Winter storm to spread heavy snow from North Dakota to Virginia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:44 PM GMT on March 04, 2013

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The flakes are flying in Minnesota and North Dakota, where up to 10" of snow has fallen from an "Alberta Clipper" that is barreling southeastwards across the U.S. These type of storms, so-named because they originate in Alberta and clip along at a fast forward speed, typically bring the Midwest moderate amounts of fluffy snow that is relatively easy to shovel. The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Saturn by The Weather Channel and "Snowquester" by The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, is expected to bring a swath of 6 - 10" of snow from Minnesota to Virginia Monday through Wednesday, with Chicago expected to get 6 - 9", their biggest snow of the season. Once the storm moves off the coast on Wednesday, its strong winds will make coastal flooding a major concern for the Mid-Atlantic coast, particularly Delaware, on Wednesday and Thursday. The computer models are still showing quite a bit of disagreement on what the storm might do on Wednesday. The European model has been the most consistent model, and maintains that the storm will not bring heavy snow to New England. I would lean towards this solution at present. However, keep in mind that the latest run of the GFS model shows a more northerly track, with heavy snow falling along a swath of coast from Long Island, NY, to Boston, MA, Wednesday through Thursday. The exact position of the rain/snow boundary along the Mid-Atlantic coast is also quite uncertain. Washington D.C. could end up with mostly rain, and just 1 - 2" of snow, or get a 6+ inch dumping, picking up more snow from one storm than from the all the snowstorms from the past two winters, combined:

Reagan Nat'l Airport (DCA):
- Snowfall this season-to-date:  1.5"
- Snowfall all last season:  2"
- Last 5"+ snow event:  Jan. 26, 2011 (5")
- Last 10"+ snow event:  Feb. 9-10, 2010 (10.8")

Dulles Airport, Virginia (IAD)
- Snowfall this season-to-date:  5.3"
- Snowfall all last season:  3.7"
- Last 5"+ snow event:  Jan. 26, 2011 (7.3")
- Last 10"+ snow event:  Feb. 9-10, 2010 (9.3")

(Thanks go to Jonathan Erdman of TWC for these stats.) The Capital Weather Gang has an interesting article on historical March snowstorms in Washington D.C. In order for Winter Storm Saturn to crack the top-ten, it would have to dump at least 6.6" of snow on the nation's capital.



Coastal flooding a concern in the Mid-Atlantic
As the storm moves off the coast on Wednesday night, winds gusting to 50 mph will build waves of up to 15' and a 3 - 4' storm surge along the coast to the north of the center. Heavy rains will bring runoff down rivers that will act to increase water levels along the coast. The latest Forecast Discussion from the Mount Holly, NJ NWS office highlights the likelihood of at least moderate coastal flooding in Delaware during the high tide cycles on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, with the possibility of major flooding. The latest storm surge forecast from the GFS model calls for a storm surge of around 3' at Lewes, Delaware on Thursday morning, which would bring the 8th highest water level on record to the coast. This is of concern due to the damage Hurricane Sandy brought in October, which weakened the dunes and left the coast more vulnerable to erosion. Sandy brought the 3rd highest water level on record to Lewes.

We'll have ongoing coverage this week of Winter Storm Saturn in our Winter Storm Section.

Jeff Masters

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266. TropicalAnalystwx13
12:30 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
Here's my forecast regarding snowfall accumulations across a select number of cities in the path of Saturn.

Chicago, IL: 8-10"
Indianapolis, IN: 3-5"
Wilmington, OH: 3-5"
Roanoke, Virginia: 1-3"
Washington, D.C.: 8-10" (potentially higher)
Philadelphia, PA: 7-10"
New York, NY: 6-8"
Boston, MA: 12-14"
Portland, ME: 4-6"
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32809
265. trHUrrIXC5MMX
12:23 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
Saturn snowfall reports...

Montana has picked up 2'
North Dakota 1'

If you haven't...please check out my snowmap for the Mid Atlantic, see post #249
I think I have to expand higher snowfall totals into New England
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
264. trHUrrIXC5MMX
12:20 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
263. trHUrrIXC5MMX
12:16 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
this is rather peachy across my area...to see the sun again tomorrow, then until Saturday

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262. MrMixon
12:13 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
Whoa, this isn't good...



Eastbound I-70 closed "long term" after 2 giant pileups

Accidents involving more than 50 cars closed all lanes of I-70 in the mountains for much of Monday afternoon.

