A snowy start to December for interior New England

It’s been a pretty warm start to the winter, but a classically set up nor’easter is headed for New England tomorrow and Monday. There is the strong area of low pressure able to tap into Gulf Moisture, and attached occluded low bringing in colder air. Voila, you have the ingredients for a snow storm.

There is one thing that is not there though – enough cold air already in place. Because of the lack of chill to the air, the snow will fall abundantly, but is not going to make it to the coast.

Even if this isn’t going to be an impactful event for the largest population centers, it will certainly be a pretty good bit of news for snowmobilers and ski resorts in the area.

Busy, but not memorable

Wow, what a busy, wild Atlantic Hurricane season it has been! Oh, you don’t think so?

Let me run through some stats for you. There were 20 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. That’s a higher than normal number of named storms, and about average on the hurricanes and major storms. Do any of them really stand out in your mind?

Hilary was a Pacific storm that inundated the southwestern US. Otis, North America’s most deadly storm, also came from the Pacific before it blasted Acapulco last month. The Pacific was certainly busier than normal, and saw more storms spiral back into the mainland than normal.

Rare is the season that we remember the Pacific more vividly than the Atlantic, but here we are. The three strongest storms in the Atlantic were Franklin, Idalia and Lee. Lee was the strongest, but managed to avoid large land masses when he was at the strongest, ultimately making landfall in Nova Scotia as a shadow of his former self.

Idalia, if any, is the storm we will remember. Insurance adjusters certainly will, but fortunately, the deadliest, most costly storm of the season claimed just 7 lives, despite hitting impoverished Hispaniola, Cuba and the Yucatan before landfalling in Florida near Apalachee Bay. Idalia did bring some incidental flooding and wind issues to Tampa and Tallahassee, but didn’t make a direct impact on any major population centers, blunting the loss of life as well as reducing the total damages.

In a period of history when we have dealt with deadly storms quite regularly, it’s great to have a year that was more fortunate. Make no mistake, though, this wasn’t a quiet year, just one where the storms kept their distance from the mainland.

October Forecaster of the Month

It was a busy month of forecasting in October, but the only thing spooky about the month in the end was how closely contested it was. Only the National Weather Service failed to secure even a share of a forecast victory during the month. That meant the rest of the outlets were neck and neck. There was a three way tie for third, and they were only shortly behind Accuweather, who got the slim win.

OutletForecast Wins (year)
The Weather Channel5.33
National Weather Service2.5

A new ADDs page just dropped

A site that review every time I am thinking about the weather is the Aviation Weather Services Decision Support page. The “ADDs” page had observations and flight conditions for every site in the country, initially, and after some updates, any site with an observation in the world. It was a great, easily digestible first stop when looking at the weather.

As is usually the case with life and the internet, the ADD’s page changed. Actually, it pretty much went away, replaced by something new, the Aviation Weather home page. It’s even better. The AWC released an introductory video that walks you through the site.

The new site does some great things. First, it combines all the most useful elements to paint a picture of current conditions, from those terminal observations to radar and satellite imagery. Also on the site, you can find winter weather and all sorts of other governmental forecast sites. There are a couple of different selectable choices, namely the Winter Weather Dashboard and Traffic flow Management Portals, selectable through the Tools option at the top of the page, that serve as clearing houses for important weather links, including the Storm Prediction Center. or the HRRR model.

Poke around it, certainly, to see if there is anything in it for you. I know I’ll be back there learning all of her tricks nearly every day of the week.

September Forecaster of the Month

We were light on formal forecasts in September, but that doesn’t take away from how big a weather time it was, from flooding rains to tropical storms, we covered a lot of ground. Of course, not much for the verified forecasts, but that’s fine, and it worked out well for Clime, who took the top spot for the month.

OutletForecast Wins (year)
The Weather Channel4.83
National Weather Service2.5

Winter, like it or not, is around the corner

In some parts of the country, the countdown to sub-freezing temperatures is on. There is already snow in the forecast for higher peaks out west. The clock is ticking for people that are still soaking up the last bits of summer like weather. The brief sojourn through autumn only brings us one place: Winter.

