The 70s Are Coming! Blow Torch City!

What an incredible turn of events we’re going to see next week. Daytime high temperatures may end up being close to 30 degrees warmer by the end of the week [Saturday (3/10)] ) than they will be to start out the week [Monday (3/5)].

Surface high pressure will work it’s way off the eastern seaboard by midweek allowing for a strong southwesterly wind to develop east of the Mississippi River. At the exact same time the upper level connection between the negative PNA (Pacific North American pattern) and the southeastern ridge activates. You often times here the saying what goes up must come down, and vice versa. The PNA works the same way. In it’s negative state, low pressure develops in the Gulf of Alaska. But while pressures are down near Alaska, they come up [high pressure (southeastern ridge)] off the coast of Florida. The winds around this upper level ridge also blow in a clockwise direction just like the surface high. Therefore, the result will be the direction of the wind thoughout the entire column of air(from the surface to about 20,000 feet) will be out of the southwest. That means WARM, WARM, WARM!

Adding to this, the Gulf of Mexico is very warm for this time of the year because of the lack of cold air this winter season. The Atlantic Ocean is very warm for this time of the year because of the lack of cold air this winter season and the soil temperatures East of the Mississippi River are very warm for this time of the year because of the lack of cold air this winter season. You starting to get the idea here? lol

This will be a true blow torch pattern developing from March 8th – 14th. Daytime high temperatures may reach 70 degrees both Saturday (3/10) and Sunday (3/11) of next week. My gift to you, enjoy!

We typically hit 70 degrees three times (on average) during the month of March anyway. However, the month of March just began and our normal high temperature for this time of the year is still in the upper 40s! So to get this kind of warmth this early in the month is pretty impressive. Let us not forget, technically it’s still winter. Well, quite honestly winter was over before it even started, but you get the idea. Enjoy the warm up my friends!

-Chris Sowers-

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Could The 70s Be In Our Future Soon?

As I look at the European weeklies and ensembles (long range forecasting tools) I see a weather pattern that is getting ready to go through some big changes over the next couple of weeks.

An area of high pressure will travel east of Philadelphia and move out into the Atlantic by the beginning of next week (Tuesday).  The forecast models slow this system down quite a bit once it hits the ocean. The idea here is that this high pressure system starts acting like a block with it’s clockwise winds pumping in warm surface air from the Gulf Coast. This will keep the arctic air bottled up into Canada and the northerntier states the rest of the winter.

At the same time the PNA (Pacific North American Pattern), which is a hemispheric pattern in the Gulf of Alaska, goes moderately negative. This activates the Southeastern Ridge off the coast of Florida. That too is an area of higher pressure, only this time it’s in the middle layers of the atmosphere. So both at the surface and aloft we will have southwest winds blowing across the eastern half of the United States. Combined the two will bring blow-torch warmth east of the Mississippi the second week of March.

With the angle of the sun being as high as it is now and the lack of snow cover out there I could easily see us hitting 70 degrees a couple of times from March 8th through the 14th. As long as we keep that sun shining bright in the sky and the weather stays dry that week we’ll get an early taste of Spring. At the very least I would say mid 60s.

So get ready my friends! Week two (March) looks nice and mild in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys!

-Chris Sowers-

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It will snow Sunday, but this is not a BIG snow.

This is not the AccuWeather Forecast. This is my early call on Sunday’s potential storm threat.

If adjustments have to be made, the thinking at this time is that the rain/snow line would have to be pushed further north and west to start. 

This mornings run (12z) on the GFS (Global Forecast System) shows almost exactly the track that I was expecting with this storm system. The trending positive NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) will force this storm (which is riding the southern branch of the jetstream) to come north, up the coast to around Virginia Beach. This will end up being just far enough north to put the Delaware Valley in the middle of a little snow event Sunday afternoon.

