Heavy snowfall in a warming world

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:29 PM GMT on February 08, 2010

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A major new winter storm is headed east over the U.S. today, and threatens to dump a foot or more of snow on Philadelphia, New York City, and surrounding regions Tuesday and Wednesday. Philadelphia is still digging out from its second top-ten snowstorm of recorded history to hit the city this winter, and the streets are going to begin looking like canyons if this week's snowstorm adds a significant amount of snow to the incredible 28.5" that fell during "Snowmageddon" last Friday and Saturday. Philadelphia has had two snowstorms exceeding 23" this winter. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the return period for a 22+ inch snow storm is once every 100 years--and we've had two 100-year snow storms in Philadelphia this winter. It is true that if the winter pattern of jet stream location, sea surface temperatures, etc, are suitable for a 100-year storm to form, that will increase the chances for a second such storm to occur that same year, and thus the odds have having two 100-year storms the same year are not 1 in 10,000. Still, the two huge snowstorms this winter in the Mid-Atlantic are definitely a very rare event one should see only once every few hundred years, and is something that has not occurred since modern records began in 1870. The situation is similar for Baltimore and Washington D.C. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the expected return period in the Washington D.C./Baltimore region for snowstorms with more than 16 inches of snow is about once every 25 years. This one-two punch of two major Nor'easters in one winter with 16+ inches of snow is unprecedented in the historical record for the region, which goes back to the late 1800s.


Figure 1. Car buried in Virginia by "Snowmageddon" on February 8, 2010. Image credit: wunderphotographer Brabus Cave.

Top 9 snowstorms on record for Philadelphia:

1. 30.7", Jan 7-8, 1996
2. 28.5", Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
3. 23.2", Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
4. 21.3", Feb 11-12, 1983
5. 21.0", Dec 25-26, 1909
6. 19.4", Apr 3-4, 1915
7. 18.9", Feb 12-14, 1899
8. 16.7", Jan 22-24, 1935
9. 15.1", Feb 28-Mar 1, 1941

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Baltimore:

1. 28.2", Feb 15-18, 2003
2. 26.5", Jan 27-29, 1922
3. 24.8", Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
4. 22.8", Feb 11-12, 1983
5. 22.5", Jan 7-8, 1996
6. 22.0", Mar 29-30, 1942
7. 21.4", Feb 11-14, 1899
8. 21.0", Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
9. 20.0", Feb 18-19, 1979
10. 16.0", Mar 15-18, 1892

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Washington, D.C.:

1. 28.0", Jan 27-28, 1922
2. 20.5", Feb 11-13, 1899
3. 18.7", Feb 18-19, 1979
4. 17.8" Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
5. 17.1", Jan 6-8, 1996
6. 16.7", Feb 15-18, 2003
7. 16.6", Feb 11-12, 1983
8. 16.4", Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
9. 14.4", Feb 15-16, 1958
10. 14.4", Feb 7, 1936

Heavy snow events--a contradiction to global warming theory?
Global warming skeptics regularly have a field day whenever a record snow storm pounds the U.S., claiming that such events are inconsistent with a globe that is warming. If the globe is warming, there should, on average, be fewer days when it snows, and thus fewer snow storms. However, it is possible that if climate change is simultaneously causing an increase in ratio of snowstorms with very heavy snow to storms with ordinary amounts of snow, we could actually see an increase in very heavy snowstorms in some portions of the world. There is evidence that this is happening for winter storms in the Northeast U.S.--the mighty Nor'easters like the "Snowmageddon" storm of February 5-6 and "Snowpocalypse" of December 19, 2009. Let's take a look at the evidence. There are two requirements for a record snow storm:

1) A near-record amount of moisture in the air (or a very slow moving storm).
2) Temperatures cold enough for snow.

It's not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the globe warmed 0.74°C (1.3°F) over the past 100 years. There will still be colder than average winters in a world that is experiencing warming, with plenty of opportunities for snow. The more difficult ingredient for producing a record snowstorm is the requirement of near-record levels of moisture. Global warming theory predicts that global precipitation will increase, and that heavy precipitation events--the ones most likely to cause flash flooding--will also increase. This occurs because as the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970. This extra moisture in the air will tend to produce heavier snowstorms, assuming it is cold enough to snow. Groisman et al. (2004) found a 14% increase in heavy (top 5%) and 20% increase in very heavy (top 1%) precipitation events in the U.S. over the past 100 years, though mainly in spring and summer. However, the authors did find a significant increase in winter heavy precipitation events have occurred in the Northeast U.S. This was echoed by Changnon et al. (2006), who found, "The temporal distribution of snowstorms exhibited wide fluctuations during 1901-2000, with downward 100-yr trends in the lower Midwest, South, and West Coast. Upward trends occurred in the upper Midwest, East, and Northeast, and the national trend for 1901-2000 was upward, corresponding to trends in strong cyclonic activity."

