AM Models: Go Inland, Storm!

European Model Forecast for Sunday Morning:
GFS Forecast for Sunday Evening:

Good news and bad news if you’re an eastern snow lover today. The good news is that the ability for snow to fall because of cold weather looks to stick around for awhile. This morning’s model runs look quite cold for the Eastern US, and blazing warm for the West over the next 10 days or so. And it looks like at least some lighter snows will fall over a fairly large area for the end of this week. However, the bad news… this morning’s model runs did no one any favors regarding the potential for a significant storm early next week. The top map is the European model forecast…the bottom is the GFS, valid through the day Sunday (All model maps from Allan Huffman’s site here). You can see from both of these models, the center of the low…still a strong one…is pretty far inland. This absolutely crushes parts of the interior, specifically Ohio, NW Pennsylvania, Western NY, and Ontario. The Euro is even further west today, hitting Wisconsin, Michigan, and Central Ontario hard. Again, this does not mean that this is now a dead issue. But, this is modestly decent agreement, and there’s reason for me to think the threat further east (specifically east of I-81) is fairly limited.


European Model 500mb Forecast Sunday Morning (
GFS 500 mb Forecast, Sunday Evening (

If you look at the maps to the right, these are the 500 mb maps (slices of the atmosphere about 20,000 feet up) for the same time periods as above. Remember, things in the atmosphere move in waves with ridges and troughs. For a big eastern storm, you usually need a big ridge in the West and a big trough in the East. That exists here. But it’s the orientation that’s key. If you look at the Euro (top), the axis, or center of the ridge, is located through Portland and Seattle. If you look at the GFS (bottom), the ridge axis is along the Idaho border with Washington and Oregon. For a really good storm to impact areas east of I-81 to the big cities, you really need this ridge axis to set up around Boise, ID. If you notice, the GFS is a lot closer to a decent storm than the Euro (which wacks areas way far away from most of the Eastern cities)…and it’s no coincidence that the ridge axis on the GFS is a good 300-400 miles further east than the Euro.

Keep an eye on this in the coming days because this isn’t a slam dunk, as the operational models are not in lockstep with their ensembles, as has often been the case this autumn/winter…and in fact those show the potential for a further east tracking storm. So today wasn’t a great day of runs for snow lovers east of I-81, but this is by no means a dead issue.

Hey, lastly, cool video of the day for you… the entire 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season looping by on satellite. See all 19 storms go by (don’t blink, you might miss some!):


The Weather History Post

Came across a bunch of information on some historical weather on this, the 35th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I wrote briefly about the Edmund Fitzgerald a few weeks ago during that bomb of a storm in the Upper Midwest. Today there are many perspectives and talking points on this storm. And there’s also another storm celebrating its 97th anniversary today: The White Hurricane of 1913.

From the Updraft Blog in Minnesota, Paul Huttner discusses whether or not modern weather forecasting may have saved the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s more than likely the case that it would have. Modern forecasting would have done a lot to minimize losses in some past events. And if you’ve noticed, there has not been a wreck of quite that magnitude on the Lakes since that storm.

In the Watts Up With That? blog, Ric Werme discusses some of the other great storms of the Great Lakes. A great historical summary. Of note, the first storm he describes from 1913, is that White Hurricane. A book with that same name was written a few years back. Anyone with any interest in shipping, storms, or weather history would enjoy that book thoroughly. Also, WROC in Rochester, NY has a brief entry on that storm. While the Edmund Fitzgerald takes the modern cake for big storms on the Lakes, the White Hurricane of 1913 was an amazing tragedy and meteorologically mesmerizing storm.

The 40/29 Weather Blog in Northwest Arkansas has another look at the weather from that day, and it also has some cool video about the Edmund Fitzgerald.

So this was truly one of the more memorable storms in our nation’s history. And of course, we can thank Gordon Lightfoot for immortalizing it in song.

Other Historical Tidbits

Some other odds and ends about past weather today:

WLFI in Indiana has a cool blog entry on historical autumn severe weather outbreaks in that part of the Midwest. A lot of people associate severe weather with spring, but it’s certainly true that autumn can produce some ferocious severe weather outbreaks.

The NWS in Washington, DC (Sterling, VA) has gone through and re-sorted snowfall data for Baltimore. They’ve now compiled the top 10 list of snow there, with some new rankings of the biggest storms. Not surprisingly, 2010 shows up on that list a lot. Interesting to note that the big time 3 day events have been extremely rare since 1960.

The Capital Weather Gang has a nice retrospective on Black Sunday and the Dust Bowl. Just an awful event.

Other Links

WCPO TV in Cincinnati has some information and some helpful tips on protecting your home from severe weather.

Some perspective on this hurricane season. I don’t like to talk about places being overdue or “lucking” out in the weather. But given the extreme amount of activity this hurricane season, the United States truly dodged a bullet. Despite 19 storms and 12 hurricanes, the US was spared this season for the most part. But remember, it only takes one storm (see the hurricane season of 1992 and Hurricane Andrew).

