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Chicago snowstorm headed toward the Mid-Atlantic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:03 PM GMT on March 05, 2013

The snow has begun in Chicago, as what promises to be their biggest snowstorm of the season moves through. The fast-moving "Alberta Clipper" has already brought up to 10" of snow to Minnesota and North Dakota. 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. However, this Clipper is traversing through an atmosphere that is warmer than usual for these types of storms--close to the freezing point near the surface. Since warm air can hold more moisture, this Clipper is bringing heavier snowfall amounts than is usual for a Clipper, with 4 - 8" of snow expected in Chicago. 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 4 - 8" of snow into the Mid-Atlantic through Wednesday, with the heaviest snows in excess of a foot falling in Western Virginia and eastern West Virginia. The models are still in considerable disagreement on what will happen to the storm on Wednesday, both in regards to the track and the location of the rain/snow line. I still prefer the European model's solution of a colder and more southwards-moving storm, which would likely bring Washington D.C. 4 - 8" of snow, their biggest snowstorm since January 26, 2011. There will be a sharp gradient in snowfall amounts in the region, though, due to the fact the rain/snow line will be in the area. We cannot rule out the solution provided by NOAA's SREF model, which calls for snowfall amounts closer to 15" in D.C. The Capital Weather Gang has an interesting article on historical March snowstorms in Washington D.C. In order for Snowquester/Winter Storm Saturn to crack the top-ten, it would have to dump at least 6.6" of snow on the nation's capital. The New England coast from Long Island to Southeast Massachusetts could also see heavy snows in excess of 6", though the uncertainty in snow amounts is high. There will be a very sharp gradient in the precipitation amounts, and the storm's track may keep the heaviest snows just offshore.


Figure 1. Predicted snowfall amounts from Winter Storm Saturn (AKA Snowquester) from the NWS. There is a sharp gradient in snowfall amounts near the coast, due to some of the precipitation falling as rain.

Coastal flooding a concern in the Mid-Atlantic and New England
As the storm moves off the coast on Wednesday night, winds gusting to 55 mph will build waves of up to 15' and a 2 - 4' storm surge along the coast to the north of the center, along the coasts of Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. 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 moderate coastal flooding in Delaware during the high tide cycles on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. The latest storm surge forecast from the GFS model calls for a storm surge of around 3' at Lewes, Delaware on Thursday morning, though the peak surge is currently forecast to hit at low tide, which would not bring top-ten highest water level on record to the coast. Still, even moderate flooding would cause much greater erosion than usual, due to weakened state of the dunes from the pounding Hurricane Sandy gave to the coast in October. Sandy brought the 3rd highest water level on record to Lewes. Moderate flooding is also expected along large portions of the New England coast, from New York City to Boston. Should the more northerly track of the GFS and NAM models verify, Southeast Massachusetts could be looking at a dangerous coastal flooding event with impacts far worse than experienced during Winter Storm Nemo on February 9.

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

Jeff Masters
sundog...
sundog...
White Winter scene
White Winter scene
By Bayview Park Westside of Sturgeon Bay

Winter Weather Saturn

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

3.5 inches as of 8am Powhatan, VA. Thunder snow for past couple of hours in Midlothian, VA. About 3 inches there so far.
Quoting VR46L:


Pcola Knows his weather , IMO !

And picks out some great imagery both weather and science related .



Good Morning All..

Thanks VR46L..
I normally don't do any forecasting until Atlantic TC season..

And Washi, I Just saw a predominate feature with that dry slot and it wasn't getting any moisture in/behind it to condense..
My thinking was it would mess with the storm snowfall totals..

Believe me , I miss alot of forecasts when I make then..Lol..
What I know I've learned here over the years..
I'm just an 'ol ex-hippie retired guy with a passion for weather and science..
By the way so far so good on the daily science posts..
I think it really helps with all the "pluses"..
Will post some more in a few.. :)
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Everybody needs to calm down and wait for the storm to actually begin in earnest and then pass before declaring anything a bust.

Hey TWX13, the forecast here's been all over the place here lightly (and as I know its been all over the place everywhere) how much snow should the Pasadena area in maryland get?
Well, I suppose I should get my rear in gear, load up the puppy and hit the beach for a few hours - I've gotta do what I've gotta do - not rubbing it in here ;-)

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

Lindy
505. VR46L
Your Welcome PCOLA


Norfolk Sat image

The latest snowfall forecast from NWS Sterling still has DC fully in the 8-10" range with western suburbs in the 10-14".
Quoting wxchaser97:
The latest snowfall forecast from NWS Sterling still has DC fully in the 8-10" range with western suburbs in the 10-14".

