Category Archives: Story

Megalopolis spared, inland pounded

Now that the storm has moved off into Maine, let’s take a look at the totals across the Mid Atlantic and New England. Look how high those totals get when you get just a little bit inland, and especially when you reach the higher terrain. There were parts of interior New York that saw over 40 inches of snow. That’s more than 3 feet!

It will be chilly for several days, delaying the melt, but there shouldn’t be any new significant accumulations during that time. Some good news!

Positive early indications in NYC

This is the current radar from the Philadelphia area. As is easily discernable, the precipitation is heaviest from New York City to the western suburbs of Philadelphia. The temperatures in both places are just above freezing. New York City is reporting sleet at this time, and southern New Jersey and eastern Long Island is reporting all rain.

Indeed, we have another bust on our hands, at least for the larger cities of the Mid-Atlantic. There is still a significant snowfall in progress for Connecticut and north of the Big Apple through the Hudson Valley.

The low jogged a bit to the west and warm air pumped into Long Island and approached too closely to the coast. This is a strong storm, and it has done a very good job of wrapping warm air in with the moisture. These big systems have a relatively thin area where the maximum accumulation of snow will fall. The dire predictions of two feet of snow will fall, but not in the major metropolitan areas that typically attract the headlines.

This is another tough blow to the integrity of meteorologists, who have struggled with the accuracy of large events of late. It’s even more dangerous, because this winter, the peril of storms has been overstated, and one worries that at some point, the public will switch off to the warnings of additional looming threats.

Blizzard bearing down on the East Coast

For really the first time this winter, we have a massive storm bearing down on the eastern Seaboard. There is already a raft of winter storm warnings throughout the mid Atlantic and southern New England, as well as a blizzard warning for Long Island, and the coast of Connecticut to Staten Island. As always, most will note only the amount of snow that places will receive, but a blizzard classification encompasses the wind that will be associated with the system. This will not only be a lot of snow, but it will be a driving snow, one that will tie up travel across the eastern Seaboard, and by extension, across the country.

The thing is, this is a typically wound up Nor’easter that will rely heavily upon banding snow to drive up totals. This means a fairly sharp gradient for snow totals, and there will certainly be a spot along the east coast that gets less snow than was expected, because the heaviest snow will fall 5 miles in one direction. Don’t count on that if you are a resident of the region though, I just want to give a caveat before people start screaming about a bust if there is something slightly off exactly where someone is. Now, for the totals. Let’s look at the NYC Weather Service’s graphical output:

Here is the incredible probability map for over a foot of snow:

The forecast range for Central Park is 8″-21″, which should tell you about how dependent the results of this forecast will be on where the heaviest snow bands set up Here is a look at the peak of the storm coming Tuesday afternoon.

The difference between this system and the one in Minneapolis… or rather the one that missed Minneapolis earlier this month was that there weren’t warm Great Lakes feeding moisture to the back end of the system. That will guarantee that the storm won’t miss entirely on the northern end of the feature. If there is less snow than expected, it will be because warm Gulf Stream air infiltrated the feature. There is already some equivocation out in Montauk and the eastern end of Long Island, where snow totals might be significantly less than they are in Manhattan, or even less than what is in the forecast.

Make no mistake though, one way or another, the east coast is going to get pounded by a very rough system. There will be a great deal of snow, and a great deal of wind. It will bog down transportation across the region, make being outside dangerous, and will provide a significant wallop of snow somewhere along the coast, likely very near The Big Apple. Stay safe, and stay tuned to your local weather persons to get through this storm!

Line of thunderstorms barreling through the Tennessee Valley

Last night when we were looking at the forecast for Florence, I note that the NAM had the Tennessee Valley going from nothing to a whole lot in a very short amount of time. The NAM was right.

This line of thunderstorms is going to continue through the early morning, with Memphis in immediate danger and Huntsville the next two cities in danger. There is some development back in Arkansas, but it looks like Little Rock will be spared the bow echoes bearing down its neighbors to the east.

The great news is, this system will clear up quickly, but for the time being, bow echoes cover a lot of territory, and trees may come down and power may be lost.  Stay awake if you are in the area until the initial line has gone through.

Tornadoes in Minnesota and Snow in San Francisco

This evening we are witnessing a sizable severe weather outbreak, stretching from the Upper Midwest south to the Ozarks. This is extremely early for a tornado outbreak, especially as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin. There is an elongated cold front now extended to central Oklahoma. There was a tornado north of Minneapolis that will go down as the earliest Minnesota twister on record when confirmed, and there have been numerous tornado reports all the way southwest to eastern Kansas.

