The Wild, Wild West

Map of National Weather Service Watches/Warnings/Advisories, November 22nd.

Lots to hit on tonight. The map to the left is the NWS map of watches, warnings, advisories, etc. Just a royal MESS in the West right now. But this is really a phenomenal storm. I give the West a lot of flack for having relatively boring weather overall, but when things like this happen, it’s pretty darn neat. This is round two of wild western weather. Round one is now in the Midwest (more on that in a minute). Let’s go west to east and look at some of what’s going on.

First up, in Alaska, the Fairbanks area (remember they were recently breaking fair weather records) is getting rocked by an ice storm, which is considered “unprecedented” by local standards. According to The Weather Channel’s Stu Ostro, the precipitable water measured at Fairbanks (which is just essentially a measure of how “juicy” the air mass is…measured in inches) came within 0.01″ of setting a November record for that area. These are things you don’t often see in Alaska this time of year. But I think this speaks to the amount of blocking that’s setting up in North America, which is going to make for a very intriguing couple of weeks across the continent.

Next, down south to Seattle. 2.0″ of new snow fell at Sea-Tac today, which is a record for the date, breaking the old record of 1.5″ in 1977. It’s the snowiest November day in Seattle in 25 years, and marks only the 6th time in November since 1948 that Seattle has accumulated 2″ or more. Snow wreaks absolute havoc on Seattle. Here’s all the latest news from the Emerald City. Closed roads because of ice, including some major ones, a 747 cargo plane slid off the runway at Sea-Tac, and Snoqualmie Pass and I-90 is chains only. Down the road in Portland, not as much snow, but they are also expecting some bitter cold, with temps getting to or below freezing tomorrow and overnight lows dipping into the teens.

National Weather Service Description of Blizzard Impacts in Spokane, WA and Adjacent Idaho

Inland from there, blizzard warnings are flying for much of eastern Washington, including Spokane, as well as northern Idaho. The map to the right is the NWS in Spokane’s description of how events should unfold tonight. The latest on news from Spokane is here. I don’t want to say this whole storm caught people by surprise in the Northwest. Much was known about it coming in, but it did get a little stronger than expected, so the impression of a “surprise” exists. Forecasting in the West is extremely difficult sometimes.

from the weekend were exceedingly impressive. Here’s a recap from the NWS in Reno, NV:

 ...LAKE TAHOE AREA...

 HOMEWOOD...              59 INCHES
 TAHOE CITY...            36 INCHES
 SQUAW VALLEY USA...      48 INCHES
 SQUAW VALLEY (8000 FT)...67 INCHES
 ALPINE MEADOWS...        56 INCHES
 ALPINE MEADOWS(TOP)...   77 INCHES
 TRUCKEE...               36 INCHES
 NORTHSTAR...             61 INCHES
 TAHOE DONNER...          59 INCHES
 GLENBROOK...             18 INCHES
 DAGGETT PASS...          28 INCHES
 SOUTH LAKE TAHOE...      30 INCHES

 ...WESTERN NEVADA...

 CARSON CITY...           6  INCHES
 MINDEN/GARDNERVILLE...   12 INCHES
 FALLON...                3  INCHES
 RENO...                  2  INCHES
 RENO (NORTH HILLS)       4  INCHES
 STEAD...                 4  INCHES

 ...EASTERN SIERRA...

 CEDARVILLE...            16 INCHES
 SUSANVILLE...            4  INCHES
 PORTOLA...               16 INCHES
 DOYLE...                 3  INCHES

 ...MONO COUNTY...

 BRIDGEPORT...            6  INCHES
 LEE VINING...            12 INCHES
 MAMMOTH LAKES...         45 INCHES
 MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN(TOP)... 81 INCHES

So those are some crazy totals (specifically the 81″ atop Mammoth!). So how much new snow? Looks like an additional 1-3 feet above 4,000′ seems likely in the Sierra, and it’s likely places like Mammoth (up around 11,000′) will exceed 100 inches for 5 day totals.

