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Northern Ohio Obs/Discussion Part 2


Trent
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I made the mistake of going to the Giant Eagle in Tanglewood via Chagrin Rd about a half-hour ago. The roads were bad on the way out, 15 mins at the supermarket, they were atrocious on the way back and getting worse. Lucky I have AWD and snow tires on...! We've easily had 3 - 4" since late this afternoon. Moderate to heavy snow here at my place 2mi S of Chagrin Falls village.

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11 minutes ago, NEOH said:

Wow... That Huron band is starting to get organized. It's awfully thin and just to the west of here... Hopefully it swings a little further east and parks for the night.

Wow that looks intense!  271 - solon, OHweather bullseye right now.  Really hope it expands or nudges each a little. 

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This is definitely the best Huron band we've seen in a while.  I've received 1.7" of new snow since I left at 3:30pm pushing my storm total to 6.6".  The band has pushed just to my east. 

I took the "long way" home from work in Bedford Heights at the corner of Miles and Richmond...jumped on 422E in Solon, got off at 306, went down to Pettibone, and cut over to 43.  That was a very snowy drive with visibility frequently reduced to a few car lengths and snow covered roads.  The Chagrin River valley on Pettibone was a bit of a nail biter in the snow as that's a fairly steep and windy hill on both sides.  Luckily my poor decision making didn't cost me as I made it home in my little front wheel drive sedan...I guess those new tires finally paid off.  I'd estimate a solid 8-10" in Bainbridge when I drove through and probably around 7 or 8" in Solon. 

The band is still drifting east slowly.  Rates are definitely in excess of 2" per hour in the heart of it, though it's narrow.  The models all have a very subtle veer in the winds between midnight and 3am which may push the band back west a few miles before it begins drifting east again closer to dawn.  I'm not sure what causes a veer in the winds, perhaps the vort max going by, and it's subtle.  Essentially I don't expect the band to move more than a few miles either way through 4am, so a narrow corridor could get drilled pretty good.  Instability still improves a bit more over the next couple of hours and the band is intensifying upstream so it may not quite be at its strongest yet.

Unfortunately the upslope aided multibands in the higher terrain outside of the main band aren't very impressive at the moment, so it may be tough to see the general few inches I hoped for in the higher terrain outside of the Huron band.  A little surprised given seemingly better moisture/instability and even synoptic lift than earlier today when good upslope snow got going.  This has definitely been an interesting/challenging event to forecast and watch unfold...hopefully the Huron band stalls enough to really allow for a big total so we don't rhetorically ask in what decade the last good Lake Huron aided band was everytime there's a chance at it occurring :lol:

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3 hours ago, Trent said:

I ended up with about 2" total from the synoptic last night and lake effect today. When you look back at all the "storms" over the past few years here, it really is astonishing the number that busted. This must be the most difficult place to forecast snow in the US, especially based on population.

It really is amazing.  I will say that I know people quite well who forecast for both downwind of Lake Ontario and Lake Superior, and our busts are nothing out of the ordinary and in some cases sort of look like child's play...but those areas are not as populated (Syracuse does get up there though, but they need a perfect flow for a big LES event into their metro area and don't have as wide a range of possible winds as we do).  Even most of the events that have dumped a lot of snow have been events that did not look great or weren't forecast to be significant but blew up. 

I really think a lot of the lake effect busts have to do with an over-reliance on models that do not handle LES well...not here and really not downwind of any of the Great Lakes.  A good lake effect forecast requires an incredible attention to detail in both the model output and in a potential error in the models in terms of something like wind direction, temperatures, even dew points.  Out of the events that have performed most differently than forecasted this winter we've had busts due to a little too much wind or wind shear, in one event temps were warmer than modeled and dew points lower than modeled, and in the "good" busts we've had nearly perfect parameters but everyone was scared to pull the trigger due to less than impressive model QPF.  It's really quite difficult and easy to miss something important.  Sometimes it's easy to "overthink" things and try to outsmart the models and then look like a moron when the models actually work out close to reality.  I've been both over-reliant and too skeptical of the models many times...still hard to find the proper balance. 

