Huge storm poised to pound California; snow falls in Florida

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:59 PM GMT on January 03, 2008

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A large and very powerful Pacific storm is poised to hammer California this weekend, bringing blizzard conditions and sustained winds over hurricane force to the Sierra Mountains. The mighty storm, currently about 1000 miles west of the state of Washington, is intensifying rapidly today. As the system approaches the coast of Washington State on Friday afternoon, its pressure is expected to bottom out at 960 mb--a pressure similar to that of a Category 2 hurricane. High winds will buffet all of California Friday and Saturday, with sustained winds of hurricane force and gusts of 145 mph expected along the high ridge tops of the Sierra Mountains. Blizzard conditions will envelop much of the Sierras, with 2-5 feet of snow likely to fall by Saturday. Snowfall rates up to six inches per hour are expected. Travel will be difficult or impossible in the northern mountains of California Friday and Saturday.


Figure 1. A massive winter storm (left side of image) prepares to hammer the U.S. West Coast on Friday and Saturday. A second, weaker storm is affecting the coast today.
In Southern California, the concern is heavy rain and flooding. Rainfall rates of up to an inch per hour are expected in the mountains, with total rain amounts of up to 10 inches expected in the south facing mountains. Landslides and debris flows are likely on the hillsides burned by the recent fires. Strong, damaging winds are expected over much of Southern California, as well. High winds over the the ocean will bring swells of 6-10 feet to the coast and 20 foot seas offshore, and isolated thunderstorms could spawn waterspouts. The storm responsible for the wild weather will weaken and move ashore on Saturday over British Columbia, but will still be strong enough to bring additional heavy rains, high winds, and mountain snows to California through Sunday.

Florida snow
It's cold in Florida! Snow flurries were reported along the east central coast of the state this morning, near Daytona Beach and Cocoa. It was the first snow seen in the region since 2003.The cold air behind the cold front responsible for the freeze was pushed by an unusually strong high pressure system. Tallahassee, Florida reported a new atmospheric pressure record at 11 am today: 30.77 inches (1042 mb). The previous record was 30.74 inches (1041 mb) which occurred on January 4th 1979 and again on February 5th 1996. Record low temperature records were set in Fort Myers (32° F), Miami Beach (40° F) and Key West (45° F) this morning, and citrus growers worked hard to keep their orange crops from freezing.

Jeff Masters

Cold morning in SW Florida (Peacefulbon)
I put my sprinklers on this morning to protect things from the 31-degree cold snap. My oranges will now be sweeter, but ice here is certainly uncommon.
Cold morning in SW Florida

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49. Hurricaneblast
8:00 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
eye developing
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48. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:45 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
TROPICAL CYCLONE HELEN ADVISORY NUMBER SIX - Strengthening
============================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Helen [980 hPa] located near 13.3S 129.0E or 190 kms west-northwest of Daly River and 225 west-southwest of Darwin had 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts up to 55 knots. The cyclone is reported moving east at 9 knots.

The cyclone is expected to INTENSIFY in the next 6 hours and cross the coast between Darwin and Daly River Mouth tonight or early tomorrow morning. Tropical Cyclone Helen is expected to weaken below cyclone intensity over land tomorrow, but may continue to move east and redevelop in the Gulf of Carpentaria on Sunday.

DESTRUCTIVE WINDS with gusts to 130 kilometres per hour could affect coastal and island communities between Darwin and Daly River Mouth overnight.

GALES with gusts to 100 kilometres per hour should begin to affect coastal and island communities between Darwin and Port Keats in the next 6 hours, and may extend to Cape Hotham and the Tiwi Islands later tonight.

GALES with gusts to 100 kilometers per hour may affect coastal and island communities between Elcho Island and Numbulwar, including Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt, on Sunday if the system redevelops in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Heavy rain is expected to cause flooding over the Top End.

Tropical Cyclone Watches/Warning
===============================

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal and island communities from Port Keats to Cape Hotham including Darwin and the Tiwi Islands.


A Cyclone WATCH has been declared for coastal and island communities from Elcho Island to Numbulwar, including Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt.

Forecast and Intensity
======================

12 HRS: 30 knots [Tropical Low/Overland]
24 HRS: 25 knots [Tropical Low/Overland]
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47. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:02 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
At 06:00 AM UTC, Extratropical Depression, Ex-Elnus [1000 hPa] located near 26.0S 42.1E had 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts up to 35 knots. The disturbance is reported moving south-southeast at 13 knots.

