A rare Deep South snow event breaks Dallas' all-time snowfall record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:55 PM GMT on February 12, 2010

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A rare Deep South heavy snow event is in full swing today, thanks to a powerful 1000 mb extratropical storm centered just south of Alabama. The storm clobbered Dallas with 11.2" of snow yesterday, the heaviest snow on record for the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Dallas' previous record was 7.4", set on January 15 - 16, 1964. The 14.4" of snow that has now fallen on Dallas this winter eclipses the previous record seasonal snowfall for the city--14.1" during the winter of 1977 - 1978. Yesterday's snowstorm dumped over a foot of snow along a narrow region just north of Dallas and Fort Worth, with the town of Haslet receiving 14.2".


Figure 1. The Deep South snow event of February, 12, 2010 in a visible satellite image taken at 9 am EST. Image credit: NASA GOES project.

As the storm races eastwards across the Gulf today, a wide area of snowfall in excess of four inches will affect Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with lesser amounts in South Carolina, North Carolina, and the extreme northwestern corner of the Florida Panhandle. As of 7am this morning, here are some selected snow amounts reported by National Weather Service:

...ALABAMA...
CUBA 1.5
THOMASVILLE 1.0

...ARKANSAS...
FOREMAN 4.0
TEXARKANA 1 N 4.0

...LOUISIANA...
NATCHITOCHES 6.0
SHONGALOO 5 N 6.0
SHREVEPORT 5.4
MONROE 5.0
NATCHITOCHES 4.0

...MISSISSIPPI...
DE KALB 8.0
CATAHOULA 5.0
VICKSBURG 5.0
RAYVILLE 4.2
BROOKHAVEN 4.0
MCCALL CREEK 5 W 4.0
SICILY ISLAND 4.0
JACKSON 3.2

...OKLAHOMA...
HAWORTH 4 SW 7.5
IDABEL 8 SE 7.5
RATTAN 13 E 4.5

...TEXAS...
HASLET 14.2
FORT WORTH 12.6
DALLAS 12.5
BRIDGEPORT 12.0
ROYSE CITY 12.0
POINT 3.7 ESE 11.0
EAGLE MOUNTAIN 10.5
ENNIS 10.3
FRISCO 1.9 N 10.3
JACKSBORO 6.2 SW 10.0
LINDALE 10.0
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS 10.0
COTTONDALE 9.5
OAK CLIFF 9.5
PRINCETON 3 N 9.5
FORT WORTH 14 N 9.0
ARLINGTON 8.0

As we can see from a plot of the frequency of U.S. snowstorms between 1900 - 2001 (Figure 2), heavy snow events of 6+ inches occur about once every ten years for Dallas, and between once every ten years and once every 100 years for the portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that may end up getting 6+ inches from this storm.


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.

More snow headed for the mid-Atlantic next week
The extreme amounts of snow on the ground in the Mid-Atlantic from back-to-back blizzards over the past week will get some more company on Monday night, when a new snowstorm will hit the region. I'm thinking that the new storm will drop another 2 - 6 inches of snow on the Baltimore-D.C.-Philadelphia region. The computer forecast models have not yet come into agreement on where Monday's storm will hit, or how much moisture it will be able to tap into, so there is still high uncertainty over how much snow will fall.

A historical precedent for "Snowmageddon": the "Great Snow" of 1717
I've commented several times this week that there is no precedent in the historical record, going back to the late 1800s, to the incredible snow blitz the Mid-Atlantic has endured. Well, it turns out there is a comparable winter, at least for Philadelphia, if one goes back in time nearly 300 years. According to Chris Burt, author of the excellent book, Extreme Weather, in 1717 four storms between February 27 and March 9 dropped a total of 3 - 5 feet of snow from Philadelphia to Boston. Snow drifts as much as 25' deep occurred in the Boston area. An account of the 1717 event was one of the first journal entries of the Massachusetts Historical Society by Cotton Mather. Chris told me he wasn't aware of any comparable events affecting Washington D.C. or Baltimore, however. Chris will be joining wunderground this April as a featured blogger, and I greatly look forward to having him put our modern weather records into historical context.

Next post
I'll probably do a short post on Saturday.

Jeff Masters

Blizzard Car Shadows (BocaJoe)
Blizzard Car Shadows
Snow Damage in Arlington (mikekttx)
Snow Damage in Arlington on 2/11/10. Apartment covered parking structures are failing all over the city.
Snow Damage in Arlington

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Quoting mikester:


Loops shows a pretty good low forming just over the canadian border in the upper midwest. I assume this will be the weather maker for monday?


