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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310. Drakoen
8:46 PM GMT on February 12, 2010
Radar imagery and surface observations indicate that snow is falling across central Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the western panhandle of Florida. The rain/snow line has dropped down to near Pensacola. Portions of central Alabama and Georgia 2-4 inches with local high amounts in the swath near Montgomery and along the I-85 eastward towards Macon and Atlanta. My forecast is in agreement with the GFS as the NAM is too robust with the snowfall totals and illogical to present conditions. Down towards the Alabama/Florida border expecting 1-3 inches. Over the panhandle of Florida 1 to possibly 2 inches around the northern sections close to the Alabama/Florida border. And up to an inch or less around of I-10. Radar imagery is showing the western extent of the snow mainly as virga. The frontogenesis region is shifting eastward with the focus primarily on Alabama and Georgia especially central sections of these states within the snow growth region.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30615
309. unf97
8:44 PM GMT on February 12, 2010
Good afternoon everyone.

I have taken a little road trip this afternoon and I am currently in Jesup, GA, about 55 miles SW of Savannah in SE GA.

It is raining lightly here at the moment right now and the currnet temp on my digital thermometer is currently 40.2 degrees.

The storm system is definitely intensifying and it looks like I should be seeing wrap around bands of snow here sometime just after sunset. I am here at arestaurant with the Weather Channel on in front of me. Looking at the radar, the rain/ snow line is sinking slowly east southeastward through GA extending southwest to the extreme northern FL panhandle interior area where Ike is located.

I checked the Charleston NWS and they are now expecting 3 to 5 inches just north of this location where I am up along Interstate 16 corridor up into SC. Expecting more on the order of around 1 inch or so here in Jesup.

I will be checking in from time to time. There may be enough wrap around moisture back at home in Jax to produce a few snow flurries late tonight as the storm system pulls away, but that will be about it.
Member Since: September 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
308. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
8:43 PM GMT on February 12, 2010
Quoting gwhite713:
Looking at that radar Keeper, kinda looks like DC might even see a few flakes,incredible.
no should remain on coarse e ne snow sheild now advances ne ward with a changeover line advancing se over GA out of west atlantic it goes bombs out over water up the seaboard off shore then back doors us on monday in over que southern james bay area
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
307. charlottefl
8:43 PM GMT on February 12, 2010


Check out the pressure outside here... Looks more like a tropical storm.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2687
306. IKE
8:42 PM GMT on February 12, 2010
Really coming down. Looks like it's going to be letting up within 30 minutes.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
305. wishcasterfromfsu
8:41 PM GMT on February 12, 2010
so if it is snowing in niceville and defuniak springs then it would be a good guess that it will be snowing in tallahassee in about 3-4 hours right? seeing as they are on the same line of latitude....i think tallahassee has a higher elevation with the hills, not sure that has an effect though?
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303. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
8:37 PM GMT on February 12, 2010

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
301. HurricaneHunterGal
8:37 PM GMT on February 12, 2010
Quoting IKE:
My poodle has never seen snow in his life. He's scared to go out in it.


awwww haha :-)
Member Since: August 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 249
300. IKE
My poodle has never seen snow in his life. He's scared to go out in it.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
just started snowing in niceville. have to download picture
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Now 37 degrees on the beach, rain stopped and the sky getting bright to the west. Congrats to all the snow wishers who got their wish...
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 850
297. IKE
Quoting mossyhead:
It is snowing heavily here on my side of defuniak Ike. Our car is covered in snow. And it is sticking to the ground. BIG FLAKES!!!!


Same here now...down to 35.6. Got some pictures taken.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting 850Realtor:
Any chance for more in Pensacola or is it now officially over?


Based on radar, I'd say we were done. Of course I'm not official. :)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Looking at that radar Keeper, kinda looks like DC might even see a few flakes,incredible.
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
Any chance for more in Pensacola or is it now officially over?
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Quoting IKE:


It stuck to my hair and that's about it.
It is snowing heavily here on my side of defuniak Ike. Our car is covered in snow. And it is sticking to the ground. BIG FLAKES!!!!
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Keeper, thats an awesome radar look..Im in extreme se TN on the NC/TN border. We are well in the snow and i thought it was going to clear up for a bit than i see the weather heading for the NW part of the state. Its been one storm after another here.
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
MAX solar hitting should be happening between 3:30PM ET and 4:00PM ET. In matter fact I'm at 45F (dropping) and CAA at low levels appears to have started to kick in in N/CFL (specially being enhanced by evaporation cooling due to the rain) so I will expect temps to continue to come down from this point on. Should be interesting to see how far south the snow line will get.
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Quoting WPBHurricane05:
TWC said no snow on Hawaii's mountains, not surprised they are wrong.

