Wednesday, December 17, 2014

582 & Florida..

Looks like the American model, the GFS will win a round of the model wars.  Maybe??

The Euro was gung ho on a strong low, with plenty of wintery precipitation this weekend before Christmas.

The GFS never really bought in and ALL the data is trending towards a very minor event, or maybe just some clouds and drizzle.

With all the reading I do on weather, I recall once reading the 582 height line needs to be in south Florida, or even off shore towards Cuba. I commented in my " chats" with my weather people/meteorologist that it was north of Orlando. To me, it's not a forecasting tool, but like an easy cheat that may give you some insight.

With that, the low will be much weaker and drier and the with that the temps end up warmer for many reasons. Some light snow, sleet and rain still possible but not a big deal.

I've attached a picture of what I mean.. DT from Wxrisk showed what was wrong with the BIG pattern, and I just circled my little clue over Florida. When the 582 height line is that far north, the flow aloft can be hostile for storm development.  DT made this map, but note where I circled Florida.. the orange is the 582 line. When the storm looks good, its just about SE of Miami and when sheared out, it's almost north of Orlando.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quick update..

If forecasting was easy-- anyone could do it. I mean, what job lets you get it wrong HALF the time and still have a job?

:) Of course, .350 is a great baseball average and .500 is a good shooting percentage for the NBA. I'm a big fan of Will Ferrell and I'd say like a third of his movies are actually good.

Where we stand--

Models are not in agreement but we know this:

1. Cold air works in Friday..
2. Low forms in Gulf of Mexico

What we don't know:

1. Does cold air get locked in? I've mentioned a feature called a 50/50 low-- it sits at 50 latitude, 50 longitude. (New Foundland area) This feature keeps the cold air locked in by keeping the high pressure from scooting out to sea. Times like this I need to make video blogs. :)

2. Where does the low pressure go? Some data has kept it WELL south where we get fringed with light stuff, some take a pretty aggressive track up to Wilmington, NC and then up the coast and others take the first low into Kentucky and then reform it in NC.

A. WELL south is a fringe job-- it may be mainly snow, but not a ton.. like 2-4 inches at best.

B. The aggressive southern route brings us more moisture, but with moisture comes warmth. This would allow some mixing, especially along and east of the Blue Ridge. I could see this being a 6-12 inch event along 81, with more of a 2-4, 1-3 event east of there.

C. Primary low goes into Kentucky and reforms somewhere. This would be mix to maybe even plain rain many areas, ending as some mix or snow. Mts areas may get 2-5 inches while the sleet and snow MAY cover the ground east of the blue ridge. This has variables because there is a big difference between the low reforming of the South Carolina Coast vs lets say 50 miles east of Raleigh.

Any guesses?

Model data didn't really clarify much today. For everyone that looks like it moves towards the Euro, the Euro moved away from it's last 2-3 days of runs and it's ensembles moved towards the solution from last night.

Best guess as now:

NRV and MT Empire-- 2-5 inches of snow and sleet.
Roanoke Valley- `2-3 inches of snow and sleet, with some glazing of freezing rain.
 Bedford, Lynchburg down to Altavista- Coating to 2 inches of sleet, decent amount of freezing rain.
Martinsville to Danville- Sleety rain, ends as some snow maybe a coating and slight glaze of ice.

This is NOT locked in stone and still very fluid. I tend to warm up the models based on what usually happens on southern stream events in the mid levels, cool the surface at this point out.

Best snows at this point still look to be on 81, north of Exit 220-- Stuanton area north into PA on 81..

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dub stepping to Christmas..

Storms and rumors of storms will abound.

We are in a slow change pattern time and as we move towards Christmas week we will have SOME cold air around and some storms. 

What does this mean? 

Those of you who are on social media have likely already noted some posts discussing possible storms on Dec 20-21 and a follow up December 25 or so. 

Dec 20-21

The Euro has been consistent with showing an event that stays to our south, times just enough cold air and holds it JUST barely and we get a pretty nice pre Christmas storm. Now, if the euro is exactly right we'd have a NICE mix to snow event with accumulations north of 460 north of 6 inches, with 2-3 inches down to the NC state line. If the Euro is exactly right.

The biggest thing that always happens is UNLESS the confluence (Air moving quickly behind a low that parks near 50/50) there will be a north trend. Models always tend to start too far south and trend north) Outside of a couple events.. FEb 2012 and Jan 2013, the north adjustment is real. If I had to target an area that is in the highest risk, I'd take the 81 corridor NORTH of Staunton as the highest risk, but extend the risk down the NC state line all the way east to the piedmont. 

We are stepping slowly towards a colder pattern, but the real cold is still 3-4 weeks away. Just cold enough works in a perfect set up, but I'd not be too excited at this point. Everything would have to go swimmingly for us to see a nice storm. 

Follow up possible Dec 25 or so-- 

The signs are there for a colder pattern early January but I'm always nervous at this point. DT from Wxrisk-- and many of you follow him has a good eye for these type events and he's updating a lot. He's a great follow for big ideas and patterns but when events get close, always stay with your local guys. Sean Sublette from WSET is fantastic. I say this often, but we are blessed with a skilled met who takes his job very seriously. For my people in Roanoke, Kevin Myatt is as good of an "semi professional" as I am (if not better) and if you know people in the NRV down to the Mt Empire, Zach from Blue Ridge Weather is a great resource. What skills that Kevin, Zach and I have are just great feels for the local climate and how storms would impact our specific region. I'd trust Kevin in about any event if I was unable to access model data. As we move forward,, Kevin from the Roanoke Times, Zach from Blue Ridge weather and let me throw in WxSouth with Robert Gamble are great resources for 411. Of course, stay with me for your local and precise winter weather updates.  Even if the 21st and Christmas Day event don't pan out, things look to be picking up.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Like a Suicide Pool-- I'm not burning my Vanilla Ice yearly usage for the..

Little ice event coming Tuesday. I need a "To the Extreme" event for that reference.

Strong cold front pushes through tomorrow and some energy starts some overrunning precipitation overnight Monday into Tuesday. Should start as a rain and end up mixed with sleet. Above 1500 feet or so, some ice build up will be a problem as temps are decently cold for about 4000 feet or so and will get to NEAR freezing.

The moisture looks to be concentrated in a narrow area, so maybe as near as south of Altavista won't actually get much than a drizzle. IF this ends up a tad north than modeled-- (ever hear me say that before) the worst of the event will be from Staunton north.

I think places along and north of 460.. Blacksburg, Roanoke and Lynchburg COULD end up with a low end advisory.

You all know I love my soundings-- everything to the RIGHT of the blue line is above freezing, so we have a solid layer of above freezing temps from about 8000 feet to 4000 feet-- so this isn't a snow threat. BUT, below that temps of -3 or so are just deep enough to indicate some sleet for a while. Surface temps look to be around 33-34 so a degree makes all the difference. Not a huge deal, but the ground could be coated a while and this will be near the AM rush on Tuesday. The cold air and storm book out and we warm up back into the 50's Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pre snow update

I wanted to put a quick update out this morning before the rain changes over to snow. I've said this already but had this been December 25 and the 26 we would be looking at a 6 to 12 inches snow fall across the region. Snow is already mixing then and places to our west above 2500 feet or so. This should drop as we continue throughout the morning. I'm not going to attach them map or picture as they often like to show the actual soundings of Lynchburg and/or Roanoke. However, based on the information I gather from those I think that we change over to snow between as early as eight and parts of Roanoke to as late as 930 or 10 o'clock in the Lynchburg area. We should get several hours of moderate to even heavy Snow falling and like I said according to up to 2 inches is definitely possible.  That should fall mostly on the grassy areas with at the height of the heavy snow some of the roads may get some slush on it. Once this thing pulled out here, the Suns going to pop back out and I expect it all to be melted by 5 PM. There will be another wave of snow overnight that could coat the ground before you wake up on Thanksgiving morning.

