North American cold wave winds down; Atlantic storm stronger than Sandy winding up

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:05 PM GMT on January 25, 2013

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The January 2013 North American cold wave is winding down, after bringing five days of bitter cold to Canada and the Midwest and Northeast U.S. In the U.S., below-zero temperatures were recorded Friday morning in just six states east of the Rockies--half as many as on Thursday morning. The coldest spot was Saranac Lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains, which bottomed out at -18°F (-28°). In nearby Malone, NY, flooding is occurring, thanks to an ice jam on the Salmon River caused by this week's cold weather. The weather was a bit warmer on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire today, where the temperature of -17°F (-27°C) combined with a wind of 81 mph to create a wind chill of -61°F (-52°C). The most dangerous winter weather today will be due to the Wrath of Khan--a low pressure system traversing Tennessee and Kentucky has been named Winter Storm Kahn by TWC, and will bring as much as 0.5" of ice accumulation from eastern Tennessee and Kentucky through North Carolina and northern South Carolina, potentially causing major power outages. Snow will impact areas from the Ohio Valley through western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, with 1" expected in D.C. and 1 - 3" in Baltimore.


Figure 1. A powerful extratropical storm with a central pressure of 984 mb begins to wind up about 500 miles east of Newfoundland, Canada, at 10 am EST January 25, 2013.

How low will it go? Massive Atlantic storm winding up
In the Northern Atlantic, an extratropical storm that brought up to 6" of snow to Maryland on Thursday is rapidly intensifying about 500 miles east of Newfoundland, Canada, and figures to become one of the most intense storms ever observed in the North Atlantic. This meteorological "bomb" was analyzed with a central pressure of 984 mb at 12Z (7 am EST) Friday morning by NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center; the GFS and ECMWF models both predict that the storm will deepen by 60 mb in 24 hours, reaching a central pressure of 924 - 928 mb by 7 am EST Saturday morning. This is the central pressure one commonly sees in Category 4 hurricanes, and is a very rare intensity for an extratropical storm to attain. Since extratropical storms do not form eyewalls, the winds of the massive Atlantic low are predicted to peak at 90 mph (Category 1 hurricane strength), with significant wave heights reaching 52 feet (16 meters.) Fortunately, the storm is expected to weaken dramatically before reaching any land areas, and will only be a concern to shipping. The intensification process will be aided by the strong contrast between the frigid Arctic air flowing off the coast of Canada from this week's cold blast, and the warm air lying over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream current. The ultimate strength of the storm will depend upon where the center tracks in relation to several warm eddies of the Gulf Stream along its path. According to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt's post on Super Extratropical Storms, the all-time record lowest pressure for a North Atlantic extratropical storm is 913 mb, set on January 11, 1993, near Scotland's Shetland Islands. The mighty 1993 storm broke apart the super oil tanker Braer on a rocky shoal in the Shetland Islands, causing a massive oil spill.

Other notable Atlantic extratropical storms, as catalogued by British weather historian, Stephen Burt:

920.2 mb (27.17”) measured by the ship Uyir while she sailed southeast of Greenland on December 15, 1986. The British Met. Office calculated that the central pressure of the storm, which was centered some distance southeast of the ship, was 916 mb (27.05”).

921.1 mb (27.20”) on Feb. 5, 1870 measured by the ship Neier at 49°N 26°W (another ship in the area measured 925.5 mb)

924 mb (27.28”) on Feb. 4, 1824 at Reykjavik, Iceland (the lowest on land measured pressure in the North Atlantic)

925.5 mb (27.33”) on Dec. 4, 1929 by the SS Westpool somewhere in the Atlantic (exact location unknown)

925.6 mb (27.33”) on Jan. 26, 1884 at Ochtertyre, Perthshire, U.K. (the lowest pressure recorded on land in the U.K.)

For comparison’s sake, the lowest pressure measured on land during an extra-tropical storm in the United States (aside from Alaska) was 952 mb 28.10” at Bridgehampton, New York (Long Island) on March 1 during, the Great Billy Sunday Snowstorm.


Figure 2. Infrared satellite image of the North Atlantic Storm of January 11, 1993 at 0600Z when it deepened into the strongest extra-tropical cyclone ever observed on earth, with a central pressure of 913 mb (26.96”). Satellite image from EUMETSAT Meteosat-4.

