2019 Forecaster of the Year

This year, there was a grand cluster of similarly competent forecasters. 5 Outlets were matched pretty well, but then there was one outlet that was very bad (sorry, Forecast.io) and one that was really good, but it took until December to realize how dominant they had been. Victoria-Weather won the month of December, while the ultimate winner for the year tied for second…. and that was all it took to finish well above the runner up this year. Congratulations to the Forecaster of the Year,

THE WEATHER CHANNEL!

For completeness, here is the chart of individual forecast wins. It shows that The Weather Channel didn’t necessarily have the highest peaks, but they were able to stay steady all year. Here’s to a wonderful 2020!

OutletMonth winsyear wins
Victoria-Weather117.98
Weatherbug16.41
The Weather Channel114.03
Accuweather19.64
Forecast.io9.45
National Weather Service19.31
WeatherNation8.64

A busy weather week before a quiet Christmas week

There were two remarkable weather stories this week, one for the raw statistics, and one for the incredible imagery.

Last weekend, a strong late season storm swept through the Lower Mississippi Valley, unleashing a tornado outbreak from Louisiana to Alabama that was unusual for mid-December, but not altogether unheard of.

Mississippi was struck by nearly a dozen twisters, while two people were killed in northern Alabama. The most eye-popping number from the outbreak was the 64 mile tornado track in central Louisiana. The largest town clipped by this tornado was Alexandria, where there was extensive damage, but no deaths. There was one storm related fatality in Louisiana, however.

Take a look at the map the Jackson WFO put out, showing the tornado coverage there (unfortunately, there isn’t a good map that I’ve seen from Louisiana or Alabama with the tornado tracks), and find more details from NPR on the storm.

Also in the last week, a virulent but quick moving system brought a profundity of snow squall warnings through the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Snow squall warnings are equivalent to severe thunderstorms, inasmuch as they move quickly, and bring about strong if short lived winds, even if they don’t bring a lot of accumulation.

Check out this clip of the storm consuming Manhattan

This all lead to very good news for Christmas travelers, however. The holiday week was fairly benign, unless you were trying to traverse the northern Rockies, where snow was falling. Throughout the Upper Midwest, temperatures climbed well above normal, and melted away the white Christmas millions of people were expecting.

The year looks to conclude with a bang, however, as a significant system will bring snow to the northern High Plains this weekend, as well s another chance for severe weather in the Lower Mississippi Valley.

November Forecaster of the Month

November was a busy month, replete with forecasts from across the country, and one outlet had a thumb on the scales. With 8 forecasts in the month, Weatherbug won half of them, and ultimately won the month rather easily.

OutletMonth wins
Weatherbug4
Victoria-Weather1.5
Forecast.io1
The Weather Channel0.5
WeatherNation0.5
National Weather Service0.5
Accuweather

OutletMonth winsyear wins
Victoria-Weather1.516.98
Weatherbug416.41
The Weather Channel0.513.03
Forecast.io19.45
WeatherNation0.58.64
Accuweather8.64
National Weather Service0.58.31

Major storms ready to tie up holiday travel

2019 may go down as one of the worst Thanksgivings for travelling in a very long time. As I sit on the south side of the Twin Cities metro area, skies are already starting to turn gray as a vast area of low pressure and some accompanying snow fall makes it’s way to the north. The latest forecast from the Twin Cities WFO calls for a foot through the heart of the metro area.

Snow has been ongoing today, particularly in northern Colorado, eastern Wyoming and across Nebraska, where it has closed schools, covered roads and severely disrupted Denver’s airport.

Since this isn’t a storm in the heart of the winter, there is the cold, snowy side, but also a side with strong to severe thunderstorms. There has already been one tornado warning in southern Missouri today, with more strong storms anticipated, particularly in eastern Arkansas.

The storm is going to continue strengthening over the next 12-24 hours, reaching maximum intensity somewhere over northern Wisconsin, meaning the snow that has fallen in the Upper Midwest will be , and the snow in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula will be wind driven. Altogether an unpleasant scenario. And that’s not even the worst of it.

THERE IS ANOTHER STORM.

This second storm, thanks to travel across the north Pacific is in the process of explosive cyclogenesis – a bomb cyclone – and will slam into the northern California coast tonight. With it will come more gusty winds, rain and a whole lot of snow the interior west. While much of California will appreciate the rain, they could do without more wind, and the snow inland will be fairly comprehensive. That is to say, it’s not going to be confined solely to the mountains. Take a look at the watches and warnings presently plastered across the country.

All the oranges and browns are wind related alerts, thanks to the potency of the first system, while southern Arizona is also under threat for flooding, thanks to the moisture they’ve recently received, and will be reintroduced to this week.

Most of the time, foot of snow the day before Thanksgiving would be bad enough, but in the Midwest, they will also need to concern themselves with the weather after Thanksgiving. If folks somehow managed to leave the house and visit their relatives, they will then need to contend with a second round of snow that will likely start as light freezing rain, particularly from about Sioux Falls to Omaha.

In my back yard, we are probably looking at another 2-4″ of snow on top of a glaze of ice, and more gusty winds to conclude what will be a very long holiday weekend.

The remarkable 2013 Moore tornado

Recently posted on Youtube and Reddit, this compilation of videos, synchronized to play with each other if they were from the same time period, is a remarkable reminder of just how devastating the tornado was, and the fact that the video is almost an hour long shows just how dangerous the storm was.

For whatever reason, perhaps because I am a meteorologist, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about some of the more recent major tornadoes to afflict the country in the last few years. Moore has been hit by no less than three major tornadoes this century, but somehow, places like Joplin and Tuscaloosa show their scars more evidently.