Share your observations with me on Facebook and Twitter. Should be a festive morning with some nice fat flakes falling out of the sky as people wrap up their work week before the Thanksgiving holiday. Everybody be safe out there who is traveling and I wish you all and your family the happiest of Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fine line between heavy rain and heavy snow

Sometimes the tragedy is in that a perfect scenario presents itself and is not realized to minor, yet significant details. Had this storm been knocking on our door in EXACTLY one month, meaning Christmas eve, the area would be filled with glee that a post Christmas storm was on the way with what would be likely a 6-12 inch snowfall region wide. That would be simply awesome.

Remember weather is fluid and this has time to adjust...with that, I'm just not seeing the mechanism to cool the lowest 3000 feet of the atmosphere.

That blue line shows the freeze line- which this is at 10am, when the heaviest stuff is in our region.  3000 ft of 34-35 degrees just isn't accumulating snow.

Here is the text data in that range--

In this frame, the temp from 1800 feet down the ground is 34-35. could be snow falling, but not snow that will accumulate.

With that, the calender says November 24th and we have to deal with JUST warmer temps based where the calender is. With the models reading JUST too warm-- I mean, 3-4k feet down to the surface at 34-36 degrees during the height of the storm is just to warm to overcome.

Unless there are drastic changes--

Most places start as rain and end as snow. Most places see between .75 and an inch of liquid falling. Heaviest stuff clears our area by noon or so actually.

Places above 1500 feet see 2-4 inches, with up to 6 in highest elevations

Roanoke-- an inch or two of slush at best.

Lynchburg - Coating to an inch.

Danville- ends as snow/mix

It's going to rain hard for a while and at some point there is going to big fat flakes mixing in, but simply not enough cold air to accumulate.. at the lowest level of the atmosphere

I think Staunton north along 81 has a big event... I don't have time to break details for the rest of the world, but in our area I think we get a couple hours of scenic snow falling that coats the ground. Should feel festive.. North of 64, along 81 should have a nice 4-8 inch event.

Near miss, but still a miss.

My home internet SHOULD be fixed tomorrow...or Wednesday at the latest. If late evening model REALLY convinces me otherwise, I'll update. 

I get with the travel day this is a huge call for our region.. will blurb on FB and Tweet as needed.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve Snow..

I was 16 years old, my first year driving and we had a DECENT 6 inch snowfall Thanksgiving eve into the early hours of Thanksgiving. The first flakes started to fall as I walked to corner sub shop to grab the family cheesesteaks as we prepared the pies and other foodie stuff for Thanksgiving. I was living in Wilmington DE. Down in this area, daytime temps were just a bit warm and some rain ended as a little light snow and a coating to an inch fell.

If you refer to my blog from November 11th, I stated that the best shot of snow was going to be Thanksgiving week, and dangit if I wasn't right. On what is the busiest travel day of the year, if this thing reaches potential it's going to be a miserable travel day and I'd suggest anyone with family travelling from NC north to New England start to have alternative plans with leaving early or later than planned. This won't be a BLIZZARD but Wednesday may be a bad travel day with many cancelled flights, etc. I'm supposed to be driving to my mom's in Rehobeth DE, and think as of now we won't hit the road till Thursday AM.

The personal torture for me is that my home internet is acting up and I can't get the maps to load..I get a drip of net service that gives me SOME FB updates and chat. I'm currently at McDonalds eating pancakes and using their net service. (And I live in the ONE and only bad cell data spot in the city of Lynchburg so my ipad and cell are useless too)Cable service will be out tomorrow to fix it, but it is taking my competitive advantage away compared to other forecasting outlets. I'll be somewhere late afternoon where I can hop back on line and comb through the data.

I always write from the perspective that snow is a good thing, and despite the holiday we are NOT changing our format.

Basics- Storm moves in after midnight, towards morning-- 3-5 AM time frame and will be rain or rain and snow mix. At some point it flips to all snow and accumulates nicely. IF we can slow this thing down a few hours our snow totals go up. if it speeds up, the cold air doesn't have enough time to get in place and we get more rain.

Initial thoughts are we see 3-5 inches, with maybe 4-8 higher elevations especially west of BR above 1500 feet elevations. I think most places see .75 to an inch of liquid, but the start as rain with temps near 40 most areas and we bottom around at 32-33 most of the day. So, wet past snow all over everything. Get those christmas lights up early.

Can we get more?? Yes-- if the system slows down and the models are a tad warm as shown now. This is a rapidly developing storm and that's a very real possibility that we are at 40 degrees and an an hour we are at 33 with moderate snow falling. Think of March 16th this year-- we went from 48 and drizzle to snow in 2-3 hours.

Can we get less?? Yes-- the set up isn't ideal but the pieces work just well enough to give this threat. Any minor subtle changes would change the path and strength of the storm/cold will be huge.

You'll likely see some crazy snow maps on facebook and please don't feed the trolls, especially one out from the Euro. It's based on a 10-1 snow ratio and it simply won't be that good. Take those maps and multiply the total by .7 or so to get a legit number, and that is likely your upside. So, the EURO shows us getting about 10 inches, I'd take that as a 4-7 inch total for us. But, that's assuming we get an inch of liquid.

The Euro is leading the way,and it does usually on southern stream events (thanks almost el nino). The GFS has moved towards the EURO now, we are just waiting on the Canadian model and a newer version of the GFS (better resolution).With that, here is my first outlook. I'm way west of guidance because these southern stream events are ALWAYS way west. Feb 13th I was west of ANYONE else with guidance and I was still too east.

Here is a first stab at this-- COULD be way off and I'm running of some HUGE assumptions, mainly being this will be a strong system and the best bands will set up further west than modeled. That's a safe bet VERY often. If this was NOT a major travel day, we'd be in discussion mode, not making my lovely maps. :)

First Guess.. use with Caution. 

I'll throw out some tweets and FB updates before I get full access with info as passed along to me.

If we max out, I can see LYH getting 6-8 inches and maybe 10+ on higher elevations of the Blue Ridge. Not a forecast but just a Worst Case.. with some lingering leaves, some power outages could start to creep in.

Lastly, big shout out to Nick-- LU football star and blog reader and the entire team on the exciting win yesterday. I moved here 20 years ago to attend LU and what a thrilling season. What a way to get the first FCS playoff appearance in school history. Proud of the team!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Cold is coming, and has staying power.

As discussed last week, a pattern change is underway and cold front passes through later tomorrow and our high temps will be in the 40's, which will feel more like winter than fall. These cold temps should be more present than not until the first week of December (Being specific, usually colder than not but some days will be normal or even above normal)

Snow chances? A couple blips have shown up on radar.. even with super cold temps, we'd need everything to be perfect. There has been some FB/Twitter chatter about early next week and I'm not that excited on that event, especially outside of the mountains where it will snow this time of year with cold air pushing in. IF we get a legit shot to materialize, my hunch is that the week of Thanksgiving will be the best shot based on where the pattern will be. (AKA, nothing specific at this time)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Watching the -AO, winter may start early.

I've been super busy with little time to really scrape the data like I should, but I've got enough sources and people I chat with that I'm on top and wanted to throw out some information.

First, you've likely heard a little chatter about some snow chances next week. Some of the model data has shown it off and on while other models are all over the place. Getting snow in November is about as rare as March 25th snows, but now we've done that 2 years in a row. Now, odds are it's like nothing, but some of the model data drives a cold front through and then a week wave follows behind. That would be our best set up for an event in November. Odds are, we end up with no snow.

Like poetry in motion, the snowcover gain has trigger some events and the arctic oscillation is about to tank and we could be having a sudden stratospheric warming (Which ties into the -AO and high latitude blocking) Big cold comes in next week and the -AO could reach close to -4 on the scale they use. One key piece is once it tanks to a -4 or -5 it usually replicates itself once or twice.  So, the bottom now looks to be about 3.5 or so, just a bit stronger and we could be in a colder pattern for 6 weeks or so.. which runs us up through years end.