Earlier in the system’s lifespan, it brought cold air south to the Bay area. Yesterday, Mount Diablo, east of San Francisco, saw it’s peaks capped with snow, while the city itself saw small hail, that the residents unaccustomed to such weather believed was snow. It was not, but still quite the phenomenon for San Francisco.

We are left with pretty pictures, such as the one from the San Francisco Gate, above, to enjoy the snow. It is still dark in Zimmerman, Minnesota, Seymour, Iowa and Carrollton, Missouri, so the entire picture of the tornado damage is yet to be developed.

February Forecaster of the Month

The shortest month of the year is over, but there won’t be many months where we have more forecasts than we did in February 2017. There were, in total, 13 forecasts in a month that was significantly warmer than normal for a good stretch, and a bit more active than anyone would have liked on the severe side.  Well, with all that action, and with as much as they beat everyone else by, Accuweather can claim this victory, knowing full well it definitely wasn’t a fluke.

Flooding rains come to SoCal

Among the first casualties of the storm that is beginning its path through the United States was the turf at Petco Park in San Diego.

The leading edge of cold air failed to move quickly from a line from near Las Vegas to San Diego, leading to torrential rain in southern California today. There is still rain falling in the desert across Arizona and southern California, and in a region with poor filtration and drainage, there will likely be some spots with worse outcomes than soggy baseball fields overnight tonight.

Forecast for severe weather expands in the east

Yesterday, we discussed the prospects of a significant severe weather outbreak later this week, and as it approaches, we can see that the SPC expects that the scope of this storm is quite large. Here is the current outlook for tomorrow and Wednesday, respectively

The SPC isn’t going to break this down quite yet, but I can tell you that the primary concern, initially, will be tornadoes and large hail, especially within the western half of the enhanced risk area.

Yesterday, we discussed the orientation of the system, with a secondary area of low pressure developing at the base of the upper level trough. It does not appear that that is going to happen, otherwise that would kick this storm from bad to worse.

As always, keep a close eye on your local meteorologists, and keep tabs on the weather!

Strong spring system looming this week

It’s not often that the entire country will get to enjoy the forces of the same system, but that’s what we are looking at right now. As of this moment, the feature is a weak, cold air system bringing snow to the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Radar imagery is less than stellar in this part of the world, so let’s instead take a look the advisories that are out from the Weather Service for the snow.

The system at this moment is fairly disorganized aloft and at the surface. It will get some structural definition as the surface trough dips past the Rockies tomorrow night. We’ll see a closed low developing, which will initiate the drawing of warm air north and cold air south. There is a bit of disorganized warm advection leading to some scattered showers north of the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow night. 

The upper level trough will lurk west of the Rockies at this point, essentially handicapping the ability for the feature to take on much moisture initially. Things will change very quickly on Tuesday and especially Wednesday, as the storm moves eastward. Here is what the model has in place on Wednesday, with the strong system tapping into all the available moisture.

As you can tell, the feature will have deepened dramatically from tomorrow evening by mid day Wednesday, and started bringing about some serious precipitation to a good deal of the eastern third of the country. You might note that I haven’t been talking about snow since this storm breached the Rockies. That is because we won’t remember this as a snow storm. Note those red isohypses running all the way up to the Canadian Maritimes. This will be a severe weather event. The SPC is looking at Tuesday and Wednesday for severe weather.

There is a bit of a difference in model guidance at this point. The NAM foresees a secondary low developing in the Lower Ohio Valley, at the base of the upper level trough, before continuing northeast towards New England. This would likely shift the onus of severe weather a shade to the north, and prolong the threat for severe weather later into the night and day.

Stay tuned, as this will certainly be the top weather story this week.

Mea Culpa

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the looming storm, getting ready to pound the Twin Cities. The storm did drop a foot of snow on some locations, but the storm went a little bit further south than it was supposed to. By a little bit, I specifically mean the Twin Cities metro, by and large, did not receive a single flake. Go back and look at the imagery from a few days ago and see how confident meteorologists across the region were that Minneapolis would receive not just some snow, but at least 8 inches of snow.

So it didn’t go well. The Weather Service, to their credit, adapted their forecast to account for the changes in model guidance.  Meteorologists have a thick skin to criticisms, because we understand that only the final product is seen by the public, and not the hard work that goes into it. That’s why the NWS Twin Cities was able to put together this well considered statement regarding the shift in forecast. It’s not so much an apology as an explanation.

We’ll see how well received it actually is.