The strongest cold-season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent for the U.S.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-606), which called for "a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change." This program has put out some excellent peer-reviewed science on climate change that, in my view, is as authoritative as the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. In 2009, the USGCRP put out its excellent U.S. Climate Impacts Report, summarizing the observed and forecast impacts of climate change on the U.S. The report's main conclusion about cold season storms was " Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent".

The report's more detailed analysis: "Large-scale storm systems are the dominant weather phenomenon during the cold season in the United States. Although the analysis of these storms is complicated by a relatively short length of most observational records and by the highly variable nature of strong storms, some clear patterns have emerged (Kunkel et al., 2008).

Storm tracks have shifted northward over the last 50 years as evidenced by a decrease in the frequency of storms in mid-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, while high-latitude activity has increased. There is also evidence of an increase in the intensity of storms in both the mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with greater confidence in the increases occurring in high latitudes (Kunkel et al., 2008). The northward shift is projected to continue, and strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights".
The study also noted that we should expect an increase in lake-effect snowstorms over the next few decades. Lake-effect snow is produced by the strong flow of cold air across large areas of relatively warmer ice-free water. The report says, "As the climate has warmed, ice coverage on the Great Lakes has fallen. The maximum seasonal coverage of Great Lakes ice decreased at a rate of 8.4 percent per decade from 1973 through 2008, amounting to a roughly 30 percent decrease in ice coverage. This has created conditions conducive to greater evaporation of moisture and thus heavier snowstorms. Among recent extreme lake-effect snow events was a February 2007 10-day storm total of over 10 feet of snow in western New York state. Climate models suggest that lake-effect snowfalls are likely to increase over the next few decades. In the longer term, lake-effect snows are likely to decrease as temperatures continue to rise, with the precipitation then falling as rain".


Figure 2. The annual average number of snowstorms with a 6 inch (15.2 cm) or greater accumulation, from the years 1901 - 2001. A value of 0.1 means an average of one 6+ inch snowstorm every ten years. Image credit: Changnon, S.A., D. Changnon, and T.R. Karl, 2006, Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Snowstorms in the Contiguous United States, J. Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 45, 8, pp. 1141-1155, DOI: 10.1175/JAM2395.1.

More heavy snowstorms occur in warmer-than-average years
Another interesting result from the Changnon et al. (2006) paper (Figure 2) is the relationship between heavy snowstorms and the average winter temperature. For the contiguous U.S. between 1900 - 2001, the authors found that 61% - 80% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters with above normal temperatures. In other words, the old adage, "it's too cold to snow", has some truth to it. The authors also found that 61% - 85% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters that were wetter than average. The authors conclude, "a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 - 2000. The authors found that over the U.S. as a whole, there had been a slight but significant increase in heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches between 1901 - 2000. However, a separate paper by Houston and Changnon (2009), "Characteristics of the top ten snowstorms at First-Order Stations in the U.S.", found that there was no upward or downward trend in the very heaviest snowstorms for the contiguous U.S. between 1948 - 2001, as evaluated by looking at the top ten snowstorms for 121 major cities.

Commentary
One can "load the dice" in favor of events that used to be rare--or unheard of--if the climate is changing to a new state. It is quite possible that nature's weather dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor'easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, thanks to the higher levels of moisture present in the air due to warmer global temperatures. It's worth mentioning that heavy snow storms should be getting increasingly rare for the extreme southern portion of the U.S. in coming decades. There's almost always high amounts of moisture available for a potential heavy snow in the South--just not enough cold air. With freezing temperatures expected to decrease and the jet stream and associated storm track expected to move northward, the extreme southern portion of the U.S. should see a reduction in both heavy and ordinary snow storms in the coming decades.

The CapitalClimate blog has a nice perspective on "Snowmageddon", and Joe Romm of climateprogress.org has some interesting things to say about snowstorms in a warming climate.

References
Changnon, S.A., D. Changnon, and T.R. Karl, 2006, , "Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Snowstorms in the Contiguous United States", J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 45, 1141.1155.

Groisman, P.Y., R.W. Knight, T.R. Karl, D.R. Easterling, B. Sun, and J.H. Lawrimore, 2004, "Contemporary Changes of the Hydrological Cycle over the Contiguous United States: Trends Derived from In Situ Observations," J. Hydrometeor., 5, 64-85.

Kunkel, K.E., P.D. Bromirski, H.E. Brooks, T. Cavazos, A.V. Douglas, D.R. Easterling, K.A. Emanuel, P.Ya. Groisman, G.J. Holland, T.R. Knutson, J.P. Kossin, P.D. Komar, D.H. Levinson, and R.L. Smith, 2008: Observed changes in weather and climate extremes. In: Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate: Regions of Focus: North America, Hawaii, Caribbean, and U.S. Pacific Islands [Karl, T.R., G.A. Meehl, C.D. Miller, S.J. Hassol, A.M. Waple, and W.L. Murray (eds.)]. Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3. U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Washington, DC, pp. 35-80.

