Monday, February 28, 2011

Tornado Watch starting at 1 PM

First of the year---

Pretty powerful set up, especially this "early" in the year. Meteorological spring does begin tomorrow--

I expect a powerful line of storms to approach our far west regions by 2 PM and begin to move east. This could be impacting the area between 3 and 6 PM. The Watch is currently in effect until 4 PM-- looking at some data, I suspect this will be extended, especially areas to our immediate east and south, guessing until 7PM.

Keep your ears and eyes open to local media and the NWS for the latest updates.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

So close, yet so far away

Extreme temperature gradient-- Common in late winter-- especially in La Nina winters.

I've been watching a storm for about a week that is another two part event. Part one is underway-- from MN to NY a big swath of snow with some sleet and ice. Max snow will be over a foot in some places. This is riding along an arctic front that is sliding DUE north to DUE south. A second piece of energy rides along and some of the latest data pushes snow ALL the way down to Charlottesville-- maybe a couple inches, while at the same time NO layer of atmosphere here is even below freezing.

I'm not sold yet on the extreme far south, but if you recall this photo--- if that 500MB low is a little SW, this is very plausible.

I'm glad I'm not forecasting from DC to PHILLY-- some places in that region have a shot of 6-8 inches of snow and some may get none. The model data is split..but the ECMWF has consistently been south. As a result, I'd bet that much of the DC metro region gets 2-5 inches of snow with someone making a run at 8 inches. (Maybe Leesburg??) This is not set in stone and some fluctuation in the data is likely.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Get these clouds out of here!

I'm hoping we max out today temp wise, which would be mid 70's--- looking at the skies which are somewhat cloudy as of 9 am-- it isn't a good thing. Winds are out of the west and this should help with the temps, but ideally we want these clouds out of here FAST. Clouds o' plenty to our west, so I'm a little concerned the clouds hold us ONLY into the upper 60's.

Looking into the future-- the word will be gradient. There is plenty of arctic air up in Canada, but we also have a strong ridge to our south. Ridging to our south often means WARMTH while the pattern is allowing the cold to come dangerously close to our area.  My idea of a snow event near the Mason Dixon line Monday night and Tuesday is on the table-- every once in a while the computer models will push that system south and try to make it snow here.

I don't expect this to happen--- but I can't totally pull if off the table. I'm attaching a map where I've labeled the pieces of the storm. For the next two weeks-- we are going to be caught in this battle between a decently strong south east ridge, but plenty of cold air in Canada and some physical mechanisms to get it close to our region.
My initial hedge is we stay on the warm side mostly--- but this will have to be watched.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Won't hit 80, but 70 in February is very nice. Watching next Monday/Tuesday for cold and MAYBE.....

Blogging about 70 in February isn't the most exciting thing ever-- even the possibility of 80 was more fun. 70 isn't that rare down here in our region but 80 is hard to do. After the first preview of 80-- the models slowly backed away from the idea. We should reach the low 70's Friday region wide.

We step down temp wise-- 70's Friday, 60's Saturday, 50's Sunday. After Presidents day, a shot of cold air is heading our way. Some of the model data-- the ECMWF 2 nights ago and the GFS last night want to ride a storm along this cold front that COULD bring some snow to the area. Just judging by the normal bias of all the models, I would be that the 5 days out, the best chances for an accumulating snow are closer to the Mason-Dixon line, but I'm not ready to rule it out 100% at this time.

I'm attaching a complimentary snow map--already shows the best snows well to our north, with some of our region getting a coating to an inch or two. With the general trend in models to nudge things north with time, I'd the best snow chances are along the the Mason Dixon line.

This is a fairly strong shot of cold air-- it just depends how far south the cold can push. The storm is riding along the arctic front. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This isn't a sale, but were slashing temps from 80 to the LOW or mid 70's...

