Winter Storm Draco ends record snowless streaks across Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:03 PM GMT on December 19, 2012

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Winter Storm Draco is powering up over the Upper Midwest, and is poised to bring a resounding end to the record-length snowless streaks a number of U.S. cities have notched this year. Blizzard warnings are posted over portions of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and snowfall amounts of up to a foot are expected in some of the affected regions. While the heavy snow will create dangerous travel conditions, the .5" - 1.5" of melted water equivalent from the the storm will provide welcome moisture for drought-parched areas of the Midwest. Though much of the moisture will stay locked up as snow for the rest of the year, runoff from the storm may help keep Lake Michigan and Huron from setting an all-time record low for the month of December, and may also keep the Mississippi River at St. Louis above the -5' stage though the end of December. If the river falls below -5', barge traffic on the Mississippi may be forced to halt, costing billions of dollars. The Army Corps of Engineers is blasting away rocks on the river bottom south of St. Louis and releasing water from Carlyle Lake in Southern Illinois this week, in order to keep the Mississippi River high enough to allow barge traffic to negotiate the near-record low water levels. Several gauges on the Mississippi have set all-time record lows this year: the New Madrid, Missouri gauge on August 30, 2012 and the Tiptonville, Tennessee gauge on September 2. Records at the Tiptonville gauge go back to at least 1879.


Figure 1. Predicted precipitation totals fopr the 3-day period ending on December 22. Approximately 0.5 - 1.5" of melted water equivalent from Winter Storm Draco is expected over much of the drought-stricken Midwest. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.


Figure 2. Average water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are near their lowest December levels ever recorded, preliminary data from NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory indicate.

Record snowless streaks coming to end because of Winter Storm Draco
The U.S. has had its warmest and 12th driest year on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. It should be no surprise, then, that a number of major cities have set records for their longest period without snow. Most of these streaks have come to and end (or will do so in the next day or two) because of Winter Storm Draco:

MIlwaukee, Wisconsin's record streak without measurable snow ended December 18 with 0.5" of snow; the streak was 288 consecutive days, bookended by measurable snowfall on March 5 and Dec. 18. Milwaukee is likely to get an additional 4 - 6" of snow from Draco.

Omaha, Nebraska's record streak without measurable snow ended December 16 with 0.6" of snow; the streak was 295 consecutive days, bookended by measurable snowfall on Feb. 24 and Dec. 16. Omaha is likely to get 6 - 9" of total snow before the current storm winds down. Record latest first snow of the season: December 26, 1888.

Chicago, Illinois' new record snowless streak continues at 289 consecutive days as of Tuesday. The last measurable snow there was March 4. Previous record: 280 consecutive days between the measurable snowfalls of March 1, 1994 and December 5, 1994. Chicago has also broken its record for latest snowfall in the season, previously set on December 16, 1965. These streaks will likely end on Thursday, when 1 - 4" of snow are expected.

Rockford, Illinois' new record snowless streak continues at 289 consecutive days as of Tuesday, but this streak will likely end on Thursday, when 3 - 6" of snow are expected. The last measurable snow in Rockford was March 4. Previous record: 286 consecutive days between the measurable snowfalls of March 3, 1922 and December 13, 1922. Record latest first snow of the season: January 7, 1940.

Lincoln, Nebraska's new record snowless streak continues at 308 consecutive days as of Tuesday. This streak will likely end Wednesday or Thursday, as 6 -8" of snow are expected. The last measurable snow there was Feb. 13. Previous record: 295 consecutive days between the measurable snowfalls of Feb. 6 and Nov. 28, 2004. Record latest first snow of the season: December 31, 2006.