Congratulations, New Orleans!
Congratulations to everyone in New Orleans, for the Saints' Super Bowl victory! It's great to the see the city celebrating after enduring so many years of hardship in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Jeff Masters

Holly Berry (DocBop)
Holly Berry
Wintry woods (photomaniac10)
Wintry woods

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1662. dhk123
7:21 AM GMT on May 04, 2012
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1661. dhk123
7:24 AM GMT on April 11, 2012
Your post is very informative. I admire your efforts. I will keep on coming here to see new updates .Thanks for sharing this information.
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1660. arsalan1
4:54 AM GMT on December 16, 2011
That is a devastating moment, snow created the problem.


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1659. arsalan1
12:50 PM GMT on December 13, 2011
Magnificent post, too much snow and that is a furious moment to survive.


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1658. Robinnn
2:34 PM GMT on May 11, 2011
The system getting ready to cross over mexico looked scary. I`ll will use this information in my essay
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1657. osse
12:59 PM GMT on January 18, 2011
I must appreciate you for the information you have shared.I find this information very useful and it has considerably saved my time.thanx:)
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1656. jumanji89
12:42 PM GMT on November 30, 2010
Some times Snow fall can become very dangerous for the peoples. But Always I like the Snow fall. And these Pictures are really awesome. Beautiful pictures that I have never seen before this.
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1655. robbar
1:18 PM GMT on August 17, 2010
Hello, Dr. Masters. I once read some research paper written by you, and now I found this blog. Really interesting one, may I say.
1654. dewoolf
4:26 PM GMT on February 14, 2010
Dr. Masters, makes sense that warmer temps can sometimes lead to stronger storms but at least on the east coast hasn't this winter so far been colder than normal? Certainly February has to have been colder than normal, not sure that we've had a "normal" day temperature wise yet here in DC this month.
1653. RMull
5:41 PM GMT on February 11, 2010
Oh, and also please note well that Climategate shows clearly that we cannot simply trust the compilations of the world temperature record. There has been far too concerted an effort to keep the details of the compilation of 100 year world temperature record away from the public and from skeptical statistical experts.
1652. RMull
5:37 PM GMT on February 11, 2010
I checked the normal temperatures for Washington D.C.. The normal high was 45 degrees, the low 29. The record high was 76 - set back in 1932! Given these normal and record temperatures, it is just ridiculous to blame a snowstorm in D.C. on global warming.

Yes, I fully understand the argument that warmer air could hold more moisture and dump more precipitation - although the findings that over the last century some regions saw that, but some regions saw less severe precipitation strongly indicates that nothing in fact was going on in that regard. But record snowstorms, at temperatures well below normal? That is NO indication of global warming!
1651. keiser
12:26 AM GMT on February 11, 2010
I have heard about it....it's crazy!!!
1650. Patrap
4:54 PM GMT on February 10, 2010



Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
738 am CST Wednesday Feb 10 2010



Short term...
the low near Southern California will accelerate east near the
southwest U.S./Mexican border through tonight...then continue east
as a potent open trough...crossing Texas Thursday and the central
Gulf Coast region late Thursday night and Friday morning. The
associated surface low will develop off the Texas coast on
Thursday and move east across the northern Gulf of Mexico Thursday
night and Friday. This will create windy conditions...especially
offshore and near coastal areas.


There are still some pretty substantial differences between the
various models 00z runs today...even though many of the models are
maintaining their same bias from run to run. One thing is many of
them continue to show substantial quantitative precipitation forecast amounts of one half to one
inch liquid equivalent through Friday.


The NAM remains slow and farthest southwest with time while the
GFS is fastest and farther southeast. The sref and UKMET slightly
faster and north of the NAM...and the European model (ecmwf) and Canadian quite a
bit north and both situated only about 20 to 30 miles off the
coast south of Terrebonne Parish early Friday morning. This
presents quite a problem because a more northern track will bring
warmer air farther north and reduce the chance of wintry
precipitation while a southern track should allow ample cold air
for mostly snow over the northern couple tiers of
counties/parishes. HPC indicates a preference for the more
northern track of the surface low...and this is the basis for
their 4 inch plus probability area being north of the forecast
area for days 2 and 3.


Looking at favored thicknesses at several layers in the low to
middle levels...most of the area falls in an area between 50 percent
rain/snow and mostly rain from a cross section of models.
Also...the 850 mb temperature forecasts show the zero line meandering
near the northern border of our forecast area...near the west to
east Louisiana and Mississippi State line through most of the time
significant precipitation falls. This alone would suggest not much
heavy snow potential...however...analysis of numerous model
soundings combined with dynamic cooling...and the tendency for low
level temperatures to cool to the near to slightly sub-zero wet-
bulb temperatures suggests a good chance for mostly snow around
McComb Mississippi. The expected more northern track of the
surface low suggests there is a good chance for the rain/snow line
to be situated in or near our northern zones. With all this in
mind...we went ahead and issued a Winter Storm Watch for the 4
counties of southwest Mississippi...including McComb and
Tylertown. Snowfall amounts of 2 to 5 inches are possible mainly
late Thursday evening through Friday morning.


