1.21.2016

Blizzard 2016: Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

Q: How much snow am I going to get? A: Here's a snowfall forecast issued on Thursday morning a... thumbnail 1 summary 1.21.2016  |  16:31
Q: How much snow am I going to get?

A: Here's a snowfall forecast issued on Thursday morning and valid through Sunday morning.



Q: Where do I live on that map?

A: https://www.google.com/maps

Q: Yeah but how much snow am I going to get?

A: Your town could get 8-12" of snow from this storm, less if ice mixes in.

Q: Yeah but how much snow will we get exactly???

A: Did I stutter?

Q: lol okay really though what's really going to happen are they hyping this?

A: No, this isn't hype, and what you see in the forecast is what they really think is going to happen. Weather forecasting isn't a grocery store—we don't keep the good forecasts in the back, and we don't benefit from hype since our reputations are on the line. Hype is driven by the management side of news operations that care more about ratings/revenues than the true newsworthiness of an event.

Q: When will the worst happen?

A: Friday through Saturday

Q: Is this really the worst storm that's ever happened?

A: This storm has a chance to break snowfall records in several places. It could be one of the top two or three storms ever recorded in Washington D.C., for example, and if it stays all snow, cities in southern Virginia and North Carolina could come close to breaking all-time records.

Q: When was the last time we had a storm like this?

A: The last time you had a storm this bad in the Mid-Atlantic was during the blockbuster blizzard fest during the winter of 2009-2010, when you had something like three major snowstorms in a one- or two-month window. Farther south, with an exception here or there, this is probably going to be the biggest storm since the Blizzard of 1996, if not earlier than that.

Q: I have a flight out of Dulles at 8:30 PM on Friday.

A: Not anymore.

Q: Will the next flight be cancelled?

A: Yes.

Q: What about Saturday?

A: Yes.

Q: When will the airports reopen?

A: It's not so much an issue of the airport being closed as it is the airlines cancelling all of their flights. Airplanes and frozen precipitation don't play well together, and airlines aren't thrilled with the sight of planes full of people falling out of the sky.

Q: will skol b closd 2mrw?????

A: For your sake, I hope not.

Q: I wish I had a job where you could be wrong all the time and still get paid!

A: I hope your pants rip when you're far away from home.

Q: If the high is going to be 27°F, why are we expecting freezing rain instead of snow?

A: There's a shallow layer of warm air a few thousand feet above the ground, completely melting the snowflake before it reaches the ground. The melted snowflake—a raindrop!—re-enters the subfreezing air at the surface and freezes on contact with anything exposed to the elements.

Q: Why is it hailing?

A: It's sleet. Sleet forms through the same process as freezing rain, but the snowflake doesn't completely melt. The remaining ice crystals in the raindrop give the water a nucleus around which to freeze, solidifying the droplet into a tiny ice pellet, or sleet.

Q: My friend's cousin on Facebook said that we're gonna get a—

A: Ignore him.

Q: But my friend says that he's never wr—

A: Ignore. Him.

Q: The Virginia Snowstorm Action Authority 3000 Facebook page said that we're gonna get—

A: That page is also run by your friend's 12-year-old cousin. Ignore it.

Q: Is this El NiƱo making landfall?

A: That question makes me want to take up drinking.

91 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Also, I miss The Vane.

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    2. I'm more upset about finding out The Vane ended today than about my impending human popsicle status :(

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    3. Me too! Best part of Gawker by a country mile. Very glad to find this site.

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    4. Awesome! Thank you for the information in a form that could be understood by a 5 yr old.....Thanks from an ole country gal!

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    5. You are so funny...love this. Going to share. Our meteorologist in NE got slammed with bad comments about a month ago, for predicting 6 inches and we only got 2. I was so happy he was wrong, but I would never get on facebook and say nasty comments. Hope the predictions are off a little for your part of the country. Good luck

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    7. Wow...A professional? Are you only 20 yrs old?.....That's not a bad thing, but, you need to look back some...into every year for 50 -r 100 or 500 years. Thank you. The last time this happened was not in your back yard, but down the road...LAST WINTER!
      Re:

      Q: When was the last time we had a storm like this?

      A: The last time you had a storm this bad in the Mid-Atlantic was during the blockbuster blizzard fest during the winter of 2009-2010, when you had something like three major snowstorms in a one- or two-month window. Farther south, with an exception here or there, this is probably going to be the biggest storm since the Blizzard of 1996, if not earlier than that.