Google Maps’ satellite view allows us to see, quite apparently, the course of tornadoes, even many years after they have passed through. Here are the overhead views of Joplin and Tuscaloosa today.

Joplin, with tornado scar highlighted

If you look look closely, the scar has a lighter hue than the area outside of the affected region. There are two reasons for this. First, Tuscaloosa and Joplin are both well forested cities, and the stripping of the canopy has a profound effect on an area, even over the long term. For another reference, here is an image I captured of north Minneapolis, where the tornado wasn’t as strong, but it was still enough to strip the canopy across the path.

Second, these areas are being redeveloped, and there is still widespread construction throughout the damaged regions.

Moore didn’t leave the same impression, for two reasons. One, Oklahoma isn’t as arboraceous as even nearby Joplin, nor Tuscaloosa. Second, Moore’s 2013 tornado was among 5 tornadoes, including 3 of EF4 or greater that have hit the town in the past 21 years alone. Moore is in a constant state of reinvention.

That is the theme of all of these cities, then. Rebirth and resilience. It’s important to understand the danger tornadoes pose to see how these towns bounce back, and the strength of their spirit. You can’t have a scar without injury, but the mark it leaves is a symbol of the constant healing.

Say it ain’t so

Here is a look at the forecast morning low tomorrow.

You might rightfully say “Oh boy, that’s awfully chilly for Montana and North Dakota” and lament with some concern that, gosh, it’s chilly even down into the Plains. All true. Also true is that the cold is going to be more widespread on Tuesday morning.

Everybody can enjoy the chilly temperatures, and not just the High Plains!

Oh, and don’t forget, there is a strong area of high pressure chasing an active cold front bringing this chill. Let’s look at the wind chills.

Don’t be fooled by this map, the color scheme is simply different from the low temperature map. It’s oging to be real cold, and it will feel even colder for a big section of the country. This isn’t one of those “Relatively cold” things either. It’s just going to be flat out cold through the middle of November,.

October Forecaster of the Month

The month of October has come and gone. North America is bucking the trend of, well, essentially the entire planet, and saw generally a cooler than normal month, but it was marked by some very warm weather type events, like a tornado moving through the Dallas city limits. If anyone is going to handle a topsy turvy. high profile month like October was, the top spot is usually going to The Weather Channel, as it does this month.

OutletMonth wins
Victoria-Weather1.83
Weatherbug1.33
Forecast.io1
The Weather Channel0.83
WeatherNation0.33
National Weather Service0.33
Accuweather0.33
OutletMonth winsyear wins
Victoria-Weather1.8314.98
The Weather Channel0.8312.53
Weatherbug1.3311.91
WeatherNation0.338.14
Forecast.io17.95
National Weather Service0.337.81
Accuweather0.337.14

A cool start to November is coming

After consecutive harsh winters, an early start to the below normal cold is not what most wanted to hear, but alas, we are already in the midst of it. Halloween is expected to be awfully chilly, and the beginning to November doesn’t project to be much more comfortable.

The 8-14 day outlook from the CPC, which will take us into the 11th month of the year shows that most of the country east of the Rockies is expected to be below normal.

The Great Lakes are going to be embedded in a fairly strong trough, and it isn’t likely to move very far this week. This trough will lead to a pipeline of moisture from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic, including snow in the southern Great Lakes.

The trough is expected to be so entrenched that the Upper Midwest is actually going to be below normal for the second half of the month as well.

It snowed in Texas

A big blast of cold air is is continuing to dive nto the High Plains , setting up a fairly chilly end to the week between the Rockies and the Mississippi. We got that that kicked off with this:

The Amarillo WFO would later report 3″ of accumulation, which is a considerable total for west Texas at any time of year, but particularly in October. The snow fell on the back end of an area of low pressure that also swept a very active line of storms as far south as Brownsville, which lead to significantly cooler temperatures in the Lone Star State.

The sharp upper level trough that is serving as a host to this system will also inform as to where the feature will progress. It’s sliding back north in the Mississippi Delta right now, abnd will continue to the Great Lakes. The jet is going to regenerate in place, and at least for the next week, temperatures will be chilly in the Plains and Mississippi Delta, save for a brief warm up tomorrow afternoon.

This standing trough will mean a chilly end to the month east of the Rockies, and a Halloween that requires all the princesses and Iron Men to be bundled up, but it has other insidious consequences. The stalled trough has also led to a strong area of high pressure over the Great Basin, which has fueled the dangerous Santa Ana winds that are fanning the flames around Los Angeles this month.

All that because of snow in Texas. Yeesh.

Large tornado sweeps through North Dallas

Check out this video, perhaps one of the scariest tornado captures I’ve seen.

A worst case scenario is a large tornado in a populated area, and it is compounded when it moves through at night. This super cell moved through the north Dallas suburbs in a coming together of some of the worst possible circumstances.

It could have been significantly worse though. The storm touched down just 15 miles away from AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Philadelphia Eagles in front of 75,000 people. In fact, despite the strength of the tornado (I’m guessing it will be at least an EF-3), and it’s long track, there were no reports of fatalities, and only 3 serious injuries.

The NWS hasn’t plotted the track anywhere yet, pending storm surveys, but in real time, the Google Maps traffic report was a good proxy for estimating the storm track:


The storm impacted many commercial areas, wrecking, in what I have seen so far, a Home Depot, a Land Cruiser dealership, and the home of the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin.

The damage reports will continue to roll in, and they will likely continue to provide stark imagery. Keep an eye on the NWS Fort Worth office Twitter feed for updates on the storm surveys. As the picture of damage becomes clearer, we will likely appreciate more how lucky we were that it wasn’t worse.