Southeast winter storm: what the models are showing

Today’s 12Z models have rolled so let’s take a closer look at what the European & American models are showing for the South & Southeast this upcoming weekend. A potent storm system will unfold across this region late Saturday through Sunday. Not only is snow a possibility but potentially a more impactful ice event could unfold for parts of Georgia and the Carolinas. The European model is a touch farther south while the American model is farther north with the storm system. Join the Firsthand Weather Supporter Group!

It’s too early to dive into the specifics of just how much will fall and exactly where but we are getting an idea of a general area. Notice the European and American models are painting a picture of quite a bit of ice for northeastern Georgia and much of the Carolinas. This ice unfortunately is freezing rain and not predominately sleet based on the forecast soundings during this timeframe (overnight Saturday through Sunday). We don’t know the exact location yet or the exact amounts, you can see the differences in the models’ placement of the icing concerns, but a general idea is starting to come into fruition. If the storm system tracks farther south (European model) then the freezing rain will shift farther south and east toward central and event coastal parts of the Carolinas, whereas, if the storm system tracks farther north (American model) then the icing will shift farther north into central and upstate South Carolina and central and western North Carolina. All of northeastern Georgia and all of the Carolinas should begin preparing for icing. Some of the icing could be significant causing significant travel concerns and power outages that could (worst case scenario) last weeks. The heavy icing with gusty winds as the storm system ramps up is what could cause significant power outage concerns. Watch a video forecast on this storm system!

This icing concern is before the cold air wraps into the system that could produce some backend snow. The icing occurs ahead of the system due to cold air damming that will be in place as the system to the west pulls in warm, moist air up and over the cold dome of air over the region. The moisture feed will be strong, thus, the concern for the heavy precipitation leading to significant icing concerns. Regardless of this storm system tracking farther south (European model) or farther north (American model), the cold air damming event will take place so freezing rain is a concern for the region regardless of the storm track. It should be noted: there are still some questions with the temperature profile of the atmosphere, which could lead to significant precipitation type and accumulation changes over the coming days.

More details on the storm system:

Firsthand Weather’s winter storm map

A detailed discussion on the storm system

European model ice forecast. Graphic courtesy of the Weather Channel (weather.com)

American model ice forecast. Graphic courtesy of the Weather Channel (weather.com)

As cold air wraps into the storm system, some snow is possible for parts of the South and Southeast. As mentioned above the differences in the storm track between the European and American models will have impacts on the snow accumulations. A farther south track (European model) will pull snow accumulations all the way down to I-20 across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and all the way to I-95 in North Carolina. Whereas a farther north track of the storm system (American model) would shift the snow accumulations farther north toward the Tennessee border and for areas north of I-85 in Georgia and the Carolinas. Again, this will change over the coming days but all areas north of I-20 and west of I-95 should go ahead and begin keeping a close eye on the forecast for the possibility of snow and begin making preparations as we get closer to the event and more details become clearer.

European model snow forecast. Graphic courtesy of the Weather Channel (weather.com)

American model ice forecast. Graphic courtesy of the Weather Channel (weather.com)

This is a fluid forecast with some questions so significant changes are possible in this forecast over the coming days. Stay tuned!