I thought the low was just southeast of Cape Canaveral?
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Quoting mikester:


Loops shows a pretty good low forming just over the canadian border in the upper midwest. I assume this will be the weather maker for monday?


I thought the low was just southeast of Cape Canaveral?
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Quoting mikester:


Loops shows a pretty good low forming just over the canadian border in the upper midwest. I assume this will be the weather maker for monday?


I thought the low was just southeast of Cape Canaveral?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mikester:


Loops shows a pretty good low forming just over the canadian border in the upper midwest. I assume this will be the weather maker for monday?


I thought the low was just southeast of Cape Canaveral?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mikester:


Loops shows a pretty good low forming just over the canadian border in the upper midwest. I assume this will be the weather maker for monday?


I thought the low was just southeast of Cape Canaveral?
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Look at that low off the coast. Man only if that thing would move north 100 miles i might actually get some measurable amount of snow. Poor dc/baltimore though. Right in the path of it. Looks pretty strong system too.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
Regarding historic precedent for huge snowstorms, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson make note in their journals, of a 3 foot snowstorm in their respective hometowns.
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Changed Discussion --
997MB SFC LOW PRES HAS MOVED TO A POSITION ROUGHLY 200 MI E OF
JACKSONVILLE FL THIS EVENING AND WINDS/SEAS BEGINNING TO INCREASE
FROM S TO N ACROSS THE WATERS. ROUGHLY 7 MB 3 HR PRES FALLS
OCCURRING NE OF THE LOW AND EXPECT IT TO LIFT NE ACROSS THE OFFSHORE
WATERS TONIGHT AND SAT. 12Z MODELS IN GOOD AGREEMENT BRINGING GALES
ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN WATERS AFTER MIDNIGHT. CURRENT
FORECAST FOLLOWING TRENDS WELL AND LITTLE CHANGES NEEDED.

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Quoting PcolaDan:


Wow, hope everything turns out okay.


At least your palm trees are alive...ours in Houston are all dead from the freeze (at least on the north side).
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And not a shovel to be bought....

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local met just said "tropically as far as it's structure"

Is that a word? tropically?
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Straight line winds moving through dade county a few hrs ago...recorded a gust here at the house of 67 mph. Transformers flashing along with crazy horizontal rain hitting the doors. Was a crazy few minutes for sure.
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Went for a walk with my Margarita and her Coke and Crown. Snow froze to our glasses quite thick. Quite interesting.
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Loops shows a pretty good low forming just over the canadian border in the upper midwest. I assume this will be the weather maker for monday?
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
Snowin to beat the band here between New Bern and Havelock. Patrap you there?
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Quoting iceagecoming:
Enjoy it while it lasts, a couple of month's
from now we'll be yakking about how hot is like last summer.


Hoping the heat is all were yaking about the way things are lining up for Hurricane Season...
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Interesting article from yesterday at Nature.

Sea-level records challenged
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Enjoy it while it lasts, a couple of month's
from now we'll be yakking about how hot is like last summer.
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So what's the thinking for Sunday night everyone? Can we get more snow for the Panhandle, especially those that didn't get the snow today they should've gotten? At least some decent flurries would do...
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
452, 453. Where are your mittens, young man?


Mittens? Army Rangers don't wear mittens! LOL
Psst, don't tell anyone, but I do have a nice set of Arctic Leather Gloves to wear when I'm on the Harley!!! :)
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Quoting HurrMichaelOrl:
I will pass that along. Did you get any sleet there in Charlotte last month?


I'm actually in Lee, almost Collier county, grew up in Charlotte, and not here but I passed through Tampa on my way back from TN, they had a little there. (More of a mix)
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I will pass that along. Did you get any sleet there in Charlotte last month?
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Quoting HurrMichaelOrl:
thank you Charlottefl! I will let him know. Just wanted to make sure it wasn't suicide to attempt it.


Here's a NWS discussion from Samson:

... Potential for icy roads tonight...

Now that all of the snow has ended across the forecast area... a
cold night is on tap with a widespread freeze. Temperatures will
quickly drop below freezing this evening in areas with snow on the
ground. Areas further southeast that saw mainly rain will drop
below freezing around or shortly after midnight.

There are two ways that roads could get slick tonight. In areas
that had measurable snow... some melting may have occurred before
sunset or due to the action of traffic on the roadways. This
melt water will refreeze into ice. In addition... any snow that
remains on roadways will not melt overnight.

