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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299. BahaHurican
12:26 PM GMT on December 09, 2010
It's reporting colder in Nassau than in Fort Lauderdale!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21458
298. BahaHurican
12:23 PM GMT on December 09, 2010
Wow! 51 at our airport at 7 a.m.!!!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21458
297. BahaHurican
12:18 PM GMT on December 09, 2010
Wonder how cold it got in the mtns of Cuba...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21458
296. DDR
12:11 PM GMT on December 09, 2010
Good morning
25 C outside
showers training in on the trades,going to be another wet one.
Member Since: April 27, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 1685
295. GeoffreyWPB
11:59 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10972
294. wunderkidcayman
11:54 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
you know I was praying to god begging for it to get down to th low 40's--upper 30's now maybe kinda woundering why I did that but I will enjoy it as long as possible
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10987
293. wunderkidcayman
11:46 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
as I said stormwatcherCI I think we may break records this winter season
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10987
292. stormwatcherCI
11:41 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
yes stormwatcherCI umm may get cooler
The cold front that should reach us by the weekend is stronger than the one now so I wouldn't be surprised if it gets colder.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8266
291. stormwatcherCI
11:41 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting KoritheMan:
Good morning all. I see even people across the Caribbean and Bahamas are complaining about the cold. Quite unusual, if I do say so myself.
Good morning Kori. It doesn't normally drop down that low down here. Usually to the mid 60's maybe.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8266
290. bassis
11:38 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
16 deg. in Concord NC at 6:00am. thats freakin cold. I moved from NH to get away from this stuff. It's the end of the world I tell ya
Member Since: September 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
289. wunderkidcayman
11:26 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
yes I am with you on that I really think we down here will be breaking our records this winter season (this is just a feeling I got)
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10987
288. wunderkidcayman
11:21 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
yes stormwatcherCI umm may get cooler
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10987
287. KoritheMan
11:17 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Good morning all. I see even people across the Caribbean and Bahamas are complaining about the cold. Quite unusual, if I do say so myself.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
286. stormwatcherCI
11:04 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning all. Just amazingly chilly here... 55 at the airport, 47 at the north coast, and 58 currently inside my house...

I'm supposed to leave early today, but I can't get myself to leave the toasty warmth of the bed...
Good morning. Surprisingly, Grand Cayman dropped to an overnight low of 58. It is now 60. Another cold front in the GOM moving this way.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8266
285. BahaHurican
10:51 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Morning all. Just amazingly chilly here... 55 at the airport, 47 at the north coast, and 58 currently inside my house...

I'm supposed to leave early today, but I can't get myself to leave the toasty warmth of the bed...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21458
284. Neapolitan
10:49 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Just under 50 degrees here in Naples, headed for weekend highs around 80. Supposed to dip into the mid 30s early next week (and we currently have a 1% chance of snow), but temps will be back to 80 by the following weekend. I know some like the cold, but not me; warm weather means tourists--and, more importantly, tourist dollars. ;-)

At any rate, weather should be fine for the Shark Shootout which starts tomorrow. If you want to know the weather in Naples, just watch NBC or the Golf Channel. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13455
283. greentortuloni
10:43 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Sorry. A semi global warming post as I sit in bed with some sort of flu:

the point of the article is that socialism of one sort or another is coming (regardless of global warming conspiracies, hence why it is semi-GW). Basically, as technological progress eliminates the need for jobs, how is wealth distributed? If a robot can make 10 times as much as I can per hour and never needs sleep, etc., who will offer me a job? If i can't find work, who feeds my family... someone (The state, etc.) has to give me food. The only possible recourse is to live off the grid, back to the cavemen days.

there are a lot of other nightmares associated with this scenario: control of resources by any one group and the rest of us essentially become slaves, or at best living in a murky world of the black economy. Another is what the third world countries fear: the have's create a country club nation with pollution dumped outside of it.

None of these scenarios are likely but the underlying impulses (technology, pollution, loss of jobs, etc.) are real.

Member Since: June 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1220
282. PensacolaDoug
8:48 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
281. nocaneindy
5:54 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
I'll be working up a blog tomorrow for the upcoming snowstorm for Central Indiana (Muncie-Kokomo-Indianapolis area). Forecasts are all over the place, and the N.W.S. out of Indianapolis is very hesitant to make a call. If you live in the region, come get yet another prognostication for this impending event... Hopefully I'll have it up by 2pm est.
Member Since: September 21, 2007 Posts: 34 Comments: 515
280. nocaneindy
5:33 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting EnergyMoron:


For those in FL... how about $20 a month?

I heat my home with water in Houston TX. I love this early cold since I can calibrate my heating. When last year there were articles about folks being mad about 250 heating bills, I was mad at $50....

I was using solar (the backup stank and there were serious safety issues... the company that made the system did get busted recently by the DOE on 1970 era efficiency laws) to heat the house. $50... too much.