Will keep you updated, but December may be looking colder than I had anticipated.
Strong -AO, usually breeds ANOTHER severely negative -AO

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Official 2014-15 Winter Outlook..

Quick summary, then we will get into some nuts and bolts with some "what if" scenarios..

Winter 2014-- 1-2 degrees below normal, with snowfall 15% to 50% above normal. 
Relative to normal, the coldest and snowiest period looks to be Mid January to Mid February. 

1-2 degrees isn't much I'd not be shocked if that 30 day stretch I mentioned is a -4 to 5. I think the we get a stretch where 2-3 storms beat us up pretty good in a 10 day period and snow falls on top of a snow pack during that stretch. 

Normal snowfall with my rage next
Blacksburg 23 - 30-35 inches this winter
Danville 12 inches  15-20 this winter
Lynchburg 17 inches 20-25 inches
Roanoke 19 inches 25-30 inches. 

December likely the mildest of the 3 winter months, but an event is always possible. Once the pattern breaks down from mid to late Feb to early March, it would be be simply over. 


El Nino-- We are in a low end el nino, especially based on a scale called the MEI. This indicates somewhat of a more active sub tropical get, but not too much that would be too warm. 

Positive phase. It's interesting that long term negative phases are better for a cooler globe, but often a spike near the winter  to a positive in a short term aspect is good for our region. The  60's saw this common with a -PDO pattern, but a few good winters spiked towards positive. 

Eurasian snow cover
Off the charts- This has an incredible strong correlation to negative phase of Arctic oscillation, which is good for our region

QBO- winds way up in the sky. When bottomed out, and beginning to turn slowly towards negative has a connection to high latitude blocking. 

The one negative I see is sun spots are active now but its weighted towards colder and snowier. 

Can the winter end up with MORE snow--

Sure. Anything is possible. If we get a decent snow or two in December before the good pattern sets up that's a big tell. Also, if the Arctic Oscillation falls off the chart, it tends to replicate it self. So, if we see a -4 in December or early Jan, we will have enough time to cycle back to ANOTHER steep fall. 

Could we end up with less snow? Sure-- A met out of North Carolina named Allen Huffman released his outlook and out of the "analog" or matching years... the least snowiest was 1958-59 had 12 inches. So, the bottom may be somewhere around 10 inches and the snowiest years that had some match was upward of 40 inches in LYH. My range is where I think we fall based on current factors but clearly there are factors that can be hard to gauge.  

If I placed odds-- 60% my range is good, 10% chance we get higher, 30% chance we get lower than I forecasted. 

My greatest strength is spotting legit events and discussing them maybe a few days before you may hear about them from other media sources, so be vigilant in checking my blog. When it comes to snow, if I'm not talking about it I'm not to jazzed about it. When I'm fired up, you will know and I will update. Today's event unfolded about how I expected-- not a big deal around here, hence no updates. Some snow in Upstate NC on Nov 1 is a big deal in that area. Chilly weekend on tap with
a reminder that winter is just a stones throw away. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some winter thoughts and a remembrance for a meteorologist friend who passed away..

I'll do a more detailed winter outlooks, but outside the NOAA outlook which was rather interesting, I think 2 out of 3 or greater of the private forecasters (aka, the ones who give more detail and stick their neck out) will end up going cold and snowy compared to normal. One KEY tell has been the snow increase in Eurasia. (Which I've mentioned for years now)

With that, Long range forecasting is hard and I mean, last year I went warm and snowless and while snowfall was slightly above normal-- cold or cold coming was the theme last year. Enjoyable winter from a tracking stand point where I had one event after another. While the kid in me still enjoys playing in the snow, the fun is really in the chase now-- getting the storm right.

With that, my inclination is that temps this winter run 1-3 degrees below normal. I think the coldest 30 day period relative to normal will be Mid Jan to Mid Feb and snowfall will be normal to 25% above normal. Lynchburg averages 17 inches a year (Comment about that in a moment) So range of 17-23 inches? More "breaks" in the action where the Arctic Oscillation will be our driver for cold, that often breaks down for 1-2 weeks stretches even in negative phase dominated winters. IF we get a more robust sub tropical jet, snowfall could be more. Snowfall at some levels is just an educated guess because timing short waves is not something we know. It's a linear guess on the facts at hand. If we get one 15 inch snowfall, the other 8 inches would be really easy to come by.

More details later in the week, but that's the jist of where I am.

Touching on LYH snowfall-- I've seen FAR too many graphs showing Lynchburg 30 year mean at 13 inches. It's wrong. Way wrong- Huge data gaps where they just averaged in 0 for years they didn't keep records. The NWS had a consolidation in the mid 90's and observations didn't get done. Sean Sublette over at WSET does them now, but we had some huge gaps that were counted as zeros in the average. I've pointed this out to several mets and even reached out to the CLIMO center and was told I was wrong, and or my data didnt' count. Well, first-- Hello, this is science. It matters. It matters a lot. Second, isn't some data based on an education guessed combined with local obs (we've always had temps, winds and rainfall because it's automated. We just need someone to stick the ruler in the ground) And lastly, I'm just right. I can't do this now, but when I was about 25, I could name about every snowfall at my house as a child from ages 5 till I moved away from college. I can still piece together most winters and tell you if it was good or bad, and any "signature" snow events--etc. I do have a freakish memory, but I get this is a bit much.  I did keep records of the snowfalls here and have it documented. If you remove the missing years OR add my data you get a 30 year average of 16.9 to 17 inches.

RIP Rich Hitchens

Wanted to give a quick word about a meteorologist friend who passed away. He spent his career at the NWS and worked the DC area for a long while, ending as their Hydrologist. One of the cool things to me was on the documentaries on SuperStorm 93, they did a reenactment of DC office and I think he was in the footage as the met in charge of that office at the time. He was a great guy, good friend and helped the people who launched the weather board where I hang out connect with more meteorologists.

BUT, I was honestly star struck when I met Rich because as a kid all I had for weather information was local news, cable tv station that scrolled the forecast, a weather radio and the local NWS number that was a recording from the mets at the old ILG office (Wilmington, DE) Anyways, once Rich disclosed that he worked there in the mid to late 80's and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Can't tell you how many times my Dad and I called that number for temperature updates, updated forecasts..etc. The short term forecast was 322-5151 and I've likely dialed that number thousands of time on an old rotary phone. They also had an extended forecast number which I believe was 322-7596 and it gave an extended outlook of 3-5 days and 2x a week it gave a 6-10 day outlook. If you called in business hours you could ask a met a question. My Dad and I use to call and fake like we were travelling to get more information (Like, knowing what happened down here in VA could impact our weather --etc) Rich told me he had no memories of "fake" calls but I always assumed it was transparent we were just idiots wanting to know if it was going to snow or not. Great memories with my Dad and likely Rich fielded a call or two. :)

So, just like as a kid I loved wrestling and would still think it's cool to meet my favorite wrestler -- Randy Macho Man Savage (Rip to that dude too), Meeting Rich was cool because of the connection to my childhood and I'm glad I got to know him because he was a good man. Tragic, Such a young guy at age 51..  322-5151 forever.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pushing towards winter...

Winter is approaching quickly and while we have some general ideas about how it will play out, October has some key data that needs to e considered before my winte outlook (Yes, the snow cover in Eurasia).

Update for Keith Allen who does a DC centered outlook, but I extrapolate what he does locally and he's had some good sucess in the past but he has some very off years too(Like we do)

This is a direct snip from a friend of his that knows his outlook. A DC radio station use to do a big deal when he released his outlook...

