Dangerous winter storm slams South, heads to New England; Indiana sets snow record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:14 PM GMT on January 10, 2011

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A powerful winter storm has brought heavy snow and dangerous amounts of freezing rain to much of the South, in a swath stretching from northeastern Texas to southern North Carolina. The storm began Sunday in Texas, then tracked almost due east, bringing snow amounts of 8 - 11 inches to southern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, and southern Tennessee. As of 9am CST, the heaviest snow amounts as reported in the NOAA Storm Summary were 11 inches at Lawrenceburg, TN and 10 inches at Baldwyn, MS. The worst freezing rain was reported in central Georgia at Fort Valley, where 3/4" of ice had accumulated. Texarkana, Arkansas, had 1/2" of ice. Freezing rain amounts of 1/4 inch were also reported over much of northern Louisiana, central Alabama, and central Mississippi. A nasty mix of up to four inches of snow, sleet, and freezing rain hit the Atlanta, Georgia area, causing the cancellation of thousands of flights at the world's busiest airport. The storm will bring an additional 2 - 6 inches of snow to eastern Tennessee, central South Carolina, and central North Carolina today, with significant freezing rain possible in northern Georgia and portions of North and South Carolina. Below-freezing temperatures are expected to remain over the region through Wednesday morning, resulting in a long period of dangerous travel conditions.

Major Nor'easter expected for New York City and Boston
Today's snow storm is expected to push off the coast of North Carolina tonight, then "bomb" into a classic Nor'easter off the coast of New England on Tuesday and Wednesday. Up to a foot of snow is possible for New York City, Boston, and coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island beginning on Tuesday night. The Nor'easter will not be as intense as the December 26 blizzard, however. The winds from the new storm are expected to remain less than 35 mph, resulting in only minor coastal flooding and an absence of blizzard conditions (winds in excess of 35 mph and visibility less than 1/4 mile.)

South Bend nearly sets all-time Indiana snowfall record
An epic lake effect snow storm hit South Bend, Indiana Friday and Saturday, burying the city under a remarkable 36.6" of snow. It was the heaviest two-day snow storm in South Bend's history, breaking a record that had stood since 1909 (a 29" snow storm on January 30 - 31.) The 32.6" that fell in a 24-hour period between 4pm EST 1/7 and 4pm EST 1/8 came just 0.4" short of matching Indiana's heaviest 24-hour snow storm on record. Indiana's heaviest 24-hour snow event was the 33.0" that fell at Salem in December 2004, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.


Figure 1. Snow from Saturday's record lake effect snow storm in South Bend, Indiana piles up. Photo by slowhiker.

While the current snow event is over, new snows are expected in South Bend beginning Wednesday, when a renewed strong northwesterly flow of air off of Lake Michigan will develop in the wake of the strong winter storm currently pounding the Southern U.S. Another 8+ inches of snow may fall in the South Bend area in the new storm.


Figure 2. True color satellite image of the South Bend, Indiana lake effect snow storm of Saturday, January 8, 2010 at 1:45pm EST. A well-defined band of heavy snow developed over Lake Michigan and anchored itself over South Bend, giving the city its heaviest snow storm on record. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

Bridge (SKERT)
in Asheville, NC
Bridge
Blairsville, Ga Snowfall (HurricaneIan)
Overnight and are expecting 3" to 6" more before the storm pulls out on Tuesday
Blairsville, Ga Snowfall
Snow Birds (Strumminmysixstring)
Snow Birds

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i love the fact that half the time i read the blog i have to look up what certain terms mean.

1. sneaux
Steve-O from Wildboyz and Jackass created this footwear company. Skating shoes.
Dude, check out my new kicks, their Sneaux.

2. sneaux
Cajun for snow, (generally "eaux" = "o")
Down in the swamps we seldom get any sneaux.

i'm pretty sure you guys are talking about the second one.


