Ice Storm Looking Likely For The Southern Plains

As I expressed in my last article and on the Facebook page, we are about to enter into an active pattern that’s going to make things extremely interesting. For several days now, I have discussed with several of my colleagues that I strongly felt that the Southern Plains could be dealing with a potentially major winter storm by the end of this week/early weekend, but I’ve been quite vague in my updates to the public simply because it has been highly uncertain on how all of this is going to play out.

I want to be very upfront by saying that there is still a level of high uncertainty, but after studying and analyzing the forecast models and the expected trends for the upcoming days, it’s really beginning to look like the Southern Plains could be dealing with a major ice storm from Thursday night going into Saturday morning. There are still a lot of unanswered questions that will determine whether this is more of a minor event or something that could end up being a major ice storm for the area.

As I’ve mentioned for several days now, we have a strong Canadian high pressure system that is going to push into the United States and give us another shot of really cold, Arctic air. A cold front is going to swing south into the Southern Plains later in the week, which starts moving into the panhandle of Texas and northwest Oklahoma on midday Thursday and through central Oklahoma by that evening. The cold air will continue to push further to the south on Friday and Saturday, and given the amount of moisture that could be moving through the area around the same time, could set up the classic ice storm.

One of the major wildcards in all of this is how much moisture will be in place over the area, which is making for a difficult forecast. The NAM has been most aggressive with precipitation totals giving many areas in Oklahoma and Texas well over 3 inches of precipitation. If that were to occur, parts of northern Texas and Oklahoma would be dealing with a crippling ice storm, and major power outages and disruptions to travel would be expected. The latest European model is not quite as aggressive with precipitation totals but still gives the southeastern half of Oklahoma into Texas an impressive 1.5 to 2.5 inches of precipitation, which would still cause a major ice storm for the regions that have the cold air in place. The GFS is much more conservative on its totals, but some of the GFS ensembles are also giving the area a lot of precipitation. With that said, some ensembles keep the area mostly dry.

All of this is due to an upper level low that will be spinning around in the southwestern United States and pumping precipitation into the area. The cold air will be shallow at first with warmer air above the surface, which is why this will be a freezing rain event and not a snow event. For southern Kansas into northern Oklahoma, there could be a changeover to sleet where the colder air should deepen as time goes on. Another uncertainty is how quickly some of the more southern areas will transition from rain to freezing rain. If the majority of the precipitation falls as rain before the colder air moves in, this event would be less of a hassle for the more southern regions.

As you can see, there are a lot of uncertainties, which is why I love watching these kinds of systems! And if you think the next few days are going to be bad, just wait till early next week. That upper level low is going to come east, and the Southern Plains could get pounded with snow, sleet, and freezing rain depending on where you are at. Winter is approaching quickly, and we are setting the stages of what I expect to be a very exciting and active winter. As we get close to Thanksgiving, the East Coast states could be dealing with a big winter event also. Everything is getting so exciting!

I hope everyone has a great Wednesday, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook if you don’t already.

Latest NAM Precipitation Totals Through 60 Hours

Latest NAM Precipitation Totals Through 60 Hours

Another Arctic Blast Will Be Plunging South Into The United States

What a difference a day can make! Around this time yesterday, we were tracking strong tornadoes as they made their way across Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. There were around 70 tornadoes yesterday, but it’ll take days to survey all of the damage and determine the exact number of tornadoes and their ratings. Nonetheless, it was an impressive late-season outbreak, and it’s incredible that all of this has happened in a record-low tornado season. We had the EF-5 Moore tornado in May, the El Reno, OK tornado, which ended up being the widest tornado ever recorded, and then yesterday’s outbreak. As I’ve stated countless time, these not-so-active seasons can sometimes be the most memorable and still cause a lot of damage to life and property. Let this tornado season be an example of that.