Syracuse, NY is often the snowiest major city in the contiguous U.S. This year, Syracuse has not yet had a 1" snowfall--the second latest such streak. The 3.0" that has fallen is over 28" below what Syracuse usually gets by this time of the season. The latest in the season that the first 1" snow has come to Syracuse occurred on December 22, 1998 (the previous warmest year on record in the U.S.) With the forecast calling for lake effect snows on the 22nd, Syracuse may just miss setting its mark for latest 1" snowfall of the season.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting AussieStorm:


WOW!! An outstanding video. Very well put together with a great message. Thanks for sharing Mate!


All the hands reaching up for more more more.....

...it spoke to me. I knew I resembled that act.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%



63.9F
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

For now. There's still a huge (and I do mean huge) discussion on the matter.

I did notice a Superstorm article. I'd guess some might call that original research which from what I've seen is frowned on in Wikipedia. It might fly better as a disambiguation page for Superstorm.
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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20493
Quoting LargoFl:
BREAKING NEWS FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA.............Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a semi versus Amtrak train accident in Polk County.

There are reportedly 170 passengers on board.

Minor injuries and minor damage are reported.

County Line Road at New Tampa Hwy. in Lakeland is completely shut down.
Again?!?!

Any word that wx conditions may have been involved? I'm assuming it was train 91...

Edit: That's the same area again... I thought they had upgraded crossings...
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.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%


Temperature: 80°F
Wind: ENE at 19 kts
Relative humidity: 64%
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
281. etxwx
More from the Des Moines Register:
Winter storm could drop two inches of snow per hour tonight
Dec 19, 2012 | by Jens Manuel Krogstad
As much as two inches of snow could fall per hour tonight across parts of central Iowa, which could produce blizzard conditions on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

The last time the region saw such an intense snowfall was Jan. 26, 1996, when 2 to 3 inches of snow fell per hour during a Friday afternoon commute, said Jim Lee, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines.

The good news for Iowans is that the heaviest snowfall today should come after dark, Lee said. A mix of rain and snow started falling after 3 p.m. today at the Des Moines International Airport.

“In 1996, cars were in the ditches everywhere. It was whiteout condition during the afternoon commute,” Lee said. “The saving grace this year, if there is one, is the heaviest snow likely will be after work. People will have a chance to get home before the worst conditions arrive.”

The morning commute, however, could be messy. Strong winds could peak Thursday at 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 45 mph. Snowdrifts of up to 5 feet are possible.

Meteorologists predict 6-12 inches of snow by Thursday morning, with the heaviest snowfall along a line from near Des Moines to Tama. Des Moines should receive about 9 inches of snow.

This could be the worst winter storm since 2009, when 16 inches of snow dropped in one day in December. In 1996, more than 12 inches fell, the weather service said.

The weather service radar was down earlier today for several hours for calibration. It’s common practice before a big storm, Lee said.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%


71F.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BREAKING NEWS FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA.............Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a semi versus Amtrak train accident in Polk County.

There are reportedly 170 passengers on board.

Minor injuries and minor damage are reported.

County Line Road at New Tampa Hwy. in Lakeland is completely shut down.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%

Temperature: 47.3 °F
Wind: Calm
Gusts: 10 kts
Relative humidity: 69%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting indianrivguy:
Saw this on the Suncoast Waterkeeper Facebook page and thought some of you might like it too.



WOW!! An outstanding video. Very well put together with a great message. Thanks for sharing Mate!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:
What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%
..61 degrees here aussie under clear nite sky
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67 F
zero wind
clear skies

I'm sitting comfortably in short pants, no shirt, no shoes.

paradise
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%

Mine is 32°F
Dew point: 30°F
Relative humidity: 91%
Winds: calm
Pressure: 1021.5mb
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The 18z GFS has yet another significant winter storm headed across California two days after the aforementioned one.




I have always been in favor of naming them as well. I do not understand why so many people are against it.
Change is evil.
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272. etxwx
From the Des Moines Register:
DOT advises against travel after 8 p.m.

