Category Archives: Story

Weather will dominate headlines as 2017 concludes

The period since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico has been one of fairly impressive calm. We are breaking that streak this week, however. Indeed, the next 4 days or so are going to be a real whirlwind for weather aficionados.

The first stories are currently ongoing. I mentioned the prolific snowfall in western New York a couple days ago, only to be proven wrong. The fetch turned out to be more northerly than I had appreciated, and the lion’s share of snow fall ended up in Erie, Pennsylvania, where they are enjoying record accumulations in the neighborhood of 5 feet.

Behind that small wave moving through the eastern Great Lakes is the first push of extraordinarily cold air  into the Plains.  International Falls, along the Canadian border in Minnesota saw record low temperatures. Again, that’s northern Minnesota in December setting a record, so you know it was cold. -37, to be exact. Those cold temperatures, including subzero lows, plunged as far south as northern Kansas.

A clipper moving through the center of the country will dust the Midwest with snow, but will drag even colder air to the Plains. Earlier today, it looked like there was a threat for a significant winter storm along the Eastern Seaboard, potentially affecting the Ball Drop at Times Square, but instead, we have seen the threat shift offshore. Rather than coastal snow, we will see more bracing, savage cold in the center of the country. In fact, it will be colder in some places this weekend than it is right now.

These are the lows, showing sub zero in New England most of the Northern Plains in the morning on New Years Eve. Where it is the palest lavender, the high temperatures aren’t likely to get close to 0 at all over the weekend.

It’s going to be cold and snowy as December and 2018 wind to a close, a couple more big stories in a year full of weather adventures.

Lake effect snow storm rattles Christmas plans

We are now nearing the tail end of Christmas Day, and for parts of western New York, it’s been something else. Take a look at the forecast leading up to the holiday events:

So that’s a lot of snow. 3+ feet for areas south of Buffalo and south of Watertown, off of Lake Ontario. By storm’s end, the forecast remains for 4′ in Pulaski, and 3-4′ in Cassadaga. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that the weather service seems to have narrowed down exactly where the snow is coming for the next several hours.

Those pink swatches are special weather statements, basically saying that this is where the heaviest snow will be falling.   Can’t say they didn’t warn you.

The Disappearing Solstice Storm of 2017

A few days ago, us here at VicWX HQ were cautiously optimistic about a big storm taking aim at the Upper Midwest. The GFS model from late Sunday had quite the swath of snow coming down from Southwest MN/Northwest IA into Northern WI, with the Twin Cities metro on the northern side of it. Possibly over a foot of snow!

Naturally with amounts like that, we can be hopeful (for us snow lovers anyways) but always view models like this with trepedation. A LOT of things have to come together a few days out to make amounts like this happen over a wide area. So, we wait and see what the trends are for the next couple of days. By Midday Monday, this is what the same model had…

Not… quite as impressive. I mean sure, multiple swaths of 6+” is still pretty good, but not nearly as fun as over a foot. And as the week went on, the models kept bringing the overall amounts down and down. Not just around the Twin Cities, but as a whole. The surface features just never phased up with upper-level dynamics in such a way that would produce those big snowfall amounts that were projected at the start of the week. Oh well, it happens. But maybe we’ll get a couple of inches out of it so we can have a White Christmas, right?

The storm is nearly entire out of Minnesota right now, and what did we see here in the south metro of the Twin Cities? Nothing. LITERALLY not a single flake fell from the sky today. We did get about 40min of some light snow at Real Job Inc yesterday from the 1st initial band that was always projected to give the worst off to the north, but nothing to really cover the roads or write home about today.

Situations like this is often why the public makes fun of meteorologists because we’ll mention the possibility of a storm a few days into the future, then take that “forecast” and say we were wrong when it fizzles out or shifts 100 miles in another direction. In the meantime, we continue to look at model trends and past analogs and alter our forecasts to better reflect what’s going to happen so when it comes to a day out we’ll have a much more accurate picture of what’s going to happen. Sadly, people still point to a model run we mentioned 4 days ago and go “Ha! You were wrong!”.

Winter comes on strong on Christmas

Most people I know, myself included, don’t mind a chill in the air and a blanket of snow on the ground right up through December 25th (but usually after Thanksgiving). Anything beyond that is punishment. January is penance for some unspoken sins of the previous year.

So anyways, just as Christmas wins down, we are looking at the first brutally cold snap of the winter. Take a look at the forecast lows for the morning after Christmas.

Double digits below zero all the way down to the Twin Cities. Hopefully,  if you live in the area, you know someone naughty, so you might be able to burn the coal they received in their stockings for heat.

November forecaster of the Month

Its a week until Christmas, but you know how busy the holidays can be. Please forgive the tardiness of this award.  The numbers showed that the winners for the month only narrowly earned their victory, but the truth is, it wasn’t really that close. The Weather Channel sat in the front for the entire month,  and the last forecast simply made it seem closer than it actually was. Congrats to the Weather Channel.

Cold air coming

After an unusually warm end to November and start to December, the eastern US is expecting a strong cold front to sweep through early this week. This strong cold front may even bring some severe weather to the lower Ohio River Valley tomorrow as the deep, Arcitc pool comes rushing in.