I dont ever trust TWC. They are usually wrong.
Member Since: August 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 249


pulls ne ward swinging cold front se ward
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
288. IKE
Moderate snow....down to 36.0!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
WPB they were rather relucatant to admit snow records for the large mid atlantic cities, at least not until they were more than smashed =). Now if we could only get a few flakes to fly in the American somoas ,or on Johnston Island in the Pacific=)..
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
You can see the area that gave us snow at the Okaloosa - Walton line right now on the beach.

Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting WPBHurricane05:
TWC said no snow on Hawaii's mountains, not surprised they are wrong.


Typical
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Hey Dan! Thats what it looked like here in Warrington for about 2 minutes.


Lasted about 10 minutes, of which about 5 were fairly big flakes coming down pretty good. Nothing stuck of course. Was watching a heavy band of, something, on radar coming from you way up here for about 1/2 hour prior. Seemed to build just as it got here and now dissipated. Got to oranges just as it got here. Right place, right time, a little luck and some perseverance on my part. LOL
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Does anyone know how Vancouver, BC is going to fare this week on the slopes, rain and snow was last i heard..
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
TWC said no snow on Hawaii's mountains, not surprised they are wrong.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
Light rain in millen ga temp now down to 37 dewpoint 34 this is getting interesting. Snow is knocking on my doorstep.
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
So there's snow in Hawaii?...Hmmmmmm


Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Hawaii's only snowplow has come to life for the season, removing drifts from the road up the state's highest mountain, 21/2 miles above tropical beaches. Snow falls regularly on the 13,796-foot summit of Mauna Kea, home to 10 telescopes, including Keck I and Keck II, the largest in the world. Astronomers, who live in dormitories at the 9,300-foot level, require access to the observatories.

Five plow drivers born or raised in Hawaii commute from 80-degree temperatures at sea level to freezing temperatures. The workers, who help maintain the mountain area throughout the year,…
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
Rhut Rho - sun's peeking through over here on the east coast.


Get ready for severe weather. It was nasty in Tampa and it has been cloudy all day. I can't imagine how strong those storms would've been with day time heating.
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Very nice...

There's a pretty good CAA happening at 700MB on the NW Panhandle and spreading SE at a pretty good clip. It has aided the snowflake structure to remain intact on their decent to ground level:

Link

Definitely a good chance of NCFL having some flurries tonight as the low pressure pulls away and wrap around moisture is able to lag enough behind the CAA.
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Rhut Rho - sun's peeking through over here on the east coast.
Quoting NttyGrtty:
So there's snow in Hawaii?...Hmmmmmm


Well yes, there always is.
The Kilauea Volcano is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world.



Observatories are seen on the peak of the snow-covered Mauna Kea mountain in this aerial photo taken Tuesday Jan. 6, 2008 near Hilo, Hawaii. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano and home to an astronomy community.

Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
there is snow in Hawii, Kia Mona is an observatory well over 14,000 feet, it snows up there..and often..
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
At 2:20pm Fri., it started snowing near Thomson Georgia. (Just west of Augusta)
And they told me it never snowed here when I moved here last July??? LOL
Oh Well, I'm a Wisconsinite by birth so at least I'M use to it.
Oh what a beautiful Winter...
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
So there's snow in Hawaii?...Hmmmmmm


On the mountains tops, Im pretty sure its year round too.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Hey Dan! Thats what it looked like here in Warrington for about 2 minutes.
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270. code1
Temp has dropped from 40F to 38.2 here in less than an hour. Hearing a few bits of sleet hit french doors now. Not seeing it slide down like last night though.
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 66 Comments: 13872
So there's snow in Hawaii?...Hmmmmmm
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 850


Snow in Florida, Georgia, and S. Carolina now. Alaska obviously has snow but there is no snow on the mountains of Hawaii.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
I heard that after this snowfall, there will be more snow on the ground in the lower 48 than anytime in the past 100 years.. Could it be?
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
Fox reported an hour or so ago something about snow on the ground in 37 states...
\


They said all 50 states
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About one mile north of Pensacola airport










Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Fox reported an hour or so ago something about snow on the ground in 37 states...
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 850
Ft. Myers is next to get nailed.

Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
code, that is true, if it snows in FL, which from the sounds and looks of things in FL, that indeed has happened.. a first from what i've understood for one season..
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
Quoting IKE:
Moderate snow and 36.5.

Good deal! Now it's GOT to snow here...temp is dropping fairly fast...back to about what it started out at this morning. Snow must be imminent for us...
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260. code1
Quoting gwhite713:
32 in Maryville, TN.All snow, all white, roads getting ..interesting =). That groundhog did see his shadow =)


Maryville is beautiful in the fall and spring!
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 66 Comments: 13872

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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.