Chapter News
December 2003


Chapter Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

The Asheville Chapter of the American Meteorology Society held its annual holiday party at the Air Force Weather Technical Library (AFWTL) in downtown Asheville, at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, December 2, 2003. Susan Tarbell was the hostess, and thirteen people attended.

The Board provided pizza, soda, salad, and cookies to the members present. There was a brief tour of the library, and questions were answered about what is available at the library. There was a jumbled meteorology words contest, but no business was transacted.---Susan A. Tarbell.


December 2003

Vice-chair Mike Abraczinskas of the North Carolina Division of Air Quality introduced the speaker for the evening, Mike Brennan, a Ph.D. student at N.C. State University, who also serves as the chapter secretary. Mike’s presentation was titled: The January 2000 “surprise” snowstorm four years later: A synoptic overview and “What went wrong with the models?”

Mike began by giving a synoptic overview of the storm, starting first with its impacts over much of the eastern U.S. as it produced widespread heavy snowfall from the Carolinas to New England, resulting in five fatalities, and widespread disruption of commerce and travel, including the shutdown of the federal government in Washington, DC for two days.

Next, Mike showed a series of analyses from the RUC model showing the evolution of the cyclone at the surface and at 500 hPa. The cyclone developed initially as a weak frontal wave along the gulf coast of Florida early on 24 January and deepened rapidly as it moved into the Atlantic waters offshore of the Carolinas by 00 UTC 25 January. By 12 UTC 25 January, the storm later moved north to a position east of Norfolk, Virginia. At 500-hPa an initially positively tilted upper-level trough was located over the Mississippi Valley. The upper-level wave rapidly intensified as downstream ridging developed over North Carolina and Virginia, increasing the vorticity in the trough base and resulting in a favorable interaction with the surface cyclone for rapid deepening.

Next Mike showed loops of infrared satellite and radar mosaic imagery showing the evolution of the cyclone and its precipitation shield over the Carolinas. An overview of observations at Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU) showed that after light freezing rain and drizzle early on 24 January, steadier rain developed by 23 UTC 24 January, which turned to sleet and then snow shortly after 00 UTC on 25 January. Heavy snow was reported at RDU from 06­11 UTC 25 January, and by 12 UTC over 15 in. of snow had accumulated. The snow continued into the late afternoon hours with the storm-total snowfall reaching 20.3 in. at RDU. Snow totals exceeded 20 in. over a large portion of central North Carolina, with more than 4 in. of snow falling over more than half the state.

The operational Eta model forecast from 12 UTC 24 January failed to predict heavy precipitation far enough to the west over the Carolinas, producing only 0.02 in. of liquid-equivalent precipitation at RDU. At this point, Mike began to look into why the operational model forecast for the event was so poor. An area of “antecedent precipitation” developed over Alabama and Georgia by 12 UTC 24 January, prior to the rapid cyclogenesis. The impact of this area of precipitation on the cyclone event can be viewed through the framework of potential vorticity (PV). Using piecewise PV inversion calculated from a simulation of the cyclone using MM5, Mike showed that the antecedent precipitation was critical to the inland moisture transport during the cyclone event into the Carolinas and Virginia, and concluded that the antecedent precipitation was the feature that the models would have to resolve to forecast the event successfully.---Michael Brennan.


Winter 2003-2004: The Forecast from an Energy Perspective

The Chicago Chapter of the American Meteorological Society held it's December meeting on December 2nd at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. The meeting began with Chapter Secretary William Johnson informing members that he had sent letters to 425 Chicago area High Schools providing them with applications for the AMS Minority Scholarship.

Chapter President Ken Labas then introduced Mr. Jon Davis of the Risk Management Department of the Chesapeake Energy Company. Chesapeake's home office is located in Oklahoma City. Chesapeake is the number one driller and is a top 5 producer of natural gas in the United States. Chesapeake just completed opening a state of the art meteorological forecasting facility in the Boeing Building in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Davis first provided those in attendance with a "Winter Forecast Challenge." The challenge was to predict the 2003-2004 total snowfall at Chicago's Midway Airport, predict the number of 4 inch or greater snow events and also the heating degree day departure from the 1971-2000 normal. Attendees filled out a forecast form and put it in an envelope to be opened at the end of the winter season. A prize will be awarded for the most accurate forecast.

Davis began his presentation explaining the importance of seasonal outlooks, and in particular, winter outlooks to the natural gas industry. Large fluctuations are commonplace in natural gas futures. Those futures are driven by the weather and often by long range weather outlooks. Davis and his group provide weather updates each day to key company personnel via conference call.

Some of the forecasts provided by the Davis' Weather Risk Management group are also geared toward livestock and agriculture. Chesapeake owns thousands of cattle. When Chesapeake buys land and finds no natural gas underground, they plant corn or raise livestock on the land.

