Thursday, December 24, 2015

Weather for Santa's ride and other medium range outlook.

I've gotten several texts, calls and messages asking why I've not updated. Here is the skinny-- When the weather is boring and warm, I usually won't update. Your local TV guy, app does a decent job telling you to expect 55 and sunny. The blog is dusted off when winter weather is approaching or worth discussing.

Crazy warm today-  likely near record level today and a tad cooler but not much cooler Christmas day.

Now, I did expect a warmer than normal December but NOT this warm. We are 8.5 degrees above normal in Lynchburg and 7.9 degrees normal in Roanoke.

When will the pattern change?

We should start to regress back towards normal temps by the New Year. I'm not sure if this is short term 7-10 days or a longer range shift. It's typical for El Nino winters to have second half loaded winters, as mentioned in my winter outlook. There is some reason to "hope" for winter weather in that period.

We are seeing a "disruption" in the force so to speak which should disturb the polar vortex. This should allow for some colder weather by Jan 20th or so as previously discussed in our winter outlook.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Official 2015-2016 Winter Outlook

I'll give you the quick outline of how I