Farther south...will continue to indicate a rain/snow
mix...possibly starting out with sleet mixed in...down to areas
north and west of Lake Pontchartrain including Baton Rouge...and
across inland sections of coastal Mississippi. A southward shift
in the projected path of the surface low could mean a better
chance for 2 inch or greater amounts of snow by midday on
Friday...however...that does not appear likely at this time. Will
continue to monitor and expand the watch south if forecast
conditions change.


Around the South Shore...mostly rain is expected...although would
not be surprised to see a few pellets of sleet mix in at times
Thursday afternoon and early evening. All precipitation will end
from the west by middle afternoon on Friday.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1649. unf97
3:13 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Good morning everyone!

Well, Ike it is looking more and more probable that you will be seeing the white stuff beginning early Friday morning. I noticed the latest trend by the models to speed the GOM Low through at a rather good pace. South Central FL looks to be where the Low center will track across, basically just north of Lake Okechobee, along a line from Sarasota to Vero Beach. That is about what I was expecting. There may be a possibility of severe wx theat for extreme SE FL and Keys on Friday.

Friday will be a cold, breezy and wet day in NE FL. Temps should stay in the 40s all day. Just north of here in SE GA, there may be a window of opportunity for wintry precip late Friday as the Low center pulls away. There may be lingering wrap around moisture on the back side of the Low. Then, thermal profiles may be cold enough for wintry precip. But, will the moisture be available Friday evening in SE GA area?

Cool, sunny breezy conditions to start the day at my North Jax location. The morning low here was 34.6 degrees.

Current temp 39.2 degrees at 10 a.m. Only expecting a max today of 50 degrees. Forecast low tomorrow morning 28 degrees.

Friday will be a very interesting weather day over the Florida peninsula, with good chance of snow in the panhandle, to possible risk of strong to severe storms in the warm sector in extreme South FL and the Keys. Gotta love the weather folks!
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1648. PcolaDan
3:01 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
NEW BLOG!!!!!!!!!
NEW BLOG!!!!!!!!!
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1647. mossyhead
2:57 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting IKE:


And there's still quite a bit of discrepancy between the 2 in the latest forecast.
I saw that. I look at the fact whatever weather is like at Crestview comes toward us, while the Tallahassee office is past us and they usually predict the weather after it leaves us.
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1646. 850Realtor
2:57 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting mossyhead:
Depends on where the low will be over the Gulf. The lower it is the better chance for snow.


Thanks Mossyhead!
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1645. jeffs713
2:56 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting IKE:


LOL...I just looked at the 700mb RH map on the 12Z NAM @ 54 hours....help! How do you read that?


Basically, the darker the green, the more moisture. The dark isobars are the thickness of the 700mb layer (surface to 700mb in decameters). Generally, the more thick the 700mb layer, the higher the pressure. The wind barbs are just the wind speed and direction at 700mb. I'm not sure what the dark red lines are (not the geographic features... the map describes the dark red lines as "omega").
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
1644. mossyhead
2:54 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting 850Realtor:
Just signed in for first time since Hurricane Season. I have no idea how to read the winter maps (or the tropical ones for that matter :)....what's it looking like currently for Pensacola south of I-10 near the coast?

Depends on where the low will be over the Gulf. The lower it is the better chance for snow.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 473
1643. Chucktown
2:54 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting IKE:


LOL...I just looked at the 700mb RH map on the 12Z NAM @ 54 hours....help! How do you read that?



the darkest green is where the model believes the RH is 70% at 700 mb - this is usually the threshold of the lower levels of the atmosphere meaning if its 70% RH at this level, precipitation is falling, but not necessarily reaching the ground. Dewpoint at the surface needs to taken into account, so if the depoint depression is large (differnece between temp and dewpoint) then it may take some time for the precip to reach the ground, this is how evaporational cooling works.
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1642. IKE
2:53 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting mossyhead:
I blend the Crestview forecast and the Defuniak Springs forecast.


And there's still quite a bit of discrepancy between the 2 in the latest forecast.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1641. 850Realtor
2:52 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Just signed in for first time since Hurricane Season. I have no idea how to read the winter maps (or the tropical ones for that matter :)....what's it looking like currently for Pensacola south of I-10 near the coast?

Member Since: September 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 283
1640. mossyhead
2:52 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting IKE:


Thanks for that information. If that verifies, I may see some white stuff.
I blend the Crestview forecast and the Defuniak Springs forecast.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 473
1639. IKE
2:49 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting Chucktown:


LOL...I just looked at the 700mb RH map on the 12Z NAM @ 54 hours....help! How do you read that?

