Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fast & Furious Or Slow & Soggy?

There are a good number of differences at play in predicting the weather for next Monday's Winter Classic Weather.  We're not talking just run of the mill differences between say, 45 and 40 degrees...sun and mostly cloudy.  There are signs of a pretty decent cold front crossing the Mid Atlantic and Northeast early next week...but there is quite a bit of spread between the computer models in terms of timing and how that front moves through.  The forecast for Monday has a fair bit of uncertainty because of those differences.  The good news is that we're still a number of days out from the game so there's plenty that can change.  The bad news is that it might rain next Monday at some point in the day.

The Euro is the slowest of the forecast guidance at this point -- suggesting a Monday night frontal passage.  This is critical in terms of weather for the Winter Classic as the Euro forecast verbatim will be mild, showery, with temperatures probably in the 50's during the game if this model were ultimately correct.   It may not ultimately ruin the game...the Winter Classic last year was played at night in showery conditions with temperatures in the 40's.  Rain wasn't widespread or steady during the game, which had been bumped from a daytime faceoff because of rain that fell much of New Years' Day, so if showers are modest and not widespread the game can be played.   Despite less than ideal temperatures, the NHL can make ice on outdoor rinks thanks to refrigeration systems built underneath the ice sheet.

If the GFS is right, however, temperatures will be colder (upper 30's or low 40's) for the game although winds will be blowing rather noticeably into Citizens Bank Park from the "outfield".   Sky conditions suggest a mix of sun and clouds but at least the temperatures would be more ideal for the game and there would be no precipitation.  The GFS depiction is about a day faster with the cold front passage and is not as sharp with the incoming upper level trough compared to the Euro.

At the Day 5 and Day 6 mark, the Euro is a better computer model in terms of accuracy (it scores "better" in mid level pattern setup, which reflects to a better overall surface forecast and outcome) than the GFS but the model is prone to hiccups and mistakes, such as the phantom storm for Christmas Day that the Euro was stubbornly holding onto while the GFS jumped off the idea about 36 hours prior to the Euro figuring it out.  The GFS does have a tendency to do better with sampling the northern branch of the jet stream, which tends to dominate in La Nina winters.   In this particular case, the Euro is developing a much sharper trough in the Midwest while the GFS is zipping the cold front through in a fast flow and with a less sharp trough.   My instinct suggests that the GFS' solution may come closer to reality in the end...but perhaps with a bit slower timing.   This could result in some sort of a middle ground solution...rain moving through Sunday night and Monday morning followed by improving weather in the afternoon.

We'll continue to chat about the game, the potential weather, and more over the coming days as the game will have a good bit of interest locally and beyond.