A review of the 2002-2003 winter season indicated that the highly populated Eastern half of the country had below normal temperatures. The Western half had above normal temperatures. The 2002-2003 winter season provided above normal, although not significantly above normal, heating degree days for Chicago. New York on the other hand had one of it's coldest winters since the 1960's. Chicago's heating degree days for the 2003-2004 heating degree day season, through November 30, were slightly below normal.

Davis went on to discuss the primary variables for the upcoming winter season.

Variable number 1: What is the likelihood for the Eastern U.S. to have two consecutive cold winters? Little correlation was found considering consecutive cold winters. The Eastern U.S. has roughly 50/50 odds for have a second consecutive cold winter.

Variable number 2: Solar activity. There is generally a lack of cold weather during solar activity peaks. During downswings in solar activity, all but one year since 1951 had heating degree days above normal with similar solar activity levels to those we can expect during the current winter season.

Variable number 3: Sea surface temperatures. Negative North Atlantic Oscillation leads to ridging into Greenland and can lead to a trough over the Central United States. Warming can also be expected near Alaska.

We can expect warm winters during strong El Nino and strong La Nina conditions. Weak to moderate El Nino and La Nina have little correlation to heating degree days.

Variable number 4: Snow cover. Late October snow cover over North America is critical. In late October 2003, North America had the second greatest snow cover since the 1960's.

For the 2003-2004 winter season, the four variable provide the following insight:

#1 Consecutive Years of Cold Equal Odds of Warm or Cold
#2 Solar Activity - Expect Normal to Below Normal Temps
#3 Sea Surface Temperatures - Expect Normal to Below Normal Temps
#4 Pre-Season Snow Cover - Expect Normal to Below Normal Temps

None of the variables favor a warm winter.

Davis concluded his presentation with a discussion of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). MJO is enhanced tropical storm activity. MJO enhances the Pacific Asian Jet Stream in the Indonesian area. The Chicago area is normally cold when the MJO is strong over Indonesia.

MJO's generally last 45 to 50 days. The next anticipated MJO in the Indonesian region would indicate a colder than normal period for Chicago during the second or third week of January.---Mark T. Carroll.


The 3 December 2003 dinner meeting was held at Charlie Chiang's Restaurant in Washington DC. During the short business meeting, Chapter Chairman Chris Moren announced that the February 2004 guest speaker will be Dr Jack Hayes, Director of the National Weather Service's Office of Science and Technology.

Chapter Vice Chairman Jason Samenow introduced the speaker for the evening, Mr. Raymond Ban. Mr. Ban -- the Weather Channel's Executive Vice President for Meteorology and Strategy -- gave an interesting talk titled "The Weather Channel Over Its first 21 Years and The Importance of Partnerships". He said that the various sectors (public/private/academic) of the U.S. Weather Community do a lot of partnering. A Weather Channel marketing slogan from the 1980s, "No Place On Earth Has Better Weather" referred to the fact that US citizens have more weather resources to use to plan their everyday and special activities than any place on earth. He went on to say that no one is really sure how this Public/Private/Academic Sectors Partnership started, it just really evolved. But, this Partnership is the reason we have tremendous Weather Services in the United States.

Miriam Webster Dictionary defines Partnership as: "a relationship resembling a legal partnership and usually involving close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities." But, this definition doesn't really fit the Public/Private/Academic Weather Sectors Partnership as it has developed in the United States. It is not a legal relationship nor do the partners have specified rights and responsibilities. However, this Weather Partnership is not quite a matter of chance either. It is one that plans, is proactive not reactive, and is harmonious rather than adversarial.

Mr. Ban noted that the National Research Council's "Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services" report (NRC, Committee on Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services, Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data, National Research Council, 2003) speaks about Partnership and how the common Weather Enterprise serves the public interest. He stated that the reason that the Weather Enterprise Partnership Strategic Management is so successful is because it works to:

(1) Be a proactive planning Partnership
(2) Address the requirements from the Partnership perspective
(3) Work Together Not Separately
(4) See how we are going to optimize the skills all of the partners bring to the Partnership

To end the evening, Mr. Ban showed a Weather Channel Historical perspective video that was made for the 20th Anniversary of the Weather Channel. The video, featuring such notables as Actor/Comedian Bill Cosby as well as the late John Hope (Weather Channel Expert Meteorologist), covered the Weather Channel's road from its humble beginnings in 1982 to its current position as one of the primary sources for quality worldwide weather information. The Weather Channel has definitely become part of the Social Fabric.

Check out the Weather Channel online at O'Connor.


