Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas Snow is Coming...How Much and Where?

Warm Christmas 1982

It's not every year that we receive snow or have snow on the ground on Christmas Day. The chances historically are around 40% which isn't great. 

Back on December 8th in my post HERE I went into detail on the many forecast elements. Most were showing an active storm track with period of milder air. There was ONE we were watching closely as a driver toward a COLDER and snowy solution:  The GREENLAND BLOCK!

Here is the pattern showing the Greenland Block back on December 11th.  See the warmer colors near Greenland and the North Atlantic? 

Along with the Greenland Block, the trough in the western US was promoting the development of a potent storm system. Watch the blue colors across the west...

Here is the Tuesday December 23rd frame from December 8th...

As of this writing, the radar (Monday morning) is now showing that storm system. It's currently off the west coast.

What type of temperatures are we looking at before and after the front goes through? Wednesday will be "mild"

Christmas Eve morning temperatures will be in the 40s.  Watch how FAST the temperatures drop.

The question isn't whether lake effect snow will develop, the question is WHERE and HOW MUCH Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day.

General snow will develop Christmas Eve impacting much of the state of Ohio after morning rain.

Now the Lake Effect:

The 850 mB temperatures (5000 feet) will be around -18C.

Lake Erie temperatures are in the lower 40s.  For comparison, the water is a bit warmer than at this point in 2019.  No ice on the lake anywhere.

All except ONE lake effect parameter is checked:  Wind Direction

A shift from a westerly wind to a more WNW or NW wind can make a HUGE different in snow movement, amounts and locations.

Preliminarily this is what a west wind lake effect snow event could potential look like. A band paralleling the shoreline with a sharp cutoff in snow amounts north to south.
National Weather Service Bufkit is showing a brief period of EXTREME instability Christmas during the day.

It is way too early to post specific snowfall forecast numbers. But given the conditions as we see them now (Monday morning) I think they'll be snow amounts in the Lake County, northern Geauga and Ashtabula snowbelt areas that could exceed 20"+ from late Christmas Eve through Christmas day!

Monday, December 14, 2020

How Does the Cleveland Indians Payroll Compare To MLB Average?

These numbers are not adjusted to inflation. They are base numbers compiled from Cots Contracts and via All graphs show data from 1995 through 2020. Attendance numbers are through 2019 due to Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 payroll data is adjusted for the shortened 60 game season.

First overall Cleveland Indians payroll vs MLB yearly average since 1995

Numbers inflation adjusted to 2020 dollars...

Cleveland Indians yearly payroll ranks since 1995.

Cleveland Indians yearly attendance rank since 1995.

Indians WINS vs YEAR to YEAR attendance change. Changes in attendance don't seem to be connect with team success.

All MLB team payrolls vs team average attendance over five years (2015-2019). R-squared is 0.525

Where do the Cleveland Indians fit on this scatterplot? See white dots on graphic below.

This would suggest that is a fairly significant correlation between attendance and team payroll.

If we subtract the top and bottom 10 teams each year, we get this relationship below. The correlation seems to be a better, tighter fit.

Next we correlate MLB team payroll vs winning percentage. The correlation is less significant. R-squared is only 0.225.

White dots below indicate the Cleveland Indians on the graph. Notice that they have been pretty good at making the most out of their limited financial resources.  

Does attendance and winning percentage correlate more than payroll/winning percentage? Not really.  R-square is only 0.241.  Look at the upper left quadrant. Many teams have decent attendance numbers with more loses than wins! Having a good team (more than 81 wins) doesn't mean attendance always follows. 

(See the graphic earlier showing Cleveland WINS vs Changes in attendance)

Cleveland Indians are the white dots below for comparison

So what does all of this mean?  

* The correlation between MORE team spending and higher attendance is strong (graphic 6, 7, 8). 

* Spending tons of money doesn't necessarily mean a higher winning percentage (graphic 9 & 10)

* Winning more games (81 or more) doesn't necessarily mean higher attendance (graphic 11 & 12)

* There are other factors (perhaps unemployment, socio-economic, other professional sports team influences) which drive attendance unrelated to team spending and team success.

Fangraphs has an excellent piece showing other factors 

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Snow or Rain for Christmas week?

As of this writing (December 8) with a week removed from our heavy snowfall, the overall pattern across the US and North America has been somewhat stale. No major snow.  No major rainfall.  No extreme temperatures either way. Look at the morning lows Tuesday December 8th. No major cold.

Temperatures each day this week look fairly typical for early December. A brief period of milder air Friday and Saturday then back to near normal.

Is this "stale" pattern going to continue over the next 14 days as we approach Christmas week?

Back on December 3rd, the pattern strongly suggested a short-lived, "mid-month-ish" break from the cold with an active panhandle storm track (see the "L" on the picture below). The warmth is going to peak Friday the 11th, a few days early. 

