Firsthand Weather Newsletter

Beginning in March, I am going to start issuing a bi-weekly newsletter every other Sunday, and this is something that you don’t want to miss out on! I am only going to be able to allow 2,000 subscribers to sign up, and I expect those slots to fill up really fast! In other words, if you don’t sign up tonight or tomorrow, then it’ll probably be too late! Allow me to list a few reasons as to why you want to sign up for this newsletter.

1) You will get early access to many of my forecasts before they are made public on the site. More times than not, I am keeping my eye on a potential storm system before I even mention it on the site. You will get an inside-look into what I’m currently thinking and an inside-look as to what goes into these forecasts.

2) I will let you in on special release dates for some of the big seasonal outlooks that Firsthand Weather puts out. For example, I may announce to you the release date of a Winter Outlook or a Hurricane Outlook several days before I make that information available to the public. In some special cases, I will release portions of these seasonal outlooks to the subscribers before I post them on the site or social media.

3) Firsthand Weather is in the beginning stages of building an app for all mobile devices. The 2,000 subscribers of this newsletter will be the group that gets to test this app out before it is released to the public. In other words, the subscribers will get access to this app months before it is released to the public, and I will be able to get feedback from the subscribers. My early guess is that all of this will take place during the 2014 summer.

4) Firsthand Weather is currently working on some amazing projects, and a lot of those services won’t be available for months, maybe even years. A lot of what you see today on Firsthand Weather was in the planning stages back in 2009 and 2010, so there is A LOT of planning that goes into all of this. While I have to be extremely careful what I let out to the public on these projects early on, I will let our subscribers in on some of the amazing things happening and may even try to get some suggestions from them.

There will be many more benefits to signing up for this newsletter than the ones listed! If you’re one of the 2,000 that gets on the newsletter list, please don’t release any information to the public. Once I make certain information public, then you’re more than welcomed to talk about it on social media and the internet.

I am very excited about this, and I hope you’re one of the 2,000 that makes it on the list. Please fill out the form below!! All you need to provide is your email, first name, and last night!

Update: The Firsthand Weather newsletter has already filled up! Thank you to all of you that signed up!

Major Cold To Return To The United States

Well I hope you have enjoyed the warmer temperatures because winter is about to make a big return for many areas across the United States. While I always enjoy the winter months (especially if there is a lot of snow), I must admit that I am ready for spring and was spoiled by these warmer temperatures. If you go look at a current temperature map, you can already see that the colder air is already starting to push back in the United States, and that trend will continue as the week progresses. Forecasting during the latter part of the winter can get extremely tricky, and we are starting to enter that period. One of the main reasons is that climatologically things start to warm up, and when trying to forecast potential winter storms, it can be easy to bust on the forecast. It’s difficult enough to forecast in the middle of winter, but when you’re in the winter-to-spring transition phase, it can get really interesting.

Winter is definitely not over, and not only will a large portion of the United States experience well-below average cold, there could be several winter events to occur from late February through March. We’re about to move back into the same pattern that has given the central and eastern United States brutally cold temperature all winter, and with the cold air that will be in place, we could end up squeezing in a few more winter storms before we get into spring.

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of using cycles and trends to make my medium-range and long-range forecasts. The method simply works if you can correctly identify the cycles! Now some years are much more difficult to forecast for than others, but in many cases during the winter, certain cycles establish themselves, which literally can allow a forecaster to predict these cold events and winter storms well in advance. The cold that is on the way is going to be impressive to say the least, especially since we’re entering the latter part of the winter. In fact, there could be some records that end up being broken with this cold, so like I said, winter is definitely not over.

The big question will be how long this cold air decides to stay in place, and that will ultimately be a determining factor on how far south any wintry precipitation occurs. Remember, it’s not necessarily uncommon for portions of the southern U.S. to get wintry weather in early to mid March, but as the sun angle becomes more direct, it becomes increasingly unlikely as you get further into March. The Pacific North Atlantic index is moving into a positive phase while the Arctic Oscillation index is about to go negative. While I don’t expect you to really know what that means, this favors a pattern that sets up troughing in the central and eastern U.S. with ridging over the western U.S.

If you look at the model guidance, it supports this idea, and even shows ridging building in the western U.S. and over Alaska and also ridging building over the North Atlantic. Then you have a piece of the polar vortex that breaks off and moves south of the Hudson Bay. This has been happening all winter, and what happens is the cold air gets pushed south between those two ridges. And there you go, you have really cold air in the central and eastern United States.

