Major Pacific Northwest winter storm poised to slam Eastern U.S. this weekend

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 PM GMT on December 08, 2010

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A major winter storm powered ashore today in the Pacific Northwest, bringing heavy rain and snow to the Olympic Mountains. This storm dumped four inches of rain over the Olympics, bringing the Skokomish River to flood stage. Record warm temperatures ahead of the storm have surged northwards across the Pacific Northwest, with Seattle, Washington hitting a record high of 55°F yesterday. Snowfall amounts approaching 2 feet are expected in the Olympic Mountains from the storm, with 1 - 3 feet likely in the Cascade Mountains. This is typical sort of storm one expects to see during a La Niña winter.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation from the Seattle radar for the period Dec 7 - Dec 8. Precipitation amounts in excess of 4 inches have occurred over the Olympic Mountains. Mountains surrounding Seattle block the radar beam, leading to the streaky nature of the image.

As the storm tracks eastwards over the Central U.S. later this week, it will intensify and pull in a large amount of cold, Canadian air. The latest set of computer model runs have come into much better agreement on the track of the storm, and a band of heavy snow of 6 - 10 inches is likely to set up over Central Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The storm will move rapidly eastwards, with the heaviest snow likely to impact northern Indiana, northern Ohio, and southern Ontario on Sunday. The biggest cold blast of the season thus far will roar in behind the storm, causing widespread blowing and drifting of the snow, plus new heavy Lake-effect snows in the lee of the Great Lakes. Low temperatures approaching -20°F are likely in northern Minnesota Saturday and Sunday night after the storm passes. By Tuesday morning, much of the eastern half of the nation will shiver through one the coldest mornings on record for the first half of December, with below freezing temperatures expected to penetrate all the way into South Florida. Record lows were set across much of Southeast U.S. this morning, with 39°F at Fort Lauderdale, 16°F in Columbia SC, and 9°F in Lychburg, VA. Temperatures much colder than this are likely on Tuesday morning across the region.


Figure 2. Forecast surface temperature for 7am EST on Tuesday, December 14, as predicted by this morning's 1am EST run of the GFS model. The heavy red line running along the coast of Florida is the 0°C freezing line, and temperatures below freezing are expected across nearly all of the Southeast U.S.

I'll have a new post on Thursday, when I'll discuss the CSU and TSR forecasts for the 2011 hurricane season. The TSR forecast was released Monday, and the CSU forecast is due out later today.

Jeff Masters

LAKE EFFECT SNOW SQUALL (charlesimages)
An image from the Lake Effect Snow Chase that Matt and I went on. CLICK HERE for the entire chase account detailed with videos and photos!
LAKE EFFECT SNOW SQUALL
To much snow!!!

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Heh!!
It is very strange, for me, to check a Tropical Weather blog, and see just about all the comments discussing snow and freezing temps....

Who turned the Cold-Blast on again ???
Some Strange Northerner, with a warped sense of humor, is my guess.

Here, it is still raining.
But the rain is nice and warm LOL !
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24909
Quoting Jeff9641:


Ice or not if temps get into the low 20's or upper teens then the trees are lost as the key temp is 24 anything lower for 4 hours or more will kill or damage the citrus trees.
Specifically, the danger is due to the fact that at such temperatures, the trunks actually freeze, killing the tree.

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Quoting Jax82:


I stepped outside here in Jax and saw it launch. Thankfully it launched when it did because now we have high altitude clouds. It wasnt as bright as the space shuttle but it was worth watching.

Yeah, the flame wasn't bright at all from my vantage point (163 miles SW of the launch site), but the smoke was. Considering the meaning of the launch for the future of commercial spaceflight, though, it was cool to watch.
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Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
1118 am CST Wednesday Dec 8 2010



Long term... models are coming into better agreement on handling next Arctic airmass and associated cyclone moving across the central U.S. This weekend.

European model (ecmwf) model showing a full latitude trough digging along the Mississippi Valley and channeling a 1044mb surface high out of lower Canada. The GFS is similar though weaker surface high at 1041mb.