Wow, thanks for that image, nvm TWX :P
It was fun:



now it's just cold
Astronomy Picture of the Day


Tardigrade in Moss - 2013 March 6




Explanation: Is this an alien? Probably not, but of all the animals on Earth, the tardigrade might be the best candidate. That's because tardigrades are known to be able to go for decades without food or water, to survive temperatures from near absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, to survive pressures from near zero to well above that on ocean floors, and to survive direct exposure to dangerous radiations. The far-ranging survivability of these extremophiles was tested in 2011 outside an orbiting space shuttle. Tardigrades are so durable partly because they can repair their own DNA and reduce their body water content to a few percent. Some of these miniature water-bears almost became extraterrestrials recently when they were launched toward to the Martian moon Phobos on board the Russian mission Fobos-Grunt, but stayed terrestrial when a rocket failed and the capsule remained in Earth orbit. Tardigrades are more common than humans across most of the Earth. Pictured above in a color-enhanced electron micrograph, a millimeter-long tardigrade crawls on moss.

(Are These things Weird or What?)
Quoting Articuno:

Wow, thanks for that image, nvm TWX :P

You're welcome, TA is always slow with things :)
Quoting wxchaser97:

You're welcome, TA is always slow with things :)

Rofl. :P
Is wash buying it yet?

Winchester VA, 22601
(W. of Baltimore and WNW of DC about 80mi)

Estimate (through the window view) around six inches in Winchester VA (Old Town) at 09:00 03/06.
Snow has been moderate to heavy at times since after midnight.

I wonder if someone could tell me what is happening with the angular momentum of the water mass as a atmospheric system rotates?
(Last night the system was moving at a good clip east, then more north east and then rotation became apparent. It would take a lot of energy to change the direction of that mass of water through that volume of space.)
Low pressure just moved offshore about 8 EST. I know this because the winds were calm,then they started picking up from the wsw direction. Plus the satellite images! LOL
Yesterday it was 65F I saw 55mph winds in strong thunderstorms, and trees down...

Today it was 45mph winds,30F and I received 0.5" of snow overnight, and still flurrying now.

It's horrible outside.

Within 2 minutes of the heavy rain ending on the backside of the squall line the 45mph NW winds had moved in, the sky cleared completely and the temperature dropped 20F.

We still have snow on the ground right now, not enough to do anything with though.

Gawx....
516. DrewE
Quoting OcnGypZ:
3.5 inches as of 8am Powhatan, VA. Thunder snow for past couple of hours in Midlothian, VA. About 3 inches there so far.


Can confirm midlothian portion. Two major road ways are closed. My main route to work and my backup.

Oh no...
Heavy snow here in Fairfax, big snowflakes blowing hard in the wind.
I find it strange how the GFS develops and inland blob of snow to add to NE snow totals....anyway the GFS and ECWMF have reached an agreement i guess between the GFS hitting cape cod, and the ECMWF wanting to go straight to sea. Somewhere in the middle




It hasn't started snowing here yet.. :(
Quoting overwash12:
Low pressure just moved offshore about 8 EST. I know this because the winds were calm,then they started picking up from the wsw direction. Plus the satellite images! LOL
Yep! Let the fun begin!!!
Thundersnow in richmond, supposed to rain though:

3" snowburst in richmond, could outdo predicted snowtotals if precip can end before it rains too much
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Just drove from Staunton to Harrisonburg, VA on I-81. Don't!!


That is a beautiful drive, but I can't imagine the... well, I mean the... Ahem. The guts to make that drive today. You are a brave man ;)
Up to 5.5 inches now in Powhatan VA
Despite a 50-80kt southerly LLJ(ouch) and a 70-90kt mlj, weak instability could make this just rain/thunder:




European Space Agency' Observatory Herschel and Rosette Nebula


Click HERE for entire article..




5 March 2013

ESA’s Herschel space observatory is expected to exhaust its supply of liquid helium coolant in the coming weeks after spending more than three exciting years studying the cool Universe.

Herschel was launched on 14 May 2009 and, with a main mirror 3.5 m across, it is the largest, most powerful infrared telescope ever flown in space.