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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
atmoaggie I'm not sure where I'm wrong in what I said. In fact I don't see where I was wrong at all.
You said: "Wind does not prevent objects or the ground from radiating heat to space. "

Which, is actually correct...was looking at that incorrect, myself.

As in, "Wind does not prevent objects or the ground from cooling", which would be inaccurate.
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AMY!!!!!
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It's watching upstream temps time. Find out how fast the arctic boundary is moving and how far south it will come.
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Damn, just from Amarillo to south of Lubbock a 20 degree friggin difference that's ridiculous
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Quoting alfabob:


Yes but what is the physical nature of this effect if not caused by the air mass? The sub-surface would have to be colder then above the surface and heat would have to radiate downwards. I don't see how a temperature gradient could sustain itself if the temperature went from warm - cold - warm. Atmospheric gases and black-body radiation could have some type of effect where IR is radiated upwards into a layer just above the surface; but I don't think the effect would be noticeable.



Well to an extent there is heat transfered downwards. The ground radiates heat away much quicker than the air during the night, and thus quickly becomes colder than the atmosphere. In the absence of mixing, air molecules coming in contact with the ground transfer their energy to the ground and are cooled themselves, but with no mixing, an entire shallow layer of air is cooled substantially before the ground can warm up appreciably from the energy transfered downward by the air. Thus, you get a layer of air near the ground that is much colder than the overlaying air above.
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Afternoon, folks.
Whoopie, Central Florida gets rain again.
CentralConusLoop
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Windchill does affect inanimate objects...That is why we blow on our hot coffee or hot potato.Humans and animals(with a pulse)are affected by windchill in that we need to maintain our body's core to survive...A metal garbage can does not need that
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Concerning the question of rediative cooling and wind.

It is true that the surface can get much colder if there is no wind. However, this is not because of radiative cooling being stronger. Radiation is a function of temperature ONLY (to the 4th power).

Radiation will cool the surface, but the surface only, not the air above the surface, boundary layer excluded.
If there is a wind, it will actually heat the surface by convection, since the air is warmer than the surface. This effect has nothing to do with water.
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Quoting DEKRE:


I agree, but the question was - is it possible?

Anyway, if I read some of the comments in this blog, it seems I've been teaching my students wrong things for 35 years, together with all other professors around the world
lol. I'm sure everyone is wrong most of the time...even if they spout some well-accepted theory!

Is it possible? Not sure...but, if so, for a very brief period of time. Once your wet temperature bulb is dry or frozen (read: no longer evaporating), it's done and will stay at air temp or near. If it ices over, the thermometer inside could read warmer than air temps, actually. (This is getting messy with latent heat, insulating from the air flow, etc.)

(Most actual wet bulb thermometers have a fan to force airflow...)
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Quoting atmoaggie:
That's an extreme example of evaporative cooling...


I agree, but the question was - is it possible?

Anyway, if I read some of the comments in this blog, it seems I've been teaching my students wrong things for 35 years, together with all other professors around the world
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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
Wind does not prevent objects or the ground from radiating heat to space. Clouds can, and do.

What happens on a clear calm (or mostly calm) night is that as the ground cools, a very cold layer of air forms along the ground and results in an inversion--a very cold still layer of air near the ground.

If this cold inversion forms early in the night, it can withstand moderate winds above while continuing to radiate efficiently at the surface. Not strong winds though. This would be if the high pressure center was located directly over a place in the evening, allowing the cold inversion to form, and then moving away, allowing a light south wind to blow 2,000 - 3,000 feet up while still staying calm and cold at the surface.
Nope. But the wind will cause new air molecules to come in contact with a surface, which are then cooled by the surface (which warms the surface) keeping the surface from cooling beyond the air temperature measured.