So far, the storm track seems pretty good with primarily rain this weekend for Ohio with the majority of the snow staying across Missouri, Illinois and parts of Michigan. Snow is close but not close enough if you're a snow lover. (see animation below)

Historically, we receive at least ONE INCH or more of snow between December 24-26. Most recently 2.6" in 2018.  Who remembers the BIG snow in 2002?

Northern Pacific pattern is starting to give us BIG hints on Christmas week.  1) LOW just west of the dateline 2) Edge of high pressure south of the weak Aleutian Islands which stretches to the west coast. 3) Trough in the southwestern US which continues to promote panhandle low development

Animation from December 7 to December 23

The Southern Oscillation Index region also gives us big clues.  Recall that the SOI is an index that measures pressure changes between Australia and Tahiti. 

When we look at the southern oscillation index (SOI) data , there is a 10 point drop around December 3rd.

We can check what the pattern was like during similar SOI changes in La Nina early winters 18-22 DAYS AFTER the SOI changes. This is what those composite periods look like below.  Notice the colder colors signify CLIPPER TYPE storm systems and brief cold periods. See how quickly they move across the Great Lakes.  Also look how the southern high pressure centers quickly bounce back...

Let's not forget about the lack of significant BLOCKING around the arctic and northern Atlantic.  We look for warmer colors which signify HIGH PRESSURE around Greenland. Not much blocking currently. There are some indications that this could be changing in the upcoming week. 

This strongly suggests that the active storm track Clipper systems (NW to SE) AND panhandle systems (SW to NE) seems fairly strong over the next two weeks heading into early Christmas week. The big question is where specifically: 

Will the storm track trend more from St. Louis to southern Michigan or more east from Louisville, KY to Pittsburgh?

Early Christmas week, I see another storm system developing in the central US similar to what we have already seen. Given the east coast ridge is stronger, I think this will create a storm track more from St. Louis to Michigan vs more east.  

Temperatures across Ohio will briefly warm into the 40s at the start of Christmas week

I think we will see a better chance of rain not snow Christmas week for northern Ohio. Timing of rain (brief mix) is closer to WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23-24.

I'm watching Greenland for potential COLDER changes

 If I had to put money on it, chances for light snow on the ground Christmas Day are around 30%. 

Friday, December 04, 2020

What's The Most Underrated Lake Effect Snow Variable?

The snow event on December 1st makes a great case study on lake effect snowfall.  In many instances, its difficult to separate general synoptic/system snow from actual lake effect as they tend to overlap. I like to classify the events into three phases.  First is system snow. Second--the most tricky of the three--is system snow+lake enhanced snow. Third is only lake effect snow as the storm system moves out.

Lake Erie water temperature was 48 degrees F (9C). 850 mB temperature (5000 feet) was -9C so temperatures difference was around 18 C. You need a temperature difference of at least 13C to create lake effect snow so this was good enough. After checking my lake effect snowfall diary (yes I have one of these. It shows various lake effect snow events back to the 1960s/70s) a basic setup like this could easily create decent snowfall!  Yet Bufkit (NWS forecasting application) showed only conditional instability which meant the ability for the air to rise creating distinct bands of lake effect snow would be on the low end (see the radar loop above).   Hmmm.  

So why did the models, the NWS and other local meteorologists forecast significant snow?

Initial NWS Cleveland forecast

My initial forecast. Snowfall was conservative

I checked the system moisture to see if this was shallow or deep.  Sure enough, it was BOTH! Look at the coverage around the Great Lakes. The moisture depth was up to 10,000 feet. 

The final snow totals were extremely impressive. 20-25" in the snowbelt. 10-15 south and west of Cleveland.

This weekend, we have a few clipper cold fronts passing through.  Each one will produce periods of colder air. 850 mb temperatures (5000 feet) will drop to -9C late Sunday/Monday.  Lake Erie water temp is between 45 and 48 degrees F (7-9C).  Instability per Bufkit (NWS forecasting tool)  will be conditional.  So far it looks very similar to the big event earlier in the week!

So why is this weekend's snowfall forecast so much different than the December 1 event?

Answer is simple:  TOO LITTLE MOISTURE

The overall system moisture is not widespread nor is it deep as Tuesday's storm.  See how the dry air denoted by tan colors is pulled in from the west.

Here is my initial snowfall forecast for December 5-7 and the NWS snowfall forecast.  HUGE difference compared to the snow earlier in the week

In my opinion, one of the most underestimated components in forecasting lake effect snow is moisture.  You can have temperature conditions that are very similar yet the snowfall results can be hugely different. 

So don't forget to check the depth and spatial coverage of the moisture before each snow event.