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1638. lilElla
2:46 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
About the IL earthquake-
Our dog, Scooter, woke us up at 4:00 in panic mode. We, humans, didn't hear or feel anything. We are 30 miles northwest of Madison WI. We've heard comments by people south of Madison that thought they were hearing the snow plow!
Member Since: December 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 273
1637. Chucktown
2:43 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting IKE:
12Z NAM at 54 hours has trended south with the zero degree line here in the Florida panhandle. Appears to have sped up the systems movement. NAM was too slow with it's movement on earlier runs


Ike, thats a misleading map because while that is the 0 line for that time, it is accumulated 6-hour precip - you need to match up the 700 mb RH map and thickness or 850 0 line - why the models don't incorporate all these on one map is beyond me
Member Since: August 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1776
1636. AwakeInMaryland
2:41 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting PcolaDan:
Bunch of good cams in Delaware.


COOL, thanks Dan, I didn't know they had them all in one place -- in the past, I've been going from internet site to site for the DE cams.

And whoa, the camera at Dewey (our fave doggy-friendly beach) says temporarily closed...don't like that!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1635. IKE
2:40 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
12Z NAM at 54 hours has trended south with the zero degree line here in the Florida panhandle. Appears to have sped up the systems movement. NAM was too slow with it's movement on earlier runs...



Here was the 6Z NAM run at 60 hours...notice a trend south with the zero degree line on the above 12Z run...

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1634. PcolaDan
2:38 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Bunch of good cams in Delaware.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1633. XLR8
2:37 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Sounds like we are in for some fun in Mississippi Thur and Fri.


FXUS64 KJAN 101050
AFDJAN

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSON MS
450 AM CST WED FEB 10 2010

...HEAVY SNOW ACCUMULATIONS EXPECTED FOR THURSDAY NIGHT INTO
FRIDAY...

.DISCUSSION...

TODAY THROUGH FRIDAY...
PRIMARY FORECAST CONCERN IS THE UPCOMING WINTER STORM EXPECTED TO
IMPACT THE REGION FOR THURSDAY NIGHT INTO FRIDAY.

SYNOPTIC SET-UP...A STRONG ZONAL SOUTHERN STREAM EXTENDS FROM THE
EAST PACIFIC REGION INTO THE NORTHERN MEXICO ACROSS MUCH OF THE
SOUTHERN CONUS. THE JET STREAM WILL BUCKLE DURING THE NEXT DAY AS AN
APPROACHING HIGH-AMPLITUDE PACIFIC TROUGH DIGS SOUTHWARD. THIS TROUGH
IS ASSOCIATED WITH A CLOSED MID-LEVEL CYCLONIC CIRCULATION MOVING
ONSHORE BAJA CALIFORNIA. THIS DIGGING WILL INDUCE DOWNSTREAM RIDGING
OVER THE SOUTHERN CONUS...WITH A QUICKLY-TIGHTENING UPPER-LEVEL
HEIGHT GRADIENT OVER THE SOUTHERN PLAINS. AS SUCH...THIS WILL HELP TO
CARVE OUT AN ANTICYCLONICALLY-CURVED AND EXTREMELY STRONG UPPER LEVEL
JET STREAK WITH MAXIMUM CORE WINDS AT H2 AROUND 200 KT AS IT
PROPAGATES EASTWARD OVER THE LOWER OHIO VALLEY. THE STRONG FLOW
ASSOCIATED WITH THIS JET STREAK WILL SPAN A LARGE PART OF THE CENTRAL
AND EASTERN CONUS BY LATE WEEK...WITH A WELL-DEFINED RIGHT ENTRANCE
REGION OVERLAYING A PRE-EXISTING BAROCLINIC TROUGH OVER THE WESTERN
GULF OF MEXICO WEDNESDAY EVENING. THE ANTICYCLONIC CURVATURE OF THE
JET STREAK WILL ENHANCE VERY STRONG LIFT WITHIN THE ASCENDING BRANCH
OF THE AGEOSTROPHIC CIRCULATION IN ITS RIGHT ENTRANCE REGION. THIS
WILL INDUCE CYCLOGENESIS IN THE LEE OF THE SIERRA MADRE ORIENTALS OF
EASTERN MEXICO AND THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO WEDNESDAY NIGHT...WITH
THE SURFACE LOW TRACKING DUE EASTWARD ALONG THE BAROCLINIC TROUGH
ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO...APPROXIMATELY ALONG 27N/28N. A LARGE
AREA OF STRATIFORM PRECIPITATION WILL DEVELOP WITHIN 540SM IN THE
NORTHERN SEMICIRCLE OF THE LOW IN RESPONSE TO INCREASING LOW-LEVEL
CONVERGENCE ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEEPENING LOW BY LATE THURSDAY.
PRECIP WILL SPREAD NORTHWARD ACROSS THE CWA THE REGION THURSDAY
AFTERNOON AND EVENING AND CONTINUE INTO FRIDAY. THE CONVERGENCE
INCREASES FURTHER SOUTH TOWARD THE GULF OF MEXICO...AND WILL DELIVER
THE GREATEST AMOUNTS OF QPF TO LOCATIONS ALONG AND SOUTH OF THE THE
INTERSTATE 20 CORRIDOR.

