What You Will Get From My Newsletter

I started a newsletter last winter, and people absolutely loved it! It’s a little different than what you get from me on the website or social media, but I really have enjoyed sending it out and interacting with the people who read it. When I first introduced it, I only allowed 2,000 people to signup so I wouldn’t have to pay a monthly fee. I thought that it would take months to reach the 2,000 threshold. It took less than an hour.

I temporarily stopped the newsletter back in September because it was impossible for me to keep it under the 2,000 threshold. Now over 7,000 people are signed up, and I am looking to bring the total subscriber list up to 10,000. So, there are less than 3,000 slots left. Right now, my goal is to begin sending the newsletter out again starting in March.

Many people are skeptical about giving up their emails, so I want to tell you EXACTLY what you’ll be getting out of this newsletter. No, I won’t sell your email to anyone, and I won’t spam you. This is just a great way for me to send you a forecast directly to your email, and you can know for sure that you’ll see it. When you signup, you will have to confirm that you signed up, and it may be in your spam initially, so make sure you mark it as not spam. By the way, I have the link at the very end of the article where you can signup!

But before you signup, let me tell you what you’ll get out of this newsletter!!

A Weekly Forecast For Your Region:

I will be sending out a weekly forecast for the entire United States. When there is a lot going on for a particular region, I may talk about that area a bit more than the rest. Let me use some recent examples. I may have focused more on the Rockies snow, the Southern winter storms, the Boston snow, the Arctic blasts, etc. if I had sent out a newsletter over the past few weeks. I will always do my best to never leave anyone out, and always know that your region will get more attention from me when you have more going on. There may be exceptions to that when there is a lot going on for a large portion of the United States, but in most cases, there shouldn’t be any issues.

Weekly Announcements:

In that same newsletter, you will be getting weekly announcements regarding the articles and updates that will be coming out that upcoming week. If I plan on posting a spring or severe weather outlook, hurricane forecast, winter forecast, etc., you will likely find out about it before someone who uses the Firsthand Weather site but isn’t signed up for this newsletter.

Long-range Forecasts:

This will be on occasion and will be in the form of a special newsletter that I will send out every few weeks. These will be forecasts that you may not see on the site or social media for several days or maybe even weeks. There are many times when I see something very early, but I don’t post it on the site or Facebook simply because it would be too early and cause more harm than good. You MUST take these forecasts responsibly and realize that changes will have to be made. In other words, you will get an inside look at some of the forecasts before they go out to the public. Again, this will be only on occasion.

More Responses and Interaction From Me:

When you signup for this newsletter, you will have my email address and will be able to send in some questions and feedback. I do draw a fine line between what’s important and what’s not. On social media, you may ask a question and not get a good response, simply because it either gets lost in everyone else’s comments or I don’t have time. It gets difficult trying to respond to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of comments, messages, and emails each day.

Let me give you an example of where you would likely get a response from me and when you wouldn’t. If you wanted to know how many inches of snow you’re going to get in your backyard during a certain time, then you probably won’t get a response. But say, you have plans to be driving from location a to location b and want to know what the weather could be like along that route, then I should be able to help you with planning situations like that. All I ask is that you don’t abuse that privilege. With so many people signed up, it becomes difficult to respond to everyone. Save this privilege for very special situations only for planning purposes.

Almost All Of You Will Have Access To The Firsthand Weather App Before Everyone Else Does:

So I saved the best for last! If you signup for this newsletter, many of you will get to test out the Firsthand Weather mobile app. At first, I’m going to have a very small group from the newsletter group testing it out, but over time, many of you will be able to download it. If you choose, you will be able to give feedback by telling me which features are important to you and which are not. In reality, the subscribers will play a big part in building this app. Some work is already done, but there is much more that isn’t done.

On top of all of that, you will get to test out other Firsthand Weather products and services. This will be an ongoing process. Basically, if you want to be involved, you can, but if you don’t and only want to read the forecasts, that is completely fine, too! My goal is to make Firsthand Weather better, and I want as many people as possible to play an active role in making that a reality.

Signup!!

If all of that sounds great to you, then signup by clicking here! You will have to go to your email to confirm that you signed up. Again, check your spam if it isn’t in your inbox! I can’t wait to have all of you on board, and if you have any questions, please let me know!

Significant Snowstorm Still On Track

Before I get into the actual forecast, I want everyone to be fully aware of the complexity of this forecast. With this particular winter storm, there is going to be a tight gradient between very heavy snowfall accumulations and just rain. There actually may be areas in between that could get ice, which is something I’ll discuss below. Because of this tight gradient, a jog 25 miles north or south of the surface low pressure system could be the difference between getting over 6 inches of snow or very little. That’s a BIG deal, and why I keep saying to expect the unexpected with this storm. I always say, prepare for the worst just to be safe.