Temperatures:Above Average
Rainfall:Above Average

Seasonal Temps:+1.3 to +1.7
Monthly: Dec:0 to +1
Snowfall DCA:15"

Analog years:1974(5),1984(5), 1992(3)1997(8),2001(2)

Believes there will be a major ice storm around 1/15/15

Some friends in the met world think he does well the conditions are neutral- this year the El Nino is close to low end but the issues I see is that he has a STRONG El NINO, strongest on record and some La Nina too.

Other factors:

The El Nino has not gotten up to low end level yet, but it should peak between .5 and 1 over the winter but it may not be a huge driver of the winter pattern.

The PDO (Warm and cold water pools in the pacific outside the El Nino region) looks to be positive for the winter. This is a good signal if you like colder weather.

Eurasian snow cover is the last factor and we need October to grow. Much of the data circulates around how much snow cover grows in Siberia region. So far, so good-- but we need to let the data fill out. The growth has been good and growth has a strong correlation to - AO. This is usually a sign of cooler winter in our region of the world.

So, my thoughts are leaning colder than normal winter, but not as cold as last winter. Snowfall we didn't really get above normal until that last snow on March 25, so as of now, near normal is a fair call-- which is 17 in LYH and about 20 in ROA (Give or take) As in any winter, a fluke big event could skew that strongly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

El Nino Watch 2014--

When I rank my "weather" favorites:

1. Winter and snow
2. Hurricanes
3. Severe weather. 

So, clearly my blog is super heavy for local winter events, with Hurricanes being second. The "immediate" need for forecasting on severe weather makes a blog format less effective because we can't pinpoint an outbreak as in "your house" while weather is fascinating for many, the pressing need for "exact details exist in severe weather and I can't update for every storm that could be severe in Altavista while we just see a cloud top from Lynchburg. 

Winter events are different because seeing them "sooner" and have what I call a good format to convey ideas is a good thing. 

With the El Nino--

Remember that for us, a moderate west based el nino is our best shot at a cold/snow winter. (or at least GOOD snows of over 10 inches) There are other factors but one biggies that west based falls with a theme "convection (aka thunderstorms) near the international date line. 

Some of the model data really showed this type el nino developing and they've really moved away from that. We actually "lost steam" on the el nino on the summer and some of the comparable years would be 94-95 and 06-07 for El Nino's. Neither of those years were memorable winters down here, if anything WELL below normal in snowfall. 

Summary: Some still hold onto hope that an El Nino develops and if it does it can become a main driver in our winter outlooks. However, if we don't get one of enough strength, we will have to look to other players when it comes to winter outlooks. So, on Facebook you may see some winter outlooks, and even if they end up being correct in your sensible weather, gambling on an el nino that has not behaved as advertised isn't the smartest idea. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Here's the weekend outlook I put together for  Great weekend-- literally no shot of rain as of now, maybe a bit cool (High temps are actually around 75 night now, so it's actually seasonal. 

Timing could NOT be better as a cold front clears the area today leaving Friday through Monday sunny and beautiful. Winds will be light all weekend out of the northwest at 5-10 MPH. 

Breaking down the details:

Morning lows all weekend should be within a few degrees of 50.
On Friday and Saturday High Temps will be in the 70-75 range.
Sunday- High temps of 75-80 
Lastly, Monday will have  high temps of 80-85 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Weekend Update.

**The Big Story will be the rain, with EVERYONE getting over an inch and some places topping 4 inches. Thursday night will be a pretty lousy night to be out and about. Remainder of weekend looks great with below normal temps.**

Thursday will be showery with heavier stuff moving in late morning near Claytor Lake to Late Afternoon and evening in Lake Anna. Most places will easily top an inch and the bonus areas will see upwards of 4 inches. Rain clears out before sunrise Friday AM Claytor Lake, by rush hour near SML and by lunch at Lake Anna. The weekend will be very nice, but temps will reflect April norms, not middle of May.
Friday- Rain ends all areas by noon with sunny skies by mid afternoon. High temps 65-70.
Friday Night- Clear and chilly, lows 45-50
Saturday- Sunny, high 65-70 Light NW to W winds
Saturday night, clear and chilly, again- 45-50 for low temps.
Sunday- Sunny, highs 65-70.

Great weekend, just temps more in line with Mid April, than Mid May. Moving forward, we **Could** have a cooler type summer with a budding El Nino, first year summers often end up cooler and wetter than normal. We will monitor this week to week, but last El Nino summer (2009) was cool and damp.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I am now Semi Professional Forecaster

And have declared my self eligible for the 2014 Met draft..(this guy is actually paying me too)

All joking aside, I'm doing some weekend outlooks for The Bass Cast and will post them here as well. Knowing the weather for upcoming weekends is pretty useful in the summer time. As events get closer, I like to fine tune and we are working on improving the system here for that...

For those who don't know Claytor Lake is just SW of Blacksburg, we all should know where SML is and Lake Anna is just east of Charlottesville.

For the LU graduation, the BEST hope is the showers and Thunderstorm hold off till afternoon. As of now, I'd plan on bringing an umbrella and poncho and hope for the best. Timing is tenuous at best currently.

Weekend Weather Outlook for May 9-11 for Claytor Lake, Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Anna

The weekend is starting 2 days too late, with high temps above 90 POSSIBLE Thursday!

Friday- Skies should be mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers late, mainly over and near Clatory Lake. Highs should be 80-85 with winds under 10MPH, unless there is a Thunderstorm.
Friday Night- Chance of Showers SW areas near Claytor Lake, slight Chance near SML while Lak Anna should be dry. Temps will bottom out near 60 degrees all locations
Saturday-  Partly to Mostly Cloudy with increasing chances of Showers and Thunderstorms. Showers will first pop up near Claytor Lake and will spread North and east from there. A steady period of shows and storms is a 50/50 call for all locations, with some places getting over a half inch rain during the showers and storms. High Temps will be 70-75.
Saturday Evening- Showers and Storms taper off by late evening. Low temps 60-65
Sunday- Party Cloudy, chance of showers and Thunderstorms. Would gamble that it’s a bit drier than Saturday.  

As of now, Saturday looks like the day more likely to have rain issues on any of the local lakes. Sunday’s rain and showers looks much more scatters.  With a little luck those storms stay west most of the day, with some misfortune rain could come in early and be an issue off an on all day.

Forecaster Keith D. Huffman

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Ark and the El Nino..

Big Rains coming this week on the tune of 2-5 inches. Some lighter rain Monday afternoon into Tuesday and the heavier rains move in Tuesday Afternoon into Wednesday. Most places reach 2 inches, with up to 5 possible where banding/training shows up. Sometimes nature shows it hands with the places that get the heaviest rains early, continue to get them (Cold pool aloft is ONE cause of this on a multiple day period)

WPC prediction of this week..

The El Nino--
Looking at the data, It's fairly likely we some type of El Nino. The problem is-- what type of el Nino.

We have strengths-- weak, moderate and strong.  My thoughts are based on the PDO, we peak at stronger moderate based on three month average.

We have location-- East Based (Closer to South America Coast)  West Based ( West towards international date line) and Modoki where the warmth is in the middle with cold pools both in the fast east and west ranges of the El Nino regions.

Short term impacts-- Summer should be cooler then normal. Last budding El Nino was 09 and it was a marked cooler summer around here.

Hurricane Season- Once it reaches Moderate status, there is a documented drop in named storms. However, it takes ONE storm to make a season memorable so this can be misleading.

Next winter:
East pumps ridge off west coast and much of the winter ends up mild and rainly.

West based- Usually colder due to ridge ON west coast.

Modoki- in the research out there, colder then west based El Nino's.

If we hit moderate status in this El Nino, I expect next summer (2015) to be BLAZING hot. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lucy and the Football

Some thoughts about forecasting.. and the MANY busts we've had this month. We've come such a long way and at times the public hardly recognizes it.