The rest of that is correct...on a macro scale of what we're talking about, here.
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12z GFS ensembles still advancing the pattern flip over the next two weeks. You'll see the arctic vortex redevelop over Canada while the U.S. is cold over the next week and a half, but as the trough in the Pacific migrates eastward it will shove ridging all over North America while the anchoring arctic trough sets up over Alaska, a much more classic La Nina pattern.

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A thin band of 2"+ rainfall occurred from Tarpon Springs ENE to Land O Lakes. Half inch hail was also reported in the cells that passed over these locations. Kind of busted the forecast of 1/10" and a 40% chance of showers.
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Quoting DEKRE:


Take a night in the desert, temperature 2°C, relative humidity 20%. Not too uncommon in the desert.
At these conditions, the wet bulb temperature is -3 °C
That's an extreme example of evaporative cooling...
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Quoting Neapolitan:


My two salient points before we get lost:

A) All other things being equal, by carrying heat away from an object holding it, air movement can help to cool an item. Given identical bridges under identical environmental conditions, the one under a breeze will, simply, cool more quickly. (It's why people blow on a forkful of hot food before eating it.)

B) Regardless of wind or outgoing longwave radiation, no item will without external interference become cooler than the surrounding air. Once the object is thermally equivalent to the air, there's no further exchange of heat, and cooling stops.

Okay, that's all for today's lesson. Class dismissed. ;-)

WOW!!!.You guys that quickly google a question that you do not know to appear to be smarter than the average rock amazes me...Please admit that there is a phrase that sounds kinda like "I do not know" instead of googling to sound intelligent. I know some things , but I will admit I don't know everything...Kind of like who's faces are on Mt. Rushmore..I would have to think, but I won't google just to impress others..Jedkins01.I have to agree with you this time which is making my tongue bleed while I say that.
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Quoting alfabob:


The lack of heat does not just appear out of thin air, so there must be a transfer process. This process will always go from warm to cold, and there are several different types of heat transfer. Therefore, unless the sub-surface layer is at a cooler temperature then the surrounding atmosphere; it is theoretically impossible for the object to cool to a temperature below that of the surrounding air. The object feels colder because it can absorb more heat from your body than the air.
Okay, now we get small. In calm conditions, the air molecules immediately in contact with the surface are cooled by the surface to a temperature below what would be measured a foot away from the surface.

This is why calm conditions are required for frost on a night with an above freezing low temperature.

So, the "surrounding" atmosphere is not appreciably warmer than the surface.
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Quoting MichaelSTL:


It still can't actually freeze water though (it can, as you said, speed up cooling):



Take a night in the desert, temperature 2°C, relative humidity 20%. Not too uncommon in the desert.
At these conditions, the wet bulb temperature is -3 °C
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Quoting Patrap:
Sneaux is of the Devil I hear tell...



you betcha
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17 degrees now in Amarillo. There is now a 20 degree difference just from there to a few towns south of Lubbock. Arctic air is a whole nudda animal
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Quoting Patrap:
Aflockolypse Now


.."I love the smell of Sneaux in the Morning"...

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BARROW AK
1216 PM AKST SUN JAN 9 2011

...RECORD BREAKING HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR BARROW TODAY...

HIGH PRESSURE OVER INTERIOR ALASKA CONTINUES TO DRAW WARM AIR OVER
THE ARCTIC SLOPE SENDING BARROW TEMPERATURE TO A RECORD BREAKING 33
DEGREES AT 1020 THIS MORNING. PREVIOUS HIGH TEMPERATURE WAS 25
DEGREES SET IN 1930. BARROW IS ALSO SET TO BREAK THE HIGH MINIMUM
WITH 10 DEGREES SO FAR TODAY. PREVIOUS HIGH MINIMUM WAS 8 DEGREES SET
IN 1981.




Courtesy of the ridiculously strong blocking ridge of greater than 5760 meters at 500mb. I will point out though that this winter overall so far has been very cold for most of Alaska. This warmup is nothing more than a week-long transitional period between patterns.

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Sneaux is of the Devil I hear tell...