Dvorak Intensity:

Stronger winds 26 knots locally 30 knots are located at about 70 NM from the center. Winds are lighter near the center around 15-20 knots up to 120 NM from the center in the southeastern semi-circle.

Forecast and Intensity
======================
48 HRS: 26.4S 43.0E (Devenant Extratropical)

Additional Information
========================
System has begun an extratropical transistion. Winds and position have been adjusted consequently based on an Quikscat Pass. System should moving at slower speed generally southeastward as ridge is building southward and continuing its extratropical transistion.
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46. Trouper415
5:23 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
Thanks 456
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45. DBeck
8:59 PM PST on January 03, 2008
TIME WELL TELL
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44. Weather456
1:04 AM AST on January 04, 2008
later
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
43. thunder01
5:01 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
Tomorrow's storm looks quite impressive for NorCal. Lots of discussion at Weather West...
Link
42. Trouper415
4:51 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
Alright thanks. I'm just 20-30 miles north of San Francisco and we have urban flood advisory and flash flood watches.

Is there any website that you know of that has more specific data for towns and specific rivers and their watersheds so I could get a more detailed and specific probability of flooding?

Thanks
Patrick
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41. Weather456
12:49 AM AST on January 04, 2008
I feel that it will attain the forecast pressure sooner but not too much lower than 950 mb.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
40. Weather456
12:44 AM AST on January 04, 2008
39. Trouper415 12:42 AM AST on January 04, 2008 Hide this comment.
Hey Weathe456 and all, good evening.

Do you think the low is going to be stronger than forecast since it is already at 960mbs and it is still early?

Thanks for all your insight and wisdom to help all these people like you do. Much appreciated

Patrick


It is possible.....but a storm can only can deepen so much...most likely it will attain the forecast pressure quicker.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
39. Trouper415
4:35 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
Hey Weathe456 and all, good evening.

Do you think the low is going to be stronger than forecast since it is already at 960mbs and it is still early?

Thanks for all your insight and wisdom to help all these people like you do. Much appreciated

Patrick
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38. Skyepony (Mod)
4:08 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
snow motels are preparing to open

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37. Feather3
8:38 PM PST on January 03, 2008
Pray we don't lose power! Our church kitchen is all electric and we have to cook for hungry, homeless folks tomorrow. . . .whoohooo, what a storm track!
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36. Weather456
12:32 AM AST on January 04, 2008
This stratocumulus cloud deck sure is deep

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35. Weather456
12:31 AM AST on January 04, 2008
Gale Force Conditions

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34. Weather456
12:31 AM AST on January 04, 2008
East Coast of the United States

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33. Weather456
11:54 PM AST on January 03, 2008
The low is deepening pretty fast...now down to 960 mb

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
32. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
2:38 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Helen [985 hPa] located near 13.4S 128.1E or 230 kms north of Wyndham and 320 west-southwest of Darwin had 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts up to 45 knots. The cyclone is reported moving northeast at 8 knots.

The cyclone is likely to take a more eastward track during today toward the Top End of the Northern Territory.

The cyclone is expected to cross the coast between Darwin and Port Keats tonight or early tomorrow.

GALES with gusts to 100 kilometres per hour could affect coastal and island communities in the north Kimberley and western Top End during today.

DESTRUCTIVE WINDS with gusts to 130 kilometres per hour could affect coastal and island communities between Darwin and Port Keats tonight or early tomorrow.

If the system were to take a more northeast track, there is the possibility that GALES could affect coastal and island communities between Cape Hotham and Goulburn Island, including the Tiwi Islands during Saturday.

Heavy rain is expected to cause flooding in the north Kimberley region and the Top End.

Tropical Cyclone Watches/Warning
===============================

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal and island communities from Kalumburu in Western Australia to Cape Hotham in the Northern Territory, including Darwin.

A Cyclone WATCH is current for coastal and island communities from Cape Hotham to Goulburn Island, including the Tiwi Islands.

Forecast and Intensity
======================

12 HRS: 50 knots [CAT 2]
24 HRS: 30 knots [Tropical Low]
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31. BahaHurican
9:18 PM EST on January 03, 2008
Syd,

I really like your avatar, BTW. Great shot of that storm.
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30. BahaHurican
9:14 PM EST on January 03, 2008
syd, this is the same low that was tracking across land, or a new one?
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29. sydneyaust1
1:59 AM GMT on January 04, 2008
Tropical Cyclone Helen near Darwin has been named as Cat 1 (Australian Scale)
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27. listenerVT
8:51 PM EST on January 03, 2008
It's minus-10 here tonight, so far.