Temperatures are usually all over the place, even if there is a general trend to a season. Even on the warmest winters, I only remember the coldest days, for example. What really separates winters is how much snow you get through the chilly season.

The beginning of 2024 remains to be seen, but to conclude the 2023, CPC’ has the outlook for those final three months. ‘s outlook doesn’t suggest anything too out of the ordinary.

If you were here earlier, you’ll remember that the Gulf Coast was in a drought, and a sloppy fall will help that. Don’t expect a lot of major early season systems, but there will be a few, emerging in the high Plains and headed for the Great Lakes. There will be snow, but not blizzards.

This is, of course, a look at October through December. For those that aren’t ready for summer, at least in the eastern two thirds of the country, the end of September and the beginning of October are going to be notably warmer than normal.

Rain is coming for the Twin Cities

It’s going to be a bit of a rainy weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul this weekend. Hooray! The first batch of rain will arrive late this evening, giving way to a bit of a break tomorrow, followed by the threat for strong thunderstorms (though the heaviest storms will come south of Minnesota) on Saturday, and some lingering rain on Sunday. The area needs to be replenished, but of course, it is all coming on the weekend.

Omega block, terrain, turmoil, all lead to Libyan tragedy

The above is satellite imagery from about 2 weeks ago, as a spiral band from Storm Daniel lashed the Libyan coast east of the Gulf of Sirte. Derna is one of the most northern points of that part of Libya, and suffered the most severe consequences of what was a virulent storm.

Daniel developed in the central Mediterranean, and started making headlines by bringing flooding rains to Greece, where Larissa, in particular, found itself underwater. This was caused by an Omega block, ridges of high pressure that orient the jet in the shape of the Greek letter Omega. This is a generally immobile pattern, and can cause short term drought beneath the ridge, and persistent rain on either side. Daniel wasn’t moving much, wobbling between the southern Balkan Peninsula and northern Libya.

The second accelerating factor was terrain of Libya in general, and the area near Derna, specifically. As you may know, Libya is dominated by the Sahara Desert. There is the Mediterranean climate in the northern coastal areas, so Derna and the other large cities of northern Libya aren’t foreign to rain, but it is pretty dry there, and significantly drier further to the south. It’s not soil that is receptive to rain falling at persistent or voluminous rates. It is prone to running off.

Pictured above is the 3d view looking north from Derna on Google Maps. There is a small river emerging from a network of canyons that cut deep into some cliffs. The entire topography of the region is set up to funnel runoff out of the desert through this canyon and out of Derna. There is a dam at the mouth of the canyon which allowed Derna to exist while also generating some electricity.

There WAS a dam, I should say. Under the onslaught of a cyclone’s worth of rain funneled through the canyon, the poorly maintained dam failed, unleashing all this water on Derna. Undoubtedly, years of dictatorial rule followed by a decade of civil unrest had led to poor civil infrastructure maintenance, and ultimately, tragedy.

As is often the case with the worst disasters, there was a perfect confluence of circumstances that made it so horrific.

A Hurricane Lee update

There has been a little bit of positive news from the Atlantic, at least for Stateside interests. The track for Lee has turned a little bit to the right, away from New England and away from the Bay of Fundy, where it could have caused real problems. Instead, the weaker Tropical Storm Lee will land in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Surge and wind threats are lessened for the New England coast, and I’m not nearly as worried about amplified storm surge in New Brunswick, but tropical storm force winds are still going to be an issue for this area, even for parts of down-east Maine, which will get lashed by rain and tropical storm force winds, but the threat, at least in the States, will not be as severe or widespread.

Tropical storm force winds are still anticipated in the southern part of Nova Scotia and parts of coastal New Brunswick, but again, Lee is weakening, and it won’t be a hurricane making landfall in the Canadian Maritimes. The storm will make landfall around Yarmouth, Nova Scotia tomorrow morning, around 8am, CT, or 10 Atlantic time.

It’s been a long wait, and fortunately, Lee is looking like he showed his worst in the open ocean, and a bullet was almost dodged.