Now that I have that mini-speech out of the way, let me get into this forecast. The upper-level disturbance currently located over New Mexico/Arizona is one heck of a system. From past experience, I’ve come to realize that forecast models typically don’t do well with these cut-off low setups. Many times, they end up being stronger than projected, some areas get way more snow than predicted, and others areas don’t. That’s just how it goes.

Timeline and Accumulations:

One thing that you must know is that the snow is going to come down fast, particularly where you get convective snow banding (thundersnow). Because of the dynamics of this system, there will be areas that get over a foot, from the Southern Plains to the East Coast. In this section, I want to give you a rough timeline of everything and talk about accumulations.

Heavy precipitation is going to develop across the Southern Plains later tonight going into the morning hours. Some of this may start out as rain or some sleet/freezing rain, but all precipitation will eventually change over to heavy snow and continue through the morning. Places like Dallas and surrounding areas could easily get 3 to 6 inches of snow with locally higher amounts.

By tomorrow morning, the precipitation will have spread farther east with southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana getting heavy snow. Again, some of these regions, particularly into southern Arkansas could easily get 3 to 6 inches of snow. With this system, it’s not going to necessarily matter if temperatures are a degree or two above freezing in places; snow will still fall and accumulate.

By later in the morning, precipitation will likely expand as far east as Alabama. If precipitation does start out as rain, it will eventually change over to heavy, wet snow over northern and parts of central Mississippi. This will then expand eastward into Alabama. Ice could occur south of the heavy snow band. I would say that a widespread area of 3 to 6 + inches of snow will fall over these areas. Birmingham is probably going to be closer to that line, but 2 to 4 + inches looks like a good forecast to me. The snow could extend as far north as the southern half of Tennessee, so I expect places like Memphis to get decent accumulations out of this also. A band of heavy snow could set up over northern portions of Mississippi and Alabama (just north of Birmingham). That’s where you’ll really have to watch for your higher snowfall accumulations, where localized amounts could be quite high.

Probability of 4 inches of snow or greater through Thursday morning:

probability map

Farther east into Georgia, precipitation will develop and spread into the state sometime in the afternoon hours. Some of these areas could start out as sleet/freezing rain or rain, but a change to heavy snow will occur later in the afternoon into the evening hours. Atlanta is another one of those cities that will be close to the line. I’m going to say 2 to 5 + inches for Atlanta, and then I’m thinking 4 to 7 + inches north of Atlanta. Across Upstate South Carolina into the Charlotte area, I’m thinking around 3 to 7 + inches of snow along and north of I-85. Again, thundersnow could occur causing totals to be higher in locations that are under that heavy snowfall.

It gets a little more tricky south of I-85, which is going to depend on the overall track. I still say that the totals could be quite high south of the interstate, but they will drop off quite drastically the farther south you go. Farther north into North Carolina into eastern Tennessee, this looks to be a decent snowstorm to me also.

Heavy snow will spread northeastward into the Wednesday evening and overnight hours into central and eastern North Carolina and up through southern and southeastern Virginia. Some of those regions including places like Raleigh/Durham could get 6 to 10 inches of snow. Localized areas could even get over a foot. There is some question as to how far north this system will go, but right now, I’ll just focus on these areas.

Although the forecast models aren’t showing this, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if icing issues occurred south of the regions that I have getting snowfall accumulations. This is something I’ll keep a close watch on and will post an update tomorrow, if needed.

Final Thoughts:

This is about as specific as I’m going to get. We’ll see how I do with actually putting out accumulations, but I couldn’t get around not doing it with this storm. Again, a shift in track could change all of this, so some changes will need be required. If I were you, I wouldn’t focus on actual snowfall accumulations. Whether you get 2 inches or a foot, it is still a big deal across the South. I just want you to know where the heaviest snow will likely setup.

By the way, I appreciate everyone who ordered a Firsthand Weather t-shirt or hoodie. If you’re still interested in getting one, click here, and check them out. Some of you asked me about adding different styles and colors. I plan on contacting Teespring on Friday to see if they’ll do that.

The photo below was just too great not to share. David Waid from Helen, GA sent this to Firsthand Weather this morning. Just incredible!

helen, ga snow

Major Southern Snowstorm Potential Mid-Week

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:

snowfall map

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:

nam snowfall and ice map

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.

snowfall probability map

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.

Get A Firsthand Weather T-shirt (Short and Long-sleeve) and/or Hoodie:

I started another T-shirt campaign on Teespring. I set the goal to 250, so if all 250 shirts and/or hoodies are sold within 10 days, then the campaign goal will be reached. If we don’t reach that goal, then those who ordered something will be given a refund. This is a great way to get the Firsthand Weather name out there, and seriously, these shirts and hoodies are good-quality. Many of you who ordered them in July loved them! This time, many more colors will be available. To order a shirt or hoodie (or just check them out to see what they look like), click here.