In areas that saw all rain or mainly rain... some wet spots will
remain on area roadways and there is a chance that this could
freeze into black ice in spots... particularly on bridges and
overpasses. Northwest winds will eventually dry the roads... but a
few slick spots could remain.

Please allow extra time for travel if travel is necessary. Also be
advised that all roads in Henry County Alabama are closed until
further notice.
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He actually did get about an inch or two of snow, and I'm guessing those hilly, rural roads will not be cleared.
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thank you Charlottefl! I will let him know. Just wanted to make sure it wasn't suicide to attempt it.
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Quoting HurrMichaelOrl:
I have a friend who has to drive an hour and a half to Pensacola Airport from Samson, Al (extreme south Al) starting at 6 A:M tomorrow morning. He is wanting to know if it will be remotely safe to do so. Any opinions? Thank you in advance!


It's supposed to get to freezing overnight, Anything liquid on the road will turn to ice, especially melted snow. If he HAS to drive to the airport he needs to go in a lower gear and take it slow.
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I have a friend who has to drive an hour and a half to Pensacola Airport from Samson, Al (extreme south Al) starting at 6 A:M tomorrow morning. He is wanting to know if it will be remotely safe to do so. Any opinions? Thank you in advance!
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Dan,

Loved the PCola Blizzard video! LOL

Zoo - good to chat with you... and WOWZERS! That storm blew in fast and furious.
Hubby had just stepped out with the dogs to do a little duty...
they all came back wet!
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Im all snowed out for 2010.

Sneaux in McComb,Miss around 11 pm Last night.

I finally got to make an Angel in da Sneaux

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The snow on the Hawaii Volcano melted according to accuweather.

Here in New Bern, NC it's snowing quite hard.
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SYNOPSIS...
STRONG LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE FROM THE NORTHERN GULF TO WELL OFF
THE CAROLINA COAST SATURDAY BEFORE ACCELERATING AWAY FROM THE AREA
SATURDAY NIGHT. A FAST MOVING COLD FRONT WILL CROSS THE REGION
MONDAY NIGHT THEN HIGH PRESSURE BUILDS OVER THE AREA FOR THE
REMAINDER OF THE WEEK.

&&

.NEAR TERM /UNTIL 6 AM SATURDAY MORNING/...
-- Changed Discussion --
AS OF 842 PM FRIDAY...VERY FLUID SITUATION AS A MAJOR WINTER STORM
TAKES AIM ON NORTH CAROLINA TONIGHT. WE HAVE BEEN WATCHING WITH
SOME CONCERN VERY IMPRESSIVE 7-8 MB 3 HOURLY PRESSURE FALLS JUST OF
THE NC COAST THE PAST COUPLE OF HOURS INDICATING A STILL
STRENGTHENING SURFACE LOW JUST OFF THE FLORIDA EAST COAST. THE
PROXIMITY OF THE PRESSURE FALL CENTER TO THE NC COAST COULD ALSO
BE AN INDICATION THAT THE LOW WILL BE TAKING A SLIGHTLY MORE
NORTHWARD TRACK AND THIS WOULD MEAN HIGHER QPF AND THUS HIGHER
SNOWFALL AMOUNTS. RIGHT NOW WE ARE THINKING STORM TOTALS WILL BE
CLOSER TO THE HIGHER RANGE OF OUR FORECASTS IF NOT A LITTLE
HIGHER. IN FACT BASED ON TRENDS IN THE NAM-12 I WOULD NOT BE
SURPRISED TO SNOWFALL RATES OF AN 1 INCH AN HOUR OR MORE FROM 4
AM-9 AM AS THE LOW PASSES CLOSEST TO OUR COAST.