Now I want to start looking towards this weekend and next week as we begin getting closer to Thanksgiving. As you’ve probably noticed, the weather has been quite bi-polar over the last few weeks, and it would not be shocking to me if this trend continues for the rest of November and well into December. We’re still early in the season and haven’t technically started the meteorological winter yet, but many times, October and November can give us a hint as to what we may be dealing with during the winter months. I don’t see us locking into a several-week, non-stop cold pattern in the near future, but we will most likely see several Arctic blasts and then warm-ups in between over the next few weeks. With that said though, you can get several winter events that can be quite impressive when the Arctic air is in place, which is why we could have a lot to talk about especially as we head into December. By the time we get into January and February, I could see us actually locking into a cold pattern in the eastern half of the U.S., and by that time, we will all probably be wishing for spring to hurry up and get here. Hopefully that gives you a hint as to what I foresee taking place down the road.

In the more short-term, we’re going to have cold, Arctic air blasting south due to a Canadian high that is going to start moving southeastward into the United States this week. By mid-week, this cold air will begin moving into the High Plains, and by this weekend, temperatures will be quite cold well into Texas. The cold air will begin to spread east and southeastward into the eastern U.S. by late weekend/early next week with freezing temperatures likely all the way down to the Gulf coast and into Florida. This Canadian high will be quite strong and is looking to be very impressive. Given that we are moving closer to the winter months, this may be our coldest air so far this season, but we’ll just have to keep an eye on everything throughout the week.

Another feature that I am watching and may actually do a separate article on is a low pressure system that is going to cut-off and strengthen as it tracks across the Southwestern U.S. I know that it is early in the season, but this needs to be watched. Given the impressive high pressure system that will be pushing the cold air well into the Southern Plains, you have to be careful not to dismiss a possible winter event even despite how early we are in the season. At this point, I’m not making a forecast but am keeping a close watch on the possibility. Models have this system sitting around for a few days and then moving east over the Southern Plains next week. It all depends on how much cold air is in place, and as always, timing is key. Even if this were to be an all-rain event next week, there could be some wintry precipitation this weekend.

I know this article ended up being a little more lengthy than usual, but there is going to be a lot to talk about in the upcoming days. As always, keep following our updates on Facebook throughout the day. Have a good Monday, everyone!

GFS Surface Temperatures for Sunday Morning

GFS Surface Temperatures for Sunday Morning

Strong and Long Track Tornadoes Likely For Today

As we continue to watch a strong storm system that has evolved as it moves across the United States, it has become very evident that this is a high risk day for strong and violent tornadoes and destructive winds. Environmental conditions are more than favorable to support the rapid development of supercells capable of producing strong tornadoes, some of which could be long-track.

With the current and anticipated environmental conditions, thunderstorm development is going to be quick, and with the high amount of shear that is in place, storms will quickly begin to rotate. Let me be clear that this is an extremely dangerous situation, and this event will be taking place across a highly populated area.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a high risk for tornadoes and damaging winds for parts of Illinois, Indiana, western Ohio, and southern Michigan. Surrounding the high risk is a moderate risk, which includes eastern Missouri, a large portion of Kentucky extending into the lower Great Lakes region. All of the areas mentioned need to monitor this situation extremely closely.

Several large tornadoes have already been reported in Illinois, and tornado emergencies have been issued for several of these tornadic storms. We will continue to keep you updated on this life-threatening situation, and please follow us on Facebook for updates throughout the day!

SPC's Updated Convective Outlook

SPC’s Updated Convective Outlook

The Difference Between the Model Hugger and the Weather Forecaster

All eyes have been on a system that could develop next week and potentially give the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast an early-season snowstorm. While we always like to give our viewers an early look into what could happen with these storms, there is a distinct difference between actually making a solid weather forecast based on meteorology and a “forecast” based on model run to model run. Social media has been an incredible source of information, which has allowed us to deliver quality weather information out to the public in a very efficient way. However, social media has also made it a lot easier for certain pages and sites to put out what they consider a weather forecast and claim that it is backed with solid meteorology.

In today’s modern world, many of the forecast models and other available tools can be accessed by almost anyone who has an internet connection. It’s been amazing to have access to such a wealth of information, but that comes with a cost that you may not actually see. Let me be clear that I have always been supportive of the idea of being able to provide quality information to the general public for free, and had I not had access to these free or inexpensive resources, Firsthand Weather would likely not exist.