Nippy!
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24. BahaHurican
6:55 PM EST on January 03, 2008
Interesting looking clouds behind the front . . .

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23. BahaHurican
6:51 PM EST on January 03, 2008
Evening, all.

Current temp here (Nassau) is 64. Low tonight is expected to reach 49, at latest report. That's cold enough to reach for the space heaters, or alternatively every blanket you own LOL. I guess this is the worst of what u guys got 12 hrs ago.
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22. usmcweathr
6:38 PM EST on January 03, 2008
8. vortfix 8:50 PM GMT on January 03, 2008 Hide this comment.
Jan 03, 2008
Highest December Southern Oscillaion Index Since 1975 By Eugenio Hackbart, METSUL Weather Center, Brazil

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology released today the December value for the Southern Oscillation Index, one of the most important indicators of the Pacific Ocean conditions. The oscillation is calculated from the monthly or seasonal fluctuations in the air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. Positive values are associated with stronger Pacific trade winds and La Nina episodes. Waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become colder while near Australia they are warmer.

The December value released by BoM today for December 2007 was 14.4. This is the highest December SOI value since 1975, an indication of the strength of the ongoing Pacific cold event. It also figures among the top ten positive values for the SOI in December.


Interesting article. Based off of past occurrences, the current Southern Oscillation Index values would result in a warmer than normal Jan and Feb for the northeast. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.
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21. CrazyC83
11:37 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Could this storm get more intense? Maybe as low as 945-950 mb (well into Category 3 intensity), and perhaps with Category 5 wind gusts on the mountain summits?
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18. Weather456
6:07 PM AST on January 03, 2008
BBL
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
17. Weather456
5:30 PM AST on January 03, 2008
Current Storm
A 974 mb low pressure area located over the Northeast Pacific Ocean at 47N/131W is producing gale force winds, heavy rain and snow over the Pacific Northwest. The associated cold front remains offshore but precipitation is moving ahead over California and Oregon. This storm is mild compared to whats behind it. Some of highest winds reported today offshore was 40 knots, while inland winds were around 20-25 knots. The storm crossed over buoy 46005 giving an idea of the intensity. The buoy bottomed out near 974 mb which is also mild to the forecast 958 mb with the second low. Snow cumulations were confined to the higher elevations of Washington were 1-2 inches were reported. And additional 4 inches were reported elsewhere in isolated locals.

Major Storm to come
Winter weather and high wind watches and warnings have been posted for numerous counties across California, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in preparation for a large developing system in the Central Pacific (Figure 4). This storm system has the potential to bring dangerous hurricane force winds, 50 ft seas and over 12 inches of snow over the Rockies. More updates on this storm as it approaches the coast.


Figure 1. NWS Doppler Radar for the Pacific Northwest.


Figure 2. Surface winds reported earlier.


Figure 3. Buoy 46005 wind speed sustain, gusts and barometric pressure time series.


Figure 4. Visible imagery of the current low to the left and the more powerful storm developing well offshore.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
16. Weather456
5:27 PM AST on January 03, 2008
Twin Storms

I am currently updating my blog

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
14. hondaguy
2:54 PM CST on January 03, 2008
Garnowich...half the time many ppl dont know what's going on in the weather. I cannot tell you how many ppl I talk to that say "Oh I just go by the way it feels, and what it looks like outside"

The sad thing is that weather changes so quickly a lot of times you just cannot do that.

Perfect instance of this is the evening before Katrina came ashore (about 12 hours) a guy stopped in my drive way wanting to fix the cracks in my winshield.

I told him I didnt think it was a great idea due to the fact that a hurricane was about to hit and he very non-chalantly said "oh really?" Like he didnt even care. Granted he could have been trying to rip me off, but according to him (and this is generally true) most insurance companies will cover winshield repair as far as cracks are concerned. My insurance didnt cover it, and I told him not to worry about it because of the pending storm.

At any rate, he had no idea, and acted like he didnt really care at all. A lot of ppl dont care till it affects them in some way.

Cajuncook...Pacific storms usually dont bring *significant* drops in temperature to the rest of the country.

