I hope you like this weather

The middle of the country is experiencing a bit of a temperature renaissance, but after a Clipper moving through the western Great Lakes will pull some cold air behind it, and that’s essentially the pattern for about 10 days. Mostly cold, followed by some bouts of warm weather, shortly trailed by a burst of snow and more cold air.

There is a blocking pattern over Alaska right now, which is part of the reason that the Continental US has been able to avoid big systems for a week or so. More relevant is that the wave pattern across the middle latitudes is fairly static. Here is the upper level chart at the GFS initial time:

The big difference between the current chart and the one from a weak from now is the absence of that arch over the Bering Strait.

The other components, like the strong jet over the western Pacific, a ridge in the eastern Pacific and a general trough through the eastern part of the country remain the same. That’s not a recipe for a fungible weather pattern.

With a fairly consistent upper level stream over the center of the country, don’t be surprised if there are a few more busts of snow this week in the Western Great Lakes. The rest of the country should think about getting comfortable with their weather for a little while.

Spokane sees some snow

I always find the forecasts where we call for snow to be the most interesting, without a doubt. Seeing just how much snow a location received from a system is the most tangible verification there is. Spokane offered up some of the white stuff, and I can say, unquestionably, that meteorologists oversold it. Over the forecast period, Friday and Saturday, the airport only saw about half an inch of accumulation, less than the 2-4″ people thought they might get. Part of the reason was that the sludge moved northeast at a more rapid clip, which, in addition, permitted temperatures to jump much warmer than most had envisioned. The exception was Forecast.io, who correctly guessed a high in the mid 40s on Saturday. They won the day, edging out the usually cool sided Weatherbug.
Actuals: Friday .2″ of snow, High 37, Low 30
Saturday – .3″ of snow, High 45, Low 33

Grade: B-C

Valdosta, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee

Georgia is a big state, and we are expected to run the length of it. Tennessee is a lengthy state as well, but we will cover it the short way, and all told, our drive will be about 7 hours, covering 477 miles, most of it coming in Georgia. We will be on I-75 until we hit Chattanooga, and I-24 the rest of the way, and that works itself out to an average speed of 69mph, which is pretty nice.


Tonight will be a very rainy night in Valdosta. The tail of a cold front lies in the Carolinas, but a weak surface perturbation will move through northern Florida overnight and really ramp things up over south Georgia. The nice thing about this feature, however, is that it will also pull more quickly off shore, and pull any lingering moisture out of Georgia. By the time we head out tomorrow morning from Valdosta, the rain will already be on the eastern horizon. One of the challenges we may yet encounter will be some gusty conditions as the cold air arrives in eastern Tennessee. The wind may pick up between Atlanta and Chattanooga, but will taper off through the last couple of hours in the Volunteer State. There is a weak little band of light snow that should pass to the north of Nashville, but that’s not a guarantee. If nothing else, this should tell you that it will be a bit on the chilly side when we arrive in Nashville. (I should note that I am concluding this post just as the award for best Country Album of the year was announced at the Grammies. Weird.)

The thaw will come to an end soon

One of the unusual things about the recent snow storm that strafed the Midwest is that it wasn’t accompanied by a slug of cold air to make it extra miserable. In fact, nearly a week later, it’s in the mid to upper 40s in the Twin Cities, and in the 60s in places like Washington DC.

Never fear, I have come bearing bad news. It’s going to get cold again, and it will do so as soon as next week. Here is a look at the 8-14 day outlook.

While Washington won’t see temperatures plummet, they will return to normal, while the Upper Midwest will definitely see some crashing temperatures. The interesting thing is that it won’t be on the heels of a big storm in the Plains, but rather a fairly significant developing low in northern Quebec. A very active cold front will develop along that line of above and below temperatures, from Virginia to Houston. More snow is possible in Nashville next week with rain possible in Atlanta.

And cold air for the Twin Cities and Chicago. Very, very cold, once again. Enjoy the warmth while it lasts.