Click here to read the rest of the story on The Daily Camera

We got a quick inch or two of snow here just north of Denver - it was snowing quite hard for a while, but I wasn't expecting this little shot of snow to cause such severe problems:

Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
261. trHUrrIXC5MMX
12:09 AM GMT on March 05, 2013
A norlun trough is expected to impact us here in NYC after Saturn with more snow...?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
260. PlazaRed
11:51 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Quoting txjac:


I hope that the two of you are right with your "feelings". I'd love to see it wetten up

Feelings, common sense and the fact that you are not presently in an habitual desert area would point to the probability of rains in the near future.
What you need are moist southerly winds as these will eventually bring in some rains, also the possibility of some form of storm strike this year may be on the cards.
Nobody wants adverse conditions but its time you stopped being a temporary desert before it gets too late to revert back to normal.
Still I hope you get rains soon.
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2179
259. VR46L
11:50 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
@Plaza ~ usually that area in the world has some of the nicest weather usually, might be slightly on the warm side for me but 40 inches this past year is horrendous for there !


@TXJAC ~ I really do hope you get a bit milder , wetter year this year as it has been very dry and warm for the last couple of years!
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
258. trHUrrIXC5MMX
11:48 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
@ #SW CT wx Info
GFS has 10 inches in NYC now. Might have to rethink that snow map.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
257. nymore
11:47 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Quoting StormHype:
Tonight's live mobile winter storm video stream from I94 in central MN.
LNVN - Stream #1
This guy should not be on the road, he looks very unsure of his ability. The roads look good and the DOT site says roads are fair where he is.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2260
256. txjac
11:43 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Quoting PlazaRed:

I am not quite on the coast. I am about 40 miles inland to the direct north of Marbella. I can see the tops of the coastal mountains from my roof. North of me directly is Seville abut 60 miles away. I can see the lights of the city on clear nights.
Cadiz is about 80 miles to the west on the Atlantic coast.
The weather here is normally mild and dry with about 10 to 15 inches of rain in a normal winter. This year we have passed about 40 inches so far including one day of over 5 inches.
6 inches of snow fell last week for the first time in over 20 years, allthough there is often snow on the Grazalema mountains in winter.
I also think that the US mid west will get a lot of rain later in the year.


I hope that the two of you are right with your "feelings". I'd love to see it wetten up
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2617
255. PlazaRed
11:41 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Quoting VR46L:


Are you on the south coast ? The weather you are describing is more UK than Spain. Its funny Much of Europes drought has been smashed to pieces over the past year . they were starting to draw up strict water allowances plans in the UK last March .... haven't hear a word about them since .

I have a feeling in My bones that much of the US might find themselves out of drought this year Just a feeling , no forecaster !

I am not quite on the coast. I am about 40 miles inland to the direct north of Marbella. I can see the tops of the coastal mountains from my roof. North of me directly is Seville abut 60 miles away. I can see the lights of the city on clear nights.
Cadiz is about 80 miles to the west on the Atlantic coast.
The weather here is normally mild and dry with about 10 to 15 inches of rain in a normal winter. This year we have passed about 40 inches so far including one day of over 5 inches.
6 inches of snow fell last week for the first time in over 20 years, allthough there is often snow on the Grazalema mountains in winter.
I also think that the US mid west will get a lot of rain later in the year.
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2179
254. interstatelover7166
11:39 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Well, I am not going to re-iterate a lot of buzz you are already hearing about the ECMWF model trending farther north. Nor am I going to bore you with analysis of multiple model runs and tell you that I am indeed honed in on a scenario. What I AM going to tell you is that there is a very real threat for a major New England snowstorm shaping up, and I won't lie to you: It has the weather world a bit concerned.



As of last night, the 0z euro run was showing the storm situated off the North Carolina coastline with little movement north that would concern anyone in Connecticut. Then the 06z run came in, still showing the storm situated to the south, but just a hair more northward. This wasn't of any real shock to anyone watching the model data, seeing how a few days ahead of a storm, data will wobble back and forth slightly to adjust to observational data or errors in the datasets. No alarm there, just another wobble... That was until the 12z euro came in, showing a budge to the north. What made this more significant was that it differed from the idea that there was an error in the dataset, and was starting to bring some potential moisture into Southern New England.



