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October Nor'easter???

By: Zachary Labe , 1:53 AM GMT on October 12, 2009

I must say this has to be one of my favorite Octobers in the last few years. I took one of my typical hikes Sunday afternoon up on the trail that strattles the summit of Blue Mountain near Linglestown for a few miles to the power line clearing/hawk migration viewing location. Fall leaves were looking pretty nice with oaks even beginning to show some yellow color change. Colors are about a week ahead of schedule with maples reaching their peak here in the Lower Susquehanna Vally by the end of this coming week. Then this evening my church held a nice fall festival function with bonfires, hayrides, and overall just a nice community get together. While I was sitting their chit-chatting with all the locals at the bonfire on this clear and cool October night, it just is that great feeling you get that everything is great. To me an open fire with stars in the sky in an open field is so relaxing, I just can never see myself ever living in a city. This Sunday evening sure was beautiful with the temperature already down in the mid 40s by 8pm with a wonderful sunset in the midst of Fall leaves. And looking ahead this wonderful cool weather pattern is going to continue. The weather pattern is indeed fascinating and I gather from many people it brings back memories of a typical Autumn with cool, breezy days and cold nights. Looking back at my daily weather journals I can definitely concur we have had our fair share of 80 and even a 90degree days in the last few Octobers, especially October 2007. Forecasting the weather is not just be able to analyze data from computer models and weather maps, but it is also necessary to be able recall past weather events/synoptic setups and apply them to present weather forecasting. This blog is going to take a look at the current weather pattern for the week ahead and take a look at a possible nor'easter setup towards the weekend, which in my opinion is foreshadowing what is yet to come this winter! I am going to try to do my best to recall other past October nor'easter and rain/snow events to summarize the scenarios present for the upcoming week.

Fig 1.1- (Courtesy of HPC) Looking across the current surface map a few features are evident including a large and expansive high pressure over the middle of the nation, a trough over 2/3rds of the continental United States, and an approaching low pressure towards the California coast.

Frost and freeze advisories/warnings are out for a large portion of the Northeast including parts of the northern Middle Atlantic in much of Pennsylvania and western Maryland. This is courtesy of a trough over the east coast with cool Canadian air funneling down with a high pressure to the west allowing for ideal radiational cooling conditions. Many areas in the northern 2/3rds of Pennsylvania will see an abrupt end to their growing season. As the week progresses a shortwave will progress through the eastern United States later on Monday through Tuesday enhancing the cold air and amplifying the jet stream with a ridge in west/trough in east orientation. This is where the forecast takes a turn to a more interesting approach which may prove as a good test for some of us to renew our coastal storm forecasting skills (that would be me hahaha). In any case it appears several scenarios will present themeselves with interesting thermal progressions that may allow for some wrap-around rain/snow showers in northern Pennsylvania.

Before we look at the current synoptic setup, lets review a few past October nor'easter events. The one of recent memory is the 28-29 October 2008 nor'easter special for northeastern Pennsylvania.

Fig. 2.1- (Courtesy of NWS BGM) This is a 12z October 28 surface map indicating a 992mb low off the New Jersey coast.

The event featured a negatively tilted trough under a deep amplified jet allowing a low pressure to move up along the New Jersey coast north through the Connecticut Valley up through Canada. Now keep in mind being this was the very end of October, there was a bit more cold air to present itself. Bufkit profiles indicating winds of 50-60mph a few thousand feet aloft allowed for some strong winds to occur across eastern Pennsylvania. Across the higher elevations coupled with H85s near (-4)-(-6) blizzard conditions occurred resulting in some areas of 2ft of snow from Luzerne up through Wayne Counties.

Halloween seems to be a common time for nor'easters to strike the eastern seaboard. Another similar low track occurred in 2005 on October 24-25 when remnants of Tropical Storm Alpha and Hurricane Wilma allowed moisture to stream along the negatively orientated trough with an upper level low over the Great Lakes. This setup allowed for moderate snowfall totals to occur over the mountains of Pennsylvania with rainfall for elevations below 1900ft. As cooler air funneled in from the northwest courtesy of the upper level low, the complex synoptic setup featured up to 10inches over the ridges of the Laurel Highlands up through the north central mountains.

Fig 3.1- (Courtesy of the NWS CTP) This surface map shows the 984mb primary low off of Long Island coast with the moisture from the water vapor loop indicating heavy precipitation over Pennsylvania. Rainfall totals for much of eastern Pennsylvania totaled over 1-2inches.