Spokane, Washington

Tomorrow – Mostly snow in a wintry mix, High 37, Low 30
Saturday – Accumulating snow likely, 2-4″ High 37, Low 29

TWC: Tomorrow – Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 38, Low 31
Saturday Cloudy with rain and snow early changing to all rain and becoming intermittent late. High 39, Low 30

AW: Tomorrow – Mainly cloudy with a couple of snow showers High 39, Low 31
Saturday – Periods of snow mixing with rain, accumulating 1-3 inches; storm total snowfall 2-4 inches High 40, Low 31

NWS: Tomorrow – A chance of snow before 2pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy High 38, Low 31
Saturday – Snow before noon, then rain and snow likely between noon and 1pm, then rain likely after 1pm High 39, Low 29

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy. A chance of snow in the morning, then scattered snow showers in the afternoon.  High 38, Low 31
Saturday – Snow in the morning, then rain or snow in the afternoon. Light snow accumulations. Snow level 2500ft. High 42, Low 31

WN: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with chance of light wintry mix, High 38, Low 41
Saturday – Cloudy with wintry mix, High 38, Low 29

FIO: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy throughout the day (late mix). High 38, Low 32
Saturday – Snow (1–3 in.) until morning.High 44, Low 35

Winter doesn’t last long in South Carolina

The forecast for Columbia relied in some small part on the fact that a major winter snow had just come through the area, and parts of North Carolina were still digging out. It’s a little unbelievable that temperatures were nearly 70 for both days of our forecast period, even after the cold front went through on Tuesday. The temperatures didn’t cool off very much, either, bottoming out at 49 degrees, which kept those outlets without 48 hours of hourly forecast data in the race. Neither of them were victorious, however, with Accuweather claiming victory. No forecast was very good, and the culprit was most often the too warm temperatures on Tuesday.
Actuals: Monday – High 69, Low 38
Tuesday – .02 inches of rain, High 70, Low 49

Grade: C-D

San Luis Obispo, California

As we dig out of our biggest snowstorm here at VW HQ in 6 years, we head towards the West Coast to see how their midweek weather is faring. I’m guessing a lot better than shoveling a foot of snow.

At 920pm PST, the temperature at San Luis Obispo, CA was 46 degrees under fair skies. Generally quiet weather is found throughout the Southwest currently. However, a large low pressure system centered in the Gulf of Alaska is swinging a cold front into the Pacific Northwest, bringing copious amounts of rain and higher elevation snows to the region. This strong cold front looks to push southward throughout the day on Wednesday, bringing rain to Northern CA and progresses through the Central Valley. Some rain showers look to push into the SLO area, with a couple of showers making it into the area shortly before midnight. This activity lasts into Thursday morning, with the last of the precip departing the area by the mid-morning hours. Skies should clear out some through Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday: Clouds increase throughout the day, isolated showers late. High 62, Low 42.
Thursday: Scattered showers in morning, clouds decrease through afternoon. High 61, Low 43.

TWC: Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High 65, Low 42.
Thursday: Partly cloudy, isolated morning showers. High 59, Low 46.

AW: Wednesday: Becoming cloudy, with occasional rain and drizzle late. High 65, Low 40.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy, a shower, cool. High 60, Low 44.

NWS: Wednesday: Mostly sunny through afternoon, chance of showers by evening. High 64, Low 43.
Thursday: Slight chance of morning showers, then clearing. High 60, Low 46.

WB: Wednesday: Partly cloudy, rain showers in evening. High 63, Low 44.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 59, Low 48.

WN: Wednesday: Partly cloudy with light showers likely. High 64, Low 43.
Thursday: Partly cloudy with isolated showers. High 60, Low 46.

FIO: Wednesday: Mostly cloudy starting in the afternoon, isolated showers late. High 63, Low 43.
Thursday: Rain showers in morning. High 59, Low 46.

While the condition are pretty pleasant right now, we can see the system that will move in over the next 24 hours is currently drenching the Pacific Northwest.