Despite this subtle difference...global models showing a nearly straight flow from Hudson's Bay to Gulf of Mexico Sunday night into Monday morning.

This should be a very cold and windy period with hard freeze and freeze warnings likely warranted once again.

Air mass moderation does not really begin until Tuesday with a warming trend anticipated as upper ridging becomes established middle of next week.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Quoting Neapolitan:

Yeah. Cold temps in winter are pretty rare; they should move the conferences to summer to help convince contrarians... ;-)




Yes they are, when they are are record setting in Cancun!

Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 669
Does some one have a link to the latest gfs loop i have a feeling that cold front in the gulf will bring us rain . The forcaster says it is a dry cold front
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Quoting Jeff9641:
I have feeling that after next week that cold wx maybe hard to come by in the Deep South as it looks like the Southern Branch is finally going to get active. The good thing is as that happens FL should see rain on a more regular basis and cold wx will be bottled up to the north. Dec. of 2000 was like this then in Jan and Feb of 2001 it was warm with most of Feb in 2001 in the 80's.


I like the sound of that.
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Quoting Jeff9641:
I have feeling that after next week that cold wx maybe hard to come by in the Deep South as it looks like the Southern Branch is finally going to get active. The good thing is as that happens FL should see rain on a more regular basis and cold wx will be bottled up to the north. Dec. of 2000 was like this then in Jan and Feb of 2001 it was warm with most of Feb in 2001 in the 80's.
ya warmer than normal with cold tryin to push down expect severe season to be strong this year coming
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting ILwthrfan:


I wouldn't put anything into any of the forcasts other than it will get cold. Storm track won't be at a higher confidence until the storm actually gets sampled. Many unknowns. GFS model is spittin out anywhere from 4 - 10 inches from south central Illinois east northeast into northwest Ohio.

06Z monday gfs snowfall forecast


00Z monday gfs snowfall forecast



hmmmm, who knows then. either a decent snowfall or a rain event
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Well, I stand to be corrected I guess. I visited a grove down in Winter Haven some years back and I was told by one of the owners down there that the critical temperature was 28 degrees or lower for a minumum of 4-6 hours can cause some major problems.

No matter how you decipher it, it is going to get brutally cold next week and I hope for the best for those folks down the state preparing to save their crops.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


24 or lower for 4 hours or more then tree and fruit are done.

Thanks for the info! Checked Gainesville, forecast low of 20 on Tuesday morning, ouch! Not sure where all the oranges are grown in FL though.
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well lets hope it is no lower then 24
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting dfwWxDude:
At what point do you lose the trees too?

My uncle had an orange grove wiped out, trees and all, in Plaquemines Parish LA, in the late 80's Artic blast ('88 was it?). Took 5 years to get back to producing fruit again.


The citrus groves are sprayed with water to protect the fruit during severe hard freezes. If too much ice accumulates for a prolonged period of time, that is when the tree branches can get damaged or destroyed due to the weight of the ice.

Or even if oranges are exposed directly to prolonged temps in the 20s, they can freeze completely and the tree branches can't hold them that way as well.
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At what point do you lose the trees too?

My uncle had an orange grove wiped out, trees and all, in Plaquemines Parish LA, in the late 80's Artic blast ('88 was it?). Took 5 years to get back to producing fruit again.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
fruit will be soft anyway most can be saved for frozen concentrated juice with less product for store shelves


Good point KOTG. However, I would imagine that there would still be some considerable losses of citrus with such an extreme cold spell.
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Here is my blog post on the storm Link
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fruit will be soft anyway most can be saved for frozen concentrated juice with less product for store shelves
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
The critical point is 28 degrees for oranges. If there is a prolonged period of temperatures of 28 degrees or lower for at least a minimum of four to six hours, that would be damaging to the crop despite the insulation of ice placed on the fruit.


Areas across Central and South Central peninsula could drop into the low- mid 20s if the GFS run verifies next week, which definitely could create some seriois issues for the citrus, as well as the vegetable crops for the state.