Now once again what is important to observe in these short case studies is the date of the events. Many nor'easters in October are featured in the later half of the month. Remember the perfect storm in 1991, again featured at the very end of the month. Archives prove October has featured some very harsh nor'easters and cold Outbreaks as it is a transition month. The month is very similar to April or May with complex storm systems across the mid section of the Nation and sharp temperature contrasts from cold fronts and ridge orientations. So why all of this talk about nor'easters? Well the end of the week poses a few interesting possibilities.

Interesting 500mb initiations from models for the end of this week as a large -EPO fueled ridge will allow for a large ridge across the west coast.

Fig. 4.1- (Courtesy of Raleighwx Models) Current GFS predictions indicate the negative EPO to last through the end of this week before it rises to positive for a short time before once again transitioning negative by the end of the month. A negative EPO and positive PNA are typical for a western United States ridge formation.

Looking at the NAO, which is a general rule of thumb with the AO for eastern troughing events. A decent theory is the idea of a progression from an extended negative NAO to a positive NAO or an extended positive NAO to a negative NAO is usually coupled with a large east coast storm.

Fig 5.1- (Courtesy of CPC) Once again note the transition from negative to positive occuring around the 15-17th of October, which is the exact period for the possibilities of a coastal storm.

Current 10/11/09 18UTC GFS took an interesting approach for the low pressure and is more in line with 0UTC ECMWF guidance. Model guidance has generally been extremely poor for the last few weeks so this end of the week system can be taken with a grain of salt. But I am going to lay out the scenarios is pose my highest threat scenario. As the week progresses I will update through comments on the possibility. For all we know this system may not even exist by Thursday. But generally this a decent model consensus on a general progression as followed...

06UTC Friday...

Generally a low pressure tracks across the Tennessee Valley as moisture moves up from the south from the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile a large expansive western ridge with orient an approaching trough from the Great Lakes to cause colder air to funnel into the system.

18UTC Friday...

Transfer from primary low to coastal low off Virginia coastline will allow for double barrel low to continue to produce heavy precipitation over the Middle Atlantic. While H85s are below 0C for much of Pennsylvania, that does not mean snow. I will talk more about this later. Also take note of the deformation band axis over the I-80 corridor in Pennsylvania.

06UTC Saturday...

Finally the low pressure begins to weaken and move to the northeast over the region with some residual rain/snow showers over western Maryland and western Pennsylvania.

So it appears the setup is isentropic lift allowing for some rain to start towards Thursday along a quasi-stationary boundary over the Middle Atlantic. Then a low pressure will transition from across the Tennessee Valley and reform along the eastern seaboard tracking towards 40/70 benchmark and on northeastward. Meanwhile high pressure will be over southern Canada trying to funnel in marginally cold air to the rear northwest flank of the system. Thermal layers from GFS bufkit data indicate most of the Middle Atlantic to range from 1000-500mb thickness around 541-549dam, which especially in October is not cold enough for snow even in the highest of elevations. It generally looks like a rain event for most areas for a large portion of the event which may feature some moderate to heavy rain.

12z ECMWF indicates a similar forecast to the 18z GFS, except the track is a bit closer to the coast near KACY. As the system wraps up is when the potential for snow flakes exists as cold air rushes into the back-end of the system with the potential for some snow over the higher elevations especially towards northeastern Pennsylvania. Latest ECMWF, GGEM, GFS consensus definitely is leaning towards H85s well below 0C with 540dam thickness as far south as Mason-Dixon line. I think for this event a few things are possible. For one I have noticed a slight south trend in model data within the past few days. Previous runs, especially of the GFS had an over-amplifyied 992mb low up the east coast under a negatively tilted trough with cold air rushing down the spine of the Appalachians. Also I would like to see the high pressure about 5mb stronger to reinforce blocking and cold air into the system. The pressure gradient is relatively tight and the easterly flow coupled with high historical astronomical tides this year may pose for a large coastal erosion and flooding threat with 40-45mph gusts along the coast. So in conclusion it appears a moderate to high threat of a coastal storm is likely towards Thursday and Friday. I think the GFS is a bit slow in the lows progression. I think as model runs progress the actual track may be a bit farther to the south and slightly weaker. Moderate to heavy rain is possible over the Middle Atlantic in this time frame with breezy conditions. Coastal flooding and erosion is extremely likely along the Chesapeake coastline and Atlantic Ocean. Depending on wet bulb heights and precipitation intensity, some snow may mix in on the rain towards the end of the system towards Friday night as a deep trough moves over the region. Though this time of year I would like to see H85s a bit colder. Although a good rule of thumb of October snows is usually you will only be able to predict if one will see snow flakes hours before the event. Stay tuned for updates throughout the week. The general pattern regime for this week is steady below normal temperatures. This is an exciting pattern that may be setting up for the winter. My call for a moderate El Nino looks set with an westerly wind burst really causing SSTs to rise again towards Nino region 3.4. The PDO is also rising, which is more good news. As long as we do not get a sudden switch, I think it is likely many areas see their first snowflakes at or before Thanksgiving.

