Category Archives: Story

Wet Week In Store

While the winter season usually brings thoughts of nothing but cold snaps and blizzards, storm systems can still bring plenty of rainfall during the month. An area of low pressure looks to push out over the Plains tomorrow and slowly push its way through the Southeast over the subsequent couple of days. No widespread severe weather is anticipated along the Gulf Coast or in the Southeast US, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a few scattered cells reached severe criteria. Places from the FL Panhandle to the Coastal Carolinas could be looking at 2-4 inches of rain by the time the system moves off the East Coast this weekend.

November forecaster of the month

November was particularly gloomy month. There was a barrage of wintry storms that battered the middle and eastern part of the country. There were devastating forest fires in the west and a subsequent soaker of a storm. The gloom was a little bit lighter for The Weather Channel, who coasted past everyone to claim the forecaster of the month title. 

Center of the country blasted by more nasty weather

Things are winding up again in the central Plains. After a huge storm dumped snow from Chicago to Kansas City the weekend after Thanksgiving, a very similar looking storm developed ever so slightly north, putting Omaha and Milwaukee in the crosshairs.

Low pressure associated with a classic, mid jet trough progressed from California eastward, before losing its identity at the surface of the Rockies, and reemerging bigger and better on the lee of the Rockies. It developed rapidly over the central Plains on Saturday and started shifting north as the afternoon wore on.

There is good news and bad news with this feature. The bad news is that it’s long track and good organization allowed the feature to absorb a lot of Gulf moisture, ready to deposit across the middle of the country. The good news is, the storm is expected to be in motion throughout the life of the feature, and there won’t be any lingering bands of heavy snow stacking feet of snow across any broad swaths of the upper Midwest. 8” for sure, though.

Below is a graphic with the forecast for heavy snow ahead of the feature, and because of how swiftly the storm moved, it looks like the highest totals were not attained. 

On the other side of this system, and is often the case with strong, fast moving features, there was a sizeable threat for severe weather, which straddled Dixie Alley through Friday, though most of the activity occurred in the Ozarks yesterday. There were tornadoes warned for across the region, though most of the storm reports pertained to straight line wind issues. 

The rapid movement of the storm worked against its sustainability, as the southern end of the storm moved east too rapidly for the northern portion, causing distention and disorganization with the surface low. Straight line winds, as opposed to tornadoes, seemed to be be a more prominent threat on Saturday in the Southeast, while in the north, the intense moisture continues to wane fairly swiftly, but not before a whole lot of snow fell on a lot of places. 

The surprise in all of this was a burst of energy that ejected north from last night’s stormy weather, with a mini tornado outbreak (a day too late and well away from where it was expected) in western Illinois. There are many good videos of well formed tornadoes, but fortunately there weren’t any injuries with all the twisters. 

Sharp Snowy cutoff

In Chicago, the story is undoubtedly about the snow that fell in the north suburbs, but residents on the Southside will be unimpressed. Places like Hoffman Estates saw 8” of snow, according to the NOAA analysis (seen above) but in Oak Lawn, they only got 2-3” of accumulation. That’s a striking range , influenced by how much cold air could filter into the lower levels as the system, now bothering the eastern Seaboard, pressed through the Windy City.

As the event unfolded, radar indicated a bright streak on the radar, called “bright banding” which indicated precipitation heavy enough to resemble rain on radar. In fact, this band of precipitation from the north side of Chicago to southeastern Iowa was producing a fair amount of lightning as well. The problem for residents under this narrow swath was that all the precipitation was falling as snow. Very heavy snow.

The band was at the northernmost end of the storm, which means there was no transition to rain or sleet to account for, so we could see in striking accuracy how heavy this band was. In Iowa City, there were 8″ of snow, but just half a mile to the north in Cedar Rapids, no snow reached the ground! 

This is a more common analysis than you might think, particularly with strong systems in the transitional seasons. Heavy snow never seems to cover as much territory as we seem to think when we’re smack dab in the middle of it. 

Travel Nightmare for Some

Well, the turkey has been consumed, the 90% off deals for Black Friday are over, and just some Saturday holiday decorating is in the cards for many families throughout the country. I’ll be one of those anyways, putting up my new tree while enjoying some college football in the background. Sunday means millions then head home before work starts on Monday, hitting the roads and praying the traffic and weather cooperates with them. I can’t make any promises about the traffic in the Midwest, but the driving part could look less than optimal.

An area of low pressure is quickly shifting through the Rockies right now, bringing plentiful snows to the Yellowstone area. This low pressure will eject into the Central Plains late Saturday into early Sunday morning, dropping areas of heavy snow through Nebraska into western Iowa. As Sunday progresses, the storm will shift into the Great Lakes region, continuing to drop heavy snow into eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin and far northern Illinois. Forecast snow accumulation maps snow where the chaos could reign on Sunday and while areas like St. Louis and Chicago will be largely spared, people traveling between N IL and places like Milwaukee and the Twin Cities, like some of my family members are, could be in for a bad day. Better to just take an extra vacation day then navigate treacherous roads!