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!

Colorado Rockies Snow

Southern Plains and Mid-South Winter Storm

We have yet another tricky winter storm forecast on the table for tomorrow going into early next week. This active pattern is about as locked in as it gets, and although there are signs that we may try to snap out of it sometime in March, we still have at least 7 to 10 days with this cold and active pattern, maybe more. It’s a lot of work forecasting these individual storms, and as much as I love it, a small break would be nice. 🙂 Anyway, let’s jump right into it.

I wrote on Facebook earlier about how these active patterns can bring surprise winter events. While it won’t be a surprise for the Southern Plains, I really wouldn’t be shocked if regions farther east got wintry precipitation also earlier next week. The Rockies are currently getting the kind of snowfall they haven’t seen all winter, and the precipitation will eventually spread and develop into the Southern Plains tomorrow into Monday.

Southern Plains and Mid-South Winter Storm:

A strong Canadian high pressure system is going to be pushing south into the United States tomorrow and will be wrapping around very cold air with it. The first round of precipitation will move into the Southern Plains tomorrow, bringing wintry precipitation into the western half of Kansas, the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas and eventually spread eastward into parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and maybe northern parts of Mississippi and Alabama (maybe including Birmingham) on Sunday night into Monday. I’m thinking that regions from Dallas southward should just have rain tomorrow, but then things get very interesting early Monday morning into the afternoon.

More precipitation will be developing on Monday, and regions from a large part of Oklahoma into Arkansas and southward into Texas and northern and central Louisiana will be dealing will a snowy and icy mess. This includes Dallas, Austin, and maybe even as far south an San Antonio. This will be a widespread event that will make traveling impossible for some areas, especially where sleet and freezing rain fall. The wintry precipitation could spread into parts of Mississippi and Alabama once again.

The NAM has snowy and icy conditions developing across the Southern Plains early on Monday, eventually spreading eastward into the Mid-South later in the day. (I’ll keep an eye on that region over North Carolina, just in case something comes up.)

dallas winter weather

Winter Storm Surprise For The Southeast?

I’m going to include this because I know how these kind of active and cold patterns are. Forecast models just don’t handle these types of setups well, meaning a surprise or two can happen. Now please understand that this is NOT the winter storm threat that I am monitoring for late this upcoming week into the weekend.

As high pressure begins to move south and eastward early this week, another cold air damming scenario could set up east of the Appalachians. Many surprise winter events have occurred as a result of this, and again, forecast models often miss these. IF (take special note of this condition) moisture spreads far enough north anywhere from Tuesday into Wednesday, then there COULD be an unexpected winter storm across states like Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The unpredictability of the weather means there are various hazards that many people could across which could cause accidents and injuries, especially if the proper precautions aren’t put in place to prevent accidents. If you find yourself a victim of an accident that wasn’t caused by you, it might be worth looking into someone like these Smyrna, GA personal injury attorneys who might be able to help your case.

You can see where the NAM develops snow and icy weather over parts of the Southeast. I’m watching that VERY closely.

southeast winter storm

Right now, forecast models suppress the moisture farther south after it works its way eastward from the Southern Plains and mid-South. With how things have gone so far this winter, I wouldn’t be surprised if moisture tries to come farther north due to low pressure system tracking farther north. I’m just throwing this potential out there and want you to be aware that this is a possibility that could catch many off guard. I just have a difficult time seeing that system going that far south, but it may. I just need to keep a close watch on it.

Robert Hanson from Olney, MD shared this photo today! He said that was about 9 inches of snow.

10422179_10206008805042242_5272812547547721972_n

Weekend Winter Storm/Rainstorm Update

We have a bit of a challenging forecast with this upcoming weekend storm, but that’s just a part of the game when you have an active pattern like we’re in. I explained some of this in my article last night, but I’m going to go into a few more details tonight. I’ll try to keep this article short. By the way, if you want me to continue doing video updates, be sure to go subscribe to the Firsthand Weather Youtube channel after you read this article. I realize that some of you prefer both videos and articles, only articles, or only videos.

The Arctic airmass that is currently digging south is nothing short of impressive. A deep trough is currently pushing south, along with a Canadian high pressure system that is going to really wrap around the cold air from Canada. The worst of the cold will occur over the next two days, but eventually this trough is going to start pushing eastward off the coast. The high pressure system will do the same thing and will be located along the East Coast by this weekend.

On the heels of this very cold air, a low pressure system is going to develop and strengthen somewhere around Oklahoma/Texas. There’s really no reason for this surface low to dig deep into the south, so I’m in agreement that this system will move northeast, eventually pulling up warm air from the Gulf, which will erode away the cold and dry air in place.