"Here 10mi Northeast of Harrisburg, PA 2009 Statistics"
(Severe Weather Stats...)
Severe Thunderstorm Watches- 8
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings- 9
Tornado Watches- 0
Tornado Warnings- 0
Total Thunderstorms- 33

(Precipitation Stats...)
Flood Watches- 4
Flood Warnings- 1
Monthly Precipitation- 0.97inches
Yearly Precipitation- 33.50inches

(Temperature Stats...)
Heat Advisories- 2
Excessive Heat Warnings- 0
90degree Days- 9
Highest Temperature- 95degrees

KTHV (York-Thomasville, PA)...
Mason803- September 30
Blizzard92- October 4
Snowlover2010- October 5
wxgeek723- October 7
Lawntonlookers- October 14
TheRasberryPatch- October 15
hurricane30- October 17
Tazmanian- October 20

KMDT (Harrisburg-Middletown, PA)...
Snowlover2010- September 30
Blizzard92- October 7
TheRasberryPatch- October 8
wxgeek723- October 11
hurricane30- October 17
Lawtonlookers- October 21
Mason803- October 22
Tazmanian- October 30

KBFD (Bradford, PA)...
Snowlover2010- September 15
Mason803- September 18
hurricane30- September 18
Blizzard92- September 22
TheRasberryPatch- September 23
Lawtonlookers- September 28
wxgeek723- September 30
Tazmanian- October 1

KPIT (Pittsburgh, PA)...
Snowlover2010- September 28
Mason803- September 28
Blizzard92- October 1
Lawtonlookers- October 5
TheRasberryPatch- October 6
hurricane30- October 12
wxgeek723- October 14
Tazmanian- October 20

KPHL (Philadelphia, PA)...
Tazmanian- October 9
Snowlover2010- October 12
TheRasberryPatch- October 17
Blizzard92- October 27
Mason803- October 30
hurricane30- November 4
Lawtonlookers- November 5
wxgeek723- November 6

KIAD (Dulles International-Washington, DC)...
Tazmanian- October 15
Mason803- October 15
TheRasberryPatch- October 15
hurricane30- October 22
Snowlover2010- October 27
Blizzard92- October 28
Lawtonlookers- October 28
wxgeek723- November 9

KHGR (Hagerstown, MD)...
Blizzard92- October 6
TheRasberryPatch- October 8
Tazmanian- October 10
Snowlover2010- October 10
Lawtonlookers- October 14
wxgeek723- October 16
hurricane30- October 17
Mason803- October 20

KBWI (Baltimore, MD)...
Tazmanian- October 7
TheRasberryPatch- October 17
Snowlover2010- October 25
Blizzard92- October 25
Lawtonlookers- November 1
Mason802- November 4
wxgeek723- November 9

KILG (Wilmington, DE)...
Tazmanian- October 15
TheRasberryPatch- October 20
Weathergeek5- October 24
Blizzard92- October 25
Snowlover2010- October 27
Mason803- October 29
hurricane30- October 29
wxgeek723- November 3
Lawtonlookers- November 5

KSBY (Salisbury, MD)...
TheRasberryPatch- October 25
Snowlover2010- October 27
Mason803- November 3
hurricane30- November 4
Tazmanian- November 5
Lawtonlookers- November 8
wxgeek723- November 15
Blizzard92- November 18

Autumn's festival of colors... (Blizzard92)
Leaves beginning to really show along Blue Mountain near Harrisburg at the top with an elevation around 1230ft.
Autumn's festival of colors...

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Hi Blizz, temps about 25 degrees colder today than yesterday at this same time. 49F now East wind 5-10 mph. Baro 1022mb. No rain here so far, just cloudy.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
.01inches of rain here today.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Blizzard92:
upweatherdog- I doubt it, this time of year especially without elevation for most locations in semi-marginal situation a 5:1 or 7:1 ratio is a much safer bet. Always better to ease on the side of caution in October for most all locations outside the Rocky Mountains.