I have a condensing boiler (otherwise known as a on demand hybrid) now. The thing ROCKS. I am on track for $20 a month for heating bills.

Old house doesn't pay to retrofit (unless you have installed solar and found your carbon footprint to be increased by it... not to mention the safety issues).

For new homes

1) No furnace. One less appliance (heat pumps are good for the north, not the south). There are implications for insulation of the ductwork.
2) Cost is very little over a normal tankless (pressure drops kill you in the normal tankless... and cannot do recirc. Am not there yet on whether recirc a good idea or not).

Perhaps a bit selfish, but I love this early cold since I can analyze the heating system!


Major props! I live in Indiana, in a all electric house. I've bought all these energy efficient gizmo's and I'm lucky if it doesn't cost me at least $450 a month to heat my 1700 sq.ft. home in the winter months. That's with 2 rooms kinda not in use for the most part (winter months). I don't have the means for solar anything at the moment but roundly applause those that do, and do it.
BTW, Accuweather says my area will get 10-15" of the white stuff Saturday night. I figure 6" is a safer bet. I'm thrilled!!
Member Since: September 21, 2007 Posts: 34 Comments: 515
279. charlesimages
5:20 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:

G'night, people.


Just passing through here and seen the Metallica video, they are my favorite band and you indeed have good taste. Dream of weather!
Member Since: May 25, 2006 Posts: 347 Comments: 29278
278. DontAnnoyMe
4:52 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting EnergyMoron:


heat pumps are good for the north, not the south


?

Heat pumps are rather inefficient when it's below 35F unless they are dual fuel. And heat pumps are very efficient coolers.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
277. HurrMichaelOrl
4:19 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
It looks like models have modified quite a bit on the projected cold wave. Weather.com now calling for 26/51 on the coldest day (23/46 forecast last night). I figured as much, since even if the forecast for low 20s continued, with the extensive urban heat island effect, the major cities in Central Florida would be hard pressed to get into the low 20s. Based on the last 5 years or so, I'd say a forecast of 26 for Orlando equals 28-30F at the airports.
Member Since: July 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1070
276. PSLFLCaneVet
4:18 AM GMT on December 09, 2010

G'night, people.


Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
275. melaniestx
4:04 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
I wonder if we will break any records here in the US Virgin Islands? I believe that our current record low is 67f. Don't forget if it gets too cold, you can always come vist St Croix, United States Virgin Islands and not even need a passport :)
Member Since: January 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 25
274. EnergyMoron
3:56 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i got 6 gas fire boilers fired up water temp going out is at 180f with a rtn coming back of 110 3 boilers for east side of high rise 3 boilers for west side of the high rise psi is at 30 also have 2 additional boilers for domestic hot water in total 8 boilers in the building internal air temp is kept at 76f inside at all times it cost about $20,000 per month to heat the building in the dead of winter


For those in FL... how about $20 a month?

I heat my home with water in Houston TX. I love this early cold since I can calibrate my heating. When last year there were articles about folks being mad about 250 heating bills, I was mad at $50....

I was using solar (the backup stank and there were serious safety issues... the company that made the system did get busted recently by the DOE on 1970 era efficiency laws) to heat the house. $50... too much.

I have a condensing boiler (otherwise known as a on demand hybrid) now. The thing ROCKS. I am on track for $20 a month for heating bills.

Old house doesn't pay to retrofit (unless you have installed solar and found your carbon footprint to be increased by it... not to mention the safety issues).

For new homes

1) No furnace. One less appliance (heat pumps are good for the north, not the south). There are implications for insulation of the ductwork.
2) Cost is very little over a normal tankless (pressure drops kill you in the normal tankless... and cannot do recirc. Am not there yet on whether recirc a good idea or not).

Perhaps a bit selfish, but I love this early cold since I can analyze the heating system!
Member Since: December 8, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
273. PSLFLCaneVet
3:40 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting Patrap:
night TD.

Night John Boy,

Night Grandpa



Night Grandpa. LOL.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
272. Stoopid1
3:34 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
A crisp 14 degrees right now, with the low expected to be 10 here in Saratoga Springs, NY. Tomorrow night is supposed to be 4! That's cold.
Member Since: August 6, 2007 Posts: 24 Comments: 2688
271. Patrap
3:31 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
night TD.

Night John Boy,

Night Grandpa

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127541
270. PSLFLCaneVet
3:29 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Evenin', hoser. ;-)

imperious: congrats again.




LMAO, glad you liked it.

Thank you.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
269. tornadodude
3:29 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
night everyone lol
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
267. caneswatch
3:25 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting tornadodude:


im great, you?

sorry but im really tired, gotta get some sleep


Not too bad.