The warmth is on still-- 55-60 today, 60's tomorrow, 55-60 Tues/Weds a little warmer Thursday, and that point the heat cranks up. Aloft, the hottest day will be Friday-- where we are a +15c aloft or so (5k feet) That supports low 70's at the surface. A "cool front" approaches sometime late Friday and or Saturday and we cool aloft. With winds out of the west, the sinking air will supply some additional warmth so I'm not sure whether Friday or Saturday is our warmest day-- but 75 looks like the best bet as of now, rather than 80. 80 is NOT off the table at this time in Danville and Martinsville.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seasonal snow totals--- VA Beach/ Norfolk with a commanding lead.

Outside the the highest mountain tops, where grandma's cabin is located, here are some seasonal snow totals.

Here are some major airport station seasonal totals through yesterday. ORF still leading the way.

21.4" Norfolk (ORF)
18.1" Blacksburg (RNK)
15.3" Wallops, Island (WAL)
12.1" Baltimore (BWI)
10.7" Richmond (RIC)
10.7" Danville (DAN)
9.6" Roanoke (ROA)
11.8" Washington, DC (IAD)
9.4" Washington, DC (DCA)
8.2" Lynchburg (LYH) 

There is no official data for Charlottesville, but a Co Op station has 7.7 inches of last check. Lynchburg in last outside this unofficial reporting. There is a good chance that Blacksburg finds a way to pass Norfolk, but I have doubts about the rest of the region.  First winter since 1988-89 that Norfolk had the "snow belt" title. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

80 degrees in February??

The much anticipated warm up is well in radar range. 50's tomorrow and MAYBE 60 Sunday-- will make for a welcome change from our 30's and 40's we've had since December. Looking through some data- if everything is right with the sun, the wind direction--- ect, we COULD hit 80 once next week! Best chances would be Danville and Martinsville but I certainly could see this happening in Lynchburg as well. 70's is a lock. 

The bar has been set at 80-- are you taking the over or the under??

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Either winter is napping or winter is TKO for the year

Hope you enjoyed the dusting last night. I honestly thought we may squeeze an inch our when I was working up in Waynesboro and snow was falling at 5 PM-- Virga, snow falling in the clouds and evaporating before it reaches the ground killed our snow. Some places to our NW and SE had a coating to an inch. I had the equivalent of "pollen" coating on my car.

The warmth is coming-- 50's to maybe 60's starting Sunday-- no real signs of lasting cold through Feb 25th. Certainly, my heating bill is glad to hear this.

I'm planing some type of a write up on the 2000's snow decade in Lynchburg compared to Philly. Expect that in the next few days.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If we are "lucky" a dusting to an inch is possible

I've not updated simply because there wasn't much to talk about. The northern stream dominated and crushed our southern vort. It blows up to a big storm-- but WELL off shore(800 miles or so) Some energy and moisture will be awfully close so I won't be shocked if we get a few hours of snow flurries/showers that cover the ground SOME places. The odd thing is again-- I can see how the first band of snows actually go to our north and west-- and a second round misses to our south. Just one of those winters.

We get warmer late weekend and early next week--50's on Sunday and 60's Tuesday.

Does winter come back around??

Very possible, but I can't say 100% at this time. The mean troff will be our west for the next couple weeks. Normally, the best chances for snow are those located in the mean troff. Some indications are that the troff begins to slide east late month-- but is also retreating to the North in response to the south east ridge. If this happens, odds are we are mostly warm. This doesn't preclude a rouge could blast and a quick shot of some snow.

Will send a quick update by tomorrow AM--

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pulling the plug on the large event-- light snow still possible

All data has the northern stream data much too strong for this event and as a result the threat for any significant is basically gone. A coating of snow is still possible--- but not likely.

We do get nice and warm next week!

Shortest blog ever??

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Thursday storm has flatlined-- attempts to revive in process.

All noon data continues to drift away from the event-- and some data now says "what event". The northern energy is much more dominant and kills our southern energy as it heads east. The GFS is the "best" for snow model giving an inch or so while the GGEM/ECMWF basically have nothing.

Is this legit??