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Quoting Patrap:
Aflockolypse Now


.."I love the smell of Sneaux in the Morning"...




shush
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Aflockolypse Now


.."I love the smell of Sneaux in the Morning"...

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BARROW AK
1216 PM AKST SUN JAN 9 2011

...RECORD BREAKING HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR BARROW TODAY...

HIGH PRESSURE OVER INTERIOR ALASKA CONTINUES TO DRAW WARM AIR OVER
THE ARCTIC SLOPE SENDING BARROW TEMPERATURE TO A RECORD BREAKING 33
DEGREES AT 1020 THIS MORNING. PREVIOUS HIGH TEMPERATURE WAS 25
DEGREES SET IN 1930. BARROW IS ALSO SET TO BREAK THE HIGH MINIMUM
WITH 10 DEGREES SO FAR TODAY. PREVIOUS HIGH MINIMUM WAS 8 DEGREES SET
IN 1981.


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Quoting RIDGES:


Or that time is meaningless.

Or have you build a sundial.

Hey press, you hear they solved the bird death mystery?

An Aflockolypse.


I love that!
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I've seen frost at 40 degrees
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Wrap a water bottle in a wet cloth, stick it in your grill while driving in New Mexico on on a hot summers day and within 10 minutes it feels like you just took it from the fridge.
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Quoting Neapolitan:


My two salient points before we get lost:

A) All other things being equal, by carrying heat away from an object holding it, air movement can help to cool an item. Given identical bridges under identical environmental conditions, the one under a breeze will, simply, cool more quickly. (It's why people blow on a forkful of hot food before eating it.)
Only if the bridge were warmer than the surrounding air. Generally, as night falls, the bridge will cool faster than the air and, literally, cool the air itself.

B) Regardless of wind or outgoing longwave radiation, no item will without external interference become cooler than the surrounding air. Once the object is thermally equivalent to the air, there's no further exchange of heat, and cooling stops.
Also incorrect. All items become cooler than the surround air, at night, with no wind. If air were the heat source, IR satellite images would be useless. Why does touching metal feel colder than only touching the air? It conducts heat better and also, in the open at night, was cooler than the air before you touched it.
Okay, that's all for today's lesson. Class dismissed. ;-)
I want a refund.

Simple way to prove it...toy around with a regular thermometer, to measure the air temp, and an IR surface thermometer at the same time some calm night.
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ask what time it is...and somebody's gonna tell you how to build a clock... ; )
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Quoting calusakat:


Please, whatever you do. Do not go to your professor with this discussion.

He would likely consider reducing your grade if he got wind of your erroneous dogmatic proclamations.


Better to choke down that attitude than to put it into words on the blog...

You've got this wrong.

Though, it is the same as the welding/cooling analogy. Just consider that the wind is making the surface the same temperature as the air (whether that's warmer or cooler) far more effectively than calm conditions would. Calm conditions allow surfaces to cool slightly lower than air temps, but not quickly.

Your welding project would cool eventually without a fan, but would more rapidly reach air temperature with one.
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Quoting Jedkins01:



Radiative Magic? Sorry, but you are not my science professor, if you don't understand how radiational cooling works, then please do not attempt to teach me anything lol.

The temperature drops more on winter nights when the wind calm because wind prevents objects from radiating all potential heat. When the wind goes calm, more heat is allowed to be radiated into space. Its really that simple.


My two salient points before we get lost:

A) All other things being equal, by carrying heat away from an object holding it, air movement can help to cool an item. Given identical bridges under identical environmental conditions, the one under a breeze will, simply, cool more quickly. (It's why people blow on a forkful of hot food before eating it.)

B) Regardless of wind or outgoing longwave radiation, no item will without external interference become cooler than the surrounding air. Once the object is thermally equivalent to the air, there's no further exchange of heat, and cooling stops.