With all of that said, both the Southern Plains and the Southeastern United States could have a good shot at getting another winter storm this season. While nailing down this forecast will require more studying on my end, don’t think that because we’re about to enter March that this can’t happen. Storminess is going to increase into March, and if the cold air is in place, then we’ll likely be dealing with a winter storm or two. Going further into March, there could even be a big East Coast storm, but again, track and the amount of cold air in place at that time will determine who gets what.

I’m going to end it there for tonight! I posted a couple of maps for you to take a look at below: one that shows you the troughing that is going to setup over the central and eastern U.S. and one that shows CPC’s prediction of below average temperatures to continue into March for the eastern U.S. As I always say, be sure to like our Facebook page if you haven’t already done that because I post updates on there quite often. As a quick aside, be sure to check out the $500 scholarship that we will be offering to a current or prospective student this fall. Details on that are here! Have a great night, everyone!

GFS Ensemble Shows Cold Air Building in the Central and Eastern United States.

GFS Ensemble Shows Cold Air Building in the Central and Eastern United States.

CPC Forecasts Below Average Temperatures for the Central and Eastern United States.

CPC Forecasts Below Average Temperatures for the Central and Eastern United States.

Nunley-Holliday Atmospheric Science Scholarship

I understand how difficult it is to pay for college! From tuition fees, to book costs, to cost of living, college can get downright expensive, and every little bit of money helps. I and Christopher Nunley from Texoma Weather have decided to team up and award a $500 scholarship to an individual who is either a prospective or current college student. Regardless of your current major or degree of interest, you can send in an application for this scholarship. As current college students, we both understand how money can often be an issue, and we want to simply make a difference, regardless of how small of a difference that may be. Our goal is to one day offer scholarships to students all over the world and provide them a way to receive a quality education at a much cheaper cost. Please allow us to make a difference in at least one individual’s life.

You have until July 1, 2014 to apply for this scholarship, and the money will be awarded to the recipient before the 2014 fall semester.

To be eligible to apply for the Nunley-Holliday Atmospheric Science Scholarship you must: 

  • be a U.S. citizen 
  • be currently enrolled or accepted in a four-year academic program at an accredited college or university or university within the United States or U.S. territories
  • have, or plan on, a major in a discipline including, but not limited to, oceanic, environmental, biological, and atmospheric sciences, mathematics, engineering, remote sensing technology, physical and social sciences including geography, physics, hydrology, geomatics, business, communications, or teacher education 
  • two references, including one professor 
  • include a two page statement of purpose on what you plan on doing academically, professionally, the extracurricular activities you’re involved with, and how this scholarship will help you

To all of the Firsthand Weather and Texoma Weather audience out there, I ask you one favor!! Please share this article to get the word out about this scholarship and tell your friends and family who may qualify for this money. You can submit your application to nunleyhollidayscholarship@firsthandweather.com, and we will send an immediate response acknowledging that we received your application. We will announce the winner of this scholarship on August 1, 2014.

Without you and all of your support, there would be no way that any of this would be possible! It’s because of you that we will have the privilege of making a difference in at least one individual’s life.

Historic Winter Storm Heading For The South

Talk about an incredible storm that is about to move across the South. I have been watching the weather my entire life and putting out public forecasts for about 5 years now, and I can’t say that I have ever seen anything like this. Everything is literally coming together perfectly to possibly make this the biggest winter storm that many areas of the South (particularly the Southeast) has seen in decades. With all of that said, I really do think that this area has prepared for this event for the most part. With the last system that moved through the Deep South a couple of weeks ago, they were simply not prepared. While the system two weeks ago was a baby in comparison to what this one is going to be, the NWS and local meteorologists have done a much better job in preparing the public for this one.

If you look at a current radar (as of 9:10 ET), you’ll notice a big swath of precipitation mainly over Louisiana, Mississippi, and moving into Alabama. What’s incredible is the amount of moisture that is already being pulled into this system, and this storm is only going to strengthen as it tracks across the Gulf coast states and then will literally bomb out once it starts to move up the East Coast. Places like northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and northern and central Mississippi are being impacted by some pretty heavy wintry precipitation right now, so I’m sure that road conditions are deteriorating more and more as time goes on.