I have to wait to get shut eye lol
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
266. DontAnnoyMe
3:20 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting tornadodude:
im out guys, be back in the morning



Haha that storm split up actually happens a lot here. Must be the topography.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
265. tornadodude
3:20 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting caneswatch:


Didn't see ya drop by TD, how are you?


im great, you?

sorry but im really tired, gotta get some sleep
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
264. caneswatch
3:19 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting tornadodude:


hey man, sounds chilly!

im great, its about 15 degrees, chance of snow tomorrow night, then rain saturday changing to snow that night, decent accumulations possible


Didn't see ya drop by TD, how are you?
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
263. FLPandhandleJG
3:19 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting tornadodude:
im out guys, be back in the morning



haha.. u have a good night.. probably b back on tomorrow..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
262. DontAnnoyMe
3:18 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Nice! How's it going, DAM?


Evenin', hoser. ;-)

imperious: congrats again.

Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
261. tornadodude
3:17 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
im out guys, be back in the morning

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
259. PSLFLCaneVet
3:09 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:



Nice! How's it going, DAM?
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
258. wunderkidcayman
3:06 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
hey guys what's up its really getting chilly for some reason we had the A/C on I came outside and it's cooler came back in and it's warmer talk to me what goin on and what about you
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10987
257. DontAnnoyMe
3:06 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
256. FLPandhandleJG
3:03 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting tornadodude:


hey man, sounds chilly!

im great, its about 15 degrees, chance of snow tomorrow night, then rain saturday changing to snow that night, decent accumulations possible


I hear ya.. I would love to c some snow down here again.. Its a great sight but i know its not good for our crops and all.. But the models still keep flip flopping.. The Nam saying more rain then snow.. The Cold artic air supposed to catch on real fast but the nam says the moisture would be near or in front of the front.. But definitely feel Cold air a lil later tho.. But other models disagree have L lil lower then the other runs.. But the NAM has L lil more North..

But either way u will get something, most likely snow..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
254. tornadodude
2:55 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


evening Tornadodude.. its 34 and feel like 27 and dropping in the panhandle of FL.. How u doing??


hey man, sounds chilly!

im great, its about 15 degrees, chance of snow tomorrow night, then rain saturday changing to snow that night, decent accumulations possible
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
252. Patrap
2:48 AM GMT on December 09, 2010

Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
355 PM CST Wednesday Dec 8 2010



This weekend...the words of the weekend are...Arctic cold front.

Friday night a short wave will work southeast out of Alberta Canada. This will dig into
the middle MS valley region and reinforce the l/west trough over much of the Continental U.S.. at the same time cyclogenesis will take place over middle MS/OH/TN valleys.
This surface low will move east while the l/west trough will amplify. This will drive a strong cold front through the region early Sun morning with much colder air behind it. By Sun night/early
Monday the middle level flow will become nearly with a strong Arctic high working due south from Manitoba and we will basically have unrestricted flow from the north.


What is all of this going to do for our forecast area?
First it is going to increase the rain chances for late Sat and Sun morning. The amount of forcing with the front and trough should easily squeeze out some rain. We are not expecting a lot of rain but we should have no problem measuring at just about everywhere.
With that I have greatly increased Sat night probability of precipitation and probably could go higher with likely probability of precipitation but will hold close to the new 12z mex at this time.

The other and bigger issue immediately will be winds.

On the backside of this front the winds are going to howl.

A pressure gradient of 7-8mb is being advertised by both the GFS and European model (ecmwf) over our County Warning Area. By 15-18z winds will be unidirectional from the surface to 700 mb with 850 mb and 700 mb winds possibly up to 50-55kts at those levels.
There will also be very strong cold air advection occurring at both 850 mb and 700 mb and combine this with clearing skies and 6hr pressure rises of 5-7mb and the recipe is practically perfect for a very windy day.
Sustained winds over the land areas will likely be 20-25mph especially on the southshore with winds gusts possibly up to 40mph at times.

Winds should finally begin to relax as we head into the evn and this will then lead US to
the other problem...cold temperatures. Much colder air is going to work into the area with h925 temperatures of -5 to -6c and -5 to -7c at 850 mb
possible. In addition to the cold air...much drier air will be working in with dewpoints possibly dropping into single digits.
Skies will be clear Sun night and this could set the stage for the coldest night of the season.
Now winds will likely still be up especially just above the surface and this would hinder radiational cooling issues but this is not going to be a radiational cooling night and mostly a cold air advection event.
Lows could dip into the teens across the northern portions of our County Warning Area but right now we will hold onto lower 20s in the north and in the upper 20s to lower 30s in extreme southeast la.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127541
251. caneswatch
2:47 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
I hope the Florida cold wave for next week does back off from some of the model predictions.  Citrus farmers have a hard time as it is.


The models have been stuck to it like glue. It doesn't look to good for them.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
250. PSLFLCaneVet
2:47 AM GMT on December 09, 2010
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
I hope the Florida cold wave for next week does back off from some of the model predictions.  Citrus farmers have a hard time as it is.


Good evening, Dover. Agreed.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414

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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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