The challenge in this forecast is determining who will get frozen precipitation out ahead of the main low pressure system, because you must remember, the cold and dry air is still going to be located over the eastern U.S. before this storm moves east. The kind of pattern that is in place is going to support moisture spreading well east of the main low pressure center, and once it does, it will begin saturating the atmosphere and cooling temperatures even further. That high pressure system will definitely try to wedge in cold air east of the mountains, but even farther west, initially the precipitation that spreads over much of Tennessee/Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, northern Mississippi and Alabama could be snow and/or ice.

This shows frozen precipitation initially over the regions mentioned above:

weekend winter storm

As the low pressure moves eastward, warm air flowing up from the Gulf would likely change the precipitation type over to freezing rain and eventually just rain. Winter storm watches have already been issued for many of the regions mentioned above because of the snow and ice that could occur for several hours.

Farther east, the biggest question is who has enough moisture available to work with. Places like northern Georgia (maybe even down into Atlanta), Upstate South Carolina (maybe even Midlands), parts of North Carolina, and northward up the coast could get hit pretty hard if moisture is available early on. That wedge of high pressure could really hold that cold air in place for a while, giving those regions snow and/or sleet initially and then possibly changing over to some freezing rain. This would all occur in the Friday night into Saturday timeframe. As this system does move east and pulls up warmer air, there would eventually be a changeover to rain later on Saturday or Sunday.

This shows the frozen precipitation eventually spreading east:

weekend winter storm

This system could bring another decent winter storm for areas farther north, but because the low is expected to track pretty far north, precipitation could even change to rain for those areas. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain too far north because that could really cause flooding issues with that heavy snowpack in place. That will be highly dependent on track.

I’ll continue to keep everyone updated, and I’ll be posting updates on social media. I’m sure some changes will have to be made to this forecast depending on how fast the moisture spreads east while the Arctic air is still in place, but overall, I agree with the track of this storm system.

By the way, next week/weekend looks very exciting and active. After this weekend, the 7 to 10 days beyond that could be the most activity many of you have seen in quite a while. Check out my latest post on Facebook regarding that.

Record Cold And More Snow/Ice Chances

I am just coming down from the most intense two weeks of forecasting that I have ever gone through, but given this active pattern, there will be no break anytime soon. We are going to continue in this very active pattern until at least the beginning of March. The time period after the first few days of March becomes a bit more uncertain, but I won’t have time to talk about that in this article. There’s already going to be so much going over these next couple of weeks that it will be difficult to cover everything.

Record Cold On The Way This Week With Some Snow:

The eastern half of the United States is about to get record cold, due to a strong trough that will be digging south along with a cold Canadian high pressure system. I know that there is always a lot of hype about the polar vortex, but in this case, it would be okay to blame this on the tropospheric polar vortex. As aggressive as the cold is showing up on the model guidance, I wouldn’t be completely shocked if it’s underestimating it in some areas.

Many of the nighttime low temperature records with be broken quite comfortably on Thursday and Friday mornings, and even daytime low temperature records will be broken. Many are currently without power, especially in the areas that got a significant ice storm out of this last winter storm. Although temperatures will be very cold tonight, tomorrow night and Thursday night will just be brutal. If you’re expected to be without power for a few days, try to plan for this because you definitely don’t want to be in a cold house with temperatures in the single digits or below zero outside.

Expected temps for Thursday morning, according to the latest GFS.

Thursday morning record cold

Expected temps for Friday morning, according to the latest GFS.

Friday morning record cold

A little piece of energy will be moving quickly southeastward tonight and tomorrow. This could bring some quickly snowfall accumulations from the Central Plains to the Tennessee Valley and to the East Coast even as far south as NC. I wouldn’t even be surprised if places as far south as extreme northern AL, GA and SC got some light snow tomorrow. Snow ratios will be high so I would’t be surprised if a few areas got a quick several inches farther north. Basically, some of you may get a little surprise if you’re lucky.

Weekend Winter Storm?

Many of you have been asking me about another potential winter storm this weekend. This is going to be another very tricky forecast, but there is a pretty decent shot that some areas across the South could get a winter storm out of this. Some of the same areas that were just impacted by this last storm could be impacted again.

An area of low pressure is going to develop over Texas/Oklahoma as the cold Canadian high pressure system that I discussed above is moving south and east. Now a lot of the model guidance is tracking this storm northeastward from the Southern Plains, and while I’m sure some changes in track will occur which could change the overall outcome for some areas, I’m not in complete disagreement with that track.

Now we could have the exact same thing happen this time that happened with the last storm. I’ve discussed on this site many times before how surface high pressure can cause cold air damming east of the mountains or in general, wrap around cold air from the north. A very cold and dry airmass is already going to be in place east of this developing low pressure system, and what the forecast models do is spread a lot of moisture pretty far to the east from the main low pressure area located over the Southern Plains. Because this surface high pressure system will probably try to keep that cold air wedged in for a while, places like northern Georgia, Upstate South Carolina, and North Carolina could be looking at another winter storm. I’m not even ruling out Atlanta and Columbia being impacted, but just like last time, it could be a very close call.

