Rare snowstorm hits Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:02 PM GMT on December 12, 2008

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A rare early December heavy snowstorm hit Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi yesterday, setting several records. It was the earliest measurable snowfall in recorded history at Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Lake Charles. Also, this snow event set the all time record snowfall amounts for the month of December at Beaumont, Port Arthur, Lake Charles, Lafayette, and New Iberia, and was the first measurable snowfall in recorded history for the month of December at Lafayette. In Mississippi, up to 5 inches of snow fell on areas south of Jackson. The snow knocked out power to 83,000 and caused numerous traffic accidents and road closures across Southeast Louisiana. The snow was caused by an upper-level low pressure system that deepened over the Gulf of Mexico. The snow was unusual because it occurred when the surface temperatures were 32 to 35 degrees.

The one inch of snow reported in New Orleans was that city's earliest snow on record. The previous earliest date for measurable snowfall in New Orleans was Dec. 22, 1989. New Orleans' last snowfall, in 2004, was a dusting. The record snowfall for the city is about 5 inches, recorded Dec. 30, 1963.


Figure 1. Yesterday's snowstorm brought a festive blanket of white to Magee, Mississippi. Image credit: SouthernLady.

A few selected snow amounts from yesterday's storm:

Louisiana
-------------
Amite 8.0 inches
rossroads 6.0 inches
Hammond 6.0 inches
Mount Herman 6.0 inches
Opelousas 6.0 inches
Washington 6.0 inches
Covington 6.0 inches
Baton Rouge 3.0 inches
Plaquemine 2.5 inches
New Orleans 1.0 inches
Lafayette 1.0 inches
New Iberia 0.8 inches
NWS Lake Charles 0.4 inches

Mississippi
---------------
Columbia 5.0 inches
Jayess 5.0 inches
Brookhaven 5.0 inches
Prentiss 4.0 inches

Texas
--------
Lumberton 4.0 inches
West Beaumont 4.0 inches
Woodville 3.0 inches
Beaumont City 2.5 inches
SE TX regional Arpt 1.8 inches
Orange 1.0 inches
Port Neches 1.0 inches
Jasper 0.5 inches

So what happened to global warming?
Record snow events inevitably bring comments like, "so what happened to global warming?" First of all, no single weather event can prove or disprove the existence of climate change or global warming. One needs to look at the entire globe over a period of decades to evaluate whether or not climate change is occurring. It might be instructive to look at what global snow cover is doing this season (it's about 10% below average, Figure 2), but this doesn't mean global warming is occurring. This year's reduced snow cover could be due to natural seasonal variations. Only global average temperatures, when viewed over a time scale of decades, can prove or disprove the existence of global warming. Global average temperatures, when averaged over a decades-long period that removes the "bumps" associated with natural seasonal weather fluctuations, show that global warming is occurring.

Secondly, as both myself and wunderground climate change expert Dr. Ricky Rood have pointed out, global warming won't necessarily lead to a decrease in snowfall in all regions. If it is cold enough to snow, we may actually see increased snow in many locations. Global warming puts more moisture in the atmosphere, due to fact that higher global temperatures evaporate more moisture off of the oceans. I expect that coming decades will bring many record snowfalls, due to the increased moisture available in the atmosphere.


Figure 2. Northern Hemisphere snow cover on December 9, 2008 (blue areas) compared to average (green line). Northern Hemisphere snow cover was about 10% below average the first week of December. Since October, Northern Hemisphere snow cover has been about 5% below average. Bob Hart at Florida State has put together a nice set of regularly updating images showing the current state of global snow cover.

Subtropical Storm Rene possible in the Atlantic next week
The trough of low pressure that brought snow to the deep south will track eastward over the Atlantic over the next few days, reaching the central Atlantic north of the Lesser Antilles Islands by Monday. On Monday or Tuesday, the computer models unanimously agree that the southern portion of the trough will pinch off and form a "cut-off low"--an extratropical storm that is cut off from the jet stream. This low is expected to track slowly westward to a point midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico by late next week. The low will be over waters marginally warm enough--25°C--to support formation of a subtropical storm, and phase space diagrams from Florida State indicate that this storm will be warm-cored. Wind shear is forecast to be low enough to allow a subtropical or tropical storm to form, and I give a medium (20-50% chance) that we will see Subropical Storm Rene in the Atlantic next week.