      I Hate Sensationalism. Get off the TWC mental EPIC bandwagon. It's WEATHER. Snow sucks when it's heavy, but it's weather and happens every year or five or ten sometimes. But now, EVERY YEAR IS NEW, for media and reminding us that we forget...EVERY TIME, since maybe 1942 before measurements were so wide....and VARIED. Some will die from this storm, like the last, and some will die from eating dirt, which we is worse...right?

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  2. And there is a 100% chance that people will blame the meteorologists for being wrong because they don't see the exact forecast amount of snow in their front yard.

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    1. So what. A MET who knows and loves and helps the field will always write the public BS off and do the job with no worry about feedback. The public and stupid pseudo-scientists are brainwashed by media outlets with pretty girls and boys who take away all the science that was once what the field required. I miss Cantore before TWC requred he step down from his profound MET and beefed up his sensationalism and excitement factor to SELL boring weather. Too bad, we forgot we can sell the field by talking professionally about it. LOST ART....except in local markets.!!!!

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    2. ....markets... and the scientific outlets that inform us all. (eg. NOAA and all its outlets)

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  3. Do you think this storm will chase convection like the Euro & others keep showing?

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    1. chase convection. Um no. ECMWF/UKMO/GFS/CMC....all pretty congruent in the lwst MSLP, albeit still differing somewhat in the exact location of the lwst cent. press. (did I hear on U.S. tv a mention of the EYE OF THE STORM? shame shame. work with it young folks.

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  4. Q: Wouldn't it be great if we had a writer who understood the weather right now (Gawker)

    A: You used to dummies...

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    1. I tried to star this, it didn't work, so here's a deadspin +1 instead.

      +1 sad Denton.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. Technically, it looks like a vulva. Look it up. I'm not kidding you. There's a difference between a vagina (which you can't see, because it's inside) and a vulva (which looks like the snowfall pattern). The More You Know ****

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    4. +1 Skittlebip. There needs to be an applause system here.

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    6. By your reckoning, then New York city is the clitoris.

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    7. Anonymous...if this were the '90's you would have been put on 'Ignore' at your first attempt. This blog sucks. bye

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  5. So glad that you're still writing. I followed all your posts on The Vane and I'll continue to be a loyal reader here!

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  6. we are looking for your rescue services over at dkos.
    i sent you an email, and used the wxdude signal lamp, too.
    please hurry, uncle terry is getting overheated ...

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  7. 1) Thank you. 2) Re: the making a living thing - I just disabled AdBlock on this page, so you'll get compensated for my page views. Hope it helps!

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  8. Excellent.

    (adblock disabled / ads clicked)

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  9. I love you. And science. But mostly you.

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  10. Just choked on my evening cup of coffee.... While putting away my bread and milk! Just incase my friends cousin is right! Priceless!

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    1. It is as close as they could get to Yoni.

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  12. Gawker is worse for letting you go. Imagine the traffic the vane would be doing right now. I'm glad I tracked you down.

    The world will end in Charlotte tomorrow, yes? At least we have milk sandwiches.

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  13. Thank you for the laugh :).

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  14. Love your sense of humor Brad. Sorry you are working overtime with this storm - but thank-you for all you do.

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  15. Yes folks, the world is coming to an end. Then in 12 days the groundhog won't see his shadow and Spring will be in 6 weeks!!

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  17. My wife is hoping to see 8 inches in the morning. I am afraid she will be terribly disappointed!

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    1. Are you only giving 4 inches?

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    2. Sorry your wife is only getting 4 inches....they have a pill for that!

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  18. The phlebotomist on fb said the meteorologist is wrong because another site said the Euro model was more east. (Verbatim)

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  19. Soon as I heard, I ran here to see what you had to say and it was brilliant. Stupid Gawker.

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  20. Dude, like they say its going blizzard every week stfu,

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  21. Let's all relax.

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  22. Dennis, you are the best. Useful, helpful, and hilarious.
    Don't get me started on those idiots at Gawker . . .

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  23. Any plans to move to Kansas City? We need your type of humor around here!

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  24. Any plans to move to Kansas City? We need your type of humor around here!

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  25. Shared. We miss your sense of humor and level-headed dismissal of bs hype. Very happy you are on this!

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  27. Dennis, your wit is ever sharper my friend.
    Hiya, from your old friend, Angie in WA State!
    Glad I live on the west coast, and hope the deluge doesn't wreck D.C. (Only kidding, we both know that's not possible, it's been wrecked for decades)

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  29. Good stuff, Dennis.
    The accumulation map looks more like a Starfleet insignia to me. I shouldn't have said that, now I'm going to get pelted with snowballs by Star Wars geeks.
    You forgot "I'm having a (insert major life event here) in July, can you make it sunny and 75° for me? K thx"

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  30. The Q&A is truly hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

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  31. This made me laugh. Hard. The morning before Armageddon. Or what is being hyped as Armageddon. Oh, excuse me, not hype. Sorry!