Record low temperatures will build in behind this next front..just brutally cold in the interior. Even the potential for a widespread frost or freeze in the San Joaquin Valley…the agricultural capital of America. Here’s a brief article on how farmers will handle it.

In Salt Lake City, they are preparing for a blizzard as well as this system spreads East into the Rockies. Here’s an NWS briefing on the storm.

Storm Prediction Center Radar, Surface, and Watches Map

As we move into the Midwest, the weekend storm that hammered the West has moved in and is creating some very intriguing severe weather…almost like springtime! So far, seven reports of tornadoes have been received from Illinois and Wisconsin, and with a wide area of watches in effect and a potent late autumn cold front moving through, I think we’ll see a few more isolated reports of tornadoes, but more than likely a lot of reports of damaging winds. The upper level support helping to fuel this mess will gradually diminish as we go into tomorrow, so as the front slides to the south and east, we won’t see quite the active severe weather day tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a radar capture from Chicago, IL earlier today, showing some of the supercells that had formed in that area and had recently produced tornadoes west of the city.

Those storms produced this tornado:

So all in all, extremely active today across the western two thirds of the country.

A couple other quick links…

A summary of the 2010 hurricane season in the Atlantic…but a cool collection of satellite images from all the hurricanes.

An interesting article from the NY Times that explains how South Dakota has had a pretty terrible year weatherwise (you may need to login or register to read).

The blog will be heading on to Thanksgiving break like most of the rest of you. Heading back to visit family in the East. So have a wonderful holiday!

Sierra Snow Doesn’t Disappoint…More on the Way!

Squaw Valley webcam from Sunday afternoon. 2-4 feet reported on average at most Sierra Ski Resorts!

Some fantastic snow totals showing up in the Sierra now. Like we said, 2-4 feet or so expected overall. Some areas did even better. Just a sampling of some of the ski resort totals…

Mammoth: 3-5 feet, and they’ll be opening this week!
Mt. Rose near Reno: 29-33″
Alpine Meadows: 43-59″
Squaw Valley: 24-42″on average. Calling it their biggest November ever.
Heavenly reporting 35″
Sugar Bowl coming in with 36-40″
Northstar at Tahoe: 38-48″
Bear Valley looks to be well over 30″
Boreal Mountain: 48-60″
Dodge Ridge picked up about 39″
Homewood reporting 43-59″ as well.
Kirkwood calling it 60-66″.
Sierra at Tahoe has 48-58″
China Peak/Sierra Summit with 26-36″

In SoCal… so far about 3-4″ on Mt. Baldy. Similar totals reported out at Big Bear.

The latest on the snow dump in the Sierra here.

And guess what? We’re not done. One more wave is going to slide down through California and Nevada late Monday night and Tuesday. This has to potential to dump another 1-3 feet of snow in these areas. Truly an awesome early season blast of winter for the Sierra.

A couple cool links for you to round things out.

Neat photos from space sent to the Twitters!

WLFI in Lafayette, IN has put together a nice collection of Indiana severe weather events from the last couple years:
2009
2010

Lastly: Our first full moon of the month will occur tonight. But it will be referred to as a “blue moon,” a name a lot of people typically associate with the second full moon in one month. Ah, but there’s an interesting history that I had no idea about referring to the term “blue moon.” Read about it here.

Some fantastic snow totals showing up in the Sierra now. Like we said, 2-4 feet or so expected overall. Some areas did even better. Just a sampling of some of the ski resort totals…