Very well could be. When I painted my possible solutions, one concern was keeping that southern vort strong and consolidated. The northern branch just beats it down and shreds it. We've had northern branch issues all year and there is no reason to consider they won't continue. This is very common in a La Nina winter.

If the evening data doesn't start to indicate a revival, I'm ready to pull the plug.

A huge step backwards---

All model data too a huge step backwards if you want a big snow. Step one seems to be a lock-- our clipper blows up. Our second short wave as shown is being destroyed by a piece of northern stream energy.
Vort issues abound.
The above map is from the NCEP site from the GFS model. On this model, the vort is already weaker as it leaves the SW region of our nation. The ECMWF has a much stronger vort in the area circled and labeled. This destroys our upper air support and we get a minimal snow.

All three models showed a coating to 2 inch snow storm.

Is this the final outcome??
No-- not at all. It is very common for model data to be all over the place 5 days out. Especially with regards to the northern piece of energy which is currently in a very poor area to gather data about it. 

When will you have a better view on the northern vort issue?

Educated guess says hopefully by noon tomorrow, by perhaps as late as the midnight runs on Monday night. For a good storm we want that southern vort strong, the northern vort to be minor or non existent *further north* and we'd be in business for a good snowfall. 

Valentines week is going to be nice and warm-- several days up in the 50's and dare I say 60's. 

2 quick notes
1. The blog was adjusted to better mobile viewing. It worked on my phone, but a tried another's phone and got the FULL blog. If you have a second check on your smart phone and drop me a message via comments here or on facebook. 
2. I've purchased the domain name with my google adsense money and have made that click right into the blog. My goal is to build that into an actual site and have it running  by next winter. I will keep up on the blog over the summer, but with maybe not quite as much vigor. I'm sure you would all be thrilled to hear reports of another day of 94 degree heat. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kick a buck---

The Noon model data has just completed and as the bidding passes my spot, I'm throwing in another buck so the pot is a little richer now.

Quick run down by model

Recall- We need the Monday storm to BLOW UP forcing the cold air deep to our south AND the upper air energy (Vortmax) to not shear out or just not be consolidated.

1. GFS (American Model)-- Blows up the clipper and pushes in cold air. However, it struggles to hold the upper air energy and we get a minor storm. As shown, its a 1-3 inch snowfall Thursday.

2. GGEM (Canadian) Blows up the clipper, holds the upper air energy a little better and its maybe a 2-4 inch snowfall.

3. ECMWF (European) Blows up the clipper as needed and keeps the vortmax VERY strong. as a result, its a BLOCKBUSTER snowstorm. Literally, 12-15 inches region wide-- maybe more because the air is cold and the ratio of snow to liquid could be more like 15-1.

What now??

Waiting game is on. Almost all data shows the clipper blows up. At this point, its just making sure its at an ideal location and drives the cold air well to our south. Second, the data is all over the place with the strength of the vortmax. Despite some data suggesting it could be a bigger storm to our south and east, my greatest fear is always it trending north. Despite the models being very cold, a subtle 100 miles north track in the vortmax leaves us open for a mix to ice or even rain. With this being a fast moving volatile pattern, anything is possible. Even compared to the midnight data, the ECMWF was several degrees warmer with the antecedent cold shot. Comparing to the great MW blizzard from this past week-- St. Louis was at one point was forecasted to get a dumping of ice with a foot of snow on top. The low drifted MUCH further west then modeled an ended up with less then an inch of total precipitation when they were modeled to get over 2 inches.

When will we know??

Like most events, nothing will be set in stone until a day out or less. Both the GFS and ECMWF computer models have biases that are at play here. The GFS tends to crush storms at this range while the ECMWF has consistently OVER done coastal lows at this point in the game. The GFS issue holds water because of that HUGE low that develops. The EC isn't really a over blowing a coastal low, its just an amped up vortmax.

My gut call as of now-- IF we see the big storm idea come to fruition, we will have to battle the dreaded rain/snow/ice line across much of region, including Lynchburg and Roanoke.