As for the synoptic snow, most areas did see 2-4" with locally 5" of synoptic snow, though there was a poorly placed screw hole over Cleveland and immediately adjacent areas, so this storm was not a big bust in the synoptic snow department.  However, even with those storms, a warm wedge working up the west side of the mountains that models traditionally handle poorly, dry air due to downsloping off the mountains, models struggling with east coast cyclogenesis which has effects on lows that "jump" the mountains, and then of course lake influences all can have negative or positive impacts on synoptic snow storms.  Models struggle with all of these factors everywhere, however there is a nice convergence of "difficulties" for our local area.  Clippers are probably our most reliable synoptic snow and are easier to forecast than a Gulf Low or Panhandle Hook, though lake enhancement behind clippers can add difficulty there too. 

At this point we are due for a good winter...eventually we'll get one and we won't know what to do with ourselves.  I can't imagine a 70" winter at CLE (though 13-14 was above that).

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8 hours ago, Trent said:

It doesn't look like CLE will be adding that much to the seasonal snowfall total unless a Huron band decides to hit the west side later. I didn't really get that much snow after this morning (less than an inch). The radar looked way better than what was falling, but the heavier returns were just east and south of the airport.

Right about that.  Last evening, looking at the radar you would have thought I was under a death band - I kept looking outside thinking I was going to see a whiteout and the best I saw was maybe 1 mile vis. light snow.  CLE even put out a Special Weather Statement calling for 1"/hour rates.  Umm, no.  The wind was probably more interesting than the snow.  I think I had more branches in my yard this morning than after the big windstorm last week.  Ended up with about 2" total, bringing me up to around 14" on the season.

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54 minutes ago, dta1984 said:

Looks like 4.5" fell since 10pm last night.   Storm total is at 15".  I'm guessing there may be slightly higher overall totals just to my west near chagrin.  The band hugged that area for a while.

Right around the same total here - 14.2".  Winds are really howling and blowing the snow around. Impressive event. Even with the cold temps the past few days the bottom layer of the snow is wet.

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Yesterday's 1.5" at CLE was enough to put this season's snowfall total just above last year. 

CLE is at 33.5" for the season, while last year it finished at 32.8".

Interestingly the largest calendar day snowfall stands at just 3.6" this year. The last time it was that low was the 1969/1970 season. 

There's still a month left in the snow season, but the odds of getting an official 3" synoptic snowstorm this season are quickly dwindling. 

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3 minutes ago, NEOH said:

Right around the same total here - 14.2".  Winds are really howling and blowing the snow around. Impressive event. Even with the cold temps the past few days the bottom layer of the snow is wet.

Congrats. The radar looked great last night around that area.

I was also surprised at how even with sub freezing temps the past few days how the snow still melted from the ground up. My driveway was mostly scoured clear by the wind, but when I removed some of the drifts it was all slush underneath. 

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46 minutes ago, Trent said:

Congrats. The radar looked great last night around that area.

I was also surprised at how even with sub freezing temps the past few days how the snow still melted from the ground up. My driveway was mostly scoured clear by the wind, but when I removed some of the drifts it was all slush underneath. 

I definitely noticed yesterday while plowing that the bottom layer was slushy.  This morning it was definitely true powder.  

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3.2" additional overnight and into this morning pushing my storm total to 9.8". Really not bad and is my largest storm of the winter (tho the second largest of 8"+ of LES earlier this month fell in about 14 hours as opposed to over 36 hours). Hoping a last flare up can drop a bonus inch this evening. 

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Hard to tell how much fell IMBY.  My front yard has spots where the grass is poking thru, but my back yard has drifts up to 2 feet high.  Judging by this storm total map from the NWS, Chesterland picked up from 8 to 10 inches.  Overall, the storm under-performed based on the totals maps issued on Monday PM.  I think, as often happens, drier air advected in faster than forecast, thus cutting snow totals...not to mention the primary storm getting its energy sucked out by the coastal..

It seems like coastals robbing primary storm systems as they approach NE Ohio have been fairly common over the past several years.  This could very well be caused by persistent warmer than normal SSTs off the east coast.  When the arctic air comes in from the west, clashing with the abnormally warm ssts, the coastal storms spin up fast and quite often, bomb out.

SSTA Maps for recent Januarys...Notice the SSTAs off of the east coast (circled in red)...

1-13 SSTA.JPG

1-14 SSTA.JPG

1-15 SSTA.JPG

1-16 SSTA.JPG

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Here's some data that illustrates how little snow has fallen at CLE the past two seasons:

The past 2 seasons have only seen 67.3" of snowfall at the airport. A normal season would see 68.2", so thus far the past two winters combined into one would still be a below average snowfall season. Sadly, I think the airport measuring has been a bit generous the past two years as small events have been given straight 10:1 ratio totals despite little or no snow actually covering the ground. 