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Quoting RitaEvac:
All they have to do is spray mist on the fruit and will insulate the fruit at 32 degrees
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting Jeff9641:


It does seem over the last few years that their has been a trend toward huge Arctic Outbreaks. We went several years prior to 2009 with no recorded freeze in Orlando and now it is becoming a common occurance during the Winter months. It does make you wonder what's going on with the Atlantic Oscillation is this common every 15 to 20 years because i remember the Winters in the 1980's in FL brutal as a kid growing up.



Yes - the late 80's had very similar weather -- I remember having a Xmas party, middle of December, and temps outside were in the 30's at 11:00 pm. It was unusual, so I've always remembered that.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Yep...the strawberries and also perhaps the limes and sugar as Jeff9641 pointed out in the previous blog.


Hopefully the Strawberry Festival won't be hurt too badly. Well, worse than it already will be by having Billy Ray Cyrus in concert.

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Quoting tornadodude:


yeah I was thinking similarly, thanks!

Im not sure it will last til Christmas, but a week might not be out of the question


I wouldn't put anything into any of the forcasts other than it will get cold. Storm track won't be at a higher confidence until the storm actually gets sampled. Many unknowns. GFS model is spittin out anywhere from 4 - 10 inches from south central Illinois east northeast into northwest Ohio.

06Z monday gfs snowfall forecast


00Z monday gfs snowfall forecast
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salt boxes are full shovels are at ready snowblowers primed all set for whats yet to come

thanks for the update get ready for the fun
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting Jeff9641:
This next Arctic Blast come Monday maybe some of the coldest temps FL residents have ever seen before. Coldest I've ever seen it was last winter at 22 and their is some thinking that my are in the Wekvia Springs/Apopka area will get into the mid to upper teens for lows.

I would agree if most of FL residents were born and raised here but most aren't (including me). The weather now and next week are reminding me of the two-year stint I pulled in Delaware in the eighties. ;~)
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unf so u see south fla geting cold 2
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Phil Klotzbach / Dr Gray released their first 2011 forecast and they are forecasting another active season (17/9/5)

Link
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All they have to do is spray mist on the fruit and will insulate the fruit at 32 degrees
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and will south fla get cold 2
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

I completely agree. I think the FL citrus crop along with others is at severe risk next week. If you like orange juice, stock up now before prices potentially soar if the crop takes a hit.


Yes sir indeed you are speaking the truth there. The price of orange juice is just going the go through the roof if this crippling freeze comes in next week as expected. Also, the strawberry fields down around Plant City could also take a real severe hit as well next week.
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Good morning everyone!

My thermometer reading bottomed out at 24.2 degrees this morning, and NWS office at Jacksonville International Airport set a new record low for this date with 24 degrees as well, breaking the mark of 28 degrees set back in 1984.

There will most definitely will be more record breaking low temps to occur beginning early next week across the Deep South and the Florida peninsula. This arctic airmass coming in behind the powerful winter storm moving out of the OH Valley region by the end of the weekend is extremely cold. I'm afraid will could have a crippling event for Florida's fruit and vegetable crops. There is a very reasonable chance that this next arctic intrusion will be comparable to the severe freezes experienced during the 1980s decade. The models throughout this week thus far have consistently trended colder. I just hope people down in the peninsula are taking precautions about next week. It just looks down right brutal right now if the model runs verify.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Yeah. Cold temps in winter are pretty rare; they should move the conferences to summer to help convince contrarians... ;-)


well I think he was referencing the record low temps. this has happened twice in a row now, its just ironic I guess :P
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting Ossqss:


Probably due to the climate change conference in Cancun setting record low temps 3 days in a row. Quite ironic and reminiscent of last years meeting.

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/MMUN/2010/12/7/DailyHistory.html


Yeah. Cold temps in winter are pretty rare; they should move the conferences to summer to help convince contrarians... ;-)
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Just a hunch
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Quoting GetReal:
OMG a post by Dr. Masters which mentioned record cold December tempertures, and without one reference to AGW for the blame!!!


Probably due to the climate change conference in Cancun setting record low temps 3 days in a row. Quite ironic and reminiscent of last years meeting.

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/MMUN/2010/12/7/DailyHistory.html

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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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