Ric Werme's weather pages and notes
I've been interested in weather, oh probably since my first snowstorm, certainly since my
first tropical storm on Long Beach Island, NJ.
I have more weather and climate web pages than our home page can comfortably handle, so I'm
expanding over here to handle everything. Also, I had a couple of topics not big enough to
warrant their own web pages, and this make a handy place for them.
Links to weather information
Links to weather events
- The biggest weather event I participated in is
the New England Blizzard in 1978. My drive home from
work set a standard for driving in a snow storm that cannot be equaled.
Feeling being blown off the road while in a whiteout was, umm, interesting.
However, I made it home in time to watch the weather forecast on TV. Information
that doesn't fit into that page is in The
Blizzard of '78 Addendum.
- When I was 11, a nor'easter off the New Jersey coast battered the
barrier island for three days. When it moved away, the Long Beach Island was
cut in multiple pieces and my grandparent's quirky summer home lay in ruins. I
The Great Atlantic Storm of 1962 on the blog
Watts Up With That to show nor'easter
could be as damaging as tropical storms. Several months later Hurricane Sandy
transformed into a nor'easter just before hitting the Atlantic coast with the
- In an event that I had no involvement with, I wrote
The Witch of November Come Stealin' to commemorate the sinking of the
Great Lakes ore freighter the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. I thought I'd write
about similar storms in the Novembers since then, but I discovered some of the
earlier storms were both harsher and more interesting. Despite growing up in
northeast Ohio near Lake Erie, I hadn't heard about these severe storms that
often occur in November as a low pressure system from the northwest brings a
cold front into warm and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
- In an event that will soon see its 200th anniversary,
1816: The Year without a Summer was a weather event
that helped change New England history. While the explosion of Mt Tambora was
the proximal cause, it happened during a cool period in the Earth's climate,
one that we might soon be revisiting.
Links to Photo collections
Where "photo collection" is defined to be a web page that has photos and little organization.
Southern New England gets the biggest snow storms!
It wasn't until I lived near Concord NH for a decade that I realized
Massachusetts got "better" snow storms than I did. Eventually I dug up
information from a few NWS stations and and found that Boston, Worcester,
Hartford and even Providence all had bigger snow storms for each month of
meteorological winter than did Concord. I can no longer find the particular
NWS or NCDC pages from then, but I found a resource that is useful for 1981 to
2010. It does fine, but it misses the records set in the two massive storms
in 1978. Yes, there was a record setting storm a few weeks before the
Blizzard of '78.
Here are the maximum 24 hour snow falls as gleaned from
and Gray, ME.
Greatest monthly snowfall that was in Concord|
Greatest monthly snowfall that was not in Concord|
Lesser snowfalls greater than Concord|
Concord can do relatively well in fall and spring months thanks to several
effects that lead to a better chance of snow than rain, though while Concord
had the biggest March storm, southern New England is still at risk, as the April
data makes clear.
There are several effects involved:
Concord is in the Merrimack River valley, though the NWS snow measuring
person, last I knew, is in the "Concord Heights," a flat plain near the airport where
the other weather data is collected. I lived for a while in Plymouth NH, 500'
above town. We'd frequently have snow when the center of town didn't. The
greatest elevation effect I ever experienced was the Great Ice Storm of 1998.
There was essentially no ice in town (I found a small icicle on a bush in the
town green). Every 100' of elevation gain brought significantly heavier
icing, up to near devastation levels at home. The worst icing in the area was
another 200' higher, the scars were readily visible at Tenney and
Gunstock ski areas for years afterwards.
The change in air temperature with elevation is called the "adiabatic lapse
rate." During breezy days when air is well mixed, Mt Washington is about 30
Fahrenheit degrees warmer and 6,000 feet higher than Concord, a lapse rate of
1 degree per 200 feet.
By the way, Venus doesn't suffer from a "runaway greenhouse effect." High
in the Venusian atmosphere at a typical Earth pressure, its temperature is is
only moderately warmer than Earth's surface. From there to the surface, it's
all adiabatic heating.
- Storm track
Winter coastal storms and nor'easters generally have snow to their northwest
once you get several miles away from the center and into a zone with a long fetch
from over land. This produces a "rain/snow
line" as the storm passes through the area. Generally the heaviest snow is
close to the rain/snow line and tapers off beyond, though other effects come
- Proximity to coast
One of the most important "other effects" and part of the storm track is how
close the storm is to the Atlantic. Frequently the coast hugging storms have
more moisture to work with than storms that take a more inland tracks.
Sometimes the inland storms have a good feed from the Atlantic, even down to
the tropics, so they can bring huge snowfalls, but similar storms just off the
coast can "bomb out" and development hurricane strength winds, low pressure,
and even a shortlived "eye."
One reason Concord can be snowier than southern new England is simply because
higher latitudes have less heating in the winter so we're colder. That and
the lower frequency of rainstorms lets our snow last into March or April. I may
create a second table of snow depths, I expect that will show the effect clearly.
- Orographic "snow shadows"
As a inland storm leaves, the weather forecast often calls for "rain changing
to snow." The wind shifts to the northwest, and is forced over a mountain
range between the Connecticut and Merrimack river valleys. As the wind
crosses the ridge, the air cools and moisture is falls as snow, but then the
air continues downhill, warms, and dries. Our "backlash" snow is usually
disappointing and often insubstantial or even nonexistant. I never count on
it and am rarely surprised. If the storm was all snow here, this is my cue to
start the snow blower.
Thoughts on How Snow Melts
TBD. Tease: The phrase "snow-eating fog" has cause and effect backwards.
Contact Ric Werme or
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Written 2013 Jan 6, last updated 2013 Jan 6.