The purpose of this article is to warn you of the faulty weather information out there that may seem credible but actually could not be. Even meteorologists have been guilty of hyping forecasts as a way to drive views so I’m not directed this at any particular group, inexperienced or experienced. What I want to make you aware of is the difference between what I call a model hugger and an actual weather forecaster, and I am going to do this by listing out some distinct differences between the two groups.

1) The Model Hugger uses the weather models as a forecast; the Weather Forecaster uses them as a tool. 

2) The Model Hugger changes his or her forecast based on each model run; the Weather Forecaster won’t change anything unless the meteorology backs it up. 

3) The Model Hugger uses hype and scare tactics to relay information out to the public; the Weather Forecaster chooses his or her words wisely. 

4) The Model Hugger doesn’t understand or try to understand why the forecast models are predicting what they are; the Weather Forecaster tries to understand if a particular forecast model is making sense or not. 

5) The Model Hugger typically doesn’t know a lot about meteorology; the Weather Forecaster usually has a degree in the field or has studied a lot about the subject on his or her own. 

Those are just a few things to watch out for. With all of that said, I see nothing wrong with discussing and blogging about what the forecast models are predicting and explaining your thoughts and opinions many days in advance. The reason I have done well with my website in the last four years is because I have always given my honest opinion on what I think is going to occur, and a lot of times have gotten it right several days out. Don’t get upset when you get a forecast wrong! It happens to all of us and the weather is very unpredictable. And for those of you who rely on us weather forecasters and meteorologists for weather information, make sure that you always choose your sources wisely!

Super Typhoon Haiyan Made Landfall – Strongest Landfalling Storm Ever

Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall earlier in Guiuan with sustained winds of 195 mph and with wind gusts at or above 235 mph. The latest advisory on this storm was issued about two hours before this system made landfall, but there are no indications that this system has weakened much, if any, as it quickly approaches Tacloban. Communication has been lost to Guiuan, a town that has a population of around 47,000, which now likely has catastrophic damage.

Super Typhoon will be directly hitting the more populated city of Tacloban, which has around  218,000 residents. With absolutely no signs of weakening, a huge loss of life is expected as a result of this very powerful typhoon. As we mentioned in an earlier article, this is the same region that is still recovering from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake last month that killed over 200 and displaced thousands.

As of right now, this is the 4th strongest tropical system ever recorded and will likely be the strongest landfalling tropical system in history. The only good thing about this super typhoon is that it is moving at the fast pace of 25 mph, which will allow the system to get out of the area faster and will lower the rainfall totals. Nonetheless, flooding will occur, which will likely result in mudslides.

Please follow us on Facebook, where we’ll be doing constant updates on this storm. We’ll be sharing a live feed from the Philippines so that you can watch Super Typhoon Haiyan as it rolls in.

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan Bearing Down on the Philippines – 190 mph Winds

The Philippines are about to get a direct hit from what looks to be one of the strongest storms ever recorded. Super Typhoon Haiyan currently has max sustained winds at 190 mph with gusts to 230 mph, and the central pressure is down to 905 mb. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to a very strong category 5 hurricane. On the Saffir-Simpson scale, a hurricane becomes a category 5 storm once its max sustained winds reach 157 mph or greater, and as you can see, Super Typhoon Haiyan is well beyond that point.

Super Typhoon Haiyan is currently moving at a quick 25 mph in a west northwest direction and is expected to hit the central Philippines in just a few hours. The majority of the evacuations have occurred in Tacloban City, which is a city of over 200,000.

Image of Super Typhoon Haiyan

Image of Super Typhoon Haiyan

The region that is likely to be impacted the most by this super typhoon is the same area that was hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake just a month ago. This earthquake was responsible for killing over 200 and displacing around 350,000. Since the residents of the Philippines are still trying to recover from this deadly earthquake, this could make the impact even greater as Super Typhoon Haiyan moves through the island.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Projected Path Via Weather Underground

Super Typhoon Haiyan Projected Path Via Weather Underground

Along with catastrophic winds, the Philippines can also expect massive flooding, which will likely result in mudslides. We will continue to monitor the latest on this deadly typhoon and will keep you updated on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Big Snowstorm Next Week – Is It Possible or Only Hype?