Okay, that's all for today's lesson. Class dismissed. ;-)
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Quoting Jedkins01:



Radiative Magic? Sorry, but you are not my science professor, if you don't understand how radiational cooling works, then please do not attempt to teach me anything lol.

The temperature drops more on winter nights when the wind calm because wind prevents objects from radiating all potential heat. When the wind goes calm, more heat is allowed to be radiated into space. Its really that simple.




Please, whatever you do. Do not go to your professor with this discussion.

He would likely consider reducing your grade if he got wind of your erroneous dogmatic proclamations.


Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Quoting Neapolitan:


It's true that frost can form when "official" temperatures are above freezing--34 to 36 in your example--but that's because cold air sinks, as you know, meaning that the coldest air is sitting right at ground level (boundary layer decoupling), while temperature readings are generally taken higher (four to six feet is best). That is, while the official temp may be, say, in the mid 30s, the temp at ground level can be at or below freezing. One of the reasons frost isn't found on windy mornings is because that wind creates mixing, preventing that layer of freezing/sub-freezing surface air from forming. On days when frost is found on high levels--say, cars and rooftops--it's not because of any radiative magic causing those objects to become colder than the surrounding air; it's simply because the temps at that level are freezing, as well.

And it's true as you say that air is a very poor conductor of heat; that's the whole theory behind certain types of insulation such as expanded foam. But the bulk of the heat being stored around the globe--almost all of it, in fact--is in water, which is a very good conductor and storehouse of heat (silly Global Warming [snip]). ;-)
The lack of mixing also takes place in millimeters above rooftops. Frost can and does happen well above ground level with measured temperatures above freezing.

Rooftop radiates heat, surface temp drops below freezing, air remains above freezing, but frost forms nonetheless. Any wind and the rooftop warmed above freezing by air.
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Quoting Jedkins01:



What? Really? Man you obviously didn't read my post very well did you, I was talking about weather. Just ask any meteorologist, and they will tell you the same as I am. A windy night will not cool twice as much as a calm night, in fact its exactly the opposite.

When a cold front first moves through, you have whats called cold air advection, cold air replacing warm that is. However once the cold air has replaced the warm air, it won't get any colder until the winds become calm. The reason is the winds prevent objects and the ground from radiating heat. Until those winds go calm, maximized cooling cannot occur. That is what air near the ground is actually colder on calm clear nights.



What you are suggesting flys in the face of the laws of physics.

If I can cool an object quicker with a fan, then cooling also occurs outside. Radiation of heat energy does not cease simply because of a wind blowing over it.

You need to go back to your books and re-read what is actually happening. You are confused as to what is actually happening.



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Quoting calusakat:


How does that work?

Are you saying that if I weld something and I use a fan to cool the weld quicker it actually doesn't work?

Interesting because I have found that cooling a heated object with a fan usually results in a cooling rate of twice what calm air would do.





What? Really? Man you obviously didn't read my post very well did you, I was talking about weather. Just ask any meteorologist, and they will tell you the same as I am. A windy night will not cool twice as much as a calm night, in fact its exactly the opposite.

When a cold front first moves through, you have whats called cold air advection, cold air replacing warm that is. However once the cold air has replaced the warm air, it won't get any colder until the winds become calm. The reason is the winds prevent objects and the ground from radiating heat. Until those winds go calm, maximized cooling cannot occur. That is what air near the ground is actually colder on calm clear nights.
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Quoting Neapolitan:


It's true that frost can form when "official" temperatures are above freezing--34 to 36 in your example--but that's because cold air sinks, as you know, meaning that the coldest air is sitting right at ground level (boundary layer decoupling), while temperature readings are generally taken higher (four to six feet is best). That is, while the official temp may be, say, in the mid 30s, the temp at ground level can be at or below freezing. One of the reasons frost isn't found on windy mornings is because that wind creates mixing, preventing that layer of freezing/sub-freezing surface air from forming. On days when frost is found on high levels--say, cars and rooftops--it's not because of any radiative magic; it's simply because the temps at that level are freezing, as well.