SEVERAL ENHANCEMENTS TO THE PRECIP WILL COME DURING THE COURSE OF
THE EVENT. THE CLOSED PACIFIC CIRCULATION WILL CONTINUE TRANSLATING
EASTWARD DURING THE NEXT DAY WHILE OPENING UP AS A SHARP SHORTWAVE
TROUGH. STRONG DIFFERENTIAL POSITIVE VORTICITY ADVECTION WITH
STRONG DEEP-LAYER Q-VECTOR CONVERGENCE EAST OF THE TROUGH AXIS WILL
PROVIDE FOR VIGOROUS DEEP-LAYER ASCENT OVERNIGHT THURSDAY NIGHT AND
FRIDAY MORNING. ADDITIONALLY...THE BOUNDARY LAYER CONVERGENCE AROUND
THE SURFACE LOW WILL INTENSIFY FRONTOGENESIS ACROSS THE SOUTHERN
HALF OF THE FORECAST AREA. NWP GUIDANCE ALSO SHOWS THIS AREA
EXPERIENCING NEGATIVE VALUES OF MEAN SATURATED EQUIVALENT POTENTIAL
VORTICITY WITHIN THE LOW/MID LEVELS...SUGGESTING THE POTENTIAL FOR
SLANTWISE INSTABILITY. THIS SET-UP WILL BE CONDUCIVE FOR HEAVY SNOW
BANDS TO DEVELOP OVER THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE CWA THURSDAY NIGHT.

AS FAR AS PRECIPITATION TYPE...INCREASING CONFIDENCE EXISTS IN THIS
BEING AN ALL-SNOW EVENT. FORECAST SOUNDINGS INDICATE WET-BULB ZERO
HEIGHTS GENERALLY REMAINING BELOW 800 FT AGL AREAWIDE FOR THE
DURATION OF THE EVENT. THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TWO
TIERS OF COUNTIES EARLY IN THE EVENT...WHEN A WEAK...4000-FT
DEEP...ELEVATED WARM LAYER COULD RESULT IN PARTIAL MELTING OF ICE
CRYSTALS GENERATED BY DEEP-LAYER SATURATED ASCENT FURTHER ALOFT. MAX
TEMPS IN THE WARM LAYER WILL ONLY REACH 1C OR 2C...SUPPORTING A
SLEET/RAIN MIX AT THE ONSET OF THE PRECIP. HOWEVER...STRONG ADIABATIC
COOLING DUE TO FORCED ASCENT WILL CHANGE THE PRECIP OVER TO A WET
SNOW ACROSS THIS REGION. LOWER/MID-TROPOSPHERIC TEMPERATURES...WHILE
MOSTLY SUBFREEZING...INCREASE FURTHER SOUTH INTO THE CWA. SREF
GUIDANCE SUGGESTS SNOW:LIQUID RATIOS RANGING FROM 5:1 ACROSS THE
SOUTH TO 8:1 ACROSS THE NORTHERN CWA. HOWEVER...THE HIGHEST QPF WILL
BE FOUND ACROSS THE SOUTH...WHICH WILL COMPENSATE FOR THE LOWER
RATIOS. AS OF NOW...WE ARE LOOKING FOR 2 TO 5 INCHES OF SNOW
ACCUMULATIONS ACROSS THE SOUTHERN THIRD OF THE CWA...1 TO 3 INCHES
ALONG THE INTERSTATE-20 CORRIDOR...AND UP TO AN INCH FURTHER NORTH.
THERE ARE EXPECTED TO BE MANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THIS EVENT AND THE
4 DECEMBER 2009 SNOW EVENT. AS WITH THAT EVENT...WHILE THE
APPROXIMATELY 60-MB THICK DENDRITIC GROWTH ZONE WILL BE NEARLY
SATURATED...FORECAST SOUNDINGS SHOW IT ELEVATED ABOVE THE STRONGEST
ASCENT. THIS WILL KEEP SNOWFALL TOTALS FROM BEING EVEN HIGHER.
HOWEVER...ACROSS THE SOUTHERN THIRD OF THE AREA...THE HEAVY...WET
NATURE OF THE SNOW COULD DOWN TREES AND POWER LINES.