SNOW FLURRIES HAVE JUST STARTED IN THE MHX AREA AND REPORTS FROM
OUR SPOTTERS INDICATE SNOW BEGINNING TO ACCUMULATE IN NCA. BASED
ON TRENDS IN THE OBSERVATIONS EVAPORATIVE COOLING IS OCCURRING
RATHER QUICKLY WITH SNOW REACHING THE GROUND WITH TEMPERATURES
SLIGHTLY ABOVE FREEZING. THIS WILL INITIALLY HOLD DOWN
ACCUMULATIONS EXCEPT OVER GRASSY AREAS. IT ALSO APPEARS THAT THE
HEAVIER SNOW WILL OCCUR A LITTLE EARLIER THAN WE PREVIOUSLY
THOUGHT WITH STICKING SNOW EXPECTED IN MOST LOCATIONS BY OR AROUND
11 PM. ALONG THE BEACHES AND OUTER BANKS THERE COULD BE A MIX OF
RAIN AND SNOW INITIALLY AS THE FLOW COMES OFF THE WARMER OCEAN
WATERS BUT WITH WINDS BECOMING NORTH BY MORNING...COINCIDENT WITH
THE EXPECTED HEAVIEST SNOWFALL RATES...AM BECOMING INCREASINGLY
CONFIDENT THAT THE SOUTHERN OUTER BANKS INCLUDING
HATTERAS...OCRACOKE...AND THE CRYSTAL COAST BEACHES WILL SEE
ACCUMULATING SNOWS BEFORE IT IS ALL SAID AND DONE. NO SIGNIFICANT
CHANGES TO THE CURRENT FORECAST PLANNED WITH THE EVENING UPDATES.
-- End Changed Discussion --


&&

.SHORT TERM /6 AM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT/...
STRONG MID-LEVEL SHORTWAVE WILL QUICKLY CROSS THE CWA BY 18Z
SATURDAY. COULD SEE ANOTHER BAND OF MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WITH
ADDITIONAL SMALL ACCUMULATIONS...ESPECIALLY EASTERN SECTIONS.
THINK BULK OF THE PRECIP SHOULD BE OFFSHORE BY 21Z SATURDAY WITH
RAPID CLEARING AND DRYING. ANY LEFTOVER MOISTURE ON ROADWAYS WILL
LEAD TO BLACK ICE FORMATION SATURDAY NIGHT AS LOWS FALL INTO THE
LOWER AND MIDDLE 20S...POSSIBLY COLDER DEPENDING ON THE EXTENT OF
SNOW COVER. TEMPS WILL MODERATE INTO THE MIDDLE 40S ON SUNDAY.
ANOTHER FAST MOVING COLD FRONT WILL BRING A THREAT OF RAIN TO THE
CWA LATE MONDAY INTO MONDAY NIGHT. THE MOISTURE APPEARS TO BE WELL
EAST OF THE AREA BEFORE AIR COLD ENOUGH TO SUPPORT FROZEN PRECIP
ARRIVES.

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
quiet in here all stormed out


I'm sulking because I didn't stormed out - lol
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quiet in here all stormed out
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52248
1/2 inch o Johns island...and coming down
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Quoting zoomiami:


Sure it will - just wasn't expecting it - the funny part is seeing what blows into the pool. Seems like no matter what we try to do - something new ends up there! lol


Ours has been known to have some strange things in it. (Think opposum) We actually throw outdoor furniture in it for hurricane prep. :) Ivan threw a tree in it.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
pncola dan...loved the video of your blizzard...made me laugh out loud...i'm in daytona and it has just rained allllll day..
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Wow, hope everything turns out okay.


Sure it will - just wasn't expecting it - the funny part is seeing what blows into the pool. Seems like no matter what we try to do - something new ends up there! lol
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471. mobal
LOL Dan, Same here in South Mobile....But it looks like Dallas got over 12 inches of global warming ;)
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For those who missed my Academy Award worthy Cinematography of the Pensacola blizzard of 2010. :)



Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting zoomiami:
Looked like a hurricane outside when the front blew through - furniture flying, doors bouncing, screens blown out of windows. Haven't looked to see what ended up in the pool this time.


Wow, hope everything turns out okay.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Is this true?

http://dailynightly.msnbc.msn.com/

"What a day for weather in the U.S. Snow reported, in some form, in 49 of 50 States."


OK then who missed out? Hawaii has snow on top of a volcano...

CRS
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Look at all the weather advisories up now.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
465. beell
It counts, Ally. Bet ya'll got a lot of work done, lol.
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Snows just creeping into virgina now. Watch out dc here comes another storm lol... Just kidding about dc.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
thanks AIM...

beell - I got to see some beautiful flurries for a few hours while I was stuck working inside the bank!..lol..
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462. beell
Quoting AllyBama:
grrr....somebody took my snow!...lol


Did you at least see some, Ally?
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Quoting AllyBama:
grrr....somebody took my snow!...lol


Ohhhh, if only wishcasting could send you our next Monday round...

------------

Hope damages won't be too bad in Florida.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Good thing this storm is pulling off to the coast now. Baltimore/dc might not have faired well again with this potential beast of a storm.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134

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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.