Mammoth: 3-5 feet, and they’ll be opening this week! http://www.mammothmountain.com/MyMammoth/?section=weather
Mt. Rose near Reno: 29-33″ http://www.mtrose.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=26
Alpine Meadows: 43-59″ http://www.skialpine.com/mountain/snow-report
Squaw Valley: 24-42″on average. Calling it their biggest November ever. http://www.squaw.com/winter/snoreport.html
Heavenly reporting 35″ http://www.skiheavenly.com/the-mountain/snow-report/snow-report.aspx
Sugar Bowl coming in with 36-40″ http://www.sugarbowl.com/4305
Northstar at Tahoe: 38-48″ http://www.northstarattahoe.com/snowreport.asp
Bear Valley looks to be well over 30″ http://www.bearvalley.com/the-mountain/conditions/snow-report/
Boreal Mountain: 48-60″ http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/DOR
Dodge Ridge picked up about 39″ http://prance.us/iprance/DodgeRidge/snowreport.php
Homewood reporting 43-59″ as well. http://www.skihomewood.com/mountain/snow-report
Kirkwood calling it 60-66″. http://www.kirkwood.com/pages/themountain/snowreport.asp
Sierra at Tahoe has 48-58″ http://www.sierraattahoe.com/winter/snow-report.asp
China Peak/Sierra Summit with 26-36″ http://www.skichinapeak.com/conditions.aspx

In SoCal… so far about 3-4″ on Mt. Baldy http://www.mtbaldy.com/snow-report.htm. Similar totals reported out at Big Bear.

http://www.rgj.com/article/20101108/NEWS15/11080342 The latest on the snow dump in the Sierra here.

And guess what? We’re not done. One more wave is going to slide down through California and Nevada late Monday night and Tuesday. This has to potential to dump another 1-3 feet of snow in these areas. Truly an awesome early season blast of winter for the Sierra.

A couple cool links for you to round things out.

Neat photos from space sent to the Twitters! http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/11/views-of-earth-from-space.html

WLFI in Lafayette, IN has put together a nice collection of Indiana severe weather events from the last couple years:

2009: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/22090/
2010: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/2010-severe-weather-events/

Lastly: Our first full moon of the month will occur tonight. But it will be referred to as a “blue moon,” a name a lot of people typically associate with the second full moon in one month. Ah, but there’s an interesting history that I had no idea about referring to the term “blue moon.” Read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20101119/sc_space/thereallystrangestorybehindsundaysbluemoon Some fantastic snow totals showing up in the Sierra now. Like we said, 2-4 feet or so expected overall. Some areas did even better. Just a sampling of some of the ski resort totals…

Mammoth: 3-5 feet, and they’ll be opening this week! http://www.mammothmountain.com/MyMammoth/?section=weather
Mt. Rose near Reno: 29-33″ http://www.mtrose.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=26
Alpine Meadows: 43-59″ http://www.skialpine.com/mountain/snow-report
Squaw Valley: 24-42″on average. Calling it their biggest November ever. http://www.squaw.com/winter/snoreport.html
Heavenly reporting 35″ http://www.skiheavenly.com/the-mountain/snow-report/snow-report.aspx
Sugar Bowl coming in with 36-40″ http://www.sugarbowl.com/4305
Northstar at Tahoe: 38-48″ http://www.northstarattahoe.com/snowreport.asp
Bear Valley looks to be well over 30″ http://www.bearvalley.com/the-mountain/conditions/snow-report/
Boreal Mountain: 48-60″ http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/DOR
Dodge Ridge picked up about 39″ http://prance.us/iprance/DodgeRidge/snowreport.php
Homewood reporting 43-59″ as well. http://www.skihomewood.com/mountain/snow-report
Kirkwood calling it 60-66″. http://www.kirkwood.com/pages/themountain/snowreport.asp
Sierra at Tahoe has 48-58″ http://www.sierraattahoe.com/winter/snow-report.asp
China Peak/Sierra Summit with 26-36″ http://www.skichinapeak.com/conditions.aspx

In SoCal… so far about 3-4″ on Mt. Baldy http://www.mtbaldy.com/snow-report.htm. Similar totals reported out at Big Bear.

http://www.rgj.com/article/20101108/NEWS15/11080342 The latest on the snow dump in the Sierra here.

And guess what? We’re not done. One more wave is going to slide down through California and Nevada late Monday night and Tuesday. This has to potential to dump another 1-3 feet of snow in these areas. Truly an awesome early season blast of winter for the Sierra.

A couple cool links for you to round things out.