Minneapolis gets hit by heaviest snow in 6 years

It snowed…. more than a foot

A post shared by Ryan Henning (@victoriawxrhino) on

I mentioned a couple of days ago the the center of the country was preparing for a large, dangerous storm. I can assure you that the wintry portion of the storm delivered. Above, you can see what I saw when I opened the garage at my house in the southwest Twin Cities suburbs. While this caption is a well executed pun, the wind actually caused snow to drift away from this part of my house, and the total accumulation in my neck of the woods was around 15 inches.

Here is a map from the Weather Service, highlighting some snow reports, so you can see where the heaviest accumulations were. The oranges and yellows are the greatest totals, Check out some values for those dots here.

As I noted in the post headline, this was the largest snow total at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 6 years, since December 2011. The significant snow fell in places like North Platte, Nebraska and Goodland, Kansas, as well, and while it impacted fewer people, you can believe that the driving winds and empty country made it much more treacherous.

The good news is that the region now has several days to dig themselves out of the heaping snow. For the next week the central Plains look as though they will enjoy a great deal of sunshine to help whittle down the fresh snowpack.

Back to normal ahead of schedule

One thing that seemed certain when the forecast for Sarasota was put together was that the effects of the Gulf of Mexico would soon supersede the cool, dry air mass in place over the southeastern US. We were right, but not in the way we though. Everyone had forecast a substantial warm up, but that never came, because it was the moisture that returned first. Clouds and a splash of rain prevented temperatures from rising more than a degree at the top end, and everyone whiffed on that drizzle. The National Weather Service narrowly surpassed the crowd, but it wasn’t our best effort.
Actuals: Friday – High 66, Low 38
Saturday – High 67, Low 48

Grade: C-D

Massive spring-like system clobbering the center of the country

One of the hallmarks of big March or April storms is that they tend to come with a couple of different faces. There is often a wintry component, as well a severe thunderstorm component. We have that with a huge system moving through the Plains tonight.

The snow has been impressive in the Front Range of the Rockies to the Black Hills where some locations have received up to a foot, particularly east of Casper in Wyoming. That’s to say nothing of the snow from this same storm in the higher terrain, where the Wasatch universally received a foot, and the mountains near Grand Junction got THREE feet.

Scale: Anything orange or darker received over a foot. Dark red – 36″ Source: http://www.weather.gov/crh/snowfall

This is all before the system really got wound up. The northern Plains are widely believed to be winter wonderlands, but in truth, big snowfalls are few and far between (the cold is the truth, though). That makes the snow expected to fall from central Nebraska, through Iowa and Minnesota and into the western Great Lakes something truly impressive.

This is a particularly difficult forecast in the Twin Cities, which has recently seen an incredible streak of busted forecasts on major snow events, and are now situated along a very sharp gradient for forecast snowfall totals. If current forecasts hold, the southeast metro will receive over a foot of snow, while the northwest metro might only see an inch or two. This forecast is from earlier in the afternoon, but I assure you, the latest model runs will only serve to sow more confusion.

On the other hand, we had tornado watch number 1 for 2018. It took a few weeks, but it showed up in the Texarkana and Fort Smith area during the evening, and TW 002 showed up just to the east, and remains on going. Here is where the first watch of the year showed up.

Unfortunately, there have been a few reports that indicate these watches and the attendant warnings were warranted. For example, there were reports of damage near Winnsboro and Dekalb, Texas,.

While the severe weather is ongoing, including some tornado warnings in southern and western Arkansas, particularly in the Hot Springs and Pine Bluff areas, the severe weather won’t last much longer. As the low winds up in the Upper Midwest, there won’t be the same clash of air masses in the more succulent lower Mississippi Valley air. There might be thunderstorms, but they won’t match the intensity seen tonight.

Keep an eye out for those severe thunderstorms tonight, especially in Arkansas, and prepare for a tough day of shoveling from North Platte to Wausau tomorrow morning!

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