More Wintry Mayhem

This might be the worst period of travel of all the storms we’ve seen the last two winters. With 1,000 flights cancelled in Atlanta tomorrow, and the odds increasing that this southern storm is going to become a major Northeast snowstorm, airline schedules are going to be absolutely logjammed this week. This is looking ugly right now. Travel in the Deep South is becoming difficult if not impossible in spots. A stripe of 3-6″+ of snow, plus a stripe of 1/4-1/2″ ice accretion, and you have issues.

Snowfall Outlook for the Midweek Storm (Not a forecast)

My snowfall outlook for the Northeast is at the left. We’re still a solid 48 hours away from things beginning. But this is just meant to give you an idea of the highest probabilities of the highest snow. This is not meant to be a forecast and should not be treated like one. To sum up the models this morning: All models take the low and develop off the Northeast coast. Some are closer than others (NAM/Euro) and bring heavier precip. There’s going to be (again) a sharp cutoff of the western extent of the real heavy snow, vs. generic 3-7″ totals. There will also be a sharp southwestern cutoff to this as well.

So what does this mean? It means that in specifically New Jersey I think, there’s going to be a very sharp gradient that cuts off somewhere between Atlantic City, Trenton, and about Parsippany. North and east of that line, odds for heavy snow (6-12+) increases significantly. South and west of it, the odds drop off. It will be a little while before we can really peg that down. So for now, roughly from about NYC into New England stands the highest odds for significant snow. There is a strong possibility of a 12-18″ area of major snows, somewhere between the immediate north and east side of NYC into Southern New England. Mixing may cut down some totals in Eastern Long Island and coastal S New England, but for now, I just carpet bombed the whole area for potentially significant snows until we can know more. The DC and Baltimore areas, as has been the case most of this winter, look to get shafted by this storm, caught in between the developing coastal and dying inland low. I think this means 1-3″ at most, but we’ll see. Philly is on the cusp between the heavy stuff and nuisance stuff, so think 4-8/5-10 type snows for now.

Can things change? Yes. The NAM and Euro models are the beefiest right now in terms of heavy snow. In my opinion, they’ve had some strengths this winter, so I’m leaning more heavily on them together. The GFS model is a little too far offshore in my opinion, and thus produces lighter snow. The short range ensembles are also not very excited about this storm, but they also underestimated snow in the last event, so I would take them with a grain of salt.

So stay tuned, as there will be tweaks and changes, but I feel personally that this will be a nuisance event in DC/BWI, moderate event for Philly and South Jersey (potentially significant for the Shore), a significant to borderline major event for NYC, and a major event for much of interior Southern New England (some shadowing may occur in some areas, so it may not hammer ALL of SNE, but it looks promising to be good for many).

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Just a reminder… State of Occlusion is on Facebook. I’ve posted some additional cool links, quick model updates, and snow maps early on that page. “Like” the blog by clicking here!

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One for the Haters!

So not everyone loves snow. As a meteorologist, even if I dislike dealing with it (working four years in lake effect country will do that to you), I love the unique quality of events like this and appreciate what has to come together atmospherically for something like this to happen. It’s not THE perfect storm, but it’s one of the most perfect storms. But some people can’t deal with it, hate it, curse it, etc. And that’s fine. So I dedicate most of this post to you.

6-10 Day Average 850mb Temperature Anomalies from the GFS - http://raleighwx.americanwx.com

At least temporarily, there’s going to be a pattern change in the East. Once the energy and upper level trough from this storm lifts away, we’re finally going to see  some changes to allow the seemingly endless cold in the East to abate. Strong troughing is going to build into the West as the pattern sort of blocks up out here (a couple cutoff lows to allow for some of the coldest dry weather we’ve had here in some time). This will help allow a ridge to pump up in the East. There are still some questions as to how strong the ridge in the East will get and how long it will last, but at least as we go into the New Year, things begin to quiet down and thaw out a bit…and a lot of the snow that’s falling will be long gone. Enjoy it while you have it. The map to the left above, from http://raleighwx.americanwx.com, shows the average 850 mb temperature anomalies off the GFS model 6-10 days from now. It’s not a perfect representation, but you get the idea…cold West, warm East. It’s somewhat of an odd pattern, and truthfully, given the fact that blocking in the Arctic and Greenland wants to hold on, I don’t know how long it will last. But it is more “normal” for a La Nina pattern, at least temperature wise.

So truly an awesome storm unfolding. Storm totals are outrageous, 12-20″ widespread from Norfolk, VA-New England, and 6-12″ in parts of interior VA/NC, and even 1-3″ or so on the Outer Banks! It snowed as far south as Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL this morning. Pretty remarkable. I may do a wrap up post later, but pass on your totals if you’ve got them in your backyard!

Lastly, I’m curious if people are content with this format of either RSS/Google Reader, getting a link on Facebook, or email subscribing…or if you’d also like see a Facebook “Like” page for more short-form updates before and during events and occasional links of interest. Vote below and we’ll see what sorts of changes we can make.

Also, enjoy this video of the blizzard from NYC, including thundersnow around 1:45-1:50: