Super Bowl parties could be over after halftime

Snowmageddon of 2015 marches on… After a quiet first half this winter, except for a number of cold days in January, , the snow factory has officially opened for business. Last Saturdays half foot, Monday and Tuesdays blizzard and now the string continues with number three on its way that may cut short some Super Bowl parties. Another massive storms in terms of real estate it will cover moves eastward from the southwest and Gulf of Mexico entering Connecticut by early Sunday evening. The good news it may give some a day off from work on Monday to recover from Big Game festivities. Storm #3 will exit late Monday drawing some of the coldest air of the winter into the area.  Storm #4 will not be far behind late next week.  And not to be the bearer of bad news the Groundhog will not see his shadow Monday which spells six more weeks of winter. Sorry.

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The art of predicting a winter storm

The good old days when the weatherman would rely on the tools of a thermometer, barometer, anemometer to measure wind speed and direction, radar and satellites images, and then draw out lines of equal barometric pressure on a map to show the location of high and low pressure areas to predict a storms path. Today meteorologists have a new technology from their well equipped arsenal and that would be two computer models. One is the North American Model (NAM) and the European Model. Meteorologists rely more on the European Model because of recent successes for being reliable in predictioning large winter storms and their precise tracks and precipation accuracy. Unfortunately many meteorologists ignored NAM and went solely with the more popular European model for The Blizzard 2015 which faired inaccurate by a 100 mile wobble to the east. The heavy snow bands missed New York City but set up over eastern Long Island and eastern New England and weathermen paid a hefty price from the media outlets. Even The National Weather Service issued a subtle apology. The science of weather forecasting still can be subject to error especially if we’re on the edge of heavy weather. Maybe next time to get the forecast right is to just  look out the window!

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Some humor tonight

What I’m about to say is true about a conversation I had tonight with my sister who lives in Atlanta. Of course being my older sister she was checking up on me worrying about the impending blizzard she was seeing all over the news.  So here it goes… She went out to a local super market there in Atlanta “Publix” to pick up a few groceries and was bewildered that the shelves were emptied out of everything. There was no bread, no milk, no essentials! So what gives. If you didn’t know…. The Weather Channel is headquartered there in Atlanta and all the hype from this blizzard reverberated down the spine of the Appalachian Mountains to the core of the southern states. Very interesting considering I walked into a BJ’s Warehouse today and found the shelves fully stocked. Picture this crazy thought I had… Remember just a thought…. Can you imagine a family from Atlanta stuffing their faces in front of a TV watching The Weather Channel tonight and a conversation takes place like this, “hey honey, pass the Doritos and wings, hey look at this poor guy shoveling 3 feet of snow in front of his garage, honey, this family is burning their furniture in the street to stay warm, they lost their heat”. Let’s hope this does not happen… But I’m trying to get a point across to you about how the word that this storm was going to be a nationwide event. Can you say January thaw?

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Snow factory in motion

For the first time this winter season there’s confidence that a significant snow maker will whiten hills and valleys of southern New England. The jet stream usually has a split personality to it in the winter months with a northern branch and southern branch. When they merge a winter storm takes shape, and if there’s enough cold air in place and the storm tracks just to our east a period of steady snow will break out. The right ingredients are in place for this to happen on Saturday. We will not need a yard stick but only a ruler to measure the final snow accumulation Saturday night, but this event could be just the start in a series of potent storms down the road. Thank “El Niño” partially for this reconfiguration of our weather pattern.

 

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Slip, sliding away…Why is ice slippery?

Yesterday was one miserable day with ice adhering to everything making walking and traveling treacherous. So why is ice slippery? A century and a half of scientific inquiry has yet to solve this one. It’s clear that a thin layer of liquid water on top of solid ice causes the slipperiness. But there’s consensus as to why ice, unlike most other solids has such a layer.

Some studies suggest that friction from a moving shoe, skate or tire causes the heat necessary to melt the ice beneath it. But what if the shoe isn’t moving at all? A second theory proposes that ice inherently has a fluid layer caused by the motion of surface molecules that have nothing above to bind to and so move around in search of stability. The slippery culprit may be a combination of these two theories.

Enough for our science class. With all the technological breakthroughs in fighting cancer, landing on the the moon and Mars, communication technology, understanding the molecular composition to fight diseases and wars, we cannot figure out why ice is slippery? Maybe it’s best. Keep nature simple.

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