Why was this such a cause of concern? Well, the ECMWF is a more reliable model used to track the potential of major storms and how they move, normally doing a very stellar job at portraying what these largely dynamic storms have a tendency to do. The GFS has been more of an "outlier", something that is only looked at often times to compare dynamics and potential tracks. But, this time, the ECMWF seems to be pulling farther north in line with the GFS and it's ensembles which indicates that the GFS may be something to look at a little bit more this time around.



Hence I now come to my point. The GFS is showing a Blizzard-like setup for much of coastal NJ, NYC, north into Connecticut and points east. Equally, the ECMWF shows a blizzard-like storm, but far enough south to keep the heavy snows offshore. So what can we deduce from this model average? Well, it will be windy and it will snow. The exact intensity and accumulation is not known at this time, and can differ from just an inch or two of wet snow, to something we would have to measure in feet. Given the fact that this storm is still 3 1.2 days away from transitioning to an offshore low pressure system, we do have plenty of time and data to sift through; including quite a few more model runs on multiple models (CMC, SREF, GFS, ECMWF, NAM, UKMET) which will show our trends.



Most people want meteorologists to push a big red button, or commit to an idea of something far ahead in time. We are not prophets and cannot do this. our formulations and abilities to do so are based off of two main factors: the available model data... and past record keeping. Both come together to give us a good idea of what COULD happen, not what WILL happen.



So, if I had to commit to a scenario right now? I would say light snow with gusty winds and coastal flooding for long island sound. Accumulations of 3-6 inches statewide, with a possible mix at the shore before changing to all snow. Will this change? Certainly, however, I cannot dictate what way it will change and it could certainly be a historic storm, or a historic bust. Time will tell.
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253. ncstorm
11:31 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
48 hours..Euro 850mbm Winds


72 hours


12z also showing an end to a negative NAO
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252. VR46L
11:30 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Quoting PlazaRed:
For an idea of how bad our weather has been this winter.
We have been trying to get a dry week to dry out the walls of a neighbours house for repairs and repainting since the beginning of October. That's more than 5 months now and not one total dry week.
For an area where rain is a necessary inconvenience you can only imagine the state of the damp in some of the houses. Its going to take them months to dry out. My house back wall is about 3 foot thick and its got water running down the inside of it now from rain water saturation and general damp.
We have rain all week and then maybe rain again next week. The next big moan will be the ruined agricultural crops, a lot of banana plants were blown over in the Canary Islands storms today.
All this after 2 years of drought!


Are you on the south coast ? The weather you are describing is more UK than Spain. Its funny Much of Europes drought has been smashed to pieces over the past year . they were starting to draw up strict water allowances plans in the UK last March .... haven't hear a word about them since .

I have a feeling in My bones that much of the US might find themselves out of drought this year Just a feeling , no forecaster !
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
251. washingtonian115
11:28 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Don't know what you are looking at.. Still looks just as good as earlier to me, nothing really has changed. 18Z GFS is an aberration.
This looks more like a V.A to western Maryland storm.There's always next year the saying goes and I am done with this winter and storm.Duces.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17803
Quoting WxGeekVA:

That would be Great!

Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Ok finally done... sorry for the delay.

COLOSSAL SATURN

Still expecting season record snows for Chicago and Gary.
Lowering snow in Detroit.

All DC, Baltimore into southern PA, Southern New Jersey and Delaware, south into
just north of Richmond to Appalachians for snowfalls over half a feet to nearly 1 foot.
Eastern WV mountains to get nearly 1.5'
The rest of NJ and Southern PA into NYC, Long Island and coastal CT could see from 2 to 5"


click on image for larger view..

Note: This was one of the hardest maps for me come up with, but you see now. Not updating the Midwest anymore.


That wouldn't be bad either
Member Since: February 13, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 3860
Ok finally done... sorry for the delay.

COLOSSAL SATURN

Still expecting season record snows for Chicago and Gary.
Lowering snow in Detroit.

All DC, Baltimore into southern PA, Southern New Jersey and Delaware, south into
just north of Richmond to Appalachians for snowfalls over half a feet to nearly 1 foot.
Eastern WV mountains to get nearly 1.5'
The rest of NJ and Southern PA into NYC, Long Island and coastal CT could see from 2 to 5"

***The shade under the coastal Mid Atlantic and Southern New England represents storm watches.. Not sure about the snow in New England yet.


click on image for larger view..