My focus this entire time has been mainly on northern Georgia, extreme portions of eastern Tennessee, Upstate South Carolina, parts of North Carolina, and up into Virginia, where I think some of those areas could get well over a foot of snow. I’m going to say that there will be a swath of about 8 to 12 inches of snow from northern Georgia into Upstate SC and on up into western portions of North Carolina. However, there will be localized areas of over a foot. Once you move into Virginia, parts of that state could get well over a foot. Parts of extreme southern Tennessee and northeastward Alabama could get some decent snowfall accumulations also. Areas to the south of that including places like Atlanta, GA over to Columbia, SC on over to eastern portions of North Carolina will be slammed with a crippling ice storm. As this storm moves eastward, it’s going to continue to pull in copious amounts of moisture and push it northeastward across the South. As this storm starts to pull up the East Coast, it’s going to rapidly strengthen and even wrap around more moisture into the areas that I just mentioned.

I explained several days ago why there would be absolutely no issue with the amount of cold air that would get pulled south into this storm. There is a high pressure over the Northeast that is going to help wrap around the cold air and push it into the Southeast, which is a lot of times how these areas get enough cold air to have a big winter storm. The snowpack over the Northeast also helped to make this air mass colder than it already was, which is something that I figured some of the model guidance would have a difficult time handling.

Anyways, I hope all of you have plenty of bread and milk! I’m pretty sure all the shelves are cleared by now! Below I have posted a couple of maps: one accumulation map that my good friend and weather colleague Chris Nunley made and the other showing the areas that will likely get the highest ice accumulations. Many of you were able to get snow accumulations today so for some of you, you will be getting snow/ice on top of snow that has already fallen! Most of these areas should prepare for widespread power outages. Please like the Firsthand Weather Facebook page if you haven’t already, and thanks so much for all of the birthday wishes that you posted on the Facebook page. I’ll have an update out on the site tomorrow night regarding the impacts that this storm will have on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Accumulation Map Courtesy Texoma Weather

Accumulation Map Courtesy Texoma Weather

Areas Most Likely To See High Ice Accumulations

Areas Most Likely To See High Ice Accumulations

Significant Winter Storm Looking More Likely For The South Next Week

We have a very interesting week coming up!! As many of you know, we’re currently keeping a close watch on a system that could end up becoming a significant winter storm, giving parts of the South another round of wintry weather. At this point, the track of this system is going to be quite important, which will ultimately determine what type of precipitation certain areas get. As promised, I’m going to do a little bit of a model comparison and explain why certain forecast models are making sense and why some are not.

If you look at the GFS deterministic model, it has kept this system drier in comparison to its ensemble and other forecast models. It’s important to note that the GFS ensemble has been much wetter with this system, and given that the NAM and European models are predicting this system to have ample moisture gives me enough reason to believe that moisture will not be an issue. Another thing that the GFS has had a difficult time picking up on is the amount of cold air that is going to be pulled south as a result of a high pressure that will be over the Northeast. Because of the heavy snowpack that is currently over the Northeast, that will make the cold air even more potent. Forecast models are designed to model the atmosphere, but when it comes to taking into account the influence of current snow cover, models often handle that poorly, some more than others.

The European model has definitely been the most aggressive on the snowfall accumulations across portions of the Deep South. It’s actually not uncommon for the Euro to be too aggressive with snowfall totals, but what is remarkable is the consistency that this model has been showing with this system. The Euro has been really good this winter about picking up on these systems early on, but you then have to refine the snowfall totals on your own. One reason that the Euro comes off too aggressive is because it adds in sleet/freezing rain to its snowfall accumulations, which can make those numbers much higher than they really are. That’s why I am always saying to be careful with the weather sources that you choose, because they will share these maps, not even knowing how these forecast models work.

The NAM and Canadian models have also been predicting accumulation snowfall across portions of the Deep South, but it is not nearly as significant with snowfall totals and is not as far south with accumulating snowfall. I still haven’t had a chance to look at the projected Skew-T diagrams (I don’t expect you to know what that is), but once I do that, that will help me to have a better understanding of how much cold air could be in place and how deep the cold layer will be. That could be the difference between a big snowstorm or a significant ice storm. Remember storm track will play a major role in this also.

After this system pushes out of the Southern Plains, areas from northern Mississippi, northern Alabama and Tennessee need to keep a close watch on this. As this system begins to pull in more moisture, areas from northern Georgia, Upstate SC, eastern Tennessee, and on up through North Carolina and Virginia need to watch this system VERY closely. If everything comes together just right, those areas could be dealing with a significant winter storm. I do think that the European model is currently a little too far south with its higher accumulations into midlands SC, but like I said, it has done a phenomenal job in picking up on this storm early. I do need to do further study on who will get ice and who will get all snow, but several of the models suggest an all-snow event for the areas that I just mentioned and then possibly ice to the south of that.