Right now I'm using a 5/1 snow to water ratio on Friday becoming 10/1 Friday night and Saturday morning.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
upweatherdog- I doubt it, this time of year especially without elevation for most locations in semi-marginal situation a 5:1 or 7:1 ratio is a much safer bet. Always better to ease on the side of caution in October for most all locations outside the Rocky Mountains.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Blizzard92:
upweatherdog- Remember to use a 5:1 snow ratio for this time of year and especially looking at thermal profiles for this situation.

True, however most of the column will be around 32F which supports a 10/1 snow ratio, except for the boundry layer. However, any mesoscale cold pockets could keep 10/1 snow ratios at the surface. Only time will tell.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
upweatherdog- Remember to use a 5:1 snow ratio for this time of year and especially looking at thermal profiles for this situation.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
The latest 18utc GFS data has really backed down on the WAA strenght, and keeps the column around freezing with heavy QPF over my area, which would lead to a 6 to 10 inch snowfall.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
upweatherdog- Good luck with the snow by the way. Hopefully there will not be too much WAA.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Hi Blizzard.

I just looked at the monthly precipitation departure map of the U.S, and the areas of above average precipitation have been mainly located over the Great Lakes and southern Mississippi Valley, just like I forecasted in my Fall-Winter outlook. So far, my forecast is pretty accurate!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
originalLT- Much better, thanks. Talk about irony, all the leaves are now falling and my allergies improve, ha.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Speaking of illness, how are you feeling Blizz, any better with your allergies?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
originalLT- I do not think these dramatic temperature swings are helping the flu situation, lol.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Beautiful day, high was 74.3F low about 49F, mostly sunny after morning clouds, P. cloudy now , baro 1012mb, 62.7F, calm wind. The local mets say high friday will be only 50-55F, ouch!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Nice evening out there. The fall colors have really popped with the recent sunshine and warmer temperatures.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Blizz - i was surprised with the prices and not being so much. like the home grown cabbage was 0.39 cents/lb. thats not too bad. beets weren't badly priced either. its the first time i have been there since summer 08. corn at that time was like 4.50/dozen.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
woohoo!!! we finally hit 70 up here,was wondering if we would ever see again until spring.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
TheRasberryPatch- I was down there this the other week when I was in your area. Last year I bought my fall things there and found the prices to be outrageous. This year I only stopped by for a large pumpkin and got the rest of my things elsewhere.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Sounds good Patch, makes me want a hot-dog with mustard and saurkraut for lunch! Here, its beautiful, after morning cloudiness, it cleared by 10am, now it is 68F SW wind 8-12mph, Baro 1015mb, falling slowly. Really nice out.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I just got back from Risser's farm. I was impressed with their selection of home grown vegetables. not badly priced. last year i went there in the summer and found most stuff so expensive.

btw - i bought a crock over the summer and am in the process of making sauerkraut. Mmmmmmmm. i read up on it and supposedly lactic acid fermentation of vegetables is supposed to be one of the healthiest things to have in your diet.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
As you said Blizz this is October. even November can have some warm days.

you know me i always have a time i recall - there was a Thanksgiving back in the early 80's, i think. I was in Ocean City, MD and the temps got in the upper 80's for a few days. it just didn't seem like Thanksgiving.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Correction, high was 68.8F .
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Wed. I had broken clouds that eventually cleared up by mid afternoon, high was 66.8F, morning low was43.7F. Oh, not to "CHIRP" on this too much, but I still have "my" crickets outside, quite a number still active tonight as the temp. was above 50F up untill an hour ago. So the one 32F night has not, as of yet, killed them off. Still nice to here them, a piece of summer still hanging on!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
TheRasberryPatch- Too much cold air advection. These troughs have been some anomalous that the northwest flow has too be strong enough to produce the near -20 high temperature departures we had a few days ago. This causes the lack of high pressure to allow for radiational cooling. By the way looking into long term I think we are entering and will be a warmer than normal weather pattern through the end of the month. Meanwhile the cold air over the arctic will reload. There is only so much cold available in October, this is not December.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
what is surprising Blizz is usually by now we have at least a couple of nights with hard freezes of temps around 24 or 25. but not this year
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
hurigo- I am, thanks! These dramatic temperature swings are not aiding in the illness prevention up here in the north.

TheRasberryPatch- Flowers are brown towards central and northern Dauphin County with fall leaves peaking in 7-10 days. Low of 29 here with a low of 25 near Halifax.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
changes? where?

my lowest reading so far has been 33.3F. the kids farm at Milton Hershey has a patch where it looks like goose neck squash is growing or was growing. all the leaves have turne black probably from a freeze of the leaves
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Hi Ya'll.
73 and clear and calm wind here now.
What a beautiful day.
I regret missing that meteor shower overnight (but thanks for the notice Patch).