This is on Saturday morning, according to the GFS. Please understand that this is only one point in time, meaning that additional areas may have gotten frozen precip before this time or will after this time.

Snow in the south

Farther west, it gets tricky and becomes quite dependent on the overall low pressure track. Initially, a cold and dry airmass will be over places like Arkansas, northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, and much of Tennessee. I wouldn’t be surprised if those areas started out with ice or snow, but the overall low pressure track would determine if some of those areas later warmed up enough to change to rain as the low pressure system moved northeastward.

Areas north of the regions that I mentioned above could be looking at another big winter storm out of this. If you got hit with the first one, just know that you could get hit with this one, too.

Forecast models did okay at the very end with the track of yesterday’s winter storm, but they just don’t handle things well when a dry, cold airmass is involved. Take yesterday for example, and I’m glad that I caught it early on. Evaporational cooling is very good about cooling a dry airmass, and with the kind of cold air that will be left over with this big Arctic plunge coming this week, many of us may have some surprises in store.

Just so you know, I’ll have to put another article out on this storm either tomorrow or Thursday. I’ll detail locations and precipitation-type in that article. There also may be a severe weather component to this storm in the warm sector that I will need to discuss also.

Big Winter Storm Potential On The Table In 7 to 11 Days:

I put 7 to 11 days in the subtitle, but this is still a long ways out, so you have to give or take a day. This has the potential to be the biggest winter storm that much of the South has seen so far this season. There is still much uncertainty, given that many of the forecast models aren’t even showing this storm. I will have an article out this weekend, if the potential is still there. Try not to get too hyped up about this yet until I have more details.

Southern Winter Storm Update

This is one complicated forecast, but as I always do, I’m going to give this my best shot. I still stand by what I said last night when I said that weather forecasters or meteorologists shouldn’t be changing their forecasts based on one model run of the NAM. Even though later model guidance started to point towards a more northern track, it’s just not wise to jump the gun that quickly. This is a very complex storm that is highly dependent on the track this system ends up taking. While I understand that latest model guidance has trended north, I’m still not convinced, and I still don’t want places like Atlanta or Birmingham to let their guard down just yet.

Stop focusing on forecast models and let’s see what’s actually going on:

I’ve already detailed this several times on the site and on social media, and I’ll detail it once again. There is a piece of energy that is going to move from Baja California and merge with a northern piece of energy that’s going to get absorbed into the bigger trough that will be digging south. This forecast gets complicated for several reasons. First, it’s important where exactly these two pieces of energy phase together. Also, you have to consider that forecast models don’t do too great of a job handling cold air masses swinging down from the north and digging southward.

It really comes down to one thing: where this surface low pressure system tracks. The reason this becomes important is because if the low moves too far to the north, areas further south would only get rain due to warmer air being pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico. To be honest, I thought that the biggest “bust potential” would be this system getting suppressed too far to the south, limiting moisture farther north. There is about a 1040 mb high pressure system to the north pushing south and east, so I really don’t see how this system could go that much farther north. Like I said, given the mid and upper level trough that will be digging south, I’m just still skeptical of a more northern track, but in meteorology, you quickly learn to never say never.

Who gets what?

Precipitation is already developing over Texas and will continue to develop and spread north and eastward tonight. This will initially be an ice and snow event from eastern Oklahoma, much of Arkansas, and the southern half of Missouri. The system will continue to move eastward on Monday, spreading the moisture over the Southeast and Tennessee Valley. Again, it’s all coming down to the track, and because of the latest trends, winter storm warnings have been extended over all of Tennessee and Kentucky and southern portions of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and eastward into parts of West Virginia and Virginia. A lot of these regions could get very heavy snowfall, while some of the southern regions in this zone could get ice also.

Assuming that the more northern track does occur, we’re looking at a nasty ice storm over northern portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. It could particularly be bad for Upstate SC (around I-85 and northward) and into much of North Carolina, due to very cold air ridging down the east side of the mountains. Snow may eventually extend well into Virginia. This will take place Monday going into Tuesday for these regions, from west to east.

What I am trying to prevent is another situation that occurred January 2014, where people were stranded on the roads in Birmingham and Atlanta, in addition to other locations. Making a bad call on a particular winter storm can cost lives. We all know that is no exaggeration. I hope that I made it clear that I am not completely convinced that this storm won’t jog farther south, which would include places like Atlanta and Birmingham and areas along that line in this nasty ice storm threat. Regions from central Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina need to keep their guards up, just to be safe.

Again, it’s time to stop focusing on models and start observing what’s taking place. Call me a skeptic or whatever of the models, but I try to use the knowledge that I have gained over the years, combined with the tools that I have available. At least if I do totally miss a forecast for a particular area, you won’t ever have to hear me blaming forecast models for my mistake.