Contentious climate scientist Michael Mann speaks out on the issue and how he feels that community has lost control of their message.

And lastly, some video of a dust devil impacting a soccer game! This one has been floating around for awhile, but it’s always worth another look.

Tracking Tomas, Late Week Storm Update, Hitting the Links

Official National Hurricane Center Forecast for Tomas, credit: NOAA/NHC

Just a quick update here. Tomas basically fell apart earlier today, with maximum sustained winds plummeting to 45 mph. However, if you look at a satellite loop of Tomas, you’ll see that thunderstorms re-flared up this afternoon. The take home from this is that Tomas still has its inner workings in place, and once shear relaxes, Tomas should be back in the game of intensification. You can see the official forecast to the left from the National Hurricane Center. Obviously, again, this looks primed to hit Haiti hard…be it a dangerous hurricane or heavy rain. There are a couple outlier models taking Tomas into either eastern Cuba or Jamaica, but the majority are clustered entirely over Haiti. So I’ll have more on this tomorrow probably.

End of Week Storm

The models shifted a bit today…further east and more disjointed. The Euro, which had been showing a large storm, has surprisingly trended toward the GFS model and is now showing a more strung out area of precipitation, less deep of a storm, and less interesting of a storm. Still could see some snowflakes in the air from the Appalachians up into New York, but this wouldn’t be a major storm, except a decent one in far Northern New England and Quebec, with rain ending as a little wet snow. But the Euro does bring in a second system into Sunday and Monday, with a setup that would favor lake enhanced snow in New York. So I’m not sold right now on any particular solution, as there appears to be a lot of additional uncertainty, both with the progress and breakdown of the ridge in the West, and the large amount of moisture likely to be present out of the Gulf and in the East. Stay tuned on this one.

Hitting the Links

A study claims that global warming is causing rainfall patterns in the Southeast to become more variable. Take it or leave it.

Also from the Capital Weather Gang, Wes Junker, one of the sharpest meteorologists you’ll ever find, is beginning a two part series on why last winter was such a record buster in the Mid-Atlantic. Well worth a read if you’re in the DC/Baltimore area or just like snow.

Wrapping up a ridiculous October in Minnesota.

Photography Sauli Koski in Finland, hit the atmospheric optics grand slam, when he caught no less than 13 different optical phenomena!! Amazing picture here, and more on

A list of the ten largest cities in America that may be in danger of running short on water in the future.

Tomas & Haiti? Plus Storm, Heat, and MeteoPolitics!

Wind shear and 24 hour change in the Atlantic Basin, credit: University of Wisconsin CIMMS

Tomas continues along in the Caribbean today, about 265 miles west of St. Lucia, chugging off slightly north of due west around 10 mph. Tomas bumped up to a Cat 2 storm overnight, but has since weakened, back to a minimal 75 mph category one storm. Reconnaissance aircraft visited the storm earlier and helped quantify what satellite had been showing all day. It looks pretty ragged, as some dry air and shear have begun to take their toll on Tomas. You can seeĀ  the ragged structure of Tomas here. The darker area to the west of the storm indicates the presence of at least some drier air too. The image to the left shows the current wind shear analysis in the Atlantic, as well as the trend. The red area near the hurricane symbol indicates that Tomas is in an area of enhanced shear. Assuming things gradually progress from west to east, it would appear things are only going to get more hostile for Tomas the next day or so. In fact, the model guidance suggests that the shear remains over Tomas into Tuesday, before pulling away. Provided Tomas can maintain its core and overall structure, even if it weakens into, say, a tropical storm, it will have an opportunity later Tuesday and through Wednesday to intensify, and given the water temperatures in that region, it could be explosive strengthening if the conditions are right.

In terms of the track of Tomas, while things may change some in the next day or two as the storm fluctuates in intensity,

Morning Model Guidance Spaghetti Plot of Tomas' Tracks, credit: South Florida Water Management District

you can see that most of the models track Tomas to just south of Hispaniola. After that, they generally either stall or it lift it northward. In reality, given the normal uncertainty of tropical systems, anything is possible, from Cuba to east of the Dominican Republica. Unfortunately though, Haiti looks to be right in the middle of the possibilities. And again, unfortunately, regardless of the intensity of Tomas at landfall, this is really looking like it could be a very grim situation for that country, and if you thought things couldn’t get worse in Haiti, this would be how it can. Current model projections (which generally do a poor job handling specifics of tropical system precipitation totals) are dropping 8-10″ on southern Haiti. This is really a disheartening situation to watch, and hopefully precautions are already being taken to ensure the safety of residents and relief workers.


Still watching this storm for next week. In my forecasting for California next week, it was pretty obvious the differences in the main models (Euro and GFS). The GFS cuts down the western ridge and slides it to the Lee of the Rockies on Friday/Saturday, which has almost no support from any other model or its own ensemble members.

