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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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
459. beell
The surface low is gonna drag some fairly cold low level air into the back side of the system-all the way to the coast while it is still close enough to the coast to supply the moisture. -6° C at 850mb?
2"per hour for 6 hrs = 12"

Most of N & S Carolina under the left front exit of a strong and diffluent upper jet

THERE
IS SOME CONCERN THAT ACCUMULATIONS MAY APPROACH THE UPPER END OF
THE FORECAST ACROSS SOME PORTIONS OF THE FORECAST AREA...ESPECIALLY
IN THE CHARLESTON TRI-COUNTY AREA. WE WILL CONTINUE TO EVALUATE
THE POTENTIAL NEED TO INCREASE FORECAST SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS
OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF HOURS.

6:58 PM EST NWS Area Forecast Discussion - Charleston, SC
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grrr....somebody took my snow!...lol
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Getting lots of heavy snow here I guessing we got 3 inches about now.
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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.
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455. unf97
Moderate snow now falling in Jesup, Ga. I just drove back in here from Alma.
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452, 453. Where are your mittens, young man?
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Here ya go, took these about 1745 hrs, 3 hrs after it started snowing in Macon, Georgia. A Bibb County offical has confirmed we received 2 inches of snow so far in the area. We are talking about some really big flakes here. No, not the one with the hat, the white stuff. :)
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02/12/2010 0620 PM

West Miami, Miami-Dade County.

Thunderstorm wind gust e70.00 mph, reported by public.


A wind gust of 65-70 mph was reported in West Miami as a
thunderstorm moved through the area.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Might be bigger in terms of chances than you think

Oh really? What are you currently seeing?
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
448. unf97
Light snow has begun falling here in Alma GA.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
wonder how they did in miami


What about Dallas-FTW? The US deep south has gotten some strange weather from this storm. Squall line now heading for Bahamas:

Link
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Quoting mikester:
Nah i don't see that happening with snow storms. When the jet streams level out so will the storm activity. Most likely get one major storm in canada if your lucky. I wouldn't put any money on major snow storms further north then dc this year.


Last year, we had a major storm (ie. over 8") in early April, and that's not a very rare phenomenon here. If we can get a sudden northward kink in the jet stream in S. Ontario, we could have the convergence of Arctic and tropical moisture, in addition to snowsqualls. That single major storm we had didn't affect Toronto as much as it did here, and the storm was actually a Nor'easter making landfall in Nova Scotia at the time with a back-door warm front through Quebec, anybody remember that?

Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Solid tropical storm conditions and pressure at St. Augustine buoy: Link


A lot of these storms after crossing the US have gone hybrid, and the southern part of this storm is tapping into 26C water of the Loop Current. Leaves me wondering what the hurricane season will be like considering we have flat SSTs in the Central North Atlantic and a very erratic Gulf Stream.
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Quoting Drakoen:


Might be bigger in terms of chances than you think
yep
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Quoting quakeman55:
Allright...so next up we gotta look at the possibilities...albeit small...of additional wintry precip sweeping through late Sunday night/Monday morning. Anyone have the latest 18Z model data on that?


Might be bigger in terms of chances than you think
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I wounder when i heard this warning before and got 3" of now out of it:
AZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BINGHAMTON NY
345 PM EST FRI FEB 12 2010

NYZ024-045-046-055>057-062-PAZ038>040-043-044-047-048-072-132045-
CHEMUNG-CHENANGO-OTSEGO-TIOGA-BROOME-DELAWARE-SULLIVAN-BRADFORD-
SUSQUEHANNA-NORTHERN WAYNE-WYOMING-LACKAWANNA-LUZERNE-PIKE-
SOUTHERN WAYNE-
345 PM EST FRI FEB 12 2010

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR CENTRAL NEW
YORK...SOUTHEASTERN NEW YORK AND NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

NO HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS EXPECTED.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY.

A STORM WILL DEVELOP ALONG THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST ON MONDAY. THE
BEST CHANCE FOR A SIGNIFICANT SNOW ACCUMULATON WILL BE SOUTH AND
EAST OF THE AREA LATE MONDAY INTO TUESDAY... BUT THERE IS A CHANCE
OF ACCUMULATING SNOW DURING THAT PERIOD IF THE STORM MOVES FARTHER
NORTH THAN CURRENTLY EXPECTED.

So if this is true look out dc/baltimore.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
wonder how they did in miami
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29.57 inHg here in Jacksonville
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Stoopid1...it's sleeting on Johns Island now...
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


15" in one storm?! For all of January, in Toronto they have measured 8" of snow for the entire month! If you have more snow in one storm in a major city in Texas than you have in a city in S. Ontario during what should be the snowiest part of the year, for a whole month, then that alone tells you that something very unusual climatologically is going on.