THERE ARE STILL SOME AREAS OF UNCERTAINTY WITH REGARD TO THIS EVENT.
WHILE MULTI-MODEL CONSENSUS SUGGESTS A SURFACE LOW TRACK ALONG
27N/28N...THERE IS SOME DISAGREEMENT ON THE EXACT TRACK. THE ECMWF
HAS COME IN MUCH CLOSER TO THE GULF COAST FOR THE LOW TRACK...
SPREADING MUCH HIGHER SNOW TOTALS ACROSS THE CWA. THIS SOLUTION
APPEARS TO BE ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE GUIDANCE ENVELOPE...BUT DOES
SUGGEST THE POTENTIAL FOR SNOWFALL TOTALS OF MORE THAN HALF A FOOT
ACROSS THE SOUTHERNMOST PART OF THE CWA. THE GFS/SREF ARE SUGGESTING
A LOW TRACK SUPPRESSED MORE TO THE SOUTH...LIKELY DUE THEIR DEVELOPMENT
OF WIDESPREAD CONVECTION WITHIN 120SM IN THE NORTHERN SEMICIRCLE OF
THE LOW. WHILE THIS SOLUTION IS CONCEIVABLE...IT STILL GIVES WARNING
LEVEL SNOW AMOUNTS TO LOCATIONS SOUTH OF I-20. CMC AND ITS ENSEMBLES
ARE SOMEWHAT IN BETWEEN THE TWO AFOREMENTIONED TRACKS. THUS...MODEL
CONSENSUS PROVIDES HIGH ENOUGH CONFIDENCE FOR WARNING-LEVEL SNOWFALL
TOTALS...NECESSITATING THE ISSUANCE OF A WINTER STORM WATCH FROM 06Z
FRIDAY TO 20Z FRIDAY ALONG AND SOUTH OF INTERSTATE 20 AND ALL OF
NORTHEAST LOUISIANA. THIS INCLUDES JACKSON...VICKSBURG...MERIDIAN...
AND HATTIESBURG. LOCATIONS FURTHER NORTH COULD EXPERIENCE A DUSTING
TO AN INCH OF SNOW...THOUGH WARNING LEVEL AMOUNTS ARE NOT CURRENTLY
EXPECTED.

Member Since: February 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 205
1632. AwakeInMaryland
2:36 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:


I am actually starting to feel for you guys... snow storms I can understand.. not much fun at all.
Quoting NEwxguy:
I'm just west of Boston, and my pressure is already down to 1002mb, and dropping fast,and the storm is still getting its act together off the Delmarva,this thing is going to be deep deep deep.


I was catching up on posts from last night. Pottery posted that Venezuela has declared a State of Emergency because their Rainy season was too Dry.

In the interest of Public Diplomacy, and forging better relationships and renewing the bonds of peace and hope with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, I hereby offer ALL the snow in my yard to Venezuela -- come and get it, and TIA!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1631. jazzygal
2:33 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting RitaEvac:


I felt it but my house did not shake. I am just south of Antioch, Round Lake Beach area. It was at 4AM. Not use to this in Northern Illinois although I know it is possible.
Member Since: June 2, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 205
1630. CaneWarning
2:33 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:


Sorry, My Bad for not spelling out acronym the first time it's used in a sentence.
"Community Emergency Response Team"

But the answer to your question is yes, I think(?) there may still be about 10,000 without heat in my county alone (Montgomery Co., on PEPCO and Washington Gas). Some of VA is on Dominion Power.

Guess you didn't hear some have been without power for several days, so maybe we're not quite as wimpy as we've been made out to be. There are warming centers and shelters set up.


Wow, that's got to be rough. I had heard there were power outages, but I didn't know how widespread those were.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
1629. jeffs713
2:32 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting TampaTom:
BTW - New names for the next snow events:

Snowverkill
SNOMG!

I like SNOMG!
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
1628. AwakeInMaryland
2:31 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting CaneWarning:
A CERT call for snow? Do people not have heat or something?


Sorry, My Bad for not spelling out acronym the first time it's used in a sentence.
"Community Emergency Response Team"

But the answer to your question is yes, I think(?) there may still be about 10,000 without heat in my county alone (Montgomery Co., on PEPCO and Washington Gas). Some of VA is on Dominion Power.

Guess you didn't hear some have been without power for several days, so maybe we're not quite as wimpy as we've been made out to be. There are warming centers and shelters set up.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1627. NEwxguy
2:25 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
I'm just west of Boston, and my pressure is already down to 1002mb, and dropping fast,and the storm is still getting its act together off the Delmarva,this thing is going to be deep deep deep.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 886 Comments: 15952
1626. Orcasystems
2:21 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Grrrrr, come here, dah-link, I have a "Board of Education" somewhere...my fuzzy slippers are closer, don't hurt as much on the behind...
---------------------------------
Got a late-night automated call from CERT, to check e-mail...asking for volunteers to go out with Fire & Rescue for checks on residents...this has followed call-outs to help in EOC and shelters, prob./poss. I've never seen so many requests at one time for our County CERT team. I'm not even sure where or if I'll be working; I don't have a 4x4...I blame Atmo as he said I couldn't have his Outback (J/K)!!

Of course there's pleas for 4-wheel drive vehicles/drivers all over the news, also a Red Cross blood request.

I'm fighting the urge to be an ostrich...head in snow instead of dirt.

Need to get another cup of coffee and go through e-mail and sort out call-outs/updates. I pray needs will NOT be great; and that training, equipment, strength, good-sense hold up if/when they are!