Jeff Masters

Snow in Metairie, LA (saintsfan06)
Levee in Metairie
Snow in Metairie, LA
New Orleans Snow Storm (locust)
New Orleans Snow Storm
Snowing in South Ms! (dwmckenzie)
Snowing in South Ms!
Texas Snow (sdmanis)
Pearland Texas Snow on my car
Texas Snow

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is Rene pronounced Ren-A or Ree-nee
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Quoting HurrikanEB:
so we MAY have one more something...



yes we may....

I give it 33%
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so we MAY have one more something...

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Quoting Drakoen:


Like the rest of the models. Even if it were to survive a 500mb ridge will center itself over the Gulf of Mexico for next week, preventing any storm from coming towards the CONUS for the east.


I do not even think this system is a threat, once it nears Haiti, excessive interaction with land and strong vertical wind shear should stifle development.
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Quoting IKE:
12Z ECMWF has it dying out as it goes toward Haiti....Link


Like the rest of the models. Even if it were to survive a 500mb ridge will center itself over the Gulf of Mexico for next week, preventing any storm from coming towards the CONUS for the east.
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180. IKE
12Z ECMWF has it dying out as it goes toward Haiti....Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
I just looked at the shear forecast, and conditions are only marignally favorable for subtropical development over the next week or so. And only a limited area is forecast to have the aforementioned marginally favorable upper-level winds. Whatever forms out there will certainly have a hard time sustaining itself.
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0z long-range CMC 12/13 216 hours...what's that in the Caribbean?

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Quoting futuremet:


Wind shear values are too high for sub-tropical cyclogenesis at the moment. However, Wind shear levels are expected to decrease to marginally favorable beyond 100 hrs from now as a tilted anticyclone sets over the hybrid system. Even if this system manage to become subtropical, it shouldn't be anything significant.


The flow aloft look more upper level cyclonic flow which the system will set itself under or just to the east of. Whatever forms will have some mid to upper level reflection.
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176. Skyepony (Mod)
Bjanmama ~ The models have inconsistantly shown areas of higher vorticy, coming your way, at the 850mb level associated with the wave that is expected to play a part in a disterbance. These areas of storms that may effect you would be part of a tropical wave but not expected to be the end that plays with the front & possibly becomes Rene.
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175. IKE
12Z CMC...Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Wow, i come here to post about the ice storm bearing down on St. louis and there's an area of interest in the Atlantic! just shows how weird the 2008 weather season is.
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173. IKE
12Z UKMET
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:
It's 30 knots over the area....



The GFS model is expecting wind shear values to decrease about 15 knots 120 hrs from now


look at the wind shear module
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CMC model shows some subtropical characteristics for this system. The CMC shows a warm core, and a broad vorticity field
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Quoting Drakoen:
HOWEVER...AN UPPER-LEVEL
TROUGH WITH AXIS ALONG 32N54W 23N50W TO 18N47W AND A SURFACE
TROUGH WHICH EXTENDS FROM 27N55W TO 20N50W ARE GENERATING
SCATTERED SHOWERS AND TSTMS FROM 20N-28N BETWEEN 41W-53W E OF
THE TROUGH. UPPER DIFFLUENCE TO THE SE OF THE UPPER TROUGH IS
ALSO GENERATING SCATTERED SHOWERS FROM 8N-19N BETWEEN 33W-40W.
ANOTHER SURFACE TROUGH EXTENDS ALONG 14N54W TO 9N56W WITH
CYCLONIC CURVATURE NOTED IN THE LOW CLOUD FIELD. BY EARLY NEXT
WEEK...COMPUTER MODELS ARE ANTICIPATING THE FORMATION OF A LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE TROPICAL CENTRAL ATLC AS THE UPPER
LEVEL DEEP LAYERED TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER THE ERN SEABOARD MOVES
EWD.