And then, t’s going to be cold. Not just “back to normal” but significantly colder than average. Take a look:

There is still some ridging out west, and Alaska and southern California look warm, but look at that bullseye over West Virginia and Kentucky. It’s going to be quite chilly for the weekend, with those cooler temperatures continuing even into next week. Of course, it doesn’t appear as though there is a strong system to take advantage of the colder air to bring some December snow, but it is definitely time to break out the winter wear.

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Mercifully Draws to a Close

As we tick away the final few days of November, the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season will draw to a close. While storms can form and be named at any point of the year, the “official” period of hurricane season is June 1 – November 30, so I figured it’d be prudent to recall what we’ve gone through this season.

Tropical Storm Arlene jumped the gun and developed all the way back in Mid-April, starting the clock on the season quite early. Luckily it didn’t do much of anything and just swirled away in the North Atlantic. A parade of tropical storms ensued from Mid-June to the start of August, getting us all the way to Emily before we finally got a hurricane in the form of Franklin in early August. It briefly attained hurricane status in the Bay of Campeche after moving across the Yucatan. Damage was mostly minimal, though flooding in areas was the primary impact. Gert didn’t do much either out over the Atlantic and seemed like everything was going alright.

…Then came Harvey. Harvey’s spectacular intensification from a tropical storm early on August 24th to a Category 4 hurricane in the evening of the 25th. While there was massive damage along the TX coastline where Harvey made landfall, the thing everybody will remember will be the historical amounts of rain it dumped over East Texas and Western LA. Due to it’s interaction with a blocking high pressure and constant onshore moisture feeding into the system, the Houston area was inundated by unfathomable amounts of rain. By the time Harvey was finally able to shift inland, Some areas in east TX recorded 45-60 inches of rain, with the official high amount being 60.58″, a new US record for rainfall from a tropical cyclone. Massive flooding throughout the city, and surrounding areas, dominated the news for weeks.

Right behind that was Irma, which devastated portions of the Caribbean before taking sights on the Bahamas, Cuba and eventually Florida. Barbuda and St. Martin were completely destroyed as the eye made direct landfall on those locales, which had max sustained winds of 185mph, tying the record of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane as the strongest landfalling cyclone on record in the Atlantic.

On it’s heels was Maria, which also experienced explosive intensification, ballooning from a 80mph storm to 160mph in a 24hr period, right when it struck Dominica head-on. After devastating that island, it further intensified to 175mph and recorded a pressure of 908mb, pushing it into the top 10 of most intense hurricanes in Atlantic Basin history. Maria directly hit Puerto Rico, destroying nearly the entire island’s infrastructure.

Overall, the 2017 hurricane season was by far the costliest on record, with current estimates around $367 BILLION as still going upwards as claims and further damage evaluations come in from Harvey, Irma, and Maria. At least 320 died directly from the storms, though that number is likely hundreds higher as incomplete data from Puerto Rico reguarding Maria is causing discrepancies.

Thank goodness this season is drawing to a close, because this year won’t be one anybody forgets, not for a very very long time.

November ending on a dry note

While we have successfully made it through the first major holiday of the season free of any significant weather, and we have been told to expect warm temperatures as the month winds down, there is another concern becoming more apparent. It’s going to be very dry.

Below is a look at the projected precipitation over the next week.

The Pacific Northwest is going to get pummeled by systems, and there will even be some showers into southern California, but from the Rockies and eastward, it will mostly be a very dry week.

This isn’t a terrible concern for most, save for down in Florida, where it is still warm enough for fires if it remains too dry, especially with the extra debris added by Irma, as the growing season is over almost everywhere. The only places in dire need of rain fall are ski hills and resorts, which are getting a late start on the season Fortunately, the highest points of the mountains in Nre England down through the Smokeys look to be some of the most reliably damp parts of the country.

While this week is nice, the central Plains will eventually want to catch up with the snow. It will prevent frost from settling in too deeply, slowing the growing season next spring, and will obviously provide the early season moisture essential for crop growth. Rain, like they are going to see in the Ozarks, doesn’t really do much this time of year.

The good news is all the snow coming for the Sierras, where a snowpack there will feed the rivers flowing into central California next spring.

Toasty Thanksgiving Weekend

Most people, as least in the Northern US, associate Thanksgiving weekend with delicious food, hanging with family, and setting up Christmas decorations as temperatures continue to dip as we approach Winter Solstace. Pretty sure it’s a common picture every year of people bundled up while waiting for businesses to open their doors for Black Friday deals. This year is a little bit different in the northern US. An area of low pressure has been scooting along the US/Canada border and has a particularly strong warm front associated with it. On Thanksgiving, the Western Dakotas saw their temperatures soar into the 70s! Bismarck clocked in at 74 degrees, annihalating the previous record high of 62 set back in 2011. Williston hit 68, breaking their record high by a dozen degrees as well! that warm weather spread into Minnesota overnight as people were busying themselves with Black Friday shopping. MSP spiked up to 60 in the early afternoon, breaking the previous record by a degree. Impressive since this was the first 50+ reading of the month for MSP and then decided to speed on into the 60s.

Above normal temperatures are expected to continue over the North Central US as temps of 10-15 degrees above normal are expected over the weekend. Looks like some nice conditions to get those Christmas lights hung!