Category Archives: Story

November Forecaster of the Month

November was light on the forecasting front, which in it’s own way made the competition for top forecaster all the more exciting. Very little separated the top from the bottom in November, but there was enough to declare a winner. For the month of November, the top forecaster was Accuweather, who narrowly edged Victoria-Weather, who narrowly edged….everyone else. Congrats, Accuweather!

The unluckiest town in America

That may be an overstatement, but Yazoo City, Mississippi has had a very tough, improbably year. Back in April, they were struck by an F4 tornado, devastating the small town north-northwest of Jackson and killing 4 people.
Unfortunately, when as strong system moved through earlier this week, fate dealt Yazoo City yet another miserable hand. The front that I warned of as “hellacious” a few days ago in fact brought about the tornadic weather to Mississippi (the city of Starkville also sustained serious damage). This storm afflicted the downtown area more than the storm in April, however this storm was only an EF-2, whereas the one 7 months ago was an EF-4.
WAPT out of Jackson has all the details of this tragedy and some of the images and video for the unfortunate town.

Another dominant, hellacious cold front

Last week’s weather news was dominated by a cold front that started as a wintry, nasty blizzard in the Pacific Northwest, before dropping tornadoes in Wisconsin and Illinois, while generating some freezing rain, snow and icy cold conditions in the Upper Midwest and finally bringing some copious rain to the east coast. Well, we have the same situation setting up.
A system came crashing ashore along the west coast a little further south than the one we saw last week, bringing rain to most of California, and snow to the central Rockies and even as far south as Arizona and New Mexico. Now we are getting to the strong thunderstorms, and Upper Midwest snow and East Coast rain. This front is going to be a doozy.
A deep trough, fed by a jet riding the coast before turning east and following the Mexico/US border before turning northeast towards the Great Lakes. A large, deep trough tends to produce a large, deep low, and it has. The low itself is centered presently near Manhattan, Kansas, but a warm/stationaryish front runs all the way into western Ontario, and the cold front swings down into Chihuahua. The more incredible thing is that this system is doing a good job advecting warm and cold air for the length of those boundaries, and these aren’t just products of the imagination of surface analyzers. The newsmaking weather won’t be all that imaginary for the people that will be (or have been) affected by this juggernaut either. And that’s almost everyone.
The second half of the nasty weather will all begin today, as there is a weak ripple along the front moving through the Lower Mississippi Valley, potentially inducing enough turning in the upper atmosphere to produce a bit of a tornado outbreak across the state of Mississippi. Keep an eye out if you happen to be in that state, as the thunderstorms have already developed across Arkansas, but are not yet severe. Temperatures in the area are being hampered by clouds, which may be fortuitous, keeping the area stable when it otherwise wouldn’t be. Still, keep an eye to the sky, as thunderstorms will be widespread.
At the north end of this system, it’s already snowing in the Dakotas. The HPC is looking for a large swath of northern Minnesota to experience some potentially heavy snowfalls over the next 35 hours or so. Certainly, this system won’t be as problematic in it’s winter component, as the area the snow will fall consists of places that have seen snow already this year, in most cases more than once.
Later on this week, as I mentioned, this brute of a system will begin to make a hard charge for the coast Tuesday evening. Even though the system is much faster moving than the one that caused so many problems last week, it will still be strong enough to dump 2 inches of rain from New York to Florida, and eventually into New England. Most of the weather headlines you will hear about across the country this week will be because of one, particularly nasty country spanning system.

Britain uncharacteristically wintry

A deep trough over Europe has brought some very cold air to the United Kingdom, a nation that is typically safe from the harsher winter elements, thanks to comparatively warm surrounding ocean waters. Not so this week, in which snow of up to 6 inches fell on parts of Scotland, and parts of the island saw temperatures dip below 0… Fahrenheit!
According to the BBC, Wales saw the coldest temperatures, thanks to their higher elevation and position that is less exposed to the Atlantic (what with Ireland in the way). Where the bulk of the moisture is, in Scotland, they could see a foot of snow in the highlands west of Dundee. Parts of northern England, and larger cities like Edinburgh or Glasgow in Scotland could see 2-4 inches of snow, certainly enough to cause headaches for the typically snow-free island.
British meteorologists are calling for the chilly temperatures to continue for another couple of weeks as a ridging, warmer atmosphere is not yet in sight. Brr!

TWC’s legal team is working overtime

If you check out this blog, there is a reasonable chance you check out the Weather Channel more than you should. If so, you remember their “White Christmas” contest, where they have contestants enter videos pleading to have TWC bring some snow to the winner’s yard (blatant pandering to the southern US if you ask me), AND they get a real live Weather Channel meteorologist to come visit. But there are rules!
Lots and lots of rules. They take up most of this video. They also have a 5014 page document that constitutes the official rules. The Weather Channel does not actually want you to enter this contest.
In order to take some of the load off the prospective contest entrant, I have used the always valuable Microsoft Word autosummarize to take this puppy down to 1% of that horrific document:

FINALIST PRIZES AND GRAND PRIZE: There will be two (2) finalist prizes (“Finalist Prizes”) awarded to Finalists and one (1) grand prize (“Grand Prize”) awarded to Grand Prize Winner (and along with Finalists, collectively referred to herein as “Winners”) for a total of three (3) prizes awarded (“Prizes”).

You’re welcome!