Note: This was one of the hardest maps for me come up with, but you see it there now. Not updating the Midwest anymore.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Can't believe time to turn clocks ahead this weekend. Time is flying by. We will be tracking tropical systems before you know it.
Spring forward...Fall back....Geeeez
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Quoting washingtonian115:
More laughable than plausible.We here in the city will once again get little or nothing.The models are backing off.


Don't know what you are looking at.. Still looks just as good as earlier to me, nothing really has changed. 18Z GFS is an aberration.
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For an idea of how bad our weather has been this winter.
We have been trying to get a dry week to dry out the walls of a neighbours house for repairs and repainting since the beginning of October. That's more than 5 months now and not one total dry week.
For an area where rain is a necessary inconvenience you can only imagine the state of the damp in some of the houses. Its going to take them months to dry out. My house back wall is about 3 foot thick and its got water running down the inside of it now from rain water saturation and general damp.
We have rain all week and then maybe rain again next week. The next big moan will be the ruined agricultural crops, a lot of banana plants were blown over in the Canary Islands storms today.
All this after 2 years of drought!
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
More laughable than plausible.We here in the city will once again get little or nothing.The models are backing off.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17803
18z GFS Spaghetti Plot compared to 12z..

18z


12z
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Quoting Jarhead6012:


Sure go for it...let me know how that works out for you...LOL
I like to move it
I like to move it move it
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18z GFS gives areas north of Boston over 2' of snow! Gives me a solid 12-18" as well a little ways south of the city. Wouldn't it be something if we ended up with the highest totals from this thing.

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8034
Quoting ILwthrfan:


You got a link a to that?


I cleaned it up for my graphic, but here you go

PSU e-Wall page for Hi-Res NAM Here
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Can't believe time to turn clocks ahead this weekend. Time is flying by. We will be tracking tropical systems before you know it.
REALLY! Oh I need my sleep. Hate this clock change... are you sure? Seems early, just March.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


You got a link a to that?
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238. VR46L
Quoting PlazaRed:

Well at least its moving north from us to you, rather than down from Iceland.
Here we had gales and driving rain today and its set to continue for the rest of the week. 13/C at the moment.
In the Canary Islands they had gusts up to 174 KPH which is about 109 MPH, loads of rain there too, massive waves and all those horrible things that these storms bring.
Been a pretty bad winter here so far and probably the worst I can remember in 20 years, we even had 6 inches of snow last week but nothing compared to the Valencia area who got about 40 inches in some places.
Apart form the general dampness the unemployment rate went over 5 million for the first time ever and is now 26% of the working population, figures badly affected by the bad weather of course.


Ireland and the UK are a total mess at the moment too .. Unemployment , construction on hold and public service getting run down .. but the money just ain't there...

You Might actually want to keep an eye on that storm that will be exiting the US in a couple of days... It appears on the models to take an east track rather than usual NE track

Yes it is better at this time of year to have a storm coming from the south .. warm air rather than freezing winds . Mind you with the amount of dry weather we have had for the last 2 1/2 weeks flash flooding will be a concern


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Can't believe time to turn clocks ahead this weekend. Time is flying by. We will be tracking tropical systems before you know it.
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Tonight's live mobile winter storm video stream from I94 in central MN.
LNVN - Stream #1
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wow look at this nor-easter thurs..............
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Where's March? It's down in Texas.


YUP :D
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THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PITTSBURGH HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM
TUESDAY TO 7 PM EST WEDNESDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER
IN EFFECT.

* HAZARD TYPE...HEAVY WET SNOW.

* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...8 TO 14 INCHES.

* SNOW BEGINNING...LATE TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

* PERIOD OF MOST INTENSE SNOW...10PM TUESDAY TO 10AM WEDNESDAY.

* SNOW ENDING...WEDNESDAY EVENING.

* IMPACTS...HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED DUE TO
REDUCED VISIBILITY AND SNOW ACCUMULATION.

* WINDS...NORTHEAST 5 TO 15 MPH.

* IMPACTS...HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED DUE TO
REDUCED VISIBILITY AND SNOW ACCUMULATION.
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AccuWeather.com‏@breakingweather

Blizzard conditions occurring in Fryburg, North Dakota. Winds in excess of 35 mph with visibility reduced to 1/4 mile or less.
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Quoting VR46L:
All good things come to an end eventually .. looks like the UK and Ireland beautiful dry spell is going to end with that storm moving north from Spain ..