Please note that this system is very complex, and that I will have to do an updated article in a couple of days to really nail down the specifics of this forecast. I’ve posted some of the different snowfall accumulation maps from various forecast models, but please understand that those models are not a forecast but only a possible scenario. Please continue to follow me on Facebook, and if you don’t already, be sure to give our page a like!

Latest Snowfall Totals Projected By The European Model

Latest Snowfall Totals Projected By The European Model

Latest Snowfall Totals Projected By The NAM

Latest Snowfall Totals Projected By The NAM

Latest Snowfall Totals Projected By The Canadian Model

Latest Snowfall Totals Projected By The Canadian Model

All of these forecast models are courtesy of WxBell.

Bitter Cold Will Continue Into February

If winter ended today, I would say that this was an awesome winter! Many of you have gotten the snow that you wanted, and January ended up being very cold for many across the United States. Now, let me be clear that winter is far from over, and as I have stated on the Facebook page many times, February is going to be active. We are going to be dealing with a bit of a different pattern than what we had in January, but I do expect another month of brutally cold temperatures. Many areas across the United States could end up getting a lot of wintry weather this month with some regions getting multiple storms in the upcoming weeks.

Last month, temperatures ended up being well-below normal for much of the eastern U.S., while the western U.S. stayed mild and dry. The Deep South was also finally able to get that big winter storm that I had been predicting for the end of January. All in all, the winter has been good for all of you lovers of cold, and many of you got to see snow for the first time in several years. At this point, most of you want to know if this cold is going to continue and whether or not you’re going to get more snow. Many of you are, and the one’s who do could get a lot of it.

For a good portion of last month, there was a lot of troughing in the eastern half of the United States, while there was strong ridging out West. I explained earlier in January why we weren’t going to need the NAO index to be strongly negative to get a lot of cold air in the eastern U.S. That’s why many were forecasting in early January that the cold would be over after that first outbreak, but I ended up being one of the crazy ones that went against the crowd. We’re about to have a bit of a change in the pattern for February, but that doesn’t mean we’re about to move into a warmer pattern. In January, the PNA index was mostly positive, and with that, you usually get ridging out West and troughing and stormiest out East. Of course, there are other factors that play into that, but that’s typically what you get during the winter months with a positive PNA. In February, it’s looking like the PNA will be negative, at least for the first half of the month. Since that is going to occur, that could really start to break down some of that ridging out west and allow for an increase in stormiest particularly in the Pacific Northwest.

Now, many of you saw my rant about how these “weather” pages were sharing one forecast model run from the European model and calling for 5 feet of snow. That was not me saying that I didn’t think that certain areas will get a lot of snow, but it is frustrating when people cause hype without truly being able to interpret the forecast models. Like I’ve said many times, forecast models should be used as a tool and not as a forecast. I do think that the forecast models are on to something with showing an increase in storminess from the Southern Plains to the Ohio River Valley on up to the Northeast. The pattern is going to favor this, and the cold air is going to be in place.

Now, one thing that I am keeping a close watch on is the possibility of a ridge building in from the west into the Southeastern United States. For those of you that know a little bit about meteorology, the SE ridge is something that sometimes will build into the Southeast during the winter months and cause well above average temperatures for that region, but it all depends on the strength of the ridge. Earlier model guidance had this ridge being quite strong, but I never really bought into that. Later model guidance is a lot weaker with this ridge, and actually if it stays very weak, it could help give some areas increased chances of getting wintry weather later in the month. Because I don’t think this ridge will be particularly strong and because there will be plenty of cold air coming south from the Arctic, some areas could actually benefit from this. This is something that I am going to have to watch very closely.

Again, areas from the Plains to parts of the Tennessee River Valley/Ohio River Valley to the Northeast could be impacted by multiple storms this month. The track of these systems will determine who gets the heavy wintry precipitation or just rain, but there is going to be a lot to watch! Many of you know that I am a believer in cycles and trends and often use these trends to make my long-range forecasts. Things could get very interesting later in the month, and depending on the pattern at that particular time, someone could get a big winter storm. Pinpointing the location will be difficult at this time, but the possibility is definitely there.

Anyways, that’s all I have for you tonight. Please give Firsthand Weather a like on Facebook if you haven’t already. I’m always putting new updates on there on a daily basis!!

CPC's Temperature Probability Map For the Next 6 to 10 Days

CPC’s Temperature Probability Map For the Next 6 to 10 Days