El Paso, Texas

El Paso has always fascinated me. It’s so far removed from the rest of the major urban areas, but is still such a large city. It’s a mystery right here in America. Have you ever heard El Paso described so romantically?

At 651, MT, El Paso was reporting a temperature of 57 degrees with mostly cloudy skies. The tail end of a cold front lies through the southeastern US and into central Texas, and feeding into it, at least aloft, there is some streaming cirrus through west Texas, likely to keep the temperatures from falling off too much overnight.
A broad, generally weak trough extends from Montana to southern California, and is indicating the flow through west Texas. The exit region of the jet will continue to run from the Baja towards the central Plains, which isn’t a particularly moisture rich course. Don’t expect precipitation for El Paso, but a continuation of the high clouds that are mottling the sky tonight.
Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 72, Low 48
Monday – Partly cloudy, High 65, Low 55

TWC: Tomorrow – Generally sunny. High 73, Low 49
Monday – Partly cloudy skies, with gusty winds developing during the afternoon. High 66, Low 55

AW: Tomorrow – Breezy with a blend of sun and clouds High 72, Low 47
Monday -Breezy with partial sunshine High 65, Low 54

NWS: Tomorrow – Partly sunny, (late rain)High 71, Low 48
Monday – Mostly sunny, (early rain) High 68, Low 57

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy. Windy. (late rain) High 71, Low 56
Monday – Partly cloudy, windy (early rain). High 64, low 56

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with isolated showers, High 71, Low 48
Monday – Partly cloudy, High 68, Low 57

FIO: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy until morning. High 72, Low 54
Monday – Breezy overnight and mostly cloudy until evening. HIgh 66, Low 54

That will feel a little brisk out in the open country around El Paso, but I tell you what, I would take a low in the mid 50s regardless of the wind. I would take a high in the mid-50s at this point. Here is the satellite, showing that cirruse traipsing over West Texas.

NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-16 ABI BAND 07 OR_ABI-L1b-RadC-M3C07_G16_s20180482107190_e20180482109575_c20180482110014.nc

Looking for spring

The winter in the Twin Cities has been torturous for folks who aren’t fans of cold weather. When we put together a forecast for Minneapolis at the beginning of the week, though, there was signs of an upturn. While morning lows on Monday were supposed to be below zero, the forecast high by Tuesday afternoon was in the mid to upper 20s, the first time it had been near normal for the entire month of February. What a relief! The forecast was tightly contested, with Weatherbug collecting a narrow victory. The good news continued for Minneapolis, as high temperatures on Wednesday were in the low 40s. Never mind that it was below zero again on Friday morning.
Actuals: Monday – High 10, Low -2
Tuesday – High 28, Low 6

Grade: A-B

A tale of two outputs

A quick moving, potentially hard hitting system is moving through the Mid-Atlantic this afternoon and evening is proving somewhat enigmatic for the model outputs. Let’s take a look at what I mean by that, and just look at where the NAM and GFS differ so wildly.

Look at the precipitation outputs for the 06z time frame, or about midnight tonight, when the storm will be battering Long Island and Southern New England. The NAM, with robust precipitation totals is on top, the GFS, which is more docile, is on the bottom.

That’s a pretty significant difference in the amount of available moisture for this system, and this lack of clarity is reflected in the confidence forecasts from the NWS on Long Island. Here is the max and min snowfall possibilities for the forecast area.

That’s an 8 inch range in New York City, which is obviously an untenable situation for the Nation’s most populous region. This forecast is nearly 10 hours old, however, so maybe we can hone it a little bit. The best way to start is to see how the models have initialized. Here is the radar for the Ohio Valley, followed by the models in the same order, so you can see how the performance looks to start.

The radar is a bit further advanced than the model period noted above, but the trend is still easily discerned. The NAM is doing better with the voluminous precipitation, however the NAM is a full state too far south with the placement, with the heaviest rain and snow in the Ohio Valley, rather than over Tennessee. If this trend continues, that means that the precipitation as it arrives on the coast will also be further to the north, or as the case may be on the coast, further inland.

One thing that we can see from the observations is that the rain-snow line, the position of the low and the temperature profile are pretty much in line for both the NAM and the GFS. I’ve drawn the rain-snow line on the map below, while the center of low pressure appears to be near Jackson, Kentucky.

This bodes poorly for a “light snow” event, though with so much moisture on the north side of the feature, it seems possible that the accumulations will be blunted by warmer temperatures at the middle layers.