AMS Meeting Minutes 12/4/03

* Senior Thesis Presentations will be this coming Monday starting at 8 in the morning and lasting through 4:00 PM. They will be held in Agronomy 3140, about 3 doors down from 3128. All underclassmen are encouraged to attend. All seniors are required to do a senior thesis, so come and maybe pick up an idea or two for your senior thesis, plus have a chance to learn what is expected out of your senior thesis. Check the schedule outside of the map room (Agronomy 3008)

* Spring break trip will be to Oklahoma City to visit SPC, NSSL, NWS, and Oklahoma University. The trip will take place from March 14-18, 2004. We will also be taking trips to the zoo and Oklahoma City Memorial or any other places people choose to visit. Interested in going??? Contact Kevin Sullivan at The deadline for signing up is January 20th. There are 11 people signed up right now. If you are signed up and discover that you cannot go, let Kevin know, so he can take you off the list.

* The Severe Storms and Dopplar Radar Conference will be held in Des Moines from Thursday, March 25 through Saturday, March 27. If we get at least 10 people registered for the conference, student price for the conference will be $65 for Iowa State Students. Regular price for students is $75. If you are interested in going to the conference, please contact Kevin Sullivan at LAS may refund part of the price of the conference if you sign up. Registration for the conference can be done online starting sometime in January. The site where you register is There will be speakers talking about the tornadoes in May and June from this past year. There will also be a storm chasing video night where there will be some excellent videos presented.

* We will be hosting an Advanced Storm Spotter Training session sometime in March/April. The NWS has approached our organization about setting this up. Andy Kula with the NWS will be leading the training.

* Feb. 23 we will be presenting a 30-40 minute presentation to a middle school.

* VIESHA information is beginning to come out. It will be held on April 18th this year which is a Saturday. We will set up an educational booth underneath Cy?s Big Top on central campus. Any ideas for games or other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. More information will be provided on this event in the spring.

* We failed to have a quorum at the meeting tonight, thus, we did not vote for a social chair. We will vote at our first meeting in January. Jon appointed Mike Holts, Kari Kozak, and Elise Johnson to the social chair committee until an election can be held.

* T-shirt/Sweatshirt colors were voted on at the meeting. The winners were red with white lettering and gray with red lettering. We may have some other choices included beyond these two. We will be ordering t-shirts/sweatshirts next semester.

* Finally, Jon Hobbs presented information on the Career Leaders in Science Conference held in Boulder from June 17-23 this last summer. Nate will be posting Jon's presentation on the chapter website. Anyone interested in more information for this conference for next year can visit the following websites:

Most of all, have a terrific, safe holiday season and see you all back here next semester. Our next meeting will be shortly after we return to school. Check the webpage at for more details.---Stephen Konarik.


The mood was merry at the AMS Packerland Chapter's holiday party on Tuesday, December 16 at the Holiday Inn Civic Centre in Green Bay. The group enjoyed cocktails, dinner, and conversation, and a few lucky guests took home prizes from the "meteorology raffle." The night culminated with Dr. Joe Moran's presentation "Ice Shove!" Dr. Moran is Associate Director of Education at the American Meteorological Society.

Dr. Moran explained that an ice shove is a push of large pans of floating ice against or onto the shoreline. Ice shove is most common in the arctic and sub-arctic latitudes, but does occur in the Great Lakes and some smaller inland lakes such as Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin.

Ice shoves are either thermally-induced or wind-driven. Thermally-induced shoves occur in small lakes that have a snow-free covering of black ice. Black ice forms early in the season (November or December) before snowfall and is thus free of snow contamination. As the air and ice continue to cool, thermal contraction of the ice produces tension fractures. Water wells up in the fractures and refreezes, creating an ever-increasing ice cover that begins moving up the shoreline. If white ice (opaque, granular, frozen slush) or snow are present, the black ice is insulated from air temperature changes and will not exhibit thermally-induced shove.

Wind-driven shoves are more common in bodies of water the size of Lake Winnebago or on Green Bay, and usually occur in late winter or early spring. Favorable conditions for this type of shove are sustained winds of at least 20 to 30 mph, the presence of pans of broken-up ice, areas of near-shore open water, and the partial melting of ice into long, narrow crystals known as candles. Either black or white ice can be involved in wind-driven shoves. It is a rapid and noisy event with the potential to create giant ice ridges on- or offshore. Dr. Moran shared some spectacular photos of ice shove on Green Bay, reminding us that Mother Nature is not concerned with the survival of our docks and boathouses!

Join us for our next meeting: February 19, 2004 at 7:00pm in the Christie Theatre on the UW-Green Bay campus. Kinney Adams, Storm Chaser/Artist will present "Storm Art and the Art of Storm Chasing."