Turkey Travel Trouble

I’m not sure why it is Thanksgiving that puts more people on the road or in the air than any other holiday. Perhaps Christmas is a bit too wintry to risk the air travel, or because we just can’t turn down a good meal. Maybe it’s because we know that it will always fall on a Thursday, and it’s a good excuse to take an entire week off. For one reason or another, Thanksgiving week is one  in which we need to keep a close eye on the weather.

As we noted yesterday when we looked at the satellite loop, there isn’t much to talk about when looking at the center of the country, thanks to a vast ridge of high pressure that is going to protect the Plains from any significant issues over the holiday week. There are a trio of weather trouble spots to consider though, just in case you need the head’s up.

West Coast
While the rest of the country would likely lament being battered by a rainy, snowy combo platter as they try to get to grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving,  the west coast, and Northern California in particular, will savor what should be a very rainy week.

An area of low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska will provide successive waves of rain to the western, particularly northwestern, United States. Mountain snows are possible, but scattered showers will start on Wednesday morning, with a more bracing cold front slamming into the region Thanksgiving morning. Moderate rain will spread as far south as San Francisco Bay, and will be heavy at times from northern California to Washington State, with lighter rain reaching the Mexican border.

Chico, California, the nearest city with extractable data from forecast models to the deadly Camp Fire in Northern California is expected to see anywhere from 1 – 3” of rain through the end of the week, which will douse the wildfire if not completely, then enough to finally get the inferno under control. All of this rain will also help in clearing the air of smoke for places not directly affected by the flames themselves. The rain will continue through the weekend in some parts of the interior west, before the storm shifts into the central Plains.

Great Lakes/New England 
There is a vast area of low pressure spiraling over the Canadian Maritimes, inducing a brisk westerly flow over the Lakes. Presently, there is a steady plume of Lake Effect snow in western New York and northern Michigan. An embedded impulse in the heavy snow showers around the Lakes will swing into northern New England in the afternoon on Wednesday. Fortunately, the return trip for New Englanders will not be snowy on Turkey Day, as the flurries will shift out of town by Thursday afternoon.

Gulf Coast
That big area of low pressure in eastern Canada is wrapping a boundary across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. A disturbance at the tail of that boundary is going to get a little bit stronger in the western Gulf of Mexico. It’s not going to be tropical or anything wild like that, but a few showers will build into the western Gulf Coast, first over Texas on Wednesday morning, building east to the Mississippi Delta by Thanksgiving morning.

And that’s it. Those are the three spots to be concerned about through Thanksgiving. I should note that a rapidly eveloping feature over the Plains and southeastern US will mean next weekend will be considerably more challenging for travelers, particularly with thunderstorms into the southeast, and snow in the Great Lakes. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

All’s quiet as Thanksgiving approaches

This is the colorized satellite for this evening. Not that there are a few clouds over the southeastern US, bringing some showers to the region, and some high louds over southern California. The thick white thatches are either snow, like in the Upper Midwest, or fog, like in south Texas. 

That big area of clear skies bodes well for the US come Thanksgiving, as high pressure is going to rotate east to cover the majority of the country for the holiday. We’ll be back tomorrow to touch on where the weather may not be so cooperative for travelers, but it looks pretty great tonight, almost everywhere.

October Forecaster of the month

We spent a lot of time forecasting in the month of October. The best case scenario for a month like that is for either Victoria-Weather to haeve the best numbers or for our tax dollars be put to the best use. Well, it was one of those two circumstances… The National Weather Service was the October Forecaster of the Month.

Deadly wildfires sweep California

There are, as you have undoubtedly heard by now, two terrible wildfires are laying waste to parts of California. The Camp Fire has killed dozens, particularly in the town of Paridise near Chico, and 2 in the Woolsey Fire in Malibu. Both have been terrible. 

The Woolsey Fire has earned headlines because of the A List celebrities who have been touched by this fire. WeatherNation has some overhead imagery from this inferno.

The Camp Fire, much larger and more deadly, is fortunately not in as well populated terrain. CBS News provides the pictures and updates. 

Fall is here

Sure, some may look for foliage turning brilliant shades of orange, while others may note the harvest, but I look to the Storm Prediction Center, curious as to whether there are any thunderstorms in the forecast. On Monday, there are indeed no thunderstorms expected anywhere in the lower 48.

We just have to get through a very slight risk for some showers with embedded thunderstorms in the central Ohio Valley on Sunday, and we will be in the clear for Tuesday.