Better Safe Than Sorry:

I always say that it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard. I will continue to keep you updated through Facebook and will provide updates every few hours.

Southern Winter Storm Possible Next Week

Many of you located across the South have been wanting snow all season, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many close calls in the five years I’ve been putting out forecasts for the public. Just think of all of the rainstorms that many of you have gotten this winter, and how the smallest change would have resulted in wintry weather instead. That’s just how it goes in the South, but typically not that many times!!

I want to make note of a few things before I get deeper into the discussion on this potential winter storm. This has the potential to be a widespread winter storm for parts of the Southern Plains, Southeast, Tennessee Valley, and extending into areas north of that, BUT where this storm tracks is going to be EVERYTHING. It will determine who gets wintry precipitation, all rain, or absolutely nothing. If the storms in your area become intense and end up damaging your roof, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have the Best Roofer in Memphis TN at hand to support you in repairing your home.

I want you to understand that adequate cold air will be available this time. We have one major push of cold air diving south as we speak and an even bigger push that will be coming this weekend. Record cold will come as a result for many areas. That’s why I am trying to stress that the track will be everything. Over the past several weeks, cold air has simply not been adequate when these systems would track across certain regions. Even with a track across the Gulf Coast states that would typically bring snow/ice into the South, the cold air has either come too late or too early this winter. That doesn’t look to be the issue this time.

The reason the track is so important is because it determines what side of the storm that you’re on. A low pressure system has a counterclockwise flow around it, so if the storm moves to your northwest, it wraps around warmer air from the Gulf and erodes away the colder air over your region. If the storm tracks close enough to you but to your south or southeast, it wraps around cold air with it, sufficient for snow and/or ice. Now, it’s not always that simple since there are usually other factors at play, but to keep it simple in this article, just remember that.

Forecast Discussion:

What I always try to do this far out is figure out what the overall pattern will look like around the time of the potential storm. I don’t care what each individual model run is showing right now because it’s not that important. The models will change dozens of times before we get to the actual event, so keep that in mind if you rely on weather apps or weather forecasters that only use model data to come up with a forecast. In this particular case, the forecast models will likely be all over the place, especially since we have two major Arctic blasts and two winter storms further north to get through before we get to this potential event.

After we have the two punches of cold, a piece of energy off of Baja California is going to phase with what looks to be a northern branch system early next week. They eventually get absorbed into a larger trough that will be responsible for a third Arctic blast later in the week. The reason this gets tricky is because the forecast models develop a surface low pressure system and then move it northeast up across Appalachian mountains, which is referred to as an “Appalachian Runner” storm. In this scenario, you would get places like Oklahoma, Arkansas, parts of Missouri, parts of the Tennessee Valley, and northeastward getting a winter storm out of this. Even places as far south as northern and central Mississippi and northwest Alabama would also get snow as cold air flooded in behind this system.

Below is the latest Canadian model for Tuesday morning. It shows a more northern track along with the latest GFS model guidance.

canadian

At this point, I’m skeptical of this scenario and have been leaning more towards a storm moving further south along the Gulf Coast states, which would give many of the mentioned areas above and regions further east and south a winter storm. My reasoning behind this is that it’s not necessarily unusual for a big southern winter storm to follow a large Arctic blast like we’re about to get. Also, forecast models just don’t handle these systems well this far out.

Another and even more extreme scenario that showed up on the models today was an early week storm hitting, ushering in the cold air, and then a southern system moving in later in the week. In that type of scenario, the cold air would already be very far south, so regions well into the Deep South would get snow and ice with the second storm. I’m not necessarily buying into the two-storm scenario just yet, but I do think forecast models could trend further south with the one storm, as I mentioned above.

I posted the earlier 06z GFS model images below. Note that this is for one specific point in time, and not an overall snowfall/ice map.

06gfsimage3

Hopefully this shows you that there are many different scenarios that are possible, but what you should get from this is that almost all of the guidance has a storm, even most of the ensemble models. Specifics will have to be ironed out over time.

So Who COULD Get A Winter Storm Next Week?

If you’ve missed out on the wintry weather so far this year and want to get something, you should know that next week is your best shot so far this winter. Someone will get hit hard, but it’s a matter of who. I gave you all of that explanation above to make you well aware that there are still a lot of uncertainties regarding this potential storm, but I am going to list some of the regions and cities I believe could be impacted next week, especially if this storm trends further south.

Remember that is your area is effected by the storm then you should act responsibly and think about your health. Make sure you stock up on food before it hits and only travel if it’s entirely necessary. There will be other people on the road that will be tailgating you (which is one of the top causes of car accidents in Oklahoma City) and forcing you to drive faster but only travel at the pace you’re comfortable with in these bad conditions.