I must say that I totally enjoyed the 6 inches or so of snow that fell today. While I was a bit gun shy because of the last 2 busted events, I tried to convey "banding" and compare it to thunderstorms. There was also a sharp cut off where Farmville had NO snow just 50 miles east and Richmond was in the upper 40's early afternoon while we had heavy snow falling.

The computer models have gotten so much better, but just like you don't notice your children growing each day, you as the common person doesn't always notice or appreciate it.

We often use Jan 25, 2000 as a benchmark for busted storms. We had 7-12 from 5-6 miles west of LYH and DAN east that was 100% not forecasted in our region.  However, by 11pm, it was clear snow was coming and advisories were up for 2-4 inches. January 25, 2000 -- With that, the models were horrible and forecasters used now casting and radar to make a forecast. Everyone was watching radar with bated breath because the storm had taken on a classic "Negative tilt" look on radar. I had just gotten into reading models and local forecast office discussions and it was the NWS office out of State College who broke the silence around 8pm saying something big was up and talked about a foot or so. The model data had an incorrect Jet stream data and that was a 100 mile difference in the "track" of the storm. Not a dry slot, early change over-- track. I can't think of any storm "track" that was off by 100 miles in recent memory.

(For the record, I came home from work around 3pm that day and saw radar and told my roomates 6+ inches over night and at 5am we all had the front door open just amazed at 2-3 inch an hour snowfall on Jan 25, 2000)

With that, some amazing things the models did this month..

1. March 5 we were in the 70's and the models correctly showed within an hour or two we'd change to snow around 7 am Monday AM. I'm not sure even 10 years ago we'd of had a clue of that drastic drop in temps. The cold air actually hurt us because it blasted so far south, it pulled the forcing to our south and a band to our north leaving us in "sinking air" known as subsidence. Hence, a forecast of 5-8 inches ended up 1-2 inches.
2. March 17th- We were sitting at 48 degrees and drizzle when my kids and I walked out of lunch  and as modeled, by 4pm it was 35 and heavy snow. I doubt any model would have shown that accuracy 10 years ago.The models also showed the mix with sleet we had late evening and overnight. Had the stuff been heavier, we would have had more snow mixed in with the sleet and snow grains. So, a double whammy based on the "dry slot"

 Christmas Eve 2002, a surprise front running event to the Christmas Day storm (rain here, but snow to rain to snow in NOVA and a blizzard in upstate PA to NE) was very similar in that temps were WAY warm for snow but very dry air aided in the process. At that time, NO model showed snow south of the Mason Dixon line, but with dry air we had snow in NOVA, unforecasted on Christmas Eve.
3. March 25- The models did a very good job showing where this band would set up. Most data had it hugging the BR and LYH to CHO being close to the jack pot area, with ROA getting lesser amounts. Looking at the end results, you can see why it made sense.

BUT, NO forecaster followed that data because of the bast 2 busts, late season and the myriad of issues associate with that. (Warmth, rates, etc really matter in late season events, even when it's cold and below freezing)

Now, I feel like I conveyed well that "banding" would be an issue and somewhere would end up with more snow. Now, did I expect 6-7 inches-- NOT AT ALL, but did I think a surprise 4-5 inches was possibe? Yes! and I said that.  I'm a weather hobbyist with 300 readers. The NWS, WSET and everyone else who is a paid professional has to appeal to the "least common denominator" and on some levels that dumbs down forecast because they  have to. Some people just want to know how much, when and how will the roads be. Some what to a little more like how and potential and a crazy few like to know even more. So, a huge challenge is created because of these different needs.

So, my challenge to you as my readers is to NOT look at this as a month of Weathermen still getting paid to do their job despite the wrong forecasts, but look at the growth in the field. If you step back from the rough month, outlooks are getting better. Think of our "big" event from Feb 12-13-- we had a week lead time on that event and the window for start time was within 3-4 hours for about 3 days out. Despite some short term set backs, we are better off with Hurricane tracks, Tornadoes and severe weather and yes, even snowfall forecasts despite this challenging month. Forecasts are saving lives and making people aware of day to day conditions and we are getting better at doing it.

3 AM update

One of those nights where I dozed off at 10:30 or so and woke up at 1 am thinking it was 5am..and it was only 1AM.

Our storm looks good up close now, after 2 bad forecasts on March 3 and March 17th, hopefully this one pans out. The clipper has a little punch and radar looks to be developing like the more aggressive models. With that, I'm hedging a bit low because it's late March, some melting as it falls..etc. Most models show 3-4 inches across most the region, but I'm going to put up 1-3 inches, with a potential for a bit more, especially the higher elevations. If everything goes crazy, a few spots could see 5 inches.

New Map..
General 1-3, with local higher amounts. Should see several hours of moderate
to even heavy snow at times and flurries linger to late afternoon in our area. 

This radar out of NE TN shows our precipitation moving NE.. the more aggressive models have all shown our precipitation forming down here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tune in for the season finale!

I think??

Crazy winter in both Lynchburg and Roanoke that outside of the BIG snow on Feb 12-13, neither place has a snowfall over 2 inches.

So, if by some chance, LYH gets 2.1 inches tomorrow, it will be our second biggest storm of the year. And, there is legit shot at that, albeit not the greatest.

The big storm idea died late last week and while I wanted to update, work was killing me Friday-Saturday. We are left with a clipper system taking a good track for us as it begins to interact with low pressure off the east coast. These two systems will phase, but that won't really impact our part of the storm. There will be a wide area of precipitation with some embedded areas of heavier snow. Now, like Thunderstorms we can choose an area, but can give EXACT details when it comes to this banding.

Most places in VA get a general coating to an inch. The MTS get an additional 1-2 because they are the MTS.

Here is my general idea-- anyone north and east of the black line has the best chance of some heavier burst of snow, but with such strong energy aloft, everywhere has a risk.

We should be just about out of snow chances after this. With that, last year in April 5-6 some snow fell in our region. Looking forward to next year, an "el nino" watch issued recently. Moderate, west based el ninos are historically our best winters. So, if we get that type of  El Nino, which is what we had back in 09-10 I went 25-30 in LYH, 30-35 Roanoke and 40-45 in Blacksburg. I think they were CLOSE to being accurate that winter. Also, the pre summer el nino's are often cooler then normal and wet. Just some ideas for now, we have spring and summer to watch this develop. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I will gladly pay you Tuesday...

For a great Friday and Saturday..

There has been a bunch of chatter on social media and other outlets about a possible event next week on Tuesday/Wednesday Time frame.

I've been on the verge of posting, but once I start my investment time, it can be very taxing going over data with a fine tooth comb to get the best forecast possible. For a blog that peaks at 600 readers when a storm approaches, that's not a wise use of my time. (But you know I do really enjoy it) Maybe a little late season fatigue because we've had so much to track with a Winter Type advisory or warning EVERY month since November. March has been rough with 2 bad forecasts and the March 6 now cast that was less than accurate. It happens. Sundays event unfolded as expected, with super dry air, we went from 48 and rain to 40 and rain snow mix in an hour. The bulk of the storm was frozen, we just got dryslotted. When it filled, we had changed to sleet. Had that been heavier, it would have been a snow/sleet mix.  So, had we pulled 2-3 inches up front then flipped, my forecast would have been good. But, I digress...

Another spring event? Palm Sunday 13 was a historic event, being the largest spring storm in LYH in 40 years. We could literally match or exceed if the trends continue.

The never ending abundance of arctic air makes another charge at us while ANOTHER short wave spins a low in the gulf. As of now, the low stays decentl off show and this being early spring makes it an ideal track for snow from Western NC up the East coast. Now, we are still 5 days out but the data has been consistent and that matters. Here is the Euro ensembles. (Ensembles are more skilled at this point because they run the data OVER AND OVER, which weeds out bias errors from the runs)

This run on the Euro Ensembles shows a 1007 low amping up to 987 in 24 hours, not quite a bomb but getting deeper fast.