Well at least its moving north from us to you, rather than down from Iceland.
Here we had gales and driving rain today and its set to continue for the rest of the week. 13/C at the moment.
In the Canary Islands they had gusts up to 174 KPH which is about 109 MPH, loads of rain there too, massive waves and all those horrible things that these storms bring.
Been a pretty bad winter here so far and probably the worst I can remember in 20 years, we even had 6 inches of snow last week but nothing compared to the Valencia area who got about 40 inches in some places.
Apart form the general dampness the unemployment rate went over 5 million for the first time ever and is now 26% of the working population, figures badly affected by the bad weather of course.
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2179

Eric Fisher‏@EricFisherTWC

As it stands, there will certainly be some erosion/coastal flood concerns for DE/NJ coast, first. #Saturn

50 segEric Fisher‏@EricFisherTWC

If trend north continues, major NE coastal erosion could be in play with #Saturn. Read @NWSBoston discussion: Link
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Quoting Luisport:

Todd Gutner‏@ToddWBZ

The final track of storm is still in question but cold rain and wet snow is likely with some accumulating snow possible.

2 minTodd Gutner‏@ToddWBZ

A lock that the Coast has problems from midweek storm: large waves, beach erosion and gusty, if not damaging wind.

The coast just can't take anymore up here. It was hit extremely hard during Sandy, probably even harder during the blizzard, and received smaller impacts from other smaller storms. So many beachfront houses up here, it seems like more come down every year...
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Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

GFS 18z has plains storm Sat/Sun, also heavy snow. Link
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7-day for Tampa Bay area......................
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SEFFNER -- Florida
Another Seffner home has been evacuated after a sinkhole was discovered.

A sinkhole has been confirmed at 1204 Cedar Tree Lane, about two miles from the sinkhole that opened up beneath a man’s bedroom at 240 Faithway Drive.
The sinkhole is reportedly in the backyard.
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Quoting interstatelover7166:
Great article (CT biased) on the possibility of the storm: Link
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THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR SOUTH FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT

HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS NOT EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY

TEMPERATURES WILL FALL AGAIN WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND EARLY THURSDAY
INTO THE UPPER 30S AND LOWER 40S FOR INTERIOR LOCATIONS. WITH
NORTHWEST WINDS OF AROUND 10 MPH...WIND CHILL VALUES IN THE 30S
ARE POSSIBLE.
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Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

Thursday morning precip-type for E. coast shows sprawling storm & heavy snow for big cities.
Link
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I know winds will be a problem where, extensive power outages are possible...

A NOR-EASTER WILL DEVELOP ALONG THE MID ATLANTIC COAST EARLY
WEDNESDAY. THE STORM WILL INTENSIFY AS IT SLOWLY TRACKS
EAST THROUGH THURSDAY.

FORECAST UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDS THE EXACT DETAILS OF HOW THIS STORM
WILL EVOLVE...BUT THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR:

* SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW.
* WIND GUSTS OF 50 TO 60 MPH.
* MINOR TO MODERATE COASTAL FLOODING.
* HIGH SURF AND SIGNIFICANT BEACH EROSION ALONG THE OCEAN FACING
BEACHES AND TWIN FORKS OF LONG ISLAND.


Note.. in about 30 mins I'll be done with my snowmap...it has been a difficult one for me to do...
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Expanded view...

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32809

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS NOT EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY.

THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR A STRONG COASTAL STORM TO IMPACT EASTERN
NORTH CAROLINA WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY. THIS SYSTEM COULD BRING
STRONG NORTHERLY WINDS AND A PERIOD OF HEAVY RAIN TO THE AREA.
STRONG GALE FORCE WINDS COULD IMPACT THE COASTAL WATERS AND OUTER
BANKS FROM WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY. HIGH SURF WITH
POSSIBLE OCEAN OVERWASH AND COASTAL FLOODING MAY IMPACT AREA
BEACHES NORTH OF CAPE HATTERAS. SOUNDSIDE COASTAL FLOODING WILL
ALSO BE POSSIBLE DUE TO THE FETCH AND DURATION OF STRONGEST WINDS.
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day 1..probability of areas seeing MORE than an inch of snow



day 2


day 3
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Where's March? It's down in Texas.



Looks more like summer to this darned yankee ;)
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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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