Don't feel bad places outside the snowbands of nystate haven't had a FT of snow this year. That is sad. Locally we have measured for the year around 25" which is normally 165" in a given year. So yeah we are experiencing that same weather phenom.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134


pushes off the coast
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Quoting Floodman:


Don't be surprised if they up you again...we were only supposed to get 1-4; we ended up with 15


15" in one storm?! For all of January, in Toronto they have measured 8" of snow for the entire month! If you have more snow in one storm in a major city in Texas than you have in a city in S. Ontario during what should be the snowiest part of the year, for a whole month, then that alone tells you that something very unusual climatologically is going on.
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Allright...so next up we gotta look at the possibilities...albeit small...of additional wintry precip sweeping through late Sunday night/Monday morning. Anyone have the latest 18Z model data on that?
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
Nah i don't see that happening with snow storms. When the jet streams level out so will the storm activity. Most likely get one major storm in canada if your lucky. I wouldn't put any money on major snow storms further north then dc this year.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Remember what I said earlier in the season? The local forecasts here were changing every six hours to coincide with GFS model runs.




KOG, do you think our world will be rocked in S. Ontario around March to April? I think that because the El Nino and AO are causing the storm track to be positioned from California to the Southern US to the Northeast while Canada misses out on the snow. As the jet lifts back up north, could we see Colorado low-type storms merging with Nor'easters and bombing out over the Great Lakes basin like the storms have been doing over the US for the past two months?
well lets say this much just cause winter is approaching the end may not really be the case we would only need 3 or 4 30cm or more storms to ensure we get winter till end of april maybe early may
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Just got back from Brewton, Alabama and about 4 inches of snow! That's the most I've ever seen! It was all rain until about 10 miles south of the state line, and then the snow started coming down hard around 11AM near Flomaton. It was awesome. I found a nice open field and built myself a small army of snow men in Brewton. One of them was about 7 feet tall, it got a lot of attention! I'll have to see if I can upload some pictures. Twas a great day for me in the South.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


These big North American storms, in this case down in the south of the US are producing strong squall lines in the warm sector as the Arctic air recedes from Florida. Leaves me wondering what kinds of storms we'll get when the storm track pivots back northward toward Southern Ontario later this winter as average temperatures in the continent warm.
well we will find out once we pass the 25 of feb thats when i expect storm track to slowly start to shift back to a more normal pattern to finish up the winter and start up severe season
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Long time no see! Getting ready for a very rare round snow here in Goose Creek, SC. Forecasts are calling for 4-6 inches of snow tonight and early tomorrow! Actually starting to sleet here now as I type. I'll have photos up when it starts snowing.

My blog

Goose Creek forecast

We actually have a winter storm warning in effect as well due to anticipated winds of 15-20mph.
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Quoting largeeyes:
Now calling for 5-7" here. Remember the other day they were calling for none? (!)


Remember what I said earlier in the season? The local forecasts here were changing every six hours to coincide with GFS model runs.


Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
your world is about to be rocked


KOG, do you think our world will be rocked in S. Ontario around March to April? I think that because the El Nino and AO are causing the storm track to be positioned from California to the Southern US to the Northeast while Canada misses out on the snow. As the jet lifts back up north, could we see Colorado low-type storms merging with Nor'easters and bombing out over the Great Lakes basin like the storms have been doing over the US for the past two months?
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Thanks Keeper, got the image.
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Flood---Dallas?
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1455
Quoting largeeyes:
Now calling for 5-7" here. Remember the other day they were calling for none? (!)


Don't be surprised if they up you again...we were only supposed to get 1-4; we ended up with 15
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Quoting Floridano:


is fiu in that circle?



Si
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Quoting Floridano:
Flood, this shouldn't be the case during our dry season down here.


These big North American storms, in this case down in the south of the US are producing strong squall lines in the warm sector as the Arctic air recedes from Florida. Leaves me wondering what kinds of storms we'll get when the storm track pivots back northward toward Southern Ontario later this winter as average temperatures in the continent warm.
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Quoting Floridano:
damn, its gettings tronger instead of weakening as its getting close to me. it looks like the 93 squall line, yall
your world is about to be rocked
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Now calling for 5-7" here. Remember the other day they were calling for none? (!)
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1455
damn, its gettings tronger instead of weakening as its getting close to me. it looks like the 93 squall line, yall
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sleeting heavily in West Ashley
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/>
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Quoting WxLogic:
This Low pressure sure deepen ... currently have my barometer 998.4MB with other stations around me reporting like readings.

The strengthening sure is showing itself now in SFL with that healthy squall line. I've received so far .87" of rain.and winds starting to switch little by little to the NW and gusty.


This system pretty much will bomb out for the Southeast coast-No doubt about that!!!
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/
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Whiteout conditions in WPB. This rain is 10X better than snow. :D
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112

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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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