Compliments of Wxrisk.. a good follow on FB. 

Now, the model data shows more liquid along 95, but my guess is if something like that pans out, we'd see the 1inch liquid line back to the BR. With that, March 25th sun--etc, it won't be 10-1 ratio snow stuff.

But, as of now-- if we set the bench mark at the "official" 6.5 inches that fell Palm sunday, I'd say we have  25% chance of breaking that next week. 

What to look for:

1. Track of the low-- the close to the coast the more moisture back towards the  Mts. 
2. Amount of cold-- We still need WELL below normal temps for snow. Our average high now is like 62 or so.  
3. Speed and timing of system. Now, last year snow laid just fine on March 25th, but it was nice and cold aloft. Some snow falling before sunrise Tuesday would be ideal in "insulating" the warmth. 
4. Strength of system. If this phases 2 jets, stronger systems tend to hug the coast and we could eventually have sleet and dry slot issues. 

The good thing is we are not HOPING cold gets here right as the snow shows up like March 3 and Sunday this past week. 

As I said, Wxrisk is an excellent mid range forecaster and will update per model run. He is "woofing" which is what he says when models show a "big dog" AKA big storm

Wxsouth-- has had a phenomenal winter. 

Just remember these guys forecast BROAD areas, so look to the for broad ideas, but fine details are better found from your local NWS and Media outlets. 

Sean Sublette from WSET has a nice blog and has already touched on this system 2x.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Game time & Storm day!

I think the bust potential is higher than being conveyed to the public. NWS has a warning for 460 corridor from Roanoke to Lynchburg for 4-7 inches. While I have a map from yesterday that says 2-5, and said a few times on FB I lik 3-6, I'm going to hold with my initial map of 2-5 and just added an area of 6+  possible along 81 in north of Lexington.

Here is my map again..

We have NO room for error along 460- NONE. As in, 10 miles south of LYH, rain to sleet mixed with snow is expected and only an inch or two. Having tracked way to many storms, expecting perfection on a model is NOT reasonable. This is a probability map from the WPC about the risk of 4 inches or more. We are on the 50-60% shade, but look how quikcly it drops off to our south. 

So, a 50% or so risk, that up over 80% northern Amherst County and down to 10% risk in Brookneal to 
SML area.  My gut is telling me 1-3 because we just battle too much sleet and rain, but I"ll leave this 2-5 up.

Timing: Rain develops early to mid afternoon and pretty quickly mixes with snow and maybe sleet. Late evening, we may have more issues with sleet mixing in. Temps should fall pretty quickly to the low to mid
30's once rain starts and be mid to upper 20's by this time sunrise tomorrow. 

Once the storm ends, we should have freezing drizzle and flurries from late tonight into the day tomorrow. Round two may not be what my map was, but it's fluid and will change. Chance of freezing drizzle and sleet exists till maybe mid day Tuesday. 

Frequent updates on FB and Twitter. 

7 AM temps are 38 LYH and 40 ROA. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Initial Map thoughts

This could end up being a 2 part event.

My confidence for my forecast for round one is about 75%.. It's been charging south, but that has to bottom out soon. Any changes could mean less sleet and rain in Lynhcburg/Roanoke and more snow. Of course, the north trend could appear late and we get more rain and sleet. I will amend these ideas as needed.

I think this map is pretty stable, will need to watch Roanoke to Lynchburg for change from sleet to snow. If everything goes right, we could eek out 6-7 inches along 460. 2-5 is a nice place to start 

Round 2 is not a lock to happen. The remainder of the upper air energy is strong and creates another round of precipitation. We have a ton of cold air below 5k feet, but it's eroding above that. It may be some snow to start, but will transition to sleet and eventually freezing rain. Since most falls overnight, ice CAN build up, especially at night. Confidence is about 40-50% on this round. 

I'll tweet/FB mid day model updates.

St Paddy special?

Well, I'd been tracking this event all week and truly thought it would end up a rain event here. Even commented today that I wasn't "jazzed"--

This AM my thoughts were best snows, a NICE event from the Mason Dixon line up through central PA-- aligned east west so to speak.

What changed?

The entire piece of energy isn't coming out and the confluence, as marked on this map by L up in New Foundland is pushing cold air in faster than I had thought. This am, I could have believed we ended as a little snow and sleet. now, we may be looking a good bit of snow and sleet. The low is shunted due east as cold air filters in. Also, there COULD be a round 2 Monday Afternoon into overnight because all the energy isn't coming out phase 1.

I'll put an early outlook map out tomorrow AM..I think sleet and even freezing rain this late in the year will have to be watched as well as what happens, if anything with round 2.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Back from the dead-- maybe, or maybe not. :)

** NWS upgraded the Counties that border NC to a Winter Storm Warning with advisories 2 levels up including Amherst and Rockbridge Counties**

After Monday's event-- which was my biggest blown forecast since Jan 2011, I figured this event today would be JUST to our south and outside a little mixed sleet and freezing rain, we'd be all clear by 10am tomorrow.

That's now a MAYBE, and maybe not--

The cold air has trended JUST a bit colder and the storm MAY edge a little north quicker than modeled.

Maybe, and maybe not. :)

This has the potential to see a surprise snow event, maybe or maybe not??

Winter weather advisories are up to the counties just south of LYH and ROA, and the counties to our east including Farmville.
Winter storm warnings for much of NC.

Here is my current call--
ROA to LYH-- Coating to 2 inches of snow and sleet, to freezing rain, ending as rain.

MT. Empire and NRV- 2-6 inches, ending as freezing rain ending as rain.

Will watch this closely, had potential to be a nasty snow event over NRV and MT Empire, and maybe a little more than mapped here for Roanoke, Danville and Lynchburg.

Worst should be over by 10 and a ton should melt after. Back in the 60's on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

If you parents said it snowed more when they were kids....

They were RIGHT!

The 1960's were extremely snow over much of Virginia and in all honestly skewed climate data for decades.

Data from Lynchburg, VA
The 13 year average from 1960-1971 is 28 inches a year, with 2 years of 45 inches, 3 years over 30 inches, 4 years over 20 inches and 3 years in the teens. Lowest winter was 11.5 inches.

There were some incredible stretches of winter..

1960 was looking like the dude of all dud winters with 5-6 inch inches by late January. From Feb 15- March 40+ inches fell.

1961-62 had a snow March with 18 inches from the Famous "Ash Wednesday" storm that destroyed much of coastline from North Carolina to Maine

2 Christmas Snows, Christmas Eve 1966 with 10 inches and Christmas day 1969 with 13 inches.

65-66 had a brutal 2 week stretch in Jan and Feb with 30 inches falling in 2 weeks.

12 inches of snow between 2 storms in November 1968...

I'd have to check data, but if you went 100 years in LYH average is between 17-18 inches or so.

Roanoke had BIGGER winters in 59-60 and 65-66, and a 13 year average of 37 inches.

Friday storm update-- Looks like a non event at this point. MAYBE a little rain and I'll keep and eye but I'm about THIS close to sounding the all clear. Next week has a potential event, but modeled track now goes to our west which means we are in the warm sector.

Side note-- some bad climate data floating around on FB. LYH averages about 17-18 inches a winter. A bit higher when you include these years.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Stepping backwards

Models and humans-- both fallible. 

Radar has gone to the crapper and this wont't be a 4-8. Outside shot at 3-4 to verify low, but more like 2-4 region wide. 

Add 1-3 on what you have-- which will be 1-4 across the region. Dry air killing the storm with heavier bands racing away. Other snow will be more powdery. 

My roads were covered and that's melted since it's march. However, temps fall into teens still some flash freeze concerns. 