drakonen: with all these troughs jostling one another out here, it's getting kinda crowded and the humidity is rising and our 'Christmas breeze" has slowed down to about 12. Have to go above 20/59 to get to 14 and much higher for any greater strength. So we will get wet- but thank god nothing like Devon and somerset Cotillion- ove england, but not your weather- Virgin is still daily packing them in here fro across the pond for christmas- tho with the economy, down considerably from last year- but still large numbers.
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169. IKE
It's 30 knots over the area....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
168. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:
HOWEVER...AN UPPER-LEVEL
TROUGH WITH AXIS ALONG 32N54W 23N50W TO 18N47W AND A SURFACE
TROUGH WHICH EXTENDS FROM 27N55W TO 20N50W ARE GENERATING
SCATTERED SHOWERS AND TSTMS FROM 20N-28N BETWEEN 41W-53W E OF
THE TROUGH. UPPER DIFFLUENCE TO THE SE OF THE UPPER TROUGH IS
ALSO GENERATING SCATTERED SHOWERS FROM 8N-19N BETWEEN 33W-40W.
ANOTHER SURFACE TROUGH EXTENDS ALONG 14N54W TO 9N56W WITH
CYCLONIC CURVATURE NOTED IN THE LOW CLOUD FIELD. BY EARLY NEXT
WEEK...COMPUTER MODELS ARE ANTICIPATING THE FORMATION OF A LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE TROPICAL CENTRAL ATLC AS THE UPPER
LEVEL DEEP LAYERED TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER THE ERN SEABOARD MOVES
EWD.



LOL...Rene
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Drakoen:
Whatever forms will probably degenerate into an open trough before reaching the Greater Antilles as the upper level trough sharpens with an increase in wind shear.


Wind shear values are too high for sub-tropical cyclogenesis at the moment. However, Wind shear levels are expected to decrease to marginally favorable beyond 100 hrs from now as a tilted anticyclone sets over the hybrid system. Even if this system manage to become subtropical, it shouldn't be anything significant.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HOWEVER...AN UPPER-LEVEL
TROUGH WITH AXIS ALONG 32N54W 23N50W TO 18N47W AND A SURFACE
TROUGH WHICH EXTENDS FROM 27N55W TO 20N50W ARE GENERATING
SCATTERED SHOWERS AND TSTMS FROM 20N-28N BETWEEN 41W-53W E OF
THE TROUGH. UPPER DIFFLUENCE TO THE SE OF THE UPPER TROUGH IS
ALSO GENERATING SCATTERED SHOWERS FROM 8N-19N BETWEEN 33W-40W.
ANOTHER SURFACE TROUGH EXTENDS ALONG 14N54W TO 9N56W WITH
CYCLONIC CURVATURE NOTED IN THE LOW CLOUD FIELD. BY EARLY NEXT
WEEK...COMPUTER MODELS ARE ANTICIPATING THE FORMATION OF A LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE TROPICAL CENTRAL ATLC AS THE UPPER
LEVEL DEEP LAYERED TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER THE ERN SEABOARD MOVES
EWD.

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Quoting IKE:


Looks to go well north of Barbados.


Thanks Ike for responding, a relief, the 12Z makes it pretty clear- wouldn't mind snow, but a late storm is not what is needed as we prepare for christmas!
Keeper of the Gate's LSU sat photo reminds me of the fires of hell- kinda scary, not a very cheery christmas card! But dramatic!
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163. IKE
GFS 12Z at 120 hours....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Whatever forms will probably degenerate into an open trough before reaching the Greater Antilles as the upper level trough sharpens with an increase in wind shear.
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161. IKE
Quoting Bjanmama:


Good morning everyone from Barbados- been watching that front move towards us- am a bit confused by the weather reports. I had assumed the northern area around 28 was what would link with the cold front coming from the SEUS storms and create Rene- but - from what the above quote from PR is saying we may be in for trrouble too?IKE, Pottery- what do you think???
It's cloudy here, began last night only allowed us a few hours in the early night to see the brilliant big fat moon, lovely though- anyway- what's up for us in the Southern Caribbean???


Looks to go well north of Barbados.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
160. IKE
12Z GFS at 78 hours....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:
From this mornings San Juan,PR discussion...

Could still see a significant low level system form
across the west central Atlantic on Tuesday or Wednesday...which
will eventually be steered southward and towards the local
islands...but models have been trending further westward with
their solutions over the last several runs...so some uncertainty
remains.


