BLOG: Big Storm Next Week? Or Not?

Happy Friday!

You may or may not have heard rumors and/or have seen images being shared on Facebook about a potential HUGE storm next week. Some have blaring headlines that speculate that if there were to be a storm, it could be comparable to the Superstorm of 1993.

I am not going to dive too deep into the meteorology yet today, but will show you a few things demonstrating why the uncertainty at this stage of the game is quite high.

The pattern IS ripe for a storm of some variety. But, will everything come together for a BIG storm? Or will the pieces not line up and all we have is “small potatoes”. That’s the big question. IF there were to be a sizable storm of some kind here, it would be in the Wednesday-Wednesday night time frame. Here’s what the latest models say:

Canadian model says “meh”: canwedIt has a wave of low pressure moving through the Great Lakes and then strengthening some off the coast of Maine. Minimal impacts for the Valley.

The GFS model is a bit more interesting: gfswedIt has a storm tracking south of the Ohio River and by Wednesday evening (shown here) it is getting set to head off the coast. This track is one that can bring us a light to moderate snowfall. Perhaps on the order of a few/several inches.

The rumors of a BIG storm are courtesy of the European model. If you are new to this, the European model is *generally* regarded as superior to most other models, for many reasons. BUT, it has it’s fair share of “busts” too. Here’s the European look for Wednesday evening: eurowedA much healthier looking system, and farther north than the GFS. In fact, this run has it far enough north that if it were to be exactly right we would have some concern for mixed precipitation in parts of the Valley (as opposed to all snow).

So, pretty big differences between these 3 models right? A Meteorologist’s Instant Headache.

Why is the European model idea more than just a little credible? Two reasons. 1) It’s the European, which again…in a general sense is superior to the other medium range models. 2) The “operational” run, shown here, has quite a bit of support from the European “ensembles”.

Wha?? Again if you are new to this blog you may be wondering what in the world I am talking about. Here’s the quick and dirty answer: The “operational” run is the high-resolution version of a model that is widely available and seen and used by many.  Ensembles are lower-resolution versions of the the same model, run multiple times with the initial meteorological conditions changed somewhat each time. This is done to account for the fact that the data fed into any ONE run of a model is never going to be perfect. Changing that data a bit multiple times helps account for those inevitable errors. Sometimes, these small changes in the initial data result in BIG changes to the model “solution”, or what it does with all the weather systems on the map. Sometimes, the changes are small. When the changes are small, the confidence in that solution, or forecast, is higher.

ANYWAY (still with me?), there are over 50 members of the European ensemble model. The mean, or average of all of these is not tooooo far from the idea of the operational model. So, confidence in that operational solution is higher than average.

For Youngstown, right now the operational model (blue) gives us 7 inches of snow. The ensemble mean (green) has 4 inches: Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 8.53.18 AMKeep in mind that the model output will count ice/sleet as snow, so if the model is “seeing” mixed precipitation, the snow numbers will be inflated to a certain degree.

So, bottom line 5 days out: Next week will start mild but there is potential for a Winter Storm Wednesday-Wednesday night. Right now it’s nothing more than potential. I think odds favor accumulating snow in the Valley, but does that mean one inch or much more? No idea yet.

As always, will keep you updated! Have a good weekend and thanks for reading.





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