The air in place is just barely cold enough to support snow with this event. However, as this storm continues to develop it will begin to manufacture its own cold air. That will keep the 540 thickness (thickness of the layer of cold air) deep enough to support snow. The 850s (temps at approx.  5,500ft.) are well below freezing to begin with so there’s no issue there. So assuming the storm pans out exactly how the GFS has is this morning it will be snowing here Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia with a mix south and east. Actually, it may start out as rain in southern New Jersey depending on the timing and exact track. That’s the very difficult part with this, positioning the rain/snow line. The issue that continues to have me biting my finger nails is the air closest to the ground. If you look at soundings the T1 level (level of air closest to the ground) is above freezing. This is because of the mild ocean air that will get pulled inland on an east, northeast wind. As the storm continues to slide off the coast, however, the air will get colder as our surface winds begin to shift out of the northwest. So this will eventually turn all of southern New Jersey over to snow as well. But it will wreak havoc with accumulations.

As far as accumulations are concerned this is NOT looking like a big snow storm for us. Not even close. The fact that the ocean temperature is very mild (45 degrees) and we now expect the storm to speed up and hit during the day (Sunday), it will be very difficult to get much of an accumulation out of this. In my mind the thinking at this time is this will end up being very similar to what happened last Saturday. It will snow, but accumulations will be mainly confined to grassy suurfaces. Also, the temperatures will probably end up staying above freezing so it will be a very wet snow. Making an early call here I would say most of the region picks up 1-3 inches of snow out of this with the exception being the immediate coast. The roadways stay wet, not white. Slick spots should be kept down to a minimum. There could end up being a more concentrated 2-3″ band that develops over the city depending on the track, but as of now I will go with only 1-3″.

It begins very early Sunday morning with snow in Philadelphia and our northwestern suburbs. A mix of rain and snow in western Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem counties and just plain rain in Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic, eastern Burlington and Ocean counties. That mix line will push closer to the coast as the day wears on.

So this is the early call from Accu-Sowers. This is not etched in stone and could change,, but this is what I am thinking at this time.  I like what the models are suddenly showing this morning. So it more then likely will be snowing Sunday afternoon, but accumulations will be kept down to a minimum and mainly be confined to grassy surfaces.

Sorry guys, no Nor’easter with this.

Chris Sowers

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A Closer Look At Sunday’s Storm

Here’s a quick update on the weekend storm. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post the forecast models will continue to bounce around back and forth all over the place with their tracks over the next few days. So if you are someone who knows how to look at the forecast models and are reading this post don’t get upset or happy with what you are seeing or not seeing. The bouncing is to be expected with something like this. It more than likely won’t be until Friday when we have a solid idea as to the specifics with this thing. Or at least a much better idea.

Yesterday I mentioned the trending positive NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) and how that would force the storm further north then what the forecast models were showing at that time. Well I was not expecting the kind of jump north in the models that I saw this morning. Not only did they come further north, they came so far north that they are now suggesting rain and not snow as the milder ocean air (mid 40s) gets pulled into this storm.

[The one thing I am not going to do here is change my mind on this storm with each and every passing computer run. I like the idea of this storm coming further north, that was stated, but not as much as it is showing right now on the GFS (Global Forecast System). ]

The biggest question im trying to answer right now is the phasing of the jetstreams. If they phase (come together) along the east coast then this will be a “BIG” storm. Im still not sure what that would mean for us as far as what type of moisture we get, but it would be a big system. If the piece of energy from the southern branch comes out first then is quickly followed by the piece of energy from the northern branch, and the two do not phase then this is not going to amount to all that much.

Because this is such a big question mark at this time the Action News weather team will go with two potential tracks. The first track takes the storm off the Carolina coast and out to sea. This would mean nothing more then just a few snow showers Sunday Night. The Carolinas would see a wind swept rain out of it, but we dodge the bullet. The second track calls for this system to come further north off the coast of the Delmarva or Virginia Beach (some where within that vicinity). That would mean possibly snow or rain or even both for the Delaware Valley.

Once the piece of energy riding the southern branch of the jetstream jumps the Rockies, comes out of the desert southwest and into the plains states we will more than likely know which track will pan out. It will be at that point that the forecast models will know what’s going on here. If the “out to sea” track becomes the track of choice then this is a non event for Philadelphia and its immediate surrounding suburbs both north and south. If the “up the coast” track becomes the favorite then “specifics” would need to be looked at a little more closely. Specifics such as where does the rain/snow line set up, how much moisture are we working with, when the storm moves in and when does it moves out, etc. All that fun stuff.