Intense winter storms are expected to increase in number due to climate change
In my 2010 blog post, The future of intense winter storms, I discuss how evidence for an observed increase in intense wintertime cyclones in the North Atlantic is uncertain. In particular, intense Nor'easters affecting the Northeast U.S. showed no increase in number over the latter part of the 20th century. This analysis is supported by the fact that wintertime wave heights recorded since the mid-1970s by the three buoys along the central U.S. Atlantic coast have shown little change (Komar and Allan, 2007a,b, 2008). However, even though Nor'easters have not been getting stronger, they have been dropping more precipitation, in the form of both rain and snow. Several studies (Geng and Sugi, 2001, and Paciorek et al., 2002) found an increase in intense winter storms over both the North Atlantic, but Benestad and Chen (2006) found no trend in the western parts of the North Atlantic, and Gulev et al. (2001) found a small small decrease in intense winter storms in the Atlantic.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), a scientific advisory board created by the President and Congress, concluded this in their 2009 U.S. Climate Impacts Report: "Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent". The USGRP concluded that an increase of between four and twelve intense wintertime extratropical storms per year could be expected over the Northern Hemisphere by 2100, depending upon the amount of greenhouse gases put into the air (Figure 3). If we assume that the current climate is producing the same number of intense winter storms as it did over the period 1961-2000--about 53--this represents an increase of between 8% and 23% in intense wintertime extratropical storms. Two studies--Pinto et al. (2007) and Bengtsson et al. 2006--suggest that the more intense winter cyclones will affect only certain preferred regions, namely northwestern Europe and Alaska's Aleutian Islands. At least three other studies also find that northwestern Europe--including the British Isles, the Netherlands, northern France, northern Germany, Denmark and Norway--can expect a significant increase in intense wintertime cyclones in a future warmer world (Lionello et al., 2008; Leckebusch and Ulbrich 2004; and Leckebusch et al., 2006). None of these studies showed a significant increase in the number of intense Nor'easters affecting the Northeast U.S.


Figure 3. The projected change in intense wintertime extratropical storms with central pressures < 970 mb for the Northern Hemisphere under various emission scenarios. Storms counted occur poleward of 30°N during the 120-day season beginning November 15. A future with relatively low emissions of greenhouse gases (B1 scenario, blue line) is expected to result in an additional four intense extratropical storms per year, while up to twelve additional intense storms per year can be expected in a future with high emissions (red and black lines). Humanity is currently on a high emissions track. Figure was adapted from Lambert and Fyfe (2006), and was taken from Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate, a 2009 report from the the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The USGRP began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which called for "a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change".

Links
Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt's posts on Super Extratropical Storms and World and U.S. Lowest Barometric Pressure Records

Claudio Cassardo's January 23, 2013 post, Very low minima of extratropical cyclones in North Atlantic

Jeff Masters

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Just saw yours Pedley, didn't have the hurling guy, not sure when they put that in. Rem they'd always show a match around St. Pat's, it being an Irish sport.
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160. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory #25
SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE GARRY, CATEGORY THREE (09F)
6:00 AM FST January 26 2013
======================================

Southern Cooks Island Alerts
-----------------------------
A STORM WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR AITUTAKI, MANUAE, TAKUTEA AND ATIU.

A GALE WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR MAUKE, MITIARO, MANGAIA AND RAROTONGA.

At 18:00 PM UTC, Severe Tropical Cyclone Garry (975 hPa) located near 16.7S 160.7W has 10 minute sustained winds of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving south southeast at 4 knots. Position good based on hourly GOES visible imagery and peripheral surface reports.

Hurricane Force Winds
=====================
30 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
=================
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM from the center in eastern semi-circle
90 NM from the center elsewhere

System has become disorganized significantly past 6 hours. low level circulation center exposed with deep convection displaced to east. System lies to the east of an upper trough in a high sheared environment. CIMMS indicate weak upper divergence aloft low level circulation center with strong upper divergence to southeast of low level circulation center. Outflow good to the east and south but restricted elsewhere. Sea surface temperature around 29C. Dvorak analysis based on 15 NM sheared distance from deep convection edge yielding DT=3.5. MET=4.0 and PT=4.0. Final Dvorak number based on MET.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0/4.5/W1.0/24 HRS

Global models have picked up the system and move it south southeastwards with gradual weakening.