Happy Holidays---Katie Hemauer.


West Central Florida Chapter December, 2003
Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
Tampa, FL

Craig MacDougal hosted our chapter at the Museum of Science and Industry, (MOSI) located near the University of South Florida. We toured two major permanent exhibits, the Saunders Planetarium and the Gulf Coast Hurricane Simulator. In addition, there was a telescope viewing.

Mr. MacDougal demonstrated the planetarium star show highlighting the major constellations visible in our night sky during each season. He entertained us with colorful stories of the mythology of the constellations and explained that different cultures used other names for the constellations. He also showed the group where various stars and planets can be found at different times of the night and year at our site, as well as, other locations throughout the world.

President Andy Johnson prepares to enter the hurricane simulator at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, FL. Chapter member George Lindsay prepares to experience the entire Beaufort scale in the Museum of Science and Industry's "Gulf Coast Hurricane" wind simulator.

After the Planetarium show the members were able to enter the "Gulf Coast Hurricane" Wind Simulator. Attendees were given eye goggles and ear protection to guard against flying objects and the loud sound. As the winds increase the whole room begins to shake. The Beaufort scale on the wall indicates the wind speeds all the way up to hurricane force. The force of the wind is incredible and really gives a sense of the awesome power of these storms! Afterwards, members were treated to a beautiful view of the moon through the MOSI telescope.

Roy and Jane Leep inspect the Gulf Coast Hurricane wind simulator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL. Neva Duncan-Tabb, Laura Monk, Mark Mantz and Jim Wysong brave 75 m.p.h. winds in the Gulf Coast Hurricane Simulator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL. Saunder's Planetarium Coordinator, Craig MacDugal demonstrates a star show at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL.

The Web site for the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry is Johnson.


December 2003 Meeting of the Joint AMS-NWA Wright Memorial Chapter

On December 11, 2003, the Wright Memorial chapter met for dinner at O'Charley's Restaurant along Miamisburg-Centerville Road in Centerville, Ohio (near the Dayton Mall south of Dayton). 12 members of the chapter were present for the dinner, not too bad considering all the commitments folks have during this time of year. Maj Roohr started off the evening with a business discussion, focusing on the selection of the new treasurer, forecasting contest, meetings in 2004, and the upcoming Techfest in Feb 04. Pete introduced Greg Fox as the new treasurer, and said that the account at WPAFB Credit Union had been adjusted to reflect this.

The winners of the November and December forecasting contests would be announced at the January meeting, for which Jonathan Leffler had volunteered to be a speaker.

President Roohr introduced Mike Haap as the guest speaker. Mike is a former observer with the Army, and is retired in the Cincinnati area, trying screenwriting. Mike discussed his assignment to Greenland starting in 1961, and showed us many interesting pictures of the sights there as well as the people he worked with. Mike was stationed at Tuto West Weather Station in Greenland back in 1961 and then again in 1962. Mike flew on an C-117 from McGuire AFB, to Thule. He described Tuto West, and then talked about Camp Century, which was 100 miles or so up on the ice cap from Thule. Camp Tuto had a landing strip, along with many buildings, whereas Tuto East was 10 miles east up on the Ice Cap. There were 3 observers, an NCO, and a cook, along with one technician. A tunnel had been dug into the ice cap at Camp Century (for the main facilities) to avoid problems with snow drifts; it was made with a Peter snow miller . Mike showed the weather instrumentation at Tuto West, and mentioned that Camp Century had weather sensors as well, including a 200 foot weather tower with pyroheliometer and radiation meters. Lots of hoarfrost often developed on these sensors. Camp Century was often referred to as the "City under the Ice", with cold air wells to keep tunnels cool and there were also cavities below the tunnels for water and sewage. There was a ham operator to enable contact with the states. In typical fashion, there was 24-hour sunlight from about late May until early July. Mike also showed the Reactor Heat Exchanger, used for nuclear power; the Army actually wanted to use this instead of diesel power which was incredibly more expensive due to transportation.

President Roohr gave Mr. Haap a nice box of Christmas candy for the drive back to Cincinnati, and wished everyone a happy holiday season.

Next meeting will be on January 20, 2004 in Fairborn.---Pete Roohr.


[ About the AMS | Policy Program | Conferences, Meetings, and Symposia ]
[ Education Programs and Resources ]
[ History of Earth Sciences | Journals and Publications | Local Chapter Information | Member Services ]
[ News and Information | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) ]

[ Disclaimer | Contacts at AMS | Email AMS Web Administrator ]

Return to AMS Home Page Click on Logo to Return to AMS Home Page
© 2000 American Meteorological Society
Headquarters: 45 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-3693
Phone: 617-227-2425; Fax: 617-742-8718