So we are in the very early stages with this right now. Tomorrow afternoon should begin to shed more light no this. Meteorologists Adam Joseph and Cecily Tynan will both be talking about this on Action News tonight starting at 4:00pm. They will have the latest from AccuWeather.

Chris Sowers

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Last Chance For Snow

I can’t remember them ever doing this before prior to this year, but once again The Weather Channel is blasting away at a coastal storm for the Mid Atlantic this weekend. I guess they haven’t really had all that much to talk about this season so they want to be the first ones to mention it. This way if the storm pans out they can say they saw it coming first. Whatever! Me… Im one that is more concerned about being accurate rather than the first one to call a storm a week in advance. But because they are blasting away at this and I am already getting a few emails I will just show you what the models are suggesting.

By no means is this my forecast, and this is certainly NOT the AccuWeather forecast.

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QUICK LOOK BACK/ EXPLANATION

For the record, it’s my belief that this winter is already over and done with and has been for quite some time now. I know this past weekend featured the coldest wind chills of the season with snow squalls, but for the most part the 2011/ ’12 winter season as a whole has been a huge disappointment for snow lovers.  With that said, the pattern has become a little more active now. We’re starting to see a series of systems, one after the next traveling across the country producing rains and snows. Some of them cut north into the Great Lakes states (Great Lakes Cutters), others run right off the Carolinas and out to sea.

So as far as the moisture is concerned, we got it. The big problem continues to be the lack of cold air and the unusally warm ocean temperatures (mid 40s). I think this past weekend was a perfect example of how mild ocean temperatures can ruin everything if you’re a snow lover. Looking back, the track of the storm this past weekend supported snow and cold. The thicknesses and temperature of the atmosphere (540 line, 850s) also both supported cold and snow. All signs with that coastal storm should of been a go! However, if you looked at the soundings (vertical profile) of the atmosphere the t -1 layer (layer closest to the ground) was well above freezing. The reason, simple …. it was an east wind driving the relatively milder ocean air inland. That’s why we saw the MINOR accumulations with the coastal storm as opposed to a significant snow. Yes it was cold enough to snow, but it was not cold enough to allow that snow to stick any longer then while it was actually snowing. As a matter of fact, once it stopped snowing almost all of it immediately melted with air temperatures in the mid to upper 30s.

Now what happened Saturday Night was a completely different event. Ths snow squalls that we picked up were associated with an arctic front that produced what’s called a quick freeze. Temperatures plunged, snow ratios became very high and quick bursts of accumulating snow developed.  That had nothing to do with the coastal storm. It was an entirely different feature. If we could get that kind of cold air in here for a longer duration of time other than just a day or two, we would have no problem getting a good snow storm around here. Unfortunately though that has not been the way the pattern has panned out this season.

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WEEKEND STORM

Let’s move ahead to the second half of this upcoming weekend. I am going to go on record and say right now that if this system does not pan out (and judging how this season has gone so far it probably won’t), that we will not see any more accumulating snow until next season. We may pick up a coating here or there or something which is more of just a nuisance, but as far as a bigger storm we’re done. It is my oppinion that this is our last chance at getting a snow storm.

Yes, I know it’s only the middle of February and some of our biggest snow storms have occurred around this time of the year, but this season is a little different. It’s different because of how warm the ocean is. With each passing day the sun gets higher in the sky, the days get longer and longer, and the temperatures with a lack of snow cover get milder. All three combined do not bode well for snow.

With that said, the European forecast model does show a sizeable storm running up the east coast. It comes out of the Gulf of Mexico, cuts north through the Carolinas and eventually off the coast of the Delmarva early Monday morning. This track keeps the Delaware Valley in the cold sector of the storm. It also suggests that the heaviest mositure would develop at night with no sun to melt it. The model, as of now, prints out 2-4 inches of snow for southern New Jersey and Delaware, but nothing more than just an inch north and west of Philadelphia. The cut off line would be I-95 from Philadelphia to Wilmington. We’ll also use the Atlantic City expressway as the other cut off line. From those points south and east it shows 2-4 inches. From those lines north and west, it’s an inch at best. My only concern once again will be the ocean temperature and how mild it keeps the air closest to the ground. If we get into a situation that is similar to what we saw this past weekend then this is nothing more than just an inch everywhere.

