Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Bolaris: Two storms down, one megastorm to go?

The wet snow clings to trees in West Chester after another snowstorm hits the Philadelphia metro region Feb. 3, 2014.   ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )
The wet snow clings to trees in West Chester after another snowstorm hits the Philadelphia metro region Feb. 3, 2014. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )
Gallery: First February snow storm hits the Philly region

It has been one wild and wicked winter, February has picked up where January has left off, after Mother Nature decided to watch the Super Bowl and take the day off (she must be a Seattle fan) as it was one of the nicest days of this winter so far.

But then BAM! 12 hours later we get socked with yet another snowstorm. Eighteen hours earlier and Roger Goodell would have had a tough time smiling as he sat outside at MetLife Stadium. The weather gods decided to have mercy on the NFL and perhaps if it did snow the game could have had a different outcome? One never knows how weather changes history from the Normandy invasion (dense fog allowed for cloaked attack) to the Eagles game in blinding blizzard conditions that will go down into the NFL history books.

Then 24 hours later, an ice storm moves through the region, leaving over a half million people powerless across our northern and western suburbs, Chester County was the high impact area. North and west of the Blue Route and north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, trees and limbs snapped, transformers blew, and wires fell draining our neighbors of power.

Now during the past 10-14 days, about the only thing I've been hearing about is megastorm that will bury the likes of DC, Philly, NYC and Boston with up to 3 feet of snow. People are freaking out and you know what, I don't blame them.

More coverage
  • Bolaris: One storm down, two more to go
  • Some mad scientist picked off one of the computer image maps that uses a particular algorithm to project snow amounts in a storm. This can be purchased from a company called WeatherBell and any inexperienced, non-meteorological mad scientist can post. And, oh boy, did it go viral.

    @jm116 tweets me "I live in NYC (Philly transplant) any thoughts on snow, I'm hearing 3 feet."

    @languedoctor tweets me "people are all buzzing about Sunday and using the word FEET, to describe totals that possible?"

    To answer is it possible?

    Listen, yes, it's true computer models were generating (at times a blockbuster storm) and any irresponsible person, meteorologist, saying we have the chance of getting a blizzard over 10 days in advance is simply insane.

    Computer models DID NOT show any run-to-run consistency. Euro early on had a superstorm then backed off, GFS did not show a megastorm early on, then made a dramatic shift and was indicating a colossal snowstorm, then backed off.

    I've been forecasting and/or covering every single major storm from mega blizzards to hurricanes for the past 30 years, and the greatest asset that I have is experience.

    Yes, I'm a weather geek and being totally honest my adrenaline goes sky high when I see evidence of possible "SuperStorms" and anyone who has a love affair with meteorology would tell you the same thing.

    It's the challenge of trying to get it right that drives me (sounds corny, I know) but it really does. At the same time you must show restraint, and we do have a responsibility to the public to disseminate accurate information.

    I will always call it just the way I see it, hopefully most of the time I'm right. But I can tell you this, the very worst feeling in the world to me is when I blow one. It's the nature of the beast. We all do.

    Everyone is entitled to a bad day, but in this profession you better not have too many.

    The latest on Mr. Mega Storm

    It seems highly unlikely now of happening.

    The Yukon energy diving down into and through the Southern Plains, will be flattened out some as the Western Ridge which has been energizing the East Coast trough (a valley in the east which helps intensify storms) will not be as deep, as computer models were indicating early on.

    And the biggest thing I'm watching is Northern and Southern stream phasing, when a strong jet to the North phases with a strong jet to the South. With such negative phasing, the jet stream actually bends back toward the coast near the Mid-Atlantic area, allowing rapid intensification to take place. In some cases it actually cuts off from the flow, allowing a storm to stall and pound the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast - think the blizzard of Jan 6-8, 1996, and its 30.7 inches of snow.

    Computer models were having difficulties with the timing of phasing from the get-go, that's why the wild fluctuations in projected outcomes.

    So right now it looks split, one wave or storm system forms in the Southeast on Saturday and slides east of the North Carolina coast, possibly producing a swath of snow across the Carolinas, eastern Virginia, southern Delaware, and perhaps Cape May County in South Jersey.

    The main energy (the Yukon energy bundle) is more northerly track, perhaps producing cyclogenesis well off the east coast of Long Island. Which is all to say that as it stands now, a period of light snow or snow showers with the energy itself is possible on Sunday, but NO major storm.

    Will keep ya posted.

    John Bolaris

    John Bolaris PHILLY.COM
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