These are the regions I’m putting in my “possible winter storm threat” zone for next week: parts of the Southern Plains including Oklahoma, parts of northern Texas, Arkansas, southern Missouri, and maybe northern Louisiana. Further east I’ve included: much of the Tennessee Valley/Kentucky, northern and central Mississippi, northern and central Alabama (potentially including Birmingham), northern and central Georgia (potentially including Atlanta), Upstate SC and maybe midlands South Carolina, parts of North Carolina and Virginia. Areas further northward could also be impacted, but I’ll cover those areas as we get closer to the event.

Please understand that all of these areas may not be impacted, and that I will have to fine-tune this forecast as we get closer to the event. These are simply the areas that I am watching most closely, given what information I have right now. Also, I may have to include areas further south, depending on track and timing. I will be putting out multiple updates a day on Facebook, so be sure to like the page if you haven’t already.

In a couple days, I will have another article out, but hopefully this gives you an early heads up, and a little bit of hope for all you snow lovers.

Record Boston Snow and Two Punch Arctic Blast

This is the weekly forecast that I promised yesterday on the site, so I want to mainly hit the high points in this article. I typically get a bit more detailed in my medium and long-range forecasts, but I’m going to start doing some shorter-term forecasts that cover more regions, in addition to what I’m already doing. If you find these weekly forecasts useful, I’ll keeping doing them as often as I can and try to have them out each Sunday.

Anyways, let me get right into everything. Places like Boston and the Northeast have continued to get slammed with high amounts of snow, and like I posted on Facebook today, this will be something that will be talked about for years to come. Boston has gotten 68.4 inches of snow in 17 days (it may be more than that by now), which breaks all kinds of records. It’s really amazing considering just a few weeks ago it didn’t seem like the snow was ever going to come. It was later than I thought, but the “snowpocalypse” that I said would likely come for the East Coast this winter back in July has partially come true. Amazingly though, the Mid-Atlantic and southern U.S. have dodged a huge bullet so far. Barely.

This was taken in Wakefield, MA! Just insane amounts of #snow! Photo courtesy @MicheleLauriat

This was taken in Wakefield, MA! Just insane amounts of #snow! Photo courtesy @MicheleLauriat

Let’s Break All This Weather Down For This Week Going Into The Weekend:

As many of you know, temperatures have been quite warm across much of the United States with the exception of the core of cold located over New England. Much of the western United States was hit pretty hard with heavy rain and flash flooding, and most of those areas should begin the dry throughout this week.

Another storm system is going to be moving from the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes and Northeast. This energy will be transferred to the coast late this week, where this system will rapidly strengthen and could dump even more snow across parts of New England, including Boston and surround states. Basically, the exact same areas that have already been hit will get hit again. Well over a foot of snow could easily fall with this system in many places. Much of this will depend on the track of the low pressure system up the coast.

Behind this system, a strong Canadian high pressure system will dive south and usher in the first punch of Arctic cold that will stretch from the Northern Plains and Great Lakes/Northeast and expand into the Deep South, even including Florida. This has the potential to be quite a severe Arctic blast and will impact a large area.

Behind that, another system will develop and move towards the Northeast followed by another very strong Canadian high pressure system. All of this will take place over the weekend, but this second Arctic blast has to potential to be the coldest air we’ve had all season. Some regions may even experience colder air than last winter, but those details will be ironed out with time. Records could be challenged or broken.

Latest Sunday Morning Temperature Forecast from the GFS model

Latest Sunday Morning Temperature Forecast from the GFS model

The big question right now is how close the second storm system will move along the East Coast. This has the potential to be a big blizzard for those same snow-buried areas, but hopefully, this system will move just far enough off the coast to spare most of those areas. If it doesn’t, the same areas could get buried by even more snow. We’ll watch one storm at a time thought, and I’ll provide details in future updates.

The weekend cold could even bring a big freeze to Florida, and temperatures may not get out of the 20s and 30s for parts of the Deep South on Sunday. Again, this could be a dangerous Arctic blast that has the potential to bring the coldest air so far this season. I’ll have a separate article for this in a day or two.

It’s worth mentioning that the western United States will continue to stay warm and will warm up even further as a strong ridge pumps up over the West Coast and eventually over Alaska.

Timeline:

  • The first storm will move across the Northern Plains and Great Lakes this week and will eventually bring heavy snow to the same areas in New England. Once again, places like NYC will be on the line for heavy snow or barely a miss.
  • Strong surface high pressure will dive south behind this system and will bring the first push of very cold Arctic air late this week all the way into the Deep South, including Florida.
  • Another low pressure system followed by a strong high pressure system could potentially bring the coldest air so far this season and could be comparable to some of the coldest Arctic blasts we’ve experienced in recent years. Much of Florida may get a deep freeze.