The GFS (Global forecast system) brings this storm out of the Gulf of Mexico northward into the Carolinas as well. However, before it can come any further north it runs off the coast and out to sea, missing the Delaware Valley. So the European is a hit while the GFS is a miss. The DGEX model actually splits the difference between the two and shows an inch in southern New Jersey with nothing north and west of Philadelphia. The NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) is trending positive. This time around, believe it or not, I actually think that’s a plus for snow because the ridging that develops south and east off the coast of Florida will actually force this storm north. That favors the European model over the GFS. One thing to remember here is that it’s very early in the game and this thing could change twenty times before Sunday gets here. So tomorrow it may dissappear comletely from the models only to come back Thursday of Friday. One things for sure though and that’s I’m convinced that winter is over and done with after this system. If we don’t get snow this time around start thinking about Spring Training and the Phillies because winter is done.

Chris Sowers

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Saturday’s Snow, Bitter Cold!

It looks like tomorrow will be a very interesting day around here. One of those days that we really haven’t seen to much of this season, a day of winter! When meteorologist Cecily Tynan gave the Accuweather February outlook (the first two weeks of the month) she talked about how the overall pattern would be mild in the Delaware Valley, but from time to time we would see a cold shot from “Mother Nature”. Well this weekend will be one of those cold shots, and bitter cold it will be!

An arctic front which is bringing 50 degree below zero wind chills to the high plains this morning will be barreling south eastward over the next 24 hours. This front will slam through the region on Saturday. Out ahead of it, most forecast models want to bring a small, but rapidly intensifying area of low pressure up the coast from Virginia to New England. The saving grace with this is how quickly it’s moving. With a fresh shot of arctic air approaching from the west, if there had been just a little more blocking over the top in Greenland to slow this thing down, it could of been a big storm for us! With that said, the blocking (which slows up traffic so to speak in the mid levels of the atmosphere) is very weak so the storm will swiftly head up the eastern seaboard and cause only minor headaches for us.

 

RAIN/ SNOW LINE

The question that I have been trying to answer for the past two days is where will this rain/ snow line set up?  Had the ocean tempertaure been in the mid to upper 30s right now, like it’s suppose to be this time of the year, we really wouldn’t have much of a rain/snow line to deal with. Maybe the immediate shoreline, but that would be about it. However, the fact that the ocean temperature is in the mid 40’s combined with a developing, moderately strong east wind,  this will force that milder ocean air inland across southern New Jersey. This means most areas south and east of the Delaware River will start out as rain or some kind of mix overnight into Saturday morning. Yesterday I had this same exact area in the accumulating snow zone, but this morning Im going to have to push that zone farther west.

Let’s say in a line from Trenton, through Philadelphia into Wilmington, from that line south and east to the shore you will all start out as rain or some kind of mix. From that line, points north and west, it’s all snow.  My thought at this time is if you live in southern New Jersey, within 35 miles or so of the Delaware River you will chang over to snow at some point during the wee hours of the morning. However, the counties of Cumberland, Atlantic, Cape May and eastern Burlington will more than likely still be getting rain. Eventually, as our winds begin to shift out of the northwest and this storm passes by to our northeast everyone will change over to snow.

 

ACCUMULATIONS

When all is said and done it looks like a quick 1-2″ in the I-95 corridor from Wilmington to Philadelphia to Trenton. Areas just to the northwest of the Delaware River being closer to the 2″ line and interior sections of southern New Jersey closer to the 1″ line. There will be a slightly heavier, more concentrated area of 2-3″ with this in central Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Hunterdon counties. This will more than likely include the Lehigh Valley as well. I’m waiting for the new forecast guidance to come in to determine whether or not I want to include that area. When it comes in I will post it on my fan page.