Like you observed it will warm up ahead of it and then it will just cool down. Generally the pacific fronts are what bring us our average temperatures during the winter.

Our temps for next Tuesday are gonna be in the 60's...which is about average for here. This weekend they will be mid 70's to near 80°F which will be ahead of that storm.

The front that just came through is what brings all the below average temps...The arctic front :-D :-D
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13. chentetij
9:09 PM GMT on Enero 03, 2008
tengo miedo de la tormenta! help me!
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11. lawntonlookers
8:49 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
456 has been tracking the Cal. storm most of today. I checked some of the pressure and winds off the WA. cost and they were strong and pressure was low. And this is not the storm that Dr. Masters, as talking about
Member Since: March 22, 2006 Posts: 9 Comments: 1570
10. cajuncook
8:53 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
longtime lurker, first time poster.

What does this storm off the coast potentially mean for the rest of the country? From what I can tell, temperatures won't be dropping significantly behind the front, and they're rising ahead of the front, so if it powers over the mountains, it'll probably just bring rain to the conus, or am I totally off?
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9. Garnowich
8:51 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
I think more people need to be aware about storms this size. I work at Trader Joes, and half of my customers don't have a clue it's supposed to rain tonight-Mon/Tues. It would be crazy to see another 2005 flood event unfold.
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7. IKE
2:43 PM CST on January 03, 2008
From the Tallahassee,FL. weather office...


"Statement as of 1:15 am EST on January 3, 2008

... New atmospheric pressure record set at Tallahassee...

The sea level pressure at the Airport at 11 am was 30.77 inches
which established a new pressure record for Tallahassee. The
previous record was 30.74 inches which occurred on January 4th 1979
and again on February 5th 1996."
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6. tornadofan
8:25 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
nasanut - wild forecast!
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5. Weather456
4:17 PM AST on January 03, 2008
Tropical Low 06U/Tropical Cyclone 10S

Basin: Southeast Indian Ocean

Pattern Type: Curved band 0.40

Current Intensity: CI 2.0/30/1000

Adjustments: None

Final Estimate: CI 2.0/30/1000

Dvorak Trends:
1400 UTC 03 JAN 2007 - CI 2.0

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
4. hurricane23
3:19 PM EST on January 03, 2008
It did snow/Furries across northern florida mostly across the Cape Canaveral area.VIDEO

Here's an animated close-up visible of the parade of systems in the pacific.



LARGE LOOP
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13841
3. nasanut
8:17 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
I had to share this from the NWS for Mt. Shasta over the next few days (check out the snow accumulations - I have never seem dumps like these!):


NWS Forecast for: Mount Shasta
Last Update on 03 Jan 11:56 PST
Issued by: National Weather Service Medford, OR
Last Update: 7:21 am PST Jan 3, 2008


This Afternoon: Periods of snow. Temperature falling to around 16 by 4pm. Windy, with a south southwest wind between 50 and 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 18 to 24 inches possible.

Tonight: Periods of snow. Low around 15. Windy, with a south southwest wind 45 to 50 mph increasing to between 60 and 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 33 to 39 inches possible.

Friday: Periods of snow. Temperature rising to near 16 by 9am, then falling to around 5 during the remainder of the day. Windy, with a southwest wind 60 to 65 mph decreasing to between 45 and 50 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 37 to 43 inches possible.

Friday Night: Periods of snow showers. Low around 2. Windy, with a west southwest wind 45 to 48 mph decreasing to between 36 and 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Saturday: Periods of snow showers. High near 5. Windy, with a west southwest wind between 26 and 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Saturday Night: Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 1. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
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1. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
8:00 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Disturbance, Ex-Elnus [1000 hPa] located near 25.0S 42.4E had 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts up to 35 knots. The disturbance is reported moving south-southeast at 13 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T1.5/2.0

Forecast and Intensity
======================
24 HRS: 28.3S 46.0E 25 knots (Devenant Extratropical)
48 HRS: 31.4S 51.2E (Depression Extratropical)

Additional Information
========================
The low level circulation is fully exposed northwest of the deep convection due to a rather strong northwesterly vertical wind shear weakening the system. The system tracked southeastward over the last hours, likely under the steering influence of an equatorward extension of the subtropical ridge over Madagascar. The system has clearly accelerated during the last hours and seem to track quickly in front the trough, becoming extra-tropical.
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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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