Let's give him something to blog about---How about snow??

I had not quite yet put away my shovel and sled, but was accepting the fact that winter's end was coming near. While I do like snow and cold, I also enjoy lower heating bills. I sent in my payment this week--so please click away on those GOOGLE ads to offset my heating costs. :)

My expectations of the this week was the storm tomorrow was MOSTLY rain, a second storm slides to our north and cold air builds in. As the cold exits, a MAJOR low develops and goes WELL to our west. Not a Chicago blizzard like this past Tuesday, but an Ohio snowfall into the upstate of NY.

The models data has shifted---it takes the early week storm a clipper and BLOWS it up to a sub 950 storm. Some data makes the central lowest pressure at 944 MB which is a CAT 4 Hurricane strength. This pushes cold air well to our south and sets the stage for a possible snowfall.

Rare to see a 944 low up there. 

I still expect a break or even end to the cold shortly after Valentines Day--BUT, this is a legit "Threat" as of now next Thursday. 
1. We need the clipper to blow up as modeled. This is rare, but did happen something like this right before the Feb 5-6 snow event here. (6-10 region wide here, 2-3 feet DC to Philly)
2. Once we know the low blows up-- which will be established by Sunday allowing the cold air to lock into place, we need the energy aloft to take a favorable track and be strong enough to make a decent storm. 

If BOTH of these things happen, we could get our best snowfall of the winter. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Couple of storms to get through-- and then winter takes a break,

There is a freezing rain advisory tonight-- but that is for the higher elevation. I expect MAYBE a little sleet where  most folks live, and really this is just a rain event.

We've got one last cold blast to get through with storm to go with it. While this is an amped up pattern, we lack the high lattitude blocking to keep the cold air locked in place. This will be another major blizzard somewhere and I imagine it will be parts of the Appalachia , maybe into the Ohio Valley, and inland New England. If this storm wraps up as it could, we will get 2-3 bitter cold days.

The good news-- after this, the pattern does seem to drastically shift and the mean trough will be on the west coast and ridging along the east coast. So, many signs point towards a much more mild pattern starting mid month. We will keep a close watch on this storm for next week, but I see very little to support this being a major event for us.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter to take break...??

My ice event did not come to fruition, but that was a good thing. That small amount of ice can take a few people off guard--but better to err on the safe side.

If you are tired of the cold and snow-- you may be happy with this paragraph. In an La Nina winter- the mean troff (Storm track) usually shifts westward as the winter progressive. We've slowly watched that unfold-- as we were bitterly cold in December, coder then normal in January and looking at Feb-- even if we get the " Sudden Stratospheric Warming" event I talked about before, if the mean troff is to our west and we have no blocking to our east, our cold shots will be very short lived. Some data is slowly pointing in that direction. If this happens, despite the colder then normal January, my winter forecast won't look too bad. (Troff was well off shore in December, slightly west in January and well west in February)

February of 89 was a La Nina winter and had the mean troff sitting to our west. We did have a couple of threats for snow later in that month and a couple inches did accumulate but the big snows ended up in the Hampton Roads area ( Two big storms a few days apart with 70 degree weather in between them--February 18th and 24th, 2 and three inches fell respectively here in Lynchburg while 10+ across the Hampton Roads area from each event) This matches will with both a La Nina pattern with a west troff-- as cold air moves through the mean troff is briefly off shore and the best storms go to our east. 

 We can use any rain-- so hopefully we get the half inch possible tonight. Another storm approaches Saturday and another decent rain is possible. There isn't much fun blogging about rain but we certainly need it and for those of us who enjoy local produce each summer, we must have it. 

Closing thoughts-- I wish I could dig up the chart, but someone made a list of the major reporting stations in VA for winter snowfall totals and Lynchburg is DEAD LAST with a little over 8 inches. Norfolk is still in the lead with the 14 inch storm on Boxing Day event and a seasonal total of 18 inches.