering how much snow fell as a result of the upslope effect last night in the mountains, meteorologist Jesse Ferrell put together a small list of some totals on his blog, which you can see here.

One other note about this storm. I have had over 800 hits on my website since Monday, including 571 yesterday! I just wanted to thank all of you for using my site and making it well worth my time. I really enjoy this and I am so happy that you are finding it useful! Thank you again!

Now, one final thing for now. For the past month or so, I have been working on a new website with a group of meteorology students here at SUNY Oswego. This site will give weather forecasts in a similar format to for clusters of 2-5 counties. This will be a great source for specific weather information outside of our area. I am both the chief meteorologist of this new site, along with the forecaster for the Finger Lakes region. I have set this site up so that Tompkins, Cortland and Southern Cayuga are in a cluster. What does this mean for the future of No changes! I simply using for that region, keeping everything the same for you. This new site will be launching this weekend and will have the URL, so check it out come Saturday!

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