I am actually starting to feel for you guys... snow storms I can understand.. not much fun at all.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1625. CaneWarning
2:20 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
A CERT call for snow? Do people not have heat or something?
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
1624. AwakeInMaryland
2:17 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting CaneWarning:
AIM - enjoy all of that snow!

Grrrrr, come here, dah-link, I have a "Board of Education" somewhere...my fuzzy slippers are closer, don't hurt as much on the behind...
---------------------------------
Got a late-night automated call from CERT, to check e-mail...asking for volunteers to go out with Fire & Rescue for checks on residents...this has followed call-outs to help in EOC and shelters, prob./poss. I've never seen so many requests at one time for our County CERT team. I'm not even sure where or if I'll be working; I don't have a 4x4...I blame Atmo as he said I couldn't have his Outback (J/K)!!

Of course there's pleas for 4-wheel drive vehicles/drivers all over the news, also a Red Cross blood request.

I'm fighting the urge to be an ostrich...head in snow instead of dirt.

Need to get another cup of coffee and go through e-mail and sort out call-outs/updates. I pray needs will NOT be great; and that training, equipment, strength, good-sense hold up if/when they are!

Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1623. RitaEvac
2:13 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
1622. TheCaneWhisperer
2:09 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Never thought people in the NE would need to consider building their houses on stilts. I thought that idiocy was reserved for us southern folk.
1621. PensacolaDoug
2:03 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Snowtastrophy!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 595
1620. CaneWarning
2:03 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
AIM - enjoy all of that snow!
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
1619. AwakeInMaryland
2:02 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Hale and Hello. I'm pretty much hate-in-life. Pls. forgive me if this has already been posted.
A couple totals, so far (on top of what we've already had, which didn't melt much)...worst bands seem to be coming in now, the worst is supposed to end in afternoon...of course we have the winds, too.
American U. in DC - 5"
Columbia, MD - 6.1"

ALERT 1 - Winter Storm Warning
A BLIZZARD WARNING IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 7:00PM EST WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10
Issued: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 7:46 AM EST
Expires: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 4:00 PM EST
Back to Summary
BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT
UNTIL 7 PM EST THIS EVENING
Urgent - Winter Weather Message
National Weather Service Baltimore MD/Washington DC
746 AM EST Wed Feb 10 2010

Montgomery-Prince Georges-
Including The City Of...Gaithersburg

...Blizzard Warning In Effect Until 7 PM EST This Evening...
...Winter Storm Warning Is Cancelled...

The National Weather Service In Sterling Virginia Has Issued A
Blizzard Warning...Which Is In Effect Until 7 PM EST This
Evening. The Winter Storm Warning Has Been Cancelled.

• Precipitation Type...Snow.

• Accumulations...10 To 15 Inches.

• Timing...Snow Will Continue Through This Evening. Heaviest
Snow Is Expected This Morning Through Early Afternoon.

• Temperatures...Mid And Upper 20s.

• Winds...Winds Will Become Northwest And Increase To 20 To 30 Mph
With Gusts Around 45 Mph. Blowing And Drifting Snow Will Reduce
Visibilities To A Quarter Mile Or Less At Times...Producing
Blizzard Conditions.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions...

A Winter Storm Warning Means Significant Amounts Of Snow Are
Expected Or Occurring. The Combination Of Snow And Strong Winds
Will Make Travel Very Hazardous.

&&

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions...

A Blizzard Warning Means Severe Winter Weather Conditions Are
Expected Or Occurring. Falling And Blowing Snow With Strong Winds
And Poor Visibilities Are Likely. This Will Lead To Whiteout
Conditions...Making Travel Extremely Dangerous. Do Not Travel. If
You Must Travel...Have A Winter Survival Kit With You. If You Get Stranded...Stay With Your Vehicle.
***

Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1618. TampaTom
2:02 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
BTW - New names for the next snow events:

Snowverkill
SNOMG!
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1617. TampaTom
1:59 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Very odd for a low like that to slide south of us here in Tampa Bay... El Nino is still rearing his ugly head
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1616. CaneWarning
1:54 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


Not sure if they meant the "Official" High Risk category or not, that would be kind of scary.


I hope they didn't mean it that way. You don't see that very often, especially in Florida.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
1615. TheCaneWhisperer
1:53 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting CaneWarning:


Limited instability is a good thing. I wouldn't be shocked with a tornado watch in that area if the conditions are what it appears they will be.


Not sure if they meant the "Official" High Risk category or not, that would be kind of scary.
1614. CaneWarning
1:50 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
So it appears Chicago felt it, but barely. Does anybody know if Chicago buildings are built with earthquakes in mind?
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
1613. CaneWarning
1:49 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting PcolaDan:


Did you feel it map



Interesting map!
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
1612. PcolaDan
1:45 PM GMT on February 10, 2010
Quoting CaneWarning:
Did anybody post about the earth quake in Illinois???

Link


Did you feel it map

Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010

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

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