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 18.6S 159.7W - 60 knots (CAT 2/Tropical Cyclone)
24 HRS: 20.7S 158.7W - 50 knots (CAT 2/Tropical Cyclone)
48 HRS: 24.6S 155.4W - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Cyclone)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43639
Todays Forecast is 75 - What were they thinking? It is 61.6 at my place and still light rain (.31 so far).

Riverside (KRAL)
Elevation
817 ft
Now
Light Rain
Light Rain
Temperature
62 °F
Feels Like 62 °F
Wind(mph)
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4824
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


not the Wilmington metro area... idk/c where you live
But the county north of Wilmington is under Winter Weather Advisory. I'm assuming that's where he live.
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Quoting PedleyCA:


Must be losing my touch. Try it now.....


It works now.. thanks.

And, I wouldn't want to be that skier.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Just placed under a Winter Weather Advisory.


not the Wilmington metro area... idk/c where you live
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
Just placed under a Winter Weather Advisory.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
Quoting FLWaterFront:


The link won't open for me.

Is that the one with "The thrill of victory.... and.. the agony of defeat" (?)


Must be losing my touch. Try it now.....
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4824
Quoting Neapolitan:
I know this was mentioned earlier today, but here again for those who a) missed it and b) care:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO IL
949 AM CST FRI JAN 25 2013 /1049 AM EST FRI JAN 25 2013/

...CHICAGO OFFICIALLY OBSERVES FIRST DAILY ONE INCH SNOWFALL...

THROUGH 930 AM...CHICAGO OHARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HAS OBSERVED
1.1 INCHES OF SNOWFALL TODAY...JANUARY 25TH. THIS IS THE FIRST DAY
OF THE 2012-2013 WINTER WHERE CHICAGO OBSERVED OVER ONE INCH OF
SNOWFALL. THIS ENDS THE RECORD STREAKS FOR BOTH THE LATEST FIRST
ONE INCH OF SNOWFALL AND THE LONGEST STREAK WITHOUT AN INCH OF
SNOWFALL.

LATEST FIRST CALENDAR DAY ONE INCH OF SNOWFALL IN CHICAGO:

RANK DATE
--------------------
1. JAN 25 2013
2. JAN 17 1899
3. JAN 16 2002
4. JAN 15 1890
5. JAN 14 1937


MOST CONSECUTIVE DAYS WITHOUT ONE INCH OF SNOWFALL IN CHICAGO:

RANK # OF DAYS END OF STREAK
------------------------------------
1. 335 JAN 25 2013
2. 319 JAN 6 1940
3. 315 DEC 7 1958
4. 307 DEC 30 1931
5. 305 JAN 15 2002

THE SEASONAL TOTAL SNOWFALL FOR CHICAGO THROUGH 930 AM THIS MORNING
NOW STANDS AT 2.8 INCHES

At first glance, I was surprised to see 1899 on that list, especially with the most powerful McFarland Event in US history occurring just over two weeks later. Just goes to show the speed at which things can dramatically change in the world of meteorology.
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Quoting PedleyCA:
Wide World of Sports Intro 1978


The link won't open for me.

Is that the one with "The thrill of victory.... and.. the agony of defeat" (?)
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139) 144) The ski jumper was bad, but the hurling guy getting the stick to the face was the worst. That had to hurt!
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ILwthr - nothing on nc other than he'd he'd told ya Doc wouldn't answer you and ducking out because blog would light up. Agree with you on rest, sorry if came off wrong way.

Surprised if you had a little glaze we didn't get anything, but... Think we'll get some Sunday?

Was cool that summer, seems might have been one later that was maybe a little cooler, but certainly not as much rain (except on weekends, I rem it rained almost every weekend after Easter until late July that year).

Knocking on wood as well, west of us really needs it, and we could use a little as well.
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61.6° - .30 of rain today...
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4824
I know this was mentioned earlier today, but here again for those who a) missed it and b) care:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO IL
949 AM CST FRI JAN 25 2013 /1049 AM EST FRI JAN 25 2013/

...CHICAGO OFFICIALLY OBSERVES FIRST DAILY ONE INCH SNOWFALL...