Best efforts don't get snow on the ground. I read the system correct as modeled, just didn't bring it home. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tough times, tough calls

Fun storm to track and just epic model battles with models trading places over and over again.

1. Well established south trend was CLEAR yesterday. Often, when things trend north we assume the trends STOPS and it simply doesn't.  I've seen storms end up 100 miles north of modeled AS the storm unfolds.

2. South trend with the storm does NOT always equal colder air being locked in places. So, while we've trended wetter, doesn't mean more snow-- could be more sleet.

3. Speed. Heaviest stuff is out of here by 1pm, if not sooner. Could be 11. So, again-- we need the flip early. Afternoon snow will be light and fluffy stuff with temps around 15-20

4. Even if we flip, clould physics may not make it "fluffly snow" AKA snow grains and stuff that doesn't build up well.

I had floated a MAP on FB-- didn't make it "official"-- Made a little revision of upping DC to 8-14 and moving LYH to 4-8.

Sleet will be an issue. Marked in Yellow on the map.. IF we can get rid of sleet sooner,could see 10 inches in LYH. I'd say that's a 25% shot we see 10 inches. I'd say 6 inches in LYH seems like a safe call.

Temps in TEENS by mid morning VERY possible.

Sleet fest for 460-- :)

The bottom is about to fall out.

Amazing event on the way with a SHOCKING drop in temps with significant sleet and snow falling tomorrow.

Well, my lead time to the public has been better than most vendors here including the NWS and the BIG 3 TV stations (NBC and FOX are the same guys) With that, I'm not sure why because the NWS now says 3-5 inches. A specialized group of forecasters called the WPC had this even on radar Friday when the NWS had a high of 48 with rain Monday. My point is-- this is NOT a shocking change. The potential was always there and it deserved mentioning sooner.The "polar vortex" positioning has driven this event and the potential to drive BITTER cold air in fast has been on the table for a while.

 I'm not trying to be negative or put anyone down, just stating that the public should have been made aware. Here in Lynchburg we are now under a WinterStorm Warning-- after NOT having a Watch issued yesterday afternoon (which I was convinced we would have)

Incredible event on the way. 55 at Midnight, 20 with snow at noon

** If my 3-6 totals don't verify, It will be because of sleet**

 Sleet isn't snow, but 2 inches of sleet is like cleaning up 5-6 inches of snow.

This is a vertical view of the atmosphere. Everything to the right of my yellow line is above freezing. Surface temp is about 30, with heavy sleet at 7am

Surface temps have fallen to 24 and we have a snow sleet mix
Here is an idea of what I think will fall. Now, if we can push to all snow quicker in any location, add 2 inches to these numbers.. so Lynchburg would move from 3-6 to 5-8. However, if we stay mixed with sleet, subtract 2 inches and we end up with 1-3 inches. Keep in mind that 3 inches of sleet is the same as about 10 inches of snow in water content, so the clean up is just as difficult.
If I cut your town out on my map feel free to ask me what I think will fall!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Monday, Monday-

I've been monitoring a storm for Monday. It's been the model battle of the year.

The set up:

Sunday will be a fantastic day. Warm-- 55-60, maybe a few bonus degrees if you are nice. However, a SUPER strong arctic front is poised to charge through our area RIGHT as a storm approaches.

As the norm, TIMING will be everything.

The outcome:

Largely undecided at this point.

Best case- Some rain showers Monday, ending as a few flurries and then it gets COLD fast. Temps Tuesday morning may be as low as 10 degrees.

Middle of the road-- Cold air is faster, we flip to snow quickly and get a few inches.

Worst case: Cold air seeps in slowly and we get rain, to freezing rain, to sleet ending as snow. Whatever is on the ground freezes into a BLOCK, which may be under an inch but would just be a total pain to plow, etc.

As of now, I'm leaning a blend with rain flipping to sleet, ending as snow. 1-3 inches EAST of the  Blue Ridge, highest amounts NORTH like Amherst and Nelson County. Roanoke, NRV and Danville flip later with coating to an inch-- of sleet and snow that freezes into a brick as well.

Will update as needed, which will be often. My kids are tired of missing school so I have to pretend to root this one away.

Crystal Ball:

Some model data has hinted at another "Miller A" (Storm that forms in the Gulf and rides the coast) late next week. Exact track and amount of cold air largely in question. I like the potential for a decent event-- but we have a lot to deal with before then.

Cheer up, now-- the cold coming Monday is SUPER cold for March, but even with that, the sun angle is comparable to October so snow and ice WILL melt faster. So, no matter what-- it will only be a day or two.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Minor snow possible Friday Night

Well, I may go back over this event-- but all in all, fun time.

10 inches Lynchburg

18-24 up and down 81.

I'd grade my forecast a B+

10-18 region wide, mentions of sleet and freezing rain east when NO other vendor said anything of it.

Downside, sleet came early, 18+ over large area.

Tomorrow night-- NWS says rain changes to snow 1-2 inches.

Another "clipper" type system will approach tomorrow. Initially, it may be a bit warm but it should cool and fall as snow for a while. Temps will be low 30's so it won't be a huge mess, but I'd think based on thermal profiles we get mostly rain, ending as snow.

Pretty strong energy aloft, so we'll have to watch this one carefully to make sure we don't get any surprises.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Game time@ Who want's to go fast??

Snow has just started in Lynchburg. Looks decent already.

If most of the area doesn't break 10 inches, I'll be disappointed.

LYH really should have a top 10 event.

12.7 is the 10th best snowfall in the past 100 years. We should crack that list.

If every thing goes right, top 3 is possible with Ash Wednesday is 17.9 , number 4 is 14.8 inches back in 1948.

NWS has finally introduced sleet from Danvill through South Boston. Sleet could reach here tomorrow AM for a while as we get into a lull.

Any trends today has made tomorrow look more impressive with the passage of the upper air low. I think most have 8-14 on the ground by morning and tomorrow ads 2 to 8 inches depending on where the best banding sets up as the ULL passes.

Thundersnow possible later this evening as the steep lapse rates and tremendous lift goes overhead.

Thundersnow also possible tomorrow with passage of ULL.

Consistency Matters. Top Ten snowfall of past 100 years LIKELY!

In a world of projections, consistency matters.

The Euro has been SO consistent it is scary. In a traditional Miller A, ( storm that originates in the Gulf and moves up the coast) the Euro has show everything we'd be expect and has shown the "mix" line right to Danville and Farmville run after run. It has shown us getting OVER a foot since Saturday. That's unheard of. A few other models have been consistent with something, but this has been nothing short of magical.

Not making a snowmap. 10-18 inches region wide, with a few places maybe getting more.

Snowfall moves in mid to late afternoon, 6pm at the latest in the northern regions.

Looking at records:

In Lynchburg: 
#10 is 12.7 inches, we have a 60% chance of breaking that.
#4 is 14.8 35% chance of beating that
#3 is 17.8  15 % chance we beat that.

# 1 from Blizzard of 96 is likely safe.

In Roanoke:
 12.3 is #10 70% chance that record falls
# 6 is 14.4 from 1961 has a 40% chance of falling
# 4 is 17.4 from 1960 25% chance of falling

#1 is likely safe at 24 inches. :)

Thundersnow VERY possible during the late evening today and then again tomorrow morning.

Storm breakdown:

Once the snow starts, it will be heavy. Some projections have us approaching double digits by MIDNIGHT or shortly thereafter.

At some point, we hit a lull, especially east of the Blue Ridge. In this lull, some freezing drizzle and sleet is possible. Snow we pull back into the region from west to east and then start to taper off afternoon.

Can anything go wrong?? Well, of course. I'd be shocked if most of our region does not see at least 10 inches, but this is a fickle storm. I have some concern about mixing especially Danville to Farmville area. However, factored into that is my 10 inches low mark.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Historical Perspective

Where can this storm rank? I'm not going up, YET from my 8-12 call. The European has 15-20 for our region, but that's a best case. A little more data gets added as the northern energy finally comes ashore and that should help. This needs to strengthen FAST enough and slow down enough to be a top 10 storm, and I'm not convinced we do that.. YET.