And it's true that air is a very poor conductor of heat; that's the whole theory behind certain types of insulation such as expanded foam. But the bulk of the heat being stored around the globe--almost all of it, in fact--is in water, which is a very good conductor of heat (silly Global Warming deniers). ;-)



Radiative Magic? Sorry, but you are not my science professor, if you don't understand how radiational cooling works, then please do not attempt to teach me anything lol.

The temperature drops more on winter nights when the wind calm because wind prevents objects from radiating all potential heat. When the wind goes calm, more heat is allowed to be radiated into space. Its really that simple.


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Quoting Jedkins01:


If you are discussing windy weather, that is true, but if you are discussing calm winds, well that's a different story.

As I'm sure you know, wind prevents objects from radiating heat very much, and thus in that case objects cannot get colder than the air.

But under very light or calm winds, that does not apply. Radiational cooling is the result of objects and the ground releasing heat radiation. A great example when objects get cooler than the air is frost. Frost is very common on the surfaces of cars, and the grass when temperatures are around 34 to 36 here, above freezing, due to loss of heat in objects more pronounced than the air. That is because air is a very poor conductor of heat(note to silly Global Warming people).


However, when the temperature does actually get below freezing under calm conditions, you will see frost on high objects. Like earlier this winter, we had frost even on trees and the house, the air temp was 28.


It's true that frost can form when "official" temperatures are above freezing--34 to 36 in your example--but that's because cold air sinks, as you know, meaning that the coldest air is sitting right at ground level (boundary layer decoupling), while temperature readings are generally taken higher (four to six feet is best). That is, while the official temp may be, say, in the mid 30s, the temp at ground level can be at or below freezing. One of the reasons frost isn't found on windy mornings is because that wind creates mixing, preventing that layer of freezing/sub-freezing surface air from forming. On days when frost is found on high levels--say, cars and rooftops--it's not because of any radiative magic causing those objects to become colder than the surrounding air; it's simply because the temps at that level are freezing, as well.

And it's true as you say that air is a very poor conductor of heat; that's the whole theory behind certain types of insulation such as expanded foam. But the bulk of the heat being stored around the globe--almost all of it, in fact--is in water, which is a very good conductor and storehouse of heat (silly Global Warming deniers). ;-)
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Interesting blog DRM. Thanks. And thanks to the rest of you the posts about when/what freezes on the bridges was cool. And thanks Ritaevac for the damage report. A lot milder here, thank goodness. There were some power outages but nothing on that scale. It's only 40 degrees here but I can live with that. :D Y'all stay warm and enjoy the beautiful snow. I as usual will admire it from afar. :)

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I feel bad for the NE US. They are going to get hammered.

Although this may not be a "true blizzard" by definition, things will nonetheless be treacherous.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Arctic front now plunging thru the TX panhandle, Amarillo at 20 degrees

NOOOO...PLEASE, send it back to Levi 32 :O)
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Good morning, this weather is the S Plains reminds of NYC, NY. Cloudy, cold 32F, light snow flurries &/or freezing drizzle, fog, mist.

OK, when will it be 70 F again in the DFW Metroplex?????
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Quoting Jedkins01:

As I'm sure you know, wind prevents objects from radiating heat very much, and thus in that case objects cannot get colder than the air.


How does that work?

Are you saying that if I weld something and I use a fan to cool the weld quicker it actually doesn't work?

Interesting because I have found that cooling a heated object with a fan usually results in a cooling rate of twice what calm air would do.


Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Quoting clwstmchasr:


I live in Oldsmar. We're getting a lot heavier rain than forecasted with quite a bit more to go. Didn't get anything severe here.


Now that I'm back home I live a bit further south of you, where it hasn't rained much yet, but we have very nasty outflow boundary right over head, a shelf cloud involved with it too.
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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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