THROUGH 930 AM...CHICAGO OHARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HAS OBSERVED
1.1 INCHES OF SNOWFALL TODAY...JANUARY 25TH. THIS IS THE FIRST DAY
OF THE 2012-2013 WINTER WHERE CHICAGO OBSERVED OVER ONE INCH OF
SNOWFALL. THIS ENDS THE RECORD STREAKS FOR BOTH THE LATEST FIRST
ONE INCH OF SNOWFALL AND THE LONGEST STREAK WITHOUT AN INCH OF
SNOWFALL.

LATEST FIRST CALENDAR DAY ONE INCH OF SNOWFALL IN CHICAGO:

RANK DATE
--------------------
1. JAN 25 2013
2. JAN 17 1899
3. JAN 16 2002
4. JAN 15 1890
5. JAN 14 1937


MOST CONSECUTIVE DAYS WITHOUT ONE INCH OF SNOWFALL IN CHICAGO:

RANK # OF DAYS END OF STREAK
------------------------------------
1. 335 JAN 25 2013
2. 319 JAN 6 1940
3. 315 DEC 7 1958
4. 307 DEC 30 1931
5. 305 JAN 15 2002

THE SEASONAL TOTAL SNOWFALL FOR CHICAGO THROUGH 930 AM THIS MORNING
NOW STANDS AT 2.8 INCHES
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
It's mostly sleet again now and it's not melting on ground so it's filling up. I think we got about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of sleet on ground right now, plus ice layer on top of that from freezing rain. Here's the picture of what's going on here.







Cant help but say this! But is the second picture in the list the aftermath of earthquake damage.
Speaking only from a builders labourers point of view of course.
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Wide World of Sports Intro 1978
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4824
Our beast is at 984 mb

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Just my luck...rain (not freezing rain) at 32F.

Trollface.jpg
That sucks, for you...

You will probably get freezing rain and/or sleet eventually.
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Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

6-day forecast for 960 mb forecast (then 950-mb only 6-hours later) -- track from Detroit thru Ontario to Quebec. http://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/294910844452618 240/photo/1

41 minRyan Maue‏@RyanMaue

GFS 12z uncorks another historical strength extratropical cyclone, this time over Quebec. Remember the Cleveland SuperBomb?


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Just my luck...rain (not freezing rain) at 32F.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
If I may........"Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport,...The thrill of victory,...and the agony of defeat...the human drama of athletic competition
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Quoting Titoxd:
I'm surprised no one has said this yet...


KHAAAAAN!


I did text that to my daughter in high school, just so her friends might peek at her phone and discover she was brought into the world by a nerd :)
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Quoting LargoFl:
in 2 weeks might get interesting in the Northeast....


I have 10" of snow drought here
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
Quoting wxchaser97:

I realized you posted it earlier, just after I posted it. Hopefully you don't lose power, and you can't get a day off from school tomorrow.
It's actually a good thing we didn't lose a school day because we will have to make it up during spring break.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Don't you dare turn to rain so close to me.



The rain says to your comment...



The ice is changing to rain as it nears the coast
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14869
It's mostly sleet again now and it's not melting on ground so it's filling up. I think we got about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of sleet on ground right now, plus ice layer on top of that from freezing rain. Here's the picture of what's going on here.







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Don't you dare turn to rain so close to me.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Quoting Grothar:
It's snowing where we are.
kwgirl....Guess we better not rub it in...Huh?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:


Yeah, I posted that earlier. We're getting heavy freezing rain right now and everything is freezing when the rain hit the ground.

I realized you posted it earlier, just after I posted it. Hopefully you don't lose power, and you can't get a day off from school tomorrow.
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Quoting Grothar:
It's snowing where we are.

Thank God for that!
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Quoting dabirds:
A balmy overcast 35 in S C IL currently. Not a drop of sleet, rain, or snow from the system last night. Hope all of you in Mid South and Mid Atlantic keep your power.

Good job ILwthr, nc was wrong, got a response from Doc and everything civil, so far.

For you far faster weather researchers: any other similiarities between '93 and this year besides a big Jan. extratropical?