Blizz, sorry to hear that your body's been hit by the changing weather. Hope you are feeling better.

Local Mets are saying there may be some storms on Saturday, greater chances to the north.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
TheRasberryPatch- You and your warm suburb; elsewhere changes are a foot, lol.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
extremely beautiful day. this is the type of October weather i can enjoy.

i still haven't had a freeze. still have flowers blooming and growing.

trees are starting to turn all around.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I was hoping to hit 70 today,but to many clouds will have to wait until tomorrow,the warm front should move through tonight.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Ah 73 here, what a great day. Fall foliage really taking off on Blue Mountain.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Hey Blizz!

Looks like my idea of a snowstorm this week for the U.P is correct!

537 AM EDT WED OCT 21 2009

537 AM EDT WED OCT 21 2009 /437 AM CDT WED OCT 21 2009/





Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Broken clouds here this morning and overnight , was not good meteor viewing, I tried . Sun starting to win out, 59F NE wind 5-10 mph. Baro 1022mb. Thanks for the link though, The RasberryPatch.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
here is a good link for viewing the Orionid Meteor shower this evening.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
originalLT- Thanks! It was sort of sinus infection and head cold. I am feeling better now, but my Fall allergies seem worse than normal this year.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
your welcome Blizz and hurigo. high of 68F. a great day outside

hurigo - had any oysters yet? if you want garlic next June put the garlic in dirt. it should winter in the dirt fine.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Hope you are feeling better, didn't know you were sick. Take care.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
NEwxguy- Huh, congrats on the snow! I saw the Patriots game sure had the snow coming down.

TheRasberryPatch- My temperatures fell all night until the clouds moved in when the temperatures stayed steady. They did not rise at all. That is a good idea to use grocery garlic, thanks!

originalLT- Yep, great day. High of 69degrees here.

hurigo- Hahaha. This has been an exhausting week. Also I fell ill this weekend and my allergies are horrible to boot. I am planning on getting something out Friday night for now. But I will be happy to post a forecast for you later this week, just stop by!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Hey Blizz, et al.

Patch--thanks for the garlic comment. I want to know more as I have some cloves in the icebox and I'm wondering if I can put them in some dirt out on the deck or in a pot to bring inside at first freeze.

Blizz--are you exhausted from your last blog? I know you try to get a new blog up once a week, but this last one was during a very unusual time of early snow and cold. Hope you'll have something new for us soon, but I don't want to rush the chef cookin' suppa, so to speak.

I am, however, interested to know what you think about this weekend for the lower and mid ChesBay.

Anxiously awaiting, but not nagging.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Beautiful outside, sunny, wind WSW 5-8mph., baro 1018mb. 66F.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Blizz - don't make me send PP your way. hahaha did you have a roller coaster with the temps or just slow decline in temp. it was weird.

i think as long as the soil is still soft it is fine to put in the garlic. it might grow a bit and die back some, but it will be fine. come spring it will sprout again. not sure how much you paid last time, but in the past i have just used grocery store garlic and separate each clove and put it in the ground.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
wasn't around yesterday,I took a long weekend,but what a strange weekend in New England sunday.I had 1 inch of wet snow on my grass by the end of the day.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
TheRasberryPatch- Not sure what is going on in that Hershey-Campbelltown corridor. RasberryPatch I know you are the catalyst for global warming over there, hahaha. As for garlic no I did not. I was thinking towards November, but do you think I should now?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
still a growing season so far here. hahaha

i looked at the graph for temps for last night and it looks like a roller coaster. down then up then down then up then down then up.

a low 37F

did you get your garlic in yet?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Blizzard92:
Tonight looks like a better chance for winds to decouple, but there could be some clouds towards morning; not quite sure.

Looks like the clouds moved in last night. Low of 35degrees with some patchy frost. After yesterday's freeze and today's frost, the growing season is over for the Harrisburg area.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Down to 35 degrees here. Baro. 1022mb. Calm winds, clear.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I am not sure what happened but in the past hour from 9-10pm the temp here rose to 43F. the dewpt is at 33F. that is strange. i wonder if anyone else in the area saw similar?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Down to 37.1degrees with a dewpoint of 35.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
39.6F with a dewpt of 36F
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Good evening all! 39degrees here already. The dewpoint is 37, but that should fall throughout the night.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Hi Patch,
Well glad you didn't get snow if you didn't want any. It does seem awfully early. It is nice to enjoy October. It has been too cold and windy and wet for the beach. Even so, I'm sure it was beautiful, but I just couldn't get it together to go out there and put my feet in the sand.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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