Severe Season Roars Back

As November starts to wind down and most people are more concerned about turkey, stuffing, Black Friday sales, usually the biggest weather related question people ask me is “Will we have a white Thanksgiving?”, not “Will we get rocked by a tornado today?”. Sadly, for the people of Northern Illinois, Mother Nature decided to blast the Great Lakes and Mid-MS River Valley earlier this afternoon. Last night it only appeared that maybe a few thunderstorms would roll through the WI/IL/MO region as a cold front pressed through the area, with some heavy rains at times. However, dynamics came together to produce a few severe cells that plowed through Northern Illinois. The worst one produced a rather nasty tornado (Click HERE to watch some amazing footage) that touched down near Rock Cut State Park. That’s on the northeast side of Rockford and continued NW to Caledonia, where sadly it flipped over a school bus in sent 6 children to the hospital. A couple storm reports from the area earlier today…

300 PM TORNADO 3 E LOVES PARK 42.34N 88.95W
11/22/2010 WINNEBAGO IL BROADCAST MEDIA

ESTIMATED 1/2 MILE WIDE TORNADO SPOTTED ON GROUND AT THE INTERSECTION OF ARGYLE RD AND HARLEM RD EAST OF ROCK CUT STATE PARK NEAR CALEDONIA. POWER LINES DOWN AND DEBRIS IN THE AIR REPORTED IN THE AREA.

0300 PM TORNADO 3 E LOVES PARK 42.34N 88.95W
11/22/2010 WINNEBAGO IL BROADCAST MEDIA

*** 6 INJ *** DAMAGE IN CALEDONIA AREA NEAR ARGYLE ROAD AND HARLEM ROAD AND PAULSON ROADS…ONE BUSINESS ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED…OTHER HOMES AND GARAGES PARTIALLY DOWN. GRAIN SILO DESTROYED AND LEAKING GRAIN ONTO STREET. LARGE BARN COMPLETELY DOWN. LARGE SUBSTATION DAMAGED AND HIGH TENSION POWERLINES DOWN. BUS ROLLED OVER AT PAULSON AND HARLEM ROAD.6 CHILDREN INJURED…SENT TO HOSPITAL. ALL INFORMATION REGARDING TIME AND LOCATIONS IS PRELIMINARY UNTIL DAMAGE SURVEY CONDUCTED.

Being born and raised in Rochelle (just 25miles south of Rockford), I know this area very well and drive through it often when I travel south to see family, so hits a little close to home. Those reports came in around 3PM (as indicated), meaning schools all over the city were letting out when the system moved through. Really, it’s lucky (it appears, we’ll see until more reports come in) that nobody was killed, especially children, given how many people were probably traveling around the city at the time. Just another reminder than bad weather can crop up at anytime, so always keep an eye on the sky!

October Forecaster of the Month

Yes, I know we are halfway through the month of November, but I still haven’t mentioned who won the October Forecaster of the Month award. It was a contentious race, right down to the end. The last forecast tipped the balance in the favor of The Weather Channel, who narrowly edged us for the top spot in October.

Record Highs to Record Snows

Normally we like to blog about weather from other parts of the country than just up here in our own backyard of the Twin Cities, because what fun would that be for our faraway readers? However, this week’s hectic weather has been centered over the central part of the country, so I won’t feel quite so bad about putting the focus on Minnesota for this evening. Earlier this week, a very slow moving low pressure system over the Northern Plains pumped plenty of warm air up into our neck of the woods, giving us a rare streak of 4 straight 60+ degree days in November, marking only the 8th time in the last 72 years Minneapolis had such a streak (Note: this was the 3rd straight year of such a streak here at MSP however. Something to look forward to in 2011?). On the 9th we hit 69, missing out on tying the record by 1, the next day we hit 68, breaking the previous record of 67.
Then, Mother Nature came back with a vengeance today. After such a nice stretch of days, it was time for winter to make it’s grand appearance. A band of snow stretching from Omaha, NE through western IA up into the Twin Cities, changing us over from rain to snow here roughly around midnight and continuing throughout the day. With temperatures around freezing for most of the day, the heavy, wet snow accumulated rapidly, bringing down numerous tree branches throughout the city and leaving as many as 70,000 people without power (including myself for 3 hours early this morning) at one point or another. Widespread reports of 6-10″ blanketed the Metro up towards St. Cloud, with 7.7″ officially falling, cracking the record of 4″. So record high temperatures on Wednesday to record snowfall on Saturday. What next will Mother Nature have in store for us? Stay tuned!

Active Coasts, Central Reprieve

After the historic low pressure system in the Upper Midwest a couple weeks ago and the persistent rains from a slow-moving low pressure system along the Gulf Coast region last week, the Central US is enjoying a bout of pretty quiet weather right now as massive high pressure from the Southern US to the Northeast is keeping the area high and dry, and quite chilly as well. Freeze warnings were pretty widespread over eastern sections of the country as the first strong push of lows in the 20s plowed into the TN Valley and the Southern Appalachians, which also brought a few inches of snow to the higher elevations of the Smoky Mountains in the last 48 hours. Most of the country between the Rockies and the Appalachians should be dry through Monday.
The coasts, however, are not as lucky. A strong trough of low pressure is digging into the Western US, with a strong cold front expected to bully its’ way through the West Coast. Portions of the Sierra Nevada are in Winter Storm Warnings as 18-24″ of the white stuff are expected through the end of the day Sunday. Portions of the Northern Rockies look to get a few inches themselves Sunday night into Monday. On the other side of the country, an area of low pressure is expected to develop off the New England coast Sunday afternoon and push over the region overnight into Monday, bringing plentiful rains of upwards of 1-1.50″ in areas possibly. More proof that Mother Nature is quickly switching into winter mode, something I’m sure some of our readers wish would stay away for just a bit longer.

No blogs for Janesville

Unfortunately, we were stymied in our third attempt to find local weather blogs as we explored the Janesville Wisconsin internet scene. We did find the Janesville Gazzette, though. It appears they get their weather from Weather Underground, which, by the way, is a great source for historical weather data. We’ll try again somewhere else in a few weeks. Bummer.