I have pretty much covered all of the meteorology behind what’s going on with these next two storm systems moving across the South, so in this article, I’m just going to basically tell you what’s going to happen (or at least what I think will happen). As I mentioned last night, you must be aware that with the kind of pattern that we’re currently in you must expect the unexpected.
We have one winter event on the table tonight going into tomorrow, and a heavy snowstorm potential from Wednesday night going into Thursday. Both systems are going to move fast, which makes everything that much more tricky. Allow me to break all of this down.
Winter Storm #1 (Monday night into Tuesday):
If you look at the current radar, you will see that the bulk of the precipitation is located over Arkansas, northern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Many of those areas will get snow and ice before the precipitation moves eastward out of the area.
A quick-moving disturbance is going to move eastward tonight over parts of the Southeast, which will eventually cause a surface low to develop off the Southeast coast. Throughout the day tomorrow, this low will move northeastward just off the coast and will be responsible for pumping moisture over the Carolina coast into areas inland. I’ll talk about that in a minute.
At the same time, we have a surface high pressure system moving east with a trough digging south that will be responsible for pumping colder air into the Southeast beginning tonight. Precipitation is expected to develop across Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. While some rain may fall at first, the atmosphere will eventually support all snow over the northern third of Georgia, Upstate South Carolina (eventually into parts of the Midlands), into North Carolina. Precipitation could be lighter farther north until you get closer to the coast, but parts of Georgia into South Carolina could definitely get decent snowfall accumulations from this. Some areas will get ripped off, and some areas will get more than expected. That’s likely how this will work.
This is what the radar could look like at 6 am ET:
It all depends on how much precipitation develops, which is still the major uncertainty. I’ve seen these types of setups bust, but at the same time, given this very active pattern and the current setup, I wouldn’t be surprised if this system gives some regions higher totals than expected.
I’m watching the coastal South Carolina into North Carolina regions (and just inland) more closely. Depending on how close to the coast this surface low develops, a good amount of moisture could pump over that region. Temperatures are expected to fall tonight into tomorrow at the surface to near or below freezing, while temperatures above the surface will likely remain above freezing for some regions closer to the coast. This is why I’m concerned about an icing threat, and it COULD be worse than currently predicted. This will be something to watch very closely. Prepare just to be safe.
This is the latest NAM, showing icing issues developing along the Carolina coasts:
Winter Storm #2 (Wednesday into Thursday):
This has the potential to be a major and heavy snowstorm for numerous locations across the South. It seems like I’ve been talking about that upper-level disturbance over the Southwestern U.S. forever now, but it is finally going to race eastward. Once it does, that will cause a surface low pressure system to develop in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico and then race east.
From Tuesday night into Wednesday, parts Texas (including Dallas), southern Oklahoma, southern half of Arkansas, northern Louisiana will be getting hit with another winter storm, which should be on the more snowy side for most of these locations. Into the day on Wednesday, heavy snowfall will develop and spread over northern and central Mississippi, northern and central Alabama (eventually including Birmingham), and into the southern half of Tennessee. Snowfall rates could become quite high so several inches could fall in just a few hours.
This system will continue to race eastward and strengthen, dumping heavy snowfall over northern and central Georgia (including Atlanta), Upstate SC (eventually extending into the Midlands possibly including Columbia), and much of North Carolina Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Several inches of snow could fall in these regions, especially where precipitation doesn’t start out as rain. Snowfall rates will be high in these regions, so this snow will accumulate fast. I would not be surprised if a band of 6 to 8+ inches of snow fell somewhere north of the rain/snow line, but determining that exact location is very difficult.
This is the latest probability map from WPC, showing the areas most likely to get 4 inches of snow or greater. Understand that the probabilities increase a little farther south for the 1 or greater and 2 or greater probability maps that I didn’t include. 30-40 percent or greater is pretty good chances.
Again, this is a fast-moving system that shouldn’t stick around too long. Given the dynamics of this system, thundersnow is possible in some areas, which is where the heaviest snow could fall.
Please understand that the track of this system is pretty much EVERYTHING. A jog 50 to 100 miles north or south would change this entire forecast. I do feel good about where many of the forecast models track this system, and it makes sense to me, given the overall pattern. If you’re located in any of these regions, prepare for a winter storm. I know some of you will be on the snow/rain line, but it’s always better to be prepared than not.
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If you have any questions regarding these two storm systems, just ask. It’s impossible for me to answer everyone’s questions, but I base my articles and updates off of your questions. It NEVER hurts to ask questions.
Below is a photo that Mike Doron shared on Firsthand Weather. This was taken in Telluride, Colorado with 3 feet of snow on the ground. Just incredible!