Good morning everyone from Barbados- been watching that front move towards us- am a bit confused by the weather reports. I had assumed the northern area around 28 was what would link with the cold front coming from the SEUS storms and create Rene- but - from what the above quote from PR is saying we may be in for trrouble too?IKE, Pottery- what do you think???
It's cloudy here, began last night only allowed us a few hours in the early night to see the brilliant big fat moon, lovely though- anyway- what's up for us in the Southern Caribbean???
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Something sub-tropical popping up next week seems somewhat possible as the deep trough currently present over the eastern seaboard shifts eastward.UKMET,CMC and the NAM have been hinting at this for a while now so we'll see what happens.

View of 12z NAM at 84hrs...



Hope everyone is having a great holiday season thus far. Adrian
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Real warm front you have coming there. lol

Off to work on the to-do list, check back later


Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136

area of interest
est pos 23.8n/48.7w
hopefully the front will be strong to push it ne however cod gfs shows it trackin nw w then sw down over southern bahamas se tip of cuba
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cold zoo but warm up coming for a brief return with rain tomorrow and monday -11 c this morn plus 8 c on monday iam ready for xmas other than that just chilling
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Quote is not working well today.

Thanks Keeper - lets hope it stays south - don't really want any weather problems next two weeks.

How is it in your part of the world?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136
Quoting IKE:
Winters in Miami are real tough to take....

Tuesday Night through Friday
Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s. Highs around 80.


Watch out for Rene....lol.....
at the present moment a system is to develope track w then sw over sw bahamas across se tip of cuba and disapate once pass cuba or during passage over cuba
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152. IKE
Quoting HTV:
Nice Vacation spot?Link

Maybe not


That's cold...my skin likes humidity better...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
151. IKE
2:51 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
12Z NAM has it...Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
150. HTV
2:51 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Nice Vacation spot?Link

Maybe not
149. IKE
2:50 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Quoting hurricanemaniac123:
Is that the same system that Dr. Masters is talking about in his blog?


Yeah....I think it's gonna happen...a mid-December system. Not really shocking...surprising though...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
148. hurricanemaniac123
2:46 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Is that the same system that Dr. Masters is talking about in his blog?
Member Since: September 21, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 688
147. Cotillion
2:35 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Quoting IKE:
I'm not sure how you pronounce it...it's a male name....centered near 23N and 49W.


René would be easier to work off. Sounds like an 'a' at the end.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
146. zoomiami
2:33 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Ok - so I was so caught up in the snow pics I missed Rene.

Would be my luck - rain all over my Christmas decorations. They've already been blown down this week.
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136
145. IKE
2:32 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
I'm not sure how you pronounce it...it's a male name....centered near 23N and 49W.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
144. Cotillion
2:31 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Quoting zoomiami:
Now Ike - be nice. What is Rene by the way?


A philosopher.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
143. zoomiami
2:11 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Now Ike - be nice. What is Rene by the way?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136
142. IKE
2:09 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Winters in Miami are real tough to take....

Tuesday Night through Friday
Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s. Highs around 80.


Watch out for Rene....lol.....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
141. RobDaHood
2:08 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Gotta run...Much to do today

Have a nice one!


will post more moon photo links to my and Emmy's blogs later today.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 93 Comments: 30616
140. zoomiami
2:05 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
LOL -- I can just imagine. We have the bulldog, and a boxer. The boxer is almost 13, but when she was younger we couldn't keep her out of the water. Now she won't get near the swimming pool. Still loves the bath tub though, warm soapy water!



Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136
139. RobDaHood
2:02 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
When it gets really hot here, they swim a lot. They'll stay in the lake as long as I'll let them...easy to give them a bath in the summer too...bathed Brok with the hose last week and he looked at me like I was trying to kill him.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 93 Comments: 30616
138. zoomiami
1:58 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Yep - same here. We have an English bulldog that can't go out in the hot weather (not to play anyway). She loves this, we can let her out for as long as she wants.

Must have been crazy to agree to a heat sensitive dog in South Florida.
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136
137. RobDaHood
1:56 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Quoting zoomiami:
Rob - bet your puppies love this weather. Mine just want to stay out forever.


Yeah they do! Cat can't make up her mind...wants out, goes bonkers for about 10 minutes, then wants some place warm again. An hour later repeat the cycle.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 93 Comments: 30616
136. zoomiami
1:53 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Rob - bet your puppies love this weather. Mine just want to stay out forever.
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136
135. zoomiami
1:52 PM GMT on December 13, 2008
Have fun Orca - see you when you get back
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4136

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.