So yes, there will be more snow than the GFS expects, but not as much as the maximum accumulation that the Weather Service fears. I would guess most of the region, excluding the typically warm Montauk and Hamptons will be in the 5-8″ range for accumulation. The big winners will likely be the Berkshires and places in land. Half a foot of snow can sure tie things up, but at least it isn’t 10 inches, and at least it is coming on a holiday weekend.

Meteorologists remember how to forecast

The verifications throughout the month of February have been, to say the least, embarrassing. Finally, however, last weekend in Greensboro, we figured out what was going on. With a difficult forecast inbound, there was a game effort from all involved, wherein even the worst forecasts were better than the best from Lawton or Rockford. A warm front brought a splash of rain last Saturday, ahead of a cold front that swept through on Sunday. The only real surprise was that the rain was heavier with the warm front than it was the cold front, but the temperatures responded exactly as they were expected, especially by Forecast.io, who nailed the forecast, and Victoria-Weather and Accuweather, who were close behind.
Actuals: Saturday – .22 inches of rain, High 63, Low 45
Sunday – .05 inches of rain, High 69, Low 55

Grade: A-C

One-Two Punch For Northern Plains

The Northern Plains/Upper Midwest had been persistently cold the last couple of weeks until a change in the pattern finally warmed things up a bit over the last 2-3 days. An arctic boundary moved through and temperatures tonight are expected to plummet to near zero here in MSP and well below zero further north. The big story, however, is what the models are churning out for Sunday into Tuesday. An area of low pressure that’s currently over the Aleutian Islands will finally shift into the Pacific Northwest Saturday afternoon then continue eastward over the Northern Plains on Sunday. The main track of snow associated with this system will be over ND and into Northern MN and current model guidance is churning out 6-12″ with it. A second system looks to affect the region Sunday night through Monday, but with it still 72-96 hours out, the confidence on this system has been less than stellar, with the main swath happening anywhere from IA/Southern WI to SD/Northern MN. Another 6-10″ looks possible from this second system, but it remains to be seen who will get the bulls-eye from this activity.

Carson City, Nevada to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Classic road trips need to head through South Dakota. That’s just the rule. This three day trip will do just that, so you know it’s a good one. We’re going to cover 3 days, with the third day lasting a little bit longer than the first two. Our drive will be 1,778 miles, done at a pace of 68.4mph, so our first two days will allow us coverage of 547 miles. The Rockies can be sketchy this time of year, but perhaps the rest of the drive will be a bit more manageable.


DAY ONE (Monday)

My fears of sketchiness in the higher terrain of the intermountain West will be confirmed on Monday. A sharp trough angled from the Canadian Prairies towards the Mojave will slice right across the Great Basin. The angle won’t allow the absorption of much moisture into the feature, and high pressure will prevent it from moving terribly quickly. Instead, expect gusty winds with some light flurries, particularly around the Elko area in northeastern Nevada. Accumulations won’t stack up, but in this part of the world, the breeze will make it difficult to see. There is a chance that the flurry activity will continue into the Bonneville Flats which provides an interesting conundrum. How can you tell if the snow is accumulating. or if it’s just the salt? We’ll make it to a slightly snowy Salt Lake City to call it a day.

DAY TWO (Tuesday)
Our trough will attempt to bring moisture in from the chilly eastern Pacific over the Wasatch, and it will largely be unsuccessful. There might be a few snow showers at the beginning of our day as we travel through the far northern end of the Wasatch range in northeastern Utah, but after that, the day will be pretty easy. Wyoming is going to stay clear of the snowy conditions, and we will end the day in the least populous county in the least populous state, north of Lusk at the Mule Creek junction in Niobara County.

DAY THREE (Wednesday)
Chilly upper level troughing is going to recede from the Upper Midwest on Wednesday, just in time for us to arrive. The sun will be out in full force, which is going to be great, because it will make a long day tolerable. IF the day wasn’t already 10 hours long, I would say stop at Mount Rushmore, but instead, I will just say get to Minneapolis, where you will actually get to experience a comfortable day.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear, Victoria-Weather comes to you from the Twin Cities area. A forecast for Minneapolis is very exciting.

