Monday, January 27, 2014 3:03 PM

Rare Winter Storm Heading For The Deep South

Matthew Holliday

Well, the Deep South is finally about to get the end of the month winter storm that I have been predicting for a few weeks now, but let me just say that this is turning into a forecasting headache. Don’t get me wrong, this is the kind of weather that makes my life worth living, but things get extremely complicated when trying to determine who is going to get what and how much. Before I get into specifics, please understand that this kind of system is very rare for the Deep South. Yes, parts of the South typically get some snow, but this system is going to give wintry precipitation to areas that hardly ever see anything.

Winter storm watches have been issued from Louisiana all the way up to southeastern Virginia, and winter storm warnings have been issued for areas along the coast in South Carolina/North Carolina and for a small area in southeastern Georgia. Model guidance supports that there will be plenty of precipitation along these coastal regions, and given the cold air that will be in place, it was a good call by the NWS to go ahead and issue winter storm watches and warnings early on for those regions. I think that the forecast models are being a little too aggressive on some of the snowfall totals for certain areas along the coast because they are not taking into account that some sleet and freezing rain will be mixing in, which will cut down some on snowfall accumulations. Even if that’s the case, this is still a very impressive storm, and some areas could get close to a foot of snow. For the areas that get mostly snow, the snow will pile up really fast!

Things get even more complicated as you move north into areas like northern Georgia, Upstate South Carolina, and into North Carolina (away from the coast). Typically when these areas are impacted by a winter storm, precipitation-type becomes an issue because in a lot of cases, temperatures are simply not cold enough in the atmosphere to support an all-snow event. This is one of those very rare situations where there is no question in my mind that this will be an all-snow event for those areas, but the issue could be whether or not there will be ample moisture available that far north to dump a decent snow for those areas. Snowfall will probably not reach the ground initially because the atmosphere is going to be so dry, but once the atmosphere becomes saturated, it won’t take a lot of moisture to produce potentially heavy snowfall.

I do think that the NWS needs to at least extend the winter storm watches into parts of northern and northeast Georgia, parts of Upstate SC, and into areas of North Carolina. The snow gradient could be so tight that, for example, northern Upstate SC could only get a dusting of snow, while southern Upstate SC could get 3 to 6 inches of snow. These are the regions that need to be watched closely, because these areas could be in for a big surprise if we get just enough moisture far enough north. But with all of that said, if there is not enough available moisture, those areas further north could miss out. I’ve got a feeling that most areas won’t though, but keep in mind that the further south you go, the better your chances of getting snow will be.

The timeline of this event will be from Tuesday going into Wednesday. To sum all of this up, it is going to be a mess along the coastal regions, where this will likely turn into a snowy and icy mess. Areas further northward, you could get a decent snowstorm out of this if adequate moisture moves over the region. With how everything is coming together, this could be the biggest winter storm that this area has seen in years!

If you haven’t already, please like our Facebook page, which I will be updating quite often throughout this event! With a system like this, things will change, which is why you need to keep coming back here for more updates!