February Could Bring Some Winter Surprises

In some ways, this has been a headache of a winter to forecast, but in other ways, what we have experienced hasn’t been too much of a surprise. This is why I stressed way back in July how this winter would be different than the 2013-14 winter but at the same time, very memorable. I think many of you are startting to see what I was talking about, especially if you’re located further north. There’s a reason that the southern U.S. has missed out on the frozen precip so far, but it really could have gone either way. It’s either been very cold and dry or warmer and wet. That’s the price you pay with the more volatile pattern like we’ve had. We could have easily had two, maybe three, winter storms behind us by now, but it just swung the other way. If you like snow and are located further south, you can consider yourself very unlucky so far.

Basically we are a nation divided. If you’re in the Upper Midwest and particularly New England, you’re ready for spring (at least I would think). The worst is yet to come for that region, and additional snow will fall this week. I’ll discuss all of that in a minute. By the time this winter is over, this could end up being one for the record books (as far as snow and cold goes) for New England. I know that many of you up there just call it winter, but it has been unusually cold and snowy. That trend is going to continue.

Projected Snowfall Accumulations Through Tuesday Night

Projected Snowfall Accumulations Through Tuesday Night

From the Southern and Central Plains, Southeast, Tennessee Valley, and Mid-Altantic, those areas have dodged the worst of winter so far. Typically, February is the big winter month for many of these locations, so this winter could still bring a surprise or two. I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if something big in March happened also. We’ll talk about that when we get to it.

The West Coast has been extremely wet with the exception of southern California. To my surprise, that is the region that has missed most of the rainfall/snowfall this winter, and it has fallen further north. From central/northern California and northward has been getting hit hard with the heavy rainfall. You can thank the “atmospheric river” for that deep-layer moisture feed from the tropics.

Now that I’ve hit the high points, lets discuss the Arctic blast that is on the way.

Northern Brutal Cold Will Eventually Push Southward:

After a very warm weekend across much of the central and eastern U.S. (with the exception of New England), temperatures are going to plummet by the end of this upcoming week. The core of the cold is going to remain over New England, where I could see temperature records easily challenged or broken later this month, but the severe cold will eventually begin to push southward, particularly in the eastern third of the nation (east of the Mississippi). As the month progresses, these Arctic blasts could be a bit more widespread and include a large chunk of the nation east of the Rockies.

The Climate Prediction Center is very convinced that the core of the cold will be east of the Mississippi, and I agree. Despite the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in the positive range, the cold blasts are still going to take place. This just confirms what I said back several articles ago that the Pacific is once again a big driver of this winter. I will admit that I am surprised that the AO has remained so positive this winter, given the high Siberian snow cover in October. That will be something for me to go back and study in the future to understand why this flip didn’t occur (or hasn’t occurred so far).

CPC's Temperature Probability Outlook  From Feb. 14th-18th

CPC’s Temperature Probability Outlook From Feb. 14th-18th

Despite the lack of blocking over Greenland and the Arctic, there will be ridging building up over the Atlantic and a ridge will eventually begin to pump up even further over the West Coast and Alaska. The western United States has already been very warm this winter (as expected), and that trend will likely continue. The big question in my mind right now is will this cold actually lock in. If you were to ask my honest opinion, I’d tell you that there could be several Arctic blasts this month, but there could be some thaw periods in between with more persistent cold from the Upper Midwest to New England.

This is how below average the GFS model is projecting the temperatures to be late this week.

This is how below average the GFS model is projecting the temperatures to be late this week.

Will The Southern U.S. and Mid-Atlantic Finally Get Some Snow?

I’m still on the fence about this, partially because we’ve had so many close calls this winter where many regions have been just a few degrees from having a major snow/ice storm. Given these weaker El Nino Modoki-type winters, the month of February is almost always the big month for the southern regions. In general (El Nino or not), the month of February typically brings most of the southern snow/ice storms. Even as severely cold as last winter was, that’s even what occurred then. So, climatology is at least on your side.

At least there will be some opportunities coming up in the future. These pieces of energy that break off in the Pacific are going to try to push in from the southwest and eventually up into the southern United States. A lot of the model guidance has a feature or two sitting over Baja California and eventually they try to come east. In fact, a lot of the models have been hinting at something around mid-month, and if it’s going to happen, I’d say it would be around the 15th or a few days after. The cold air SHOULD be in place, but given what has been happening all winter, the cold air is here, it leaves, a storm system moves in, and then the cold air comes behind it 12 hours later. These pieces of energy will eventually move eastward, but it has to happen at the right time.

If you like snow and ice, there could be some fun to look forward to, but you know as well as I do, there are quite a few things that can mess everything up. At least we have something to work with, and I have a strong hunch that regions from the Southern Plains through the Southeast and maybe even the Mid-Atlantic will get the one winter storm they’ve been hoping to get this entire season.