A pioneering mission, it is the first to cover the entire wavelength range from the far-infrared to submillimetre, making it possible to study previously invisible cool regions of gas and dust in the cosmos, and providing new insights into the origin and evolution of stars and galaxies.
527. DrewE
Looking at 4.5 inches in western suburbs of the Richmond metro. This is a cluster...you know the rest.

How am I to get to work if I can't get out of my neighborhood because both roads are closed. BLEH
I need a snow magnet.
Quoting goosegirl1:


That is a beautiful drive, but I can't imagine the... well, I mean the... Ahem. The guts to make that drive today. You are a brave man ;)
I can imagine the drive down the mountain East on 64 would not be fun. Charlottesville reporting heavy snow.
Quoting Chapelhill:
Yep! Let the fun begin!!!
Getting any snow in Chapel Hill?
Quoting Articuno:
I need a snow magnet.

Can I borrow it for next winter if you get one?
Quoting overwash12:
Getting any snow in Chapel Hill?
We had a flurry about 8am. Now it's sunny and very windy from the NNW.
Quoting washingtonian115:
I'm sorry is it suppose to snow tomorrow?.I couldn't tell with it being 53 degrees today.I'm not expecting anything over 4 inches here in D.C.It will be. Big sloppy mess tomorrow.I'm not sure if it will crack the top 10 Doc.



In the blizzard of 93: In the South, however, temperatures in the days before the storm were typical for early March. Even the day before the storm, high temperatures climbed into the 60s, adn temperatures were quite warm. Although large fluctuations in temperature are not unusual in the deep south, many residents doubted that freezing temperatures could return so rapidly or that snow was likely due to the rarity of significant snowfall later than February. Many local TV news stations were reluctant to even broadcast the forecast models, due to the extreme numbers being predicted by the computers, but the models turned out to be right.


lol
In other news in the south...

Water War is beginning:Texas Sen. John Cornyn demands Mexico provide water


HOUSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has demanded an international commission intervene to ensure that Mexico diverts Rio Grande water to Texas, as it is obligated to do under a longstanding treaty.

Cornyn sent a letter Monday to Edward Drusina, who heads the International Boundary and Water Commission. Cornyn says there is an impending water shortage in Texas due to water that Mexico owes the U.S.

Cornyn says a 10-year water debt between 1992 and 2002 cost Texas farmers hundreds of millions of dollars, and compliance was only achieved through direct negotiations with Mexico. Cornyn says direct discussions need to again begin.

A persistent drought has depleted the Rio Grande, and arguments over when and how much water to release from the river has increased tensions.

Lake Travis near Austin TX is likely to never recover

remember folks this is just beginning.nor-easter soon..
Mexican desert is moving into TX
meanwhile around me, very windy and cooler today.....
Quoting LargoFl:
remember folks this is just beginning.nor-easter soon..
It supposed to bomb out further out to sea and send high surf and higher tides all the way to OBX of N.C.
Quoting wxchaser97:

Can I borrow it for next winter if you get one?

Lol sure.
Quoting RitaEvac:
Mexican desert is moving into TX
Those pictures of Lake Travis are sad. It was such a beautiful lake, and full of huge strippers too!
Link

Expect occasional rain to continue for the next several hours..

-.-
Detailled new report on Spiegel English


Foto AP

The Coal Monster: Pollution Forces Chinese Leaders to Act
By Bernhard Zand
China's power plants and factories are spewing out toxic emissions and covering the country with smog and grime. For the new leadership, protecting the neglected environment has become a question of preserving its power.

Read the whole article; it's really interesting and truly catastrophic
Jim Cantore didnt seem happy about the lack of snow in DC..DC should have stopped him at the city limits and they couldva got some accumulating snow..where ever he shows up, you can forget about anything exciting happening..
546. beell
Quoting Chapelhill:
Those pictures of Lake Travis are sad. It was such a beautiful lake, and full of huge strippers too!


Some big bass in there also.
Quoting ncstorm:
Jim Cantore didnt seem happy about the lack of snow in DC..DC should have stopped him at the city limits and they couldva got some accumulating snow..where ever he shows up, you can forget about anything exciting happening..

Actually the one and only time I met him I had thundersnow and at least 10" of snow in SE MI in mid December of 2007. School was closed and driving was terrible. It was pretty exciting to me...
Quoting RitaEvac:


Lake Travis near Austin TX is likely to never recover

It almost looks like there's an airplane in the lake in one of those slides.
Quoting bluheelrtx:
It almost looks like there's an airplane in ths lake in one of those slides.