 

SLICK SPOTS DEVELOPING

The roads will remain mainly wet with this as temperatures this afternoon are expected to jump up into the mid to upper 40s again. However, my concern is for when the arctic front blasts through. Temperatures will immediately drop 10 degrees or so with the passage of this front. So roadways, sidewalks, bridges and overpasses, things of that nature that are untreated and appear to be just wet will begin freezing over. This is when there could end up being some issues out there with slick spots. Not necessarily when it’s snowing, but afterwards. There could also be a quick snow shower or squall with the front as well that could coat the ground. Temperatures then really begin to tail off after sunset with gusty winds dropping wind chills down into the mid teens, possibly even colder. Single digit wind chills are a good bet in the Lehigh Valley.

 

RANKING THE STORM

On a scale of 1 to 10 with a 10 being crippling and a 1 being a nuisance event, this is once again going to fall in to that 1 category. At least as far as the snow is concerned. This will not be a big deal. With that said, I do not want you to let your guard down Saturday afternoon. Even though the snow will probably have stopped by then, as the cold front slips through and those temps plunge everything will begin to freeze. So there will more than likely be more problems with the quick freeze rather than the snow. On top of that if we do end up getting that quick coating from an afternoon snow squall, now you will have snow covering up icy patches. So please be careful  and take it slow tomorrow afternoon.

I will update again on my fan page later this afternoon.

Chris Sowers

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Minor 1-3″ Snowfall on Saturday

THIS IS NOT THE ACCUWEATHER FORECAST, THIS IS JUST WHAT I’M ENVISIONING

Ok, now that yesterday’s weak disturbance has moved away from the region we can start to focus our attention on the arctic front and the possibility of snow that’s heading this way for the weekend. A couple of things that are beginning to catch my attention here as we get closer to Saturday are 1.) the development of  low pressure off the coast along the arctic front and 2.) a secondary polar front on Sunday.

The reason why those two points above are importnat is because even though yesterday’s snow event was very minor here in the Delaware Valley, there was an encouraging sign with it if you are a snow lover. An encouraging sign that could end up providing a surprise 1-3″ snowfall for Philadelphia and southern New Jersey Saturday morning. As yesterday’s system came across the mountains it began to snow very lightly from southwest to northeast across our viewing area. The heaviest amounts occurred to our west where the elevation is slightly higher than the coast and temperatures were colder. However, once the low actually made it to the coast it strengthed pretty quickly. You could see the banding that developed along the shore as it pulled away. The reason for the strengthening is because of the large temperature contrast between the air temperature and the temperature of the ocean. The warm winter has kept water temperatures in the mid 40s which is unusually mild for this time of the year. When you have a large temperature contrast like this it creates rising motion in the atmosphere which in turn lowers the pressures at the surface, next thing you know you have storm development. So the encouraging sign here is as the pattern evolves (becomes more active) over the next couple of weeks (and it looks very busy), there will be a greater chance of systems developing off the coast and throwing back moisture into the viewing area.

You can already see the models (European, Canadian and NAM) trying to show this for Saturday with the passage of the arctic front. As it hits the coast an area of low pressure will develop along it, intensify, and try running up the eastern seaboard from the Mid Atlantic to New England. This will throw back moisture into the I-95 corridor from D.C. to Boston. So where as yesterday it was areas west of the Delaware River that picked up a small accumulation of snow, this time around it will be areas east of the Delaware that see it. Then it quickly pulls northeast and out to seas as a secondary arctic front approaches for Sunday. This front will end up dropping overnight lows in Boston down to near zero and upper single digits in the Big Apple. Fortunately for us I don’t think this secondary front really makes it any farther south than New York so I expect the worst of the cold to stay north of here.

So right now I think there is a good chance that we see a minor 1-3 inch snowfall on Saturday with falling temperatures and blustery cold wind chills. I could possibly see a slightly more concentrated area of 2-3 inches developing from Trenton to New York if the Canadian is correct, but right now I think the 1-3 is good. Not a huge event, but unlike this last one I think this could actually create a few headaches on the back roadways and visibility issues at times.