I had some tricky driving this morning. Half inch of snow on top of some freezing drizzle. Not a lot to get excited about but everything did freeze on instant contact due to the cold temps we have experienced over the last few days.

NCstorm does well in his arguments, I may not agree with all his ideas, but who of us in here agree on everything right? He certainly constructs his arguments better than most that supports some of his same ideas and he does so with class. Constructive criticism is a must in science and he certainly brings some of that to the table. I do enjoy the discussions between him and Nea.

I was only 11 when the Super storm hit, and I do remember being extremely upset that the snow missed me and it was cold and parts of that winter were snowy for us. I think we had over 30" that year, then the rains came and the combination led to the Great Mississippi Flood. We had a cool year that year as well. Wet and cool. We could certainly use that this year as well... Crossing fingers, knocking on wood...
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It's snowing where we are.
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Central North Carolina is getting some pretty significant icing. Going to be some big impacts on the roads and power system. I'm positive this includes you Bluestorm.



Yeah, I posted that earlier. We're getting heavy freezing rain right now and everything is freezing when the rain hit the ground.
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Quoting LargoFl:
yes your right..its sure cold enough..most of the places ive been looking at say..ICE is the big problem not snow..wait til the sun goes down and it gets colder whew


Yup it's not gonna be pretty..
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
That's awesome! By the time you're senior, you'll have TONS of emails and letters from colleges. I think I had letters from 10 different colleges and emails from 20 different college. Meanwhile, we're about to get major icing here in NC.


Quoting Doppler22:

I got an email from 3 colleges so far... and snow starting here


Quoting allancalderini:
Congratulations! You are really intelligent I know you are going to get more letters but think wisely which one you choose:)


Thanks all 3 of you. I will choose whatever gives me the best offer but also has the programs that I want.
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Quoting flcanes:

KHANNNNNN!!!!!!!!
Dammit Jim
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Central North Carolina is getting some pretty significant icing. Going to be some big impacts on the roads and power system. I'm positive this includes you Bluestorm.

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Quoting kwgirl:
Wash, I have re-read Nea's comment twice and I don't see the sarcasm. Maybe you read sarcastically.

Somebody once said to a friend of mine.
"You are talking in riddles!"
To which he replied:-
"No its you who is listening in riddles."
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Oh boy, I am starting to get emails and letters from colleges.

1.4" of snow in my area in SE MI and it is still snowing.
Congratulations! You are really intelligent I know you are going to get more letters but think wisely which one you choose:)
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Quoting Titoxd:
I'm surprised no one has said this yet...


KHAAAAAN!

KHANNNNNN!!!!!!!!
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Sun has popped out, up to 37. Hopefully will stay out for Stan's send off tomorrow. Post Dispatch will have a special commemorative section on "The Man" in their Sunday edition.

Edit: anyone wishing to see services, both Cardinals and StL Archdiocese websites will stream them, KMOX radio will broadcast as well at 11 a.m. CST
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looks mostly like a light snow event for the midlantic states..but ice is going to be a big problem..i used to HATE driving on it..you never know when that skid is going to happen
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33230
Quoting FtMyersgal:


Largo, that could be ice not just wet pavement.
Our Home Office closed our client center in Greensboro NC at 2:30 ET because of weather.
yes your right..its sure cold enough..most of the places ive been looking at say..ICE is the big problem not snow..wait til the sun goes down and it gets colder whew
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33230
Quoting LargoFl:
looks ok in Richmond VA..................


Largo, that could be ice not just wet pavement.
Our Home Office closed our client center in Greensboro NC at 2:30 ET because of weather.
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Baltimore....I-70..............................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33230
looks ok in Richmond VA..................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33230
Quoting washingtonian115:
Is there ever a day when your NOT sarcastic?.But I like your style though as I find it hilarious.And I'm not being sarcastic on that :).
Wash, I have re-read Nea's comment twice and I don't see the sarcasm. Maybe you read sarcastically.
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Quoting ncstorm:


have a kerosene heater handy or wood for the fireplace..it might be some major power outages coming yall way
Yeah, we're expecting loss of power so my parents got us all prepared for that event if that was to occurs. Right now, freezing rain have arrived and everything is already frozen. I think we'll be dealing with heavy ice by the time this storm is done in a couple of hours.
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dont look too bad here..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33230

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.