Doesn't look good for TX, rains haven't come, the heat will turn on come May, and when that happens, gonna speed up the process.
Crazy snow day here in Iceland. Here was my front door this morning:



Tried to drive my car but got stuck right outside the parking lot. Two guys spent 10 minutes helping me get back. Checked the computer and found out that even the buses are stopped and police are recommending that even people with 4x4s don't drive. Even the rescue service is getting its vehicles stuck. The bus service is providing stranded passengers with meals. Cars are stuck all over the place.



If it's like this in the capital, I can't imagine out in the countryside, especially in the north.

Here's a satellite view of Iceland today:



The past couple days it's been cold and windy, gale force gusts. Was knocking my car all over the place when I went to check out a property in the countryside, and I could hardly take pictures because exposed skin became numb so fast. It was more the wind than the cold that was the problem.
TWC is now saying DC is on the rain/snow line..they have gone from 10 inches to 5 inches to maybe just rain..

Quoting RitaEvac:
In other news in the south...

Water War is beginning:Texas Sen. John Cornyn demands Mexico provide water


HOUSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has demanded an international commission intervene to ensure that Mexico diverts Rio Grande water to Texas, as it is obligated to do under a longstanding treaty.

Cornyn sent a letter Monday to Edward Drusina, who heads the International Boundary and Water Commission. Cornyn says there is an impending water shortage in Texas due to water that Mexico owes the U.S.

Cornyn says a 10-year water debt between 1992 and 2002 cost Texas farmers hundreds of millions of dollars, and compliance was only achieved through direct negotiations with Mexico. Cornyn says direct discussions need to again begin.

A persistent drought has depleted the Rio Grande, and arguments over when and how much water to release from the river has increased tensions.

Lake Travis near Austin TX is likely to never recover



Hey RitaEvac,

Mexico , since I can remember, takes advantage of our generous nature at every turn it can..
There are also an ongoing "friendly fire" against us across the border because of Mexico's inability to govern itself..
The drug trade buys off some military types and soldiers..
I bet Mexico will never come up with the back-water they owe us..
Why should they?
We don't have the guts to back up any threat on them as they are supposed to be a "friendly"..
Looks like Texans get screwed again..
Quoting KarenRei:
Crazy snow day here in Iceland. Here was my front door this morning:



Tried to drive my car but got stuck right outside the parking lot. Two guys spent 10 minutes helping me get back. Checked the computer and found out that even the buses are stopped and police are recommending that even people with 4x4s don't drive. Even the rescue service is getting its vehicles stuck. The bus service is providing stranded passengers with meals. Cars are stuck all over the place.



If it's like this in the capital, I can't imagine out in the countryside, especially in the north.

Here's a satellite view of Iceland today:



The past couple days it's been cold and windy, gale force gusts. Was knocking my car all over the place when I went to check out a property in the countryside, and I could hardly take pictures because exposed skin became numb so fast. It was more the wind than the cold that was the problem.


OK, I will stop complaining now :)) I can't beat that!
Quoting pcola57:


Hey RitaEvac,

Mexico , since I can remember, takes advantage of our generous nature at every turn it can..
There are also an ongoing "friendly fire" against us across the border because of Mexico's inability to govern itself..
The drug trade buys off some military types and soldiers..
I bet Mexico will never come up with the back-water they owe us..
Why should they?
We don't have the guts to back up any threat on them as they are supposed to be a "friendly"..
Looks like Texans get screwed again..


As the water supply runs out, I tend to come off with my smarta$$ remark such as "just worry about your guns and oil folks"
Snow has slowed way down... since my last post, another 1" accumulated on grassy areas and cold surfaces... the snow on the patio/driveway has not accumulated at all and the road is now clear.... Im hoping Saturn picks up again
Atmospheric CO2 for February 2013

396.80 ppm




Quoting Doppler22:
Snow has slowed way down... since my last post, another 1" accumulated on grassy areas and cold surfaces... the snow on the patio/driveway has not accumulated at all and the road is now clear.... Im hoping Saturn picks up again

I've gotten no accumulation and I dunno when it's gonna start snowing, I want at least 6 inches of snow..
Quoting Articuno:

I've gotten no accumulation and I dunno when it's gonna start snowing, I want at least 6 inches of snow..

where is ur location?
Quoting Doppler22:

where is ur location?