Well it’s looks like we’re going to have to start keeping a close watch on a possible system next week that could give some areas the chance of snow. Several of the forecast models have been suggesting a pretty sizable snowstorm for portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast mid next week, but let me be the first to warn you that everything has to come together almost perfectly for any type of major snowstorm to happen this time of year for this region. We’re still in the first half of November, and for any sizable winter storm to take place, the strength of the system, the timing of the system and the amount of cold air in place has to almost be perfect.

What has gotten my attention is the fact that the Euro, the GFS, and the CMC models are picking up on this system producing accumulating snowfall next week. Despite the consistency in some of these model runs, you must be very careful not to take anything too seriously. However, I think that it’s worth keeping an eye on simply because the models keep hanging onto the possibility.

12z GFS

The 12z GFS run from earlier today shows impressive snowfall accumulations for next week.

Now if you have been keeping an eye on the GFS ensembles, it is coming up with a plethora of possible solutions to next week’s system and possible outcomes. Some have the rain coming in before the cold air moves in, some have the cold air moving in earlier with heavy snow to follow, and some even keep the area dry and warm. With this being a week out and with us still being in early November, it’s hard to predict anything like this with any certainty, and the chances of something like this occurring are quite low. With that said, the weather has its way of throwing us for a loop so I’m not going to ignore the possibility regardless of how low it may be.

If we get a couple of days down the road and we continue to see the possibility of this winter storm occurring, then we’ll start discussing what needs to come together to make this happen. One thing to keep in mind is that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is currently positive, but by the time we roll around to next week, it will likely be in the more neutral state or even slightly negative. This would increase the chances of having some colder air pushing further south into these regions next week, but it’s also worth noting that the Arctic Oscillation (AO) will remain very positive during this time.

Just a quick warning: be wary of the Facebook and Twitter pages out there that are calling for a snowpocalypse for next week. Even some of the meteorologists out there are causing some unnecessary hype. Like I said, it’s worth mentioning and keeping an eye on, but by no means should we be forecasting a major winter storm just yet! Hopefully things will continue to remain interesting as we get closer to next week.

December 1984 vs. January 1985 – From One Extreme To The Other

Hello, everyone!! We are back and ready to start posting again! Like I’ve mentioned on Facebook and Twitter several times, we are currently in a transition phase with Firsthand Weather and are going to be using Weather Ramblings as a way to still get our weather updates out to our followers. Eventually, we’re going to be doing video updates and a lot of other cool stuff on this site so you might as well go ahead and bookmark this website because this is where we’ll be at for the next several months.

Let’s go ahead and get to the topic at hand. For those of you that were around back in the 80s, January 1985 may ring a bell. Over the course of that particular month, the United States saw record cold for a large portion of the nation. It was an unprecedented event that probably would have never been expected just a few weeks earlier. All you have to do is go back to December 1984, which was a time when temperatures were well-above normal in the eastern-half of United States. If you could go back in time and go to December 1984, I can guarantee you that people would have never expected January 1985 to be a month that would be talked about for decades to come.

People tend to remember the big events: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 blizzard, etc., but do they remember the season as a whole? The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season will always be remembered by everyone because of Katrina, not because of the record number of storms that developed that particular year. What about the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season? It was a very inactive season, but why do we remember it? Because of that one category 5 hurricane named Andrew that slammed into Florida. A more recent example is this year’s tornado season. The United States has had record-low tornadoes for this year, but we’ll never forget this year’s Moore tornado. Weather has always had its way of going from one extreme to the other, and most of the time, it can be very unpredictable.

As we approach another winter, always remember that one month’s weather may be totally different than the next. One month’s tranquil weather may lead to the next month’s record-breaking snowstorm or record-cold Arctic outbreak. Are we making that prediction for this winter? Not necessarily, but we do have to keep a watchful eye out. Let the warmer December 1984 vs. the record-breaking January 1985 be an example of the bi-polar nature of Mother Nature.

December 1984 vs. December 1985 Temperature Anomalies

December 1984 vs. January 1985 Temperature Anomalies