Euro Depiction of a Mess in the East, credit: Allan Huffman's Weather Model Page:

So what it’s doing is forcing everything in the east to develop further east, and therefore not as amplified. The Euro however last night took a deeper low out of the gulf and up the Appalachians into Western NY, wrapping the possibility of at least a few inches of snow on the backside for much of the mountains of Tennessee/North Carolina, up through West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western PA, Michigan, and western NY and Ontario, along with some lake effect or lake enhanced snow on the wrap around. The European has some support from the Canadian model (which is taking a 980 mb landbomb from the Carolinas northwest into OH/IN), which is also encouraging for confidence. This morning’s verison of the Euro was a little further east, and brought the chances for snow from the mountains of NC/TN up through WV’s mountains, and perhaps some in W PA and Eastern Ohio/Western NY, as well as Ontario and northern Michigan. It has to hit a fairly narrow window for snow, but if I had to place bets right now, I’d lean on Ontario/Michigan and not much more than that at the moment. Stay tuned.

Election Day Weather

With the big midterm elections coming up, there are all sorts of anecdotes about weather and people’s voting habits. Well, we’ll test the theory again this year, but primarily in the south. It looks like areas from Houston to New Orleans up through Mississippi and into Memphis and over to Little Rock will see the worst weather in the US on Election Day (as the late week storm begins to develop). Otherwise, other than a couple showers in the Northwest and parts of Minnesota it looks dry. So no excuses to stay home…go vote.

Cali Heat

I discussed how the European model keeps the western ridge in tact. Well that ridge is going to lead to searing autumn heat in California, with Santa Ana winds possibly leading to temperatures into the mid or upper 90s here in SoCal. It looks blazing hot Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s record high for Downtown LA is 99 degrees, and Wednesday’s is 95 degrees. Tuesday’s looks a lot safer than Wednesday’s at the moment. I suspect we could be talking record heat for a day or two in parts of SoCal. Been a year of some ridiculous temperature extremes out here.


Talking Tomas and Scary Shary

We currently have two storms in the Atlantic, both of which are hurricanes. It’s October 30th…this is just slightly bizarre. According to Dr. Jeff Masters, this is the second latest point in the hurricane season we’ve ever had two hurricanes at once in the Atlantic (at least in the historical record). The latest was November 7-10, 1932.

Hurricane Shary

Shary is a weak category 1 storm (75 mph winds), and is currently beginning the transition to a non-tropical storm. Shary will continue to race toward Europe, likely bringing them a significant storm sometime this coming week. This will probably be the last we hear about Shary.

Hurricane Tomas

Radar Image From Meteo France of Hurricane Tomas near St. Vincent

Tomas is not quite as simple. We talked about the threat to the bigger islands later this coming week, but as you can see from the radar image from Meteo France to the left, Tomas is clearly bearing down on the smaller islands now. The current advisory as of 2 PM Atlantic Standard Time has Tomas as a 75 mph hurricane, near St. Vincent or about 25 miles south of St. Lucia. The pressure is still 992 mb, so we’re not looking at a very deep storm right now. This is just the humble beginnings.

Tomas will continue across the Caribbean, gradually building strength (the current NHC official forecast is for a 115 mph major hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning). And as you can see from the track forecast, it looks like the brakes get put on somewhere southeast of Jamaica and south of Haiti. As it either gets caught in a squeeze play..or the models are having issues resolving what’s next.

Morning Models Forecast Spaghetti Track of Hurricane Tomas from the South Florida Water Management District

Either way, this will likely be a prolific rain maker in some parts of the Caribbean and should it start to pull north late in the period, could be, again, a real serious blow to Haiti.

But another aspect that’s interesting regarding Tomas, is how it might interact with whatever system develops in the East next week. Just looking at new model data rolling in, the GFS is interesting, in that it it brings one storm up well into Northern New England on Thursday and Friday, with the potential for snow well north into Maine and Quebec, but the possibility of lake effect snow into New York and upslope snow in Vermont on the backside. It then takes a second storm out of the Gulf and up the East Coast, pretty far offshore and into Eastern New England, Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes. This storm would grab Tomas and inject it right into the system, so it would be very moist and potentially very strong (ironic as we’re celebrating the 19th anniversary of the “Perfect Storm” today).

The new European model coming in leaves Tomas behind in the Caribbean, but opens up a moisture plume all the way down there. So the storm deepens, but actually tracks up the Appalachians and west of Buffalo into Lake Huron. This would bring heavy snow potentially to parts of Michigan, and a heck of a lot of rain to parts of the East Coast and New England.

What does this mean? It means there is a LOT of uncertainty next week, and now that we know we have an organized tropical system possibly getting involved, well…that certainly makes the whole pattern more intriguing. It is interesting to note however that this European model solution has some similarities to the Canadian model we also look at. I’ll be watching this over the coming days.

Last item of note, a friend of mine at the NWS has helped put together what’s essentially a Bible of NWS lingo, products, items, places, services, as well as severe weather, safety, and much more. It’s a must bookmark and/or print for any meteorologist or serious weather enthusiast. Check it out here.