Chris Sowers

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Bitter Weekend, Temps Plunge, Snow Squalls

It looks like “old man” winter will be making a come back this weekend. So far it’s been the year without a winter. With the exception of a cold shot here and there that only lasts for a day or two, we really haven’t had to deal with too much in the way of snow and cold. Things are going to change quite a bit as we head into Saturday. It’s an interesting set up across the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. A strong arctic front will blast through the region producing a few snow squalls across southeastern Pennsylvania. This front, this time around, literally came straight from the pole. So the air behind it is bitter. It looks like overnight low temperatures in Boston could drop below zero this weekend with New York City dropping down into the upper single digits. For us, it wont be qute that cold, but highs in the 30s does look like a good bet. Below is a look at a few of the forecast models and what they’re showing for this weekend.

The NAM model (North American Mesoscale) blasts the front through the city by mid afternoon. Lets say between the hours of 2-5pm. This front will be accompanied by MUCH colder air, blustery wind chills and a few snow showers and squalls.

The observations in Philadelphia on Saturday according to this model may end up looking a little like this if the NAM pans out…

11:00am… Clouds and sun, breezy with a temp of 40 degrees, wind chills in the low 30s.

4:00pm… Cloudy, breezy and cold with snow showers. Temp 29, wind chill  17.

The GFS (Global Forecast System) model is a little quicker with the passage of the front, therefore the temps never have a chance to really moderate. As a matter of fact this model drives the front through so quickly that the high temperatures for the day may actually occur after midnight. This model is also colder than the NAM.

The observations in Philadelphia according to this model may end up looking like this if the GFS pans out…

7:00am… Cloudy, breezy and cold with a few snow showers. Temp  34, wind chill 27.

4:00pm…Clouds and sun, breezy and cold. Temp 26, wind chill 18.

This front will set up a bitter cold weekend overall for the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. If this were last winter or the winter before, this wouldn’t be too big of a deal. However, we have become accustomed to the mild 50s and 60s lately. So a sudden burst of arctic air will feel like just that … “arctic”! The interesting twist with all of this is the European forecast model. It tries to develop an area of low pressure along the arctic front. The European has it snowing actually for most of the day believe it or not. It doesn’t appear to be all that much, but with temps falling quickly and this area of low pressure strengthening quickly I could definitely see a situation where a quick burst may develop producing an inch or two.  Especially in southern New Jersey and Delaware.

At this time, it’s my belief that the GFS is correct, but we’ll see. Regardless of whether or not we get a few snow showers on Saturday or a quick inch or two, the bigger story will be the cold with this. Get set for a little greetings from the arctic! Saturday, Sunday and Monday will all be very cold with temps never getting out of the mid 30s Sunday and Monday.

Chris Sowers

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Wednesday’s Snow Event on Life Support

This system sweeping through the Delaware Valley Wednesday afternoon is so unorganized and miniscule that it’s laughable we’re even talking about it. I titled this an event, but it’s more like just a nuisance. A small area of low pressure will travel northeast through the Ohio Valley and into the Mid Atantic states. At the same time the atmosphere will be cooling down,  just barely enough to support snow. So as I continue I just want to be clear that this is such a minor event that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 classifying as a nuisance and 10 being a blizzard, that I wouldn’t even classify this as a 1. So this is certainly nothing to be alarmed about.

First and foremost temperatures have been very warm over the past few days. Back to back days of 52 degrees coming on the heels of back to back days in the 60s last week does not bode well for accumulations. Secondly the ocean temperature is still unusually mild for this time of year, so this will keep the coastal plain above freezing. That more than likely means just a cold rain along the Jersey shore, perhaps mixing with or changing to snow before ending at night. So as this weak disturbance moves into the viewing area it will be like pulling teeth to try to get it to snow in the first place south and east of the Delaware River.  In the end though I think they will get some snow out of this.

The NAM model is printing out .15 of an inch of liguid with temperatures staying above freezing while the GFS is even lighter at .11″. A general rule of thumb with snow is 1 inch of liguid is equivalent to 10 inches of snow. So just going off of those numbers alone this is nothing more than an inch of snow at best. However, with the warm ground and temperatures staying above freezing Im going to say more like just a coating to half inch at most! Look for roads to stay just wet.

It all begins Wednesday afternoon, shutting off around midnight. Thursday then looks mostly sunny and milder with highs in the mid to upper 40s. So snow lovers will get to see a little winter white on Wednesday, but this is nothing more than just a few flakes.

Chris Sowers

 

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