Neat photos from space sent to the Twitters! http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/11/views-of-earth-from-space.html

WLFI in Lafayette, IN has put together a nice collection of Indiana severe weather events from the last couple years:

2009: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/22090/
2010: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/2010-severe-weather-events/

Lastly: Our first full moon of the month will occur tonight. But it will be referred to as a “blue moon,” a name a lot of people typically associate with the second full moon in one month. Ah, but there’s an interesting history that I had no idea about referring to the term “blue moon.” Read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20101119/sc_space/thereallystrangestorybehindsundaysbluemoon

A Sierra Special!

Map of NWS Watches/Warnings/Advisories as of 5 PM Pacific, 11/19/10

Wanted to discuss what’s about to unfold in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains of California over the next couple of days. Now, the Sierra get rocked every winter…and sometimes they get mind boggling snow amounts. But for some reason, every time it happens, I’m always floored by the numbers and the forecast. The map at the left shows the mess in the West…winter storm warnings for the entire Sierra Crest, mountains around Los Angeles, as well as northern California, Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Reno. I’d classify this storm as “fun.” Let’s discuss how some of this will unfold.

Here’s one of the best forecasts ever…for the High Sierra (~ 12,000′) , just northwest of Mammoth. That’s 64-88″ of snow. The NAM model has been especially aggressive with this system, bringing extremely high amounts of precip to the Sierra Crest during this event. Here are a few maps..

Saturday Morning

Sunday Morning

Monday Morning

The first wave/cold front pushes through tonight and Saturday morning, dropping a fairly heavy amount of precip (liquid) on the Sierra. The second wave/front swings through Sunday morning, with probably an equal or greater punch. Wave #3 moves through Monday morning and should just be the “insult to injury” system. You have to remember how California is geographically set up. You basically have an 11-13,000′ wall sitting in the middle of the state and this soaks up any moisture on  a westerly wind component, which just allows them to wring everything out in those mountains.

The NAM model is admittedly ridiculously aggressive with QPF totals over 6″ on the northern crest by Monday evening. Using a standard 10:1 ratio of liquid to snow, that’s 60″ or 5 feet. But you would assume the ratios would be much higher so…yeah, you do the math. The GFS is a little more tepid, spitting out 4″ at max over the northern crest and “only” about 2.5-3.5″ liquid in the rest of the Sierra. That still comes out to close to 60″ when you factor in higher ratios. So the Sierra, Tahoe, etc. will get pummeled in this one, with 2-4 feet of snow on average above 8,000′ or so and lesser amounts in the lower high terrain.

We’re not quite done yet, as that Monday storm may be a sneaky one for the Northwest and deliver snow to Seattle or the area around it…and with cold air locked it, snow levels will get awfully low! Then that storm will move into the Rockies and places like Salt Lake City may get pummeled on Tuesday. An interesting start to holiday travel week!

Hitting the Links

Today is the one year anniversary of the debacle known as “Climategate.” Dr. Judith Curry examines if the climate science community has learned anything from it. There are a few good links to some other articles on the issue. Andy Revkin of the New York Times has a recap of what the last year has been like. While I don’t necessarily agree with how this was done, I think Climategate has done more good than bad for the long-term state of the science. It’s put things in perspective and helped curb the “science is settled” crowd to allow us to look at this with a wider focus before making economically destructive decisions. It’s re-opened a two sided debate and brought skeptics to the table. And that’s important for science.

Related: A departing Republican congressman from South Carolina fires a warning shot about dismissing climate change.

Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano that messed up travel this summer, is the focus of a new paper in Nature that examines more about what was known about the volcano and what happened.

Today’s edition of the CIMSS Satellite blog shows ice and cold around Hudson Bay.

The Capital Weather Gang examines if the flood control plan being developed for a Flood Wall in Washington, DC is enough to do its job.

And from the photography side, time lapser Tom Lowe is putting together some truly beautiful and amazing scenes from the Southwest into a movie. Check out the site and some previews here. It really is some incredibly beautiful work.