Pasadena MD
Quoting KarenRei:
Crazy snow day here in Iceland. Here was my front door this morning:


Hi, Karen, thanks for the impressive pics! Remember our talk about food problems some days ago? This about Iceland has been on German news today (a bit late), lol:

March 1, 2013, 2:28 PM: Horse-Meat Testing Finds Something Even Worse: No Meat

Quoting wxchaser97:

Actually the one and only time I met him I had thundersnow and at least 10" of snow in SE MI in mid December of 2007. School was closed and driving was terrible. It was pretty exciting to me...


it was a joke..he is pretty much known lately to bust forecasts sometimes by just showing up..not back in 2007..
Quoting Articuno:

Pasadena MD

ohh ok, thats a little while away from me... ur right around the rain/snow line right?
Quoting Doppler22:

ohh ok, thats a little while away from me... ur right around the rain/snow line right?

Yeah.
Quoting Doppler22:

where is ur location?



Morning Doppler! :-) Does anyone know where I can find the models for Winter Storm Saturn?
I don’t pretend to be all that knowledgeable about weather. I love it and I’m obsessed with it that’s about it. But on the latest radar loops it does not appear that the center is offshore. It looks like its near Richmond and almost stationary. Am I seeing that right? Feel free to correct me.

Being from the Outer Banks I’m use to nor’easters and this, as of now, does not look like one. It looks like a simple low pressure.
And those are great pictures from Iceland. I lived in Keflavik for 3 years as a child. I can remember clearly how crazy the weather was and how fast it could change. We got stuck in the middle of the highway on my way to school one day. Was clear when we left the house and in what seemed like 20 minutes there was snow everywhere. People came and shoveled around all the cars but to no avail. Had to leave the cars and come back when it melted which was only a few hours later. Miss that place.
Quoting ncstorm:


it was a joke..he is pretty much known lately to bust forecasts sometimes by just showing up..not back in 2007..

I know it was a joke...just stating my experience with meeting him...

NWS Sterling has backed off on amounts just a little for DC, now showing 6-8".
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Quoting wxchaser97:

I know it was a joke...just stating my experience with meeting him...

NWS Sterling has backed off on amounts just a little for DC, now showing 6-8".

Bleh.
4-6 inches.

Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
I find it strange how the GFS develops and inland blob of snow to add to NE snow totals....anyway the GFS and ECWMF have reached an agreement i guess between the GFS hitting cape cod, and the ECMWF wanting to go straight to sea. Somewhere in the middle




That blob of snow actually has to do with a secondary disturbance at 500 mb. The ECMWF shows it as well.



I told y'all D.C was going to see barely much of anything but a sloppy mess.I'm still going strong with 4 inches.
1 wk

575. MahFL
It looks like the snow/rain line is moving steadily ESE, and DC is back into all snow now.
Any severe wx chances in the next 7 days over the US?
Quoting barbamz:


Hi, Karen, thanks for the impressive pics! Remember our talk about food problems some days ago? This about Iceland has been on German news today (a bit late), lol:

March 1, 2013, 2:28 PM: Horse-Meat Testing Finds Something Even Worse: No Meat



Haha, yeah. Which here is way worse than horsemeat. People here eat horse. :)
Quoting ObxNative:
And those are great pictures from Iceland. I lived in Keflavik for 3 years as a child. I can remember clearly how crazy the weather was and how fast it could change. We got stuck in the middle of the highway on my way to school one day. Was clear when we left the house and in what seemed like 20 minutes there was snow everywhere. People came and shoveled around all the cars but to no avail. Had to leave the cars and come back when it melted which was only a few hours later. Miss that place.


Haha, when you were writing, I was thinking about adding, "But then it can all disappear after a couple hours!" only to see that you wrote that too ;) Yeah, the weather here sure is something else. Despite the sometimes hostile environment (or perhaps in part because of it), Iceland sure has a way of making itself feel like "home", doesn't it? I can't imagine living anywhere else again.

Easter is coming. I look forward to my stepkids' reaction when I give them a Páskaegg. :)
Quoting KarenRei:


Haha, when you were writing, I was thinking about adding, "But then it can all disappear after a couple hours!" only to see that you wrote that too ;) Yeah, the weather here sure is something else. Despite the sometimes hostile environment (or perhaps in part because of it), Iceland sure has a way of making itself feel like "home", doesn't it? I can't imagine living anywhere else again.

Easter is coming. I look forward to my stepkids' reaction when I give them a Páskaegg. :)


Good Morning KarenRei..
Dr. Masters has a new blog.. :) POST 570