Dec 19, 2012 | by Regina Zilbermints |

The Iowa Department of Transportation is advising against any travel on the majority of Iowa roadways from 8 p.m. tonight through noon Thursday. Heavy snow is expected throughout much of Iowa and strong winds could create blowing snow that decreases visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile or to whiteout conditions, officials said. Crews will work to clear highways but the blowing snow could complicate the process. Officials are urging motorists not to travel across Iowa highways.

If anyone does choose to travel, they should have a charged cell phone and be aware of their surroundings so they can give directions to emergency responders if necessary. Officials also caution it could take considerable time for someone to reach a stranded vehicle during a storm.

Road conditions across Iowa are available online at www.511ia.org, on where you can also link to various DOT Twitter and Facebook accounts
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Evening all. I don't have much to say this evening... too tired, really. We had some early morning fog here the way we do a few times most winters, though it's more usual to see it in February. I want to see how cold we actually get with this front that's due.

I can't believe Christmas is almost here and I haven't had a chance to read Dr. Gray's longterm forecast for 2013 as yet...
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THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR SOUTH FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT

PATCHY FOG IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ACROSS THE INTERIOR OF SOUTH
FLORIDA LATE TONIGHT. SOME OF THIS FOG MAY BE DENSE...ESPECIALLY
IN GLADES...HENDRY...AND COLLIER COUNTIES.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY

FRIDAY NIGHT...NORTHWEST WINDS OF 10 TO 15 MPH AND TEMPERATURES IN THE
40S AND LOWER 50S WILL COMBINE TO CREATE WIND CHILL VALUES IN THE
30S INTERIOR TO MID 40S ALONG THE ATLANTIC COAST. LIGHTER WINDS
AND COLDER TEMPERATURES...AS LOW AS MID 30S...FOR
GLADES...HENDRY...AND INTERIOR COLLIER COUNTIES...MAY ALLOW FOR
PATCHY FROST FORMATION EARLY SATURDAY MORNING. THERE IS A GREAT
DEAL OF UNCERTAIN IN THE POTENTIAL FOR FROST...SO MONITOR LATEST
FORECASTS FOR UPDATES.

GUSTY NORTHWEST WINDS FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY COMBINED WITH
INCREASINGLY ROUGH SEAS WILL LIKELY LEAD TO A SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY
BEING NECESSARY FOR THE SOUTH FLORIDA WATERS.
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What's everyone's current temp?
Mine is 93.2°F
Wind from the WNW @15kt Gusts to 22kt.
Relative Humidity: 23%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting bappit:

Glad to see the Hurricane Sandy article [on Wikipedia] was done right.

For now. There's still a huge (and I do mean huge) discussion on the matter.
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THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST
LOUISIANA...SOUTH MISSISSIPPI AND THE ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS.

.DAY ONE...TONIGHT

STRONG TO SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE AFTER MIDNIGHT
TONIGHT AS A COLD FRONT MOVES THROUGH THE AREA. THERE IS A SLIGHT
RISK OF SEVERE STORMS NORTH AND WEST OF A GULFPORT MISSISSIPPI
TO NEW ORLEANS TO DONALDSONVILLE LINE. THE MAIN THREAT IS
DAMAGING WINDS FROM STORMS.

SOUTH WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE ON THE COASTAL WATERS THIS
EVENING AND OVERNIGHT. AS A RESULT...A SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY HAS
BEEN ISSUED FOR THE COASTAL WATERS OVERNIGHT WITH THE EXCEPTION
OF THE TIDAL LAKES AND MISSISSIPPI SOUND...WHERE SMALL CRAFT
SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY

BEHIND THE FRONTAL PASSAGE THURSDAY MORNING...WINDS WILL
STRENGTHEN SIGNIFICANTLY...MAINLY OVER AREAS SOUTH OF LAKE
PONTCHARTRAIN AND OVER THE COASTAL WATERS. A WIND ADVISORY WILL BE
IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA SOUTH OF LAKE
PONTCHARTRAIN FOR THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT. GALE
WARNINGS WILL BE IN EFFECT THURSDAY AFTERNOON INTO FRIDAY MORNING
FOR THE COASTAL WATERS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TIDAL LAKES AND
MISSISSIPPI SOUND...WHERE SMALL CRAFT ADVISORIES WILL BE IN
EFFECT.

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE CHRISTMAS EVE AND
CHRISTMAS DAY. A FEW STORMS MAY BE STRONG WITH GUSTY WINDS.
DETAILS ON EXACT TIMING AND STRENGTH OF THIS SYSTEM WILL BECOME
BETTER DEFINED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.
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Bohonk..your in the red zone now.............RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM TO 7 PM CST THURSDAY FOR
VERY STRONG NORTHERLY WINDS ACROSS ALL OF SOUTHEAST TEXAS.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HOUSTON/GALVESTON HAS ISSUED A
RED FLAG WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM TO 7 PM CST
THURSDAY. THE FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.


* AFFECTED COUNTIES... HOUSTON...MADISON...WALKER...BURLESON...
BRAZOS...WASHINGTON...GRIMES...COLORADO...AUSTIN.. .WALLER...
WHARTON...JACKSON...MATAGORDA.

* WIND...NORTHWEST TO NORTH 25 TO 35 MPH.

* HUMIDITY...18 TO 25 PERCENT.

* THUNDERSTORMS...ANY RAINFALL WILL BE DONE PRIOR TO SUNRISE.
SKIES WILL CLEAR FROM THE WEST DURING THE MORNING.

* IMPACTS...ANY FIRES THAT DEVELOP WILL LIKELY SPREAD RAPIDLY.
OUTDOOR BURNING IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF
STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL
CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.

&&

$$
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Saw this on the Suncoast Waterkeeper Facebook page and thought some of you might like it too.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I have always been in favor of naming them as well. I do not understand why so many people are against it.

Glad to see the Hurricane Sandy article [on Wikipedia] was done right.
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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
The 18z GFS has yet another significant winter storm headed across California two days after the aforementioned one.



Quoting allancalderini:
That is so cool since the start I was in favor of naming winter storms.

I have always been in favor of naming them as well. I do not understand why so many people are against it.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Winter is beginning in earnest across the United States as we head into the second half of December. Winter Storm Draco will dump isolated areas of 12-18 inches of snow, and the models are coming into agreement that another storm will exit into the Central Plains by next Tuesday (Christmas Day) and add significant totals onto the already accumulated snowfall. The next name on the TWC naming list is "Euclid".

500 mbar. relative velocity - 18z GFS @ 144 hours:

That is so cool since the start I was in favor of naming winter storms.
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Winter is beginning in earnest across the United States as we head into the second half of December. Winter Storm Draco will dump isolated areas of 12-18 inches of snow, and the models are coming into agreement that another storm will exit into the Central Plains by next Tuesday (Christmas Day) and add significant totals onto the already accumulated snowfall. The next name on the TWC naming list is "Euclid".

500 mbar. relative velocity - 18z GFS @ 144 hours:

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84 today, old record was 80 back in 1977, average high 62. Air smells smokey and dusty from 65 to 85 mph winds in West Texas
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Nice graphs of climate and this year's weather on the Houston-Galveston NWS web site. They have three climate stations in their CWA.

Interesting how the average rainfall accumulations are so smooth throughout the year. I wonder if a plot of the median rainfall accumulation would be as smooth.
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254. VR46L
Quoting bappit:

So they name the high's, too. Cool.


Here's the link to their site adopt-a-vortex
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6826
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Pretty busy night in the nation weather wise. Blizzard and winter storm conditions for central areas and the Northwest, high wind for most of the South (and I suspect some of those areas will be filled in with a tornado watch later), fire danger in TX, first hard freeze of the year in the SW, and hurricane force wind warnings in southern AK:



Lol, Isaac beat me by a couple minutes though.