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  32. 8 to 12 inches is not an end of the world storm,relax people.

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  33. OK weather-gang, whatever you do, don't, DON'T go to Gawker and read the latest storm story by resident weather expert, Ashley Feinberg.

    Now that I've said that, are you all back from there yet? I warned ya! (at least they credit Dennis for using his lead graphic.)

    It really takes creativity, gravitas and cunning* to look at that graphic and come up with such a useful and clever take on it - plus get in a mild whine about New York City ...and apparently some other shortcoming or issue she seems to have (if you catch my drift,) all in the same breath.

    Well done, mission accomplished! They really are the new 'The Daily Show', but what was it - with 19% less something, +12.02% hue and saturation of poli-sci-farts, but edgier, with +/- .06% focus-breadth and 8"x10" glossys with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one; enhanced blovialhissing, plus warmer/sharper yet more-firmer socio-flatulence inexclusions, cutting-bonus 2016-17 seasonal mixed-mass and enhance-ish 4th grade bathroom humors and titters plus simulcastaceous 7.324% boosted rage and fluoride (heh, titters.)

    No, no - honestly, I'm not a prude or hyper-offended. Toilet humor, naughty bits, dirty jokes and the worst offender, puns, all have equal potential to crack a rib if at all clever.

    No, this just gets me as they eliminate 'theVane' and actual weather info, then use (and credit, ha!) Dennis of all people, for the graphic on an astoundingly vapid post (no, no, not the ongoing vapid “5,045,873 Days of BibbyBob WhoCares”, but the aforementioned storm post.) I mean ...urgh, but I suppose I don't need to explain to those familiar with 'theVane' saga ...I'm preachin' to the choir.

    I guess it could be worse. Dennis, you could still be stuck over there trying to class the place up whilst providing coherent writing, good humor and first-rate weather analysis. Ya dodged a bullet, buddy! Now you won't have to explain to your progeny, the potential professional embarrassment or frustration of further affiliated Gawker slag.

    Thanks for putting the time in to discuss and inform on this large event, of which we are all on the cusp this morning. And for doing so with your usual good humor, cunning* and class.

    Ya'll be safe, warm and cozy this weekend. Don't shovel too much ...take breaks and perhaps a hot chocolate? ...brandy? ...warm milk? ...Ovaltine?

    (*yes, I said it. Twice.)





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    1. Oh, God, that was a real hoot, JohnWX67...and anyone who can use gravitas in a sentence, correctly, is on my A list...

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    2. Thanks for the reply! I'm happy you got a chuckle from my delusional ravings. Stick around, we keep civil company here!

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    3. I refuse to click on anything weather related on Gawker... My little protest to them closing The Vane.

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  34. Take another look at the weather forecast map. #nsfw

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  35. LOL - miss seeing you at Gawker and Daily Kos. I'll follow you here.

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  36. 12 inches is nothing. Here in wisconsin we get about 8-10 12 inch snowfalls every year. Just remember to keep up with the shoveling (every 30 mins) so you don't break your back. And take it slow on the streets of you must go somewhere. You will all survive, you're not gonna die.

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    1. Five dead as of this writing. Shut up. Wisconsin is set up for this, NC is not since we don't get 8-10 12 inch snowfalls every year.

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    2. Hey unknown in Wisconsin.You are doing it wrong.Shovel once when it all stops and maybe a follow up if there is the traditional drifting that comes after the snow.Living in Duluth,MN for over 55 winters we get lots of experience dealing with the white stuff that blows in off the greatest of all great lakes Superior.

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  37. I was watching the Weather Channel last night and the forecaster says,

    "NAM is calling for 2 feet of snow. But here is what you need to know,
    NAM is correct about 2 times a year so we can throw that out."

    SIGH

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  38. I'm so glad I found this page...I miss the Vane! Great work Dennis.

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    Replies
    1. Not until you mentioned it...and I wish you hadn't...

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  41. Why does the weather pattern look like the badge off Star Trek??

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  42. Meteorology may be a science but forecasting is an art bordering on the edge of gambling...

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  43. Shared on FB and Dkos, thanks for keeping it light and informative. Hugs!

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  44. Coloration on FB image of snow totals reminds one of DKos great Orange squiggle.

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  45. Q: I wish I had a job where you could be wrong all the time and still get paid!
    A: A hitter in baseball who is wrong 70% of the time is considered a success.

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  46. AlexSoenderMeade

    I don't tweet or CB et al

    Hope you have been well.


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