The previous lowest back to back seasons at the airport were 1978/79 and 1979/80 when only 77" fell those two years.

Obviously there's still plenty of time for it to snow yet this season, but CLE is still running 9.7" below the previous back to back lowest seasons. Based on the outlooks the next few weeks, there'd have to be a miracle mid/late April blizzard that dumps 10"+ to move out of the bottom.

It really is amazing how little snow activity there's been around these parts the past two years, especially the lack of even a minor synoptic snowfall.

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On 3/22/2017 at 7:01 PM, Trent said:

Here's some data that illustrates how little snow has fallen at CLE the past two seasons:

The past 2 seasons have only seen 67.3" of snowfall at the airport. A normal season would see 68.2", so thus far the past two winters combined into one would still be a below average snowfall season. Sadly, I think the airport measuring has been a bit generous the past two years as small events have been given straight 10:1 ratio totals despite little or no snow actually covering the ground. 

The previous lowest back to back seasons at the airport were 1978/79 and 1979/80 when only 77" fell those two years.

Obviously there's still plenty of time for it to snow yet this season, but CLE is still running 9.7" below the previous back to back lowest seasons. Based on the outlooks the next few weeks, there'd have to be a miracle mid/late April blizzard that dumps 10"+ to move out of the bottom.

It really is amazing how little snow activity there's been around these parts the past two years, especially the lack of even a minor synoptic snowfall.

This has been a crappy snow drought...I don't think we've had a decent synoptic event (CLE having 10+") since early 2011.  The GHD II storm in 2015 dumped over a foot in many parts of the area, but CLE picked up about 8".  I attached a graph of annual snowfall totals for CLE.  Red line is at 70" which is close to our annual average of 68.1"  The 2010s have been below normal except for 2013-14.

Recent CLE Snow Totals.JPG

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2 hours ago, LakeEffectOH said:

This has been a crappy snow drought...I don't think we've had a decent synoptic event (CLE having 10+") since early 2011.  The GHD II storm in 2015 dumped over a foot in many parts of the area, but CLE picked up about 8".  I attached a graph of annual snowfall totals for CLE.  Red line is at 70" which is close to our annual average of 68.1"  The 2010s have been below normal except for 2013-14.

Yeah. It hasn't been a good decade for snow here at all. CLE is running almost a 100" snowfall deficit the past 6 seasons, which is pretty incredible. To put that into perspective, if CLE had 16 more 6" snowstorms the past 6 seasons, there'd still be a deficit!

16-17    33.7" Deficit
15-16    35.4" Deficit
14-15    1.1" Deficit
13-14    17.9" Surplus
12-13    16.5" Deficit
11-12     29.3" Deficit
Total    98.1" Deficit

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16 hours ago, Trent said:

Yeah. It hasn't been a good decade for snow here at all. CLE is running almost a 100" snowfall deficit the past 6 seasons, which is pretty incredible. To put that into perspective, if CLE had 16 more 6" snowstorms the past 6 seasons, there'd still be a deficit!

16-17    33.7" Deficit
15-16    35.4" Deficit
14-15    1.1" Deficit
13-14    17.9" Surplus
12-13    16.5" Deficit
11-12     29.3" Deficit
Total    98.1" Deficit

The 2010s are a far cry from the 2000s when big storms seemed to come once or twice a year.  I remember the March 2008 storm well.  20-24" all the way up I-71.

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The 2000s were very snowy and pushed the 30 year average up several inches, and the 2010s have done the opposite so far. I look at 11-12 and 12-13 as run of the mill back to back bad winters...the last two have been in a league of their own. Hopefully this doesn't become more common going forward. 

I do think the under measuring in February of 2015 really makes the 13-14 and 14-15 winters look less impressive than they were. Those were two back to back very cold and fairly snowy winters. Februrary of 2015 was arguably the most severe cold and snow combo on record in Cleveland (coldest Feb on record and top 5 snowiest but that should have been higher). The storm at the beginning of the month dropped 10-12" east, west, and north of CLE but managed 8" at CLE which was a bit frustrating. There were a few other smaller systems that month that CLE reported less than surrounding areas on...cold and windy storms in an open airport will do that though. 