So, as of now--8-12 inches, region wide. Maybe a little sleet mixes in Danville to Farmville, with even a little rain or drizzle EVERYWHERE as it winds down Thursday. Temps will be in the mid 20's during the event Wednesday night, but will quickly rise towards freezing as Thursday AM as the event winds down.

Will update later as more data comes in.

If you follow Dave Tolloris at or FB under that name, he has Lynchburg in the 16-20 inch mark which would be a top 5 event ever in Lynchburg.

Lynchburg VA top 10 snowfalls per Paul Kocin's Book. I believe it's missing a 14.3 from Feb 1899, as I actually checked newspaper archives 10 years ago or so, but don't want to add it unverified.

1.Jan 6-7 1996   -21.4
2. Knickerbocker storm   Jan 27-28 1922- 20.2
3. Ash Wednesday Storm March 5-7 1962 -17.9
4. Feb 25-26 1934 -14.8
5. Feb 10-11 1983 -14.6
6. Jan 31-Feb 1 1948 -14.5
7. Feb 28-March 1 1969 -13.7
8. Superstorm March 12-13 1993- 13.0
9. Feb 13-14 1960 -12.8
10 December 25-26, 1969 12.7

Roanoke has a top storm of 24.9 from Jan 1996 and #10 is 12.3 from Jan 1966. (adding the 18.6 from 2009)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Best region wide event in 4 years likely..

With minor details to be worked out (Minor in that well, I could see 8 inches or I could see 16 inches falling over much of the region..a big snow is coming.

Here is the ironic thing-- I moved to Lynchburg in 1996 and we had just ended a great winter. I moved in August. We had NO 10+ events for 13 years and really very few events over 6 inches, maybe only 2-3. Since 2009 we have 3 storms over 10 inches and 3 over 6 inches. This should be the seventh of at least 6 and a 10 incher is VERY possible right now.

Snowiest models


Both of those models show totals that would be a top 10 event. They are stronger aloft with upper air energy and phase them quicker.


Big snow falls of 6-10 inches.

No model gives us under 6 inches.

Issues to be resolved:
1. The exact timing of the phase will impact the strength of the storm which translates to how much falls.

2. Mixing issues: Fairly confident anywhere west of the Blue Ridge is all snow. Lynchburg is looking more likely to be mainly snow, but often for a couple hours there will be a few pellets here and there.

3. Exact tract of the low and the trajectory in which it leaves-- the models with best snows take the low from lets say Wilminton, NC to west of Cape Hatteras to just east of VAB.

Also, the Upper air energy as it comes through can often surprise. The NAM model brings it through late and adds a couple to 5 inches late in the event everywhere. IF the low departs more ENE, we would end up with a little more.

Current Call:

Anywhere west of the BR, South of Staunton, 8-12 inches to start. Could easily add 6 inches to this total.
This includes Roanoke, Blacksburg, etc.

SML to Lynchburg 6-10, with a lower number for mixing with sleet and best bands to our west. Could easily add 6 inches to this.

Martinville,, Danville east to Farmville
4-8 inches, lower due to mixing with sleet, Could easily add 6 inches to this.

Updates on FB and Twitter as needed. Exciting times.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Firing up the Bat Signal and got..

Honestly, I liked it better when I had more information before many of my readers saw a snow map and thought it was legit.

My goal is to inform and educate but also speculate. However, I like to be accurate and when the notion is that 8-12 is being thrown around makes my job harder.

So, we have a cold front coming through-- outside shot of a coating to an inch tomorrow from 460 south to Danville with the cold air coming through. (Some model data shows it, other don't but it could happen) Will be a "last second" update-- but please be aware there is a threat tomorrow for a dusting to an inch.

Cold front clears and as modeled we get "phasing" at the perfect time that brings a low up the coast for a pretty big event. Most areas have had a GOOD event of 5-8 inches-- here in LYH we had 8 inches on Feb 19th, 2012 and 6-7 inches on Palm Sunday. Roanoke and Blacksburg have had a few events of 4-8 inches but we've not seen an across the board, 6+ inch event.

This has a legit shot to be that event.

Key issues

1.  We need phasing of the jets at the right time to create our storm and pull it north. If this doesn't happen, we won't get much.

2. We need the cold air to be as cold as modeled, or mixing will be a BIGGER concern. (Maybe even rain)

3.  We need the track to be close enough to being the heavy moisture but far enough to not warm it up. A few runs of the Euro have taken the low inland where it CLEARLY changes to ice at least up to the Blue Ridge.

4. We the High pressure to slow down just enough to keep our cold air REASONABLE along with a psuedo 50/50 low to hold long enough. This is a fast moving system so I'm not asking for a miracle, just enough to get our storm.

5. Can't completely rule out that it jogs so far inland we get RAIN. (Especially East of the Blue Ridge)

My guess is that we get a big precipitation maker, over an inch of liquid but will battle the sleet and freezing rain at some point, especially east of the Blue Ridge. 

Option 1: If the low stays too far south and east we are looking at a 1-5 inch snow fall.

Option 2: If the low is strong but comes to close we'd be looking at a 4-8 with sleet and freezing rain event.

Option 3: If It take the ideal path, 6-10 would be a reasonable starting point with the potential for more. I think if we max out the event with all snow 10-14 inches is the best we could do.

I don't have a favored path yet, but option 2 seems like a reasonable place to start. I'd start making plans for kids schools being out Wednesday and Thursday and MAYBE even Friday, God forbid you didn't have milk or bread, etc. Of course, we should actually be back in the 40's a day or two after this event so enjoy while it's on the ground. :)

More updates later on FB and Twitter.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Active week on tap

The two waves will come and go over the weekend with at best, a coating to an inch. Two factors working against us will be limited moisture and relative warmth. So, I think we see a couple hours of light Saturday am that will whiten the mulch or something, and melts by 2-3 pm. Sunday brings more of the same.

Mid week is more promising for a bigger event..

Wave one: May end up being north, but some data suggest we could get an inch or two. This may end up a Mason Dixon line special, like everything else this winter.

There COULD be some overunning before the NEXT event, but I'm not willing to commit.

Wave 2: Low pressure forms in the gulf and moves NE to a point off the North Carolina coast. This should be a more moisture laden system. The issue will be the cold air is not anchored in place. On the GFS model in this range, I can get views of the atmosphere and get a good gauge on if we are getting snow, sleet or whatever else may fall. The Euro model makes you pay $$ for those and as a result I have to infer.

Last run of GFS gives us a couple inches and a quick change to ice.

Last euro gives 1-2 inches Monday with a larger event Wednesday. Larger as in over 6 inches, that if all snow would be near 10-- but likely has some sleet and freezing rain late. Not a forecast-- just passing along what the model shows.


What could prevent us from getting a bigger snow.

I've made some crude additions to this map. Note there are 2 L's on my map. One is near the panhandle of Florida and the other is right over Minnesota. We like the low coming out the Gulf of Mexico but the MN low is a problem in that it warms things up, especially above 5k feet. (AKA, ice probems below that)

Also, note the Big H off the coast of Maine. That's our cold air source- High pressue, LEAVING.  Now, it COULD be just strong enough to let the mid week event fall as snow. COULD BE.. but that's not super likely. We'd like that HP over the Great Lakes or Upstate NY.

That makes me think as we trend closer, we could end up have more of an ice storm and less of a snow storm for wave 2. Something like 2-4 inches of snow and sleet with a glaze of ice on top...

Summary: Weekend events up to a coating both Saturday and Sunday. First Wave Monday maybe 1- 3 inches, Next Wave Wednesday--Good potential for a meaningful snow and ice event.