At 1053PM, CT, Minneapolis-St. Paul was reporting a temperature of 9 degrees with clear skies. The region was being smothered by surface high pressure, and that coupled with the snow on the ground already was going to lead to more bitter cold overnight and to begin the work week.
The surface high will diminish through the day tomorrow, and eventually, the extended sunlight and a bit of strength to an exiting jet through the Upper Midwest will lead to some warmer conditions on Tuesday.
Tomorrow – Cold but with clear skies, High 12, Low -4
Tuesday – Partly cloudy, High 27, Low 7

TWC: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. HIgh 13, Low -4
Tuesday – Cloudy early, becoming mostly sunny in the afternoon High 27, Low 3

AW: Tomorrow – Cold with clouds and sun, High 11, Low -4
Tuesday – Not as cold with a blend of sun and clouds High 26, Low 2

NWS: Tomorrow – Increasing clouds, High 12, Low -4
Tuesday – Partly sunny (early snow) High 27, Low 4

WB: Tomorrow – Colder, Partly cloudy, High 11, Low -2
Tuesday – Not as cold, clearing (early snow) High 26, Low 5

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 12, Low -4
Tuesday – Partly cloudy, High 27, Low 4

FIO: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy starting in the morning. High 9, Low -2
Tuesday – Mostly cloudy until afternoon. High 25, Low 8

Brr! At least it looks like we are on the upswing in the Twin Cities. Check out the satellite. Most of the white from Iowa northward is actually a reflection of the snow on the ground. Iowa has been dumped on this past week, but southern Minnesota caught a big storm about 2 weeks ago that it hasn’t cleared from yet either.

NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-16 ABI BAND 01 OR_ABI-L1b-RadC-M3C01_G16_s20180422232204_e20180422234577_c20180422235023.nc

Where is all this cold air coming from?

I ask you, the reader, because we outlets have continued to whiff on cold forecasts. Now, our forecast for Rockford from last week wasn’t quite the meltdown that we saw in Lawton earlier in the week, the subzero temperatures on both Tuesday and Wednesday after a little bit of snow really turned forecasts on their heads. Accuweather snuckkin with a forecast that was slightly better than the rest of the competition, but it wasn’t very good either. I will give credit where it is due, in that most of the outlets pegged Rockford’s 1-2″ snow accumulation with this round of flurries, but universally, the crew was several degrees too warm, especially on our morning lows,
Actuals: Tuesday – High .3″ of snow, High 18, Low -7
Wednesday – 1.2″ of snow, High 17, Low -3

Grade: C-F

Greensboro, North Carolina

There is no shortage of large metro areas in the state of North Carolina. Tere isn’t a mega city like say, New York or Los Angeles, but the population of the Tar Heel State is deceptively high. Greensboro, for example, is the 3rd largest city in North Carolina, and has nearly 300k as a population. Did you realize that? That’s bigger than Buffalo, and would make it the biggest city in Alabama. I personally think that’s crazy. Ok, let’s tackle a forecast.

At 453PM,ET, Greensboro was reporting mostly cloudy skies with a temperature of 54. The region, seeing a few clouds, was a bit coolr than points to the south and east, but a light south wind suggested that warm air was on it’s way, and the clouds weren’t the primary issue. A deep trough over the Great Lakes is dredging a lot of warm moist air from the Gulf and Gulf Stream, so while things may not be completely active at this moment, it seems like that will change.
Shower activity will inevitably lift through North Carolina overnight as a near surface perturbation starts tapping into moisture in the southeastern US closer to sunrise. Showers and thunderstorms will be likely in the Tennessee Valley, as a warm front continues to lift north through Greensboro. The moisture rich disturbance will quickly be folded into the broader cold front associated with the Great Lakes trough, but the heavy rain and thunderstorm activity will stall in the Appalachians. Instead, through most of the day on Sunday, a diffuse boundary will wade deeper into the state, and mean that things will be dreary and rain to end the weekend.
Tomorrow – Isolated showers, especially in the morning, High 62, Low 45
Sunday – Overcast with some showers throughout the day, High 68, Low 57

TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy with periods of rain. High 57, Low 43
Sunday – Cloudy with rain in the morning…then scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 67, Low 56

AW: Tomorrow – Occasional rain and drizzle High 61, Low 44
Sunday – Cloudy and breezy with a couple of showers and a thunderstorm High 69, Low 58

NWS: Tomorrow – Rain likely before 11am, then showers likely after 11am. Cloudy, High 55, Low 43
Sunday – Rain, with thunderstorms also possible after 1pm. High 68, Low 54

WB: Tomorrow – Rain likely in the morning, then showers likely in the afternoon, High 58, Low 44
Sunday – Rain, High 67, Low 57

WN: Tomorrow – Cloudy with light rain likely, High 55, Low 44
Sunday – Cloudy with light rain, High 68, Low 54

FIO: Tomorrow – Rain in the morning and evening. High 64, Low 46
Sundaty – Breezy until afternoon and rain starting overnight. High 69, low 64

What a refreshing change, seeing temperatures in the 60s! And the forecast is all rain, no snow! Spring is coming.  Here is the evening radar, showing some rain filtering into coastal Carolina.

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