No warnings for me tho :p
Member Since: February 13, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 3631
210 NEwxguy: Start naming...[snip]...Sunspots

Sunspots are already named. The names happen to be numeric...

...in the manner that Sandy has the alphanumeric name of AL182012

Jes simpler (and more memorable) to refer to Athena and Brutus than naming them "that thingy that originated as a cyclone in the Gulf of Alaska heading overland toward NewEngland" and "that thingy hanging over Wyoming expected to head toward the Midwest".
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Winter Storm Draco in the Central Plains with a developing tornado threat across Arkansas.

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Deleted for rewrite
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At 7:15 is that good??
Quoting eddye:
sefl weatherman can u talk 2 me in weather chat
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Quoting jonger1150:
Leave it to Jeff Masters to put a AGW nod to winter storms...
Yea I see he even calls Syracuse Ny a major city. Evidently he has never been there, it is not even close population wise to the top 100 cities in America, so I would say that is quite a stretch of the truth there.
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247. eddye
sefl weatherman can u talk 2 me in weather chat
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246. Fluid
Down to -50C: Russians freeze to death as strongest-in-decades winter hits (PHOTOS)

Link
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245. etxwx
Just got back from the afternoon walk and cow check. It's 75 degrees here, quite humid, and the wind is getting breezy. Fortunately, this little guy beat the bad weather by one day.

Hope everyone stays safe...those forecast maps are not looking good.
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38 on Fri!!:) in WPB!!
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243. Fluid
Quoting LargoFl:
folks if you keep up with this NAME thing..your opening up the door for the trolls..some just never learn, or dont want to i guess.


The name thing is a real issue.

To do so is cloyingly trivial.
It is crassly vulgar.
It is dreadful in every respect!

It is meant to appeal to the television watching population, the average IQ of which is approximately 90. It makes them think that something is happening, and that, as a result, they should run out and buy products.

It probably won't be stopped, but it shall make a good indicator, at least: Anyone that comes your way that uses the names for winter low pressure systems, or, worse, celebrates the fact with enthusiasm, should be scrupulously avoided. If necessary, with bear spray.
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242. Kumo
Quoting LargoFl:
..VERY STRONG WINDS EXPECTED THROUGH MIDNIGHT...

TXZ011>013-016>018-200600-
/O.NEW.KAMA.DU.Y.0001.121219T1915Z-121220T0600Z/
/O.CON.KAMA.HW.W.0009.000000T0000Z-121220T0600Z/
OLDHAM-POTTER-CARSON-DEAF SMITH-RANDALL-ARMSTRONG-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...VEGA...AMARILLO...PANHANDLE...
WHITE DEER...HEREFORD...CANYON...CLAUDE
115 PM CST WED DEC 19 2012

...BLOWING DUST ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST TONIGHT...
...HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST
TONIGHT FOR THE SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS PANHANDLE...



Talked with my mother just a few hours ago, she said the entire sky is brown up in Amarillo. I have a bad feeling it's going to be another horrible year for our farmers and ranchers up in the plains.
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Great. My trucker hubby is picking up in Memphis in the AM, has to drive through severe thunderstorms down here, then on to Des Moines in the great blizzard. Hope y'all appreciate all the truckers bringing your Christmas goodies from FedEx, LOL. ;o)

Dang, didn't need the storm shelter all summer, and now maybe twice within a week in DECEMBER. Go figure.
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Pretty busy night in the nation weather wise. Blizzard and winter storm conditions for central areas and the Northwest, high wind for most of the South (and I suspect some of those areas will be filled in with a tornado watch later), fire danger in TX, first hard freeze of the year in the SW, and hurricane force wind warnings in southern AK:



Lol, Isaac beat me by a couple minutes though.
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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Those moments when your NWS's CWA is surrounded by winter weather advisories and yet none for your area.
Sometimes NWS Detroit is a little slow on issuing advisories/warnings, if they do at all for this.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927

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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.