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This will be the first time in Cleveland that March has had an above normal temperature departure, but was still colder than February. In other words, March 2017 was warmer than all 147 Februarys since records were kept except for February 2017. It really shows how freakishly warm this February was. 

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The models (especially the Euro) have been hinting at some potential wrap around/lake enhanced snow at the end of the week. The Euro is solidly cold enough for it to occur when comparing it to past similar April events but the GFS is more marginal temp wise and moves the heavier precip out quicker. The storm will be closed off when it passes is so predictability this far out probably isn't great, but the Euro ensemble mean last night was a solid 2-4" (a few members had nothing and a few members had like 10" with most in Between) so I'd say there's support for the potential. The airmass even by April standards could be colder so this isn't a slam dunk though. 

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On Tue Mar 28 2017 at 7:37 PM, Trent said:

Yeah. It hasn't been a good decade for snow here at all. CLE is running almost a 100" snowfall deficit the past 6 seasons, which is pretty incredible. To put that into perspective, if CLE had 16 more 6" snowstorms the past 6 seasons, there'd still be a deficit!

16-17    33.7" Deficit
15-16    35.4" Deficit
14-15    1.1" Deficit
13-14    17.9" Surplus
12-13    16.5" Deficit
11-12     29.3" Deficit
Total    98.1" Deficit

That's crazy. At Detroit the total since 2011-12 is a 33.0" surplus. Going back to 2007-08, the last 10 years, Detroit has a surplus of 112.4"! That's assuming this season is done which it may not be. Does anyone have the avg for Toledo? I'd like to see their stats in that time frame. I know chicago is definitely a surplus but probably not quite as high.

 

FYI the lowest back to back winters here was 1936-37 & 1937-38 with a total of 35.5" (12.9, all time lowest, followed by 22.6).

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Still a good amount of uncertainty in the snow for tomorrow night into Friday, but some ingredients are in place as we'll get into a slow moving deform zone west of a very slow moving cut/off and stacked storm over upstate NY Thursday night and Friday with temperatures becoming cold enough for decent lake enhancement and upslope by late Thursday night.  There's disagreement over how quickly we changeover Thursday evening and over how long it lingers into Friday, and a lot of that has to deal with how little vort maxes rotating around the upper low act which is not easy for the models to get right.  The lakeshore will get less than the higher terrain and may not end up seeing much (if the higher end solution pans out maybe the shore can see 2-3" of slush), however right now I think 2-5" is a good first call for the higher terrain.  That could get up considerably if things go perfectly and we changeover and the low doesn't move away too quickly into Friday, which some models have shown off and on.

The surface and upper level evolution are somewhat close to the April 2-3, 2005 storm which was a widespread 4-8" across north-central and northeast OH with 18-30" in the higher terrain from northern Geauga County into NW PA.  The surface low with this one initially will be farther north than that one (the similarities start when the system really slows over upstate NY) which may ultimately make it impossible to see totals close to that storm.

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4 hours ago, OHweather said:

Still a good amount of uncertainty in the snow for tomorrow night into Friday, but some ingredients are in place as we'll get into a slow moving deform zone west of a very slow moving cut/off and stacked storm over upstate NY Thursday night and Friday with temperatures becoming cold enough for decent lake enhancement and upslope by late Thursday night.  There's disagreement over how quickly we changeover Thursday evening and over how long it lingers into Friday, and a lot of that has to deal with how little vort maxes rotating around the upper low act which is not easy for the models to get right.  The lakeshore will get less than the higher terrain and may not end up seeing much (if the higher end solution pans out maybe the shore can see 2-3" of slush), however right now I think 2-5" is a good first call for the higher terrain.  That could get up considerably if things go perfectly and we changeover and the low doesn't move away too quickly into Friday, which some models have shown off and on.

The surface and upper level evolution are somewhat close to the April 2-3, 2005 storm which was a widespread 4-8" across north-central and northeast OH with 18-30" in the higher terrain from northern Geauga County into NW PA.  The surface low with this one initially will be farther north than that one (the similarities start when the system really slows over upstate NY) which may ultimately make it impossible to see totals close to that storm.

We'll see what happens. I'm completely out of snow mode but early and late season snows are always interesting events. I won't forget April 2005 anytime soon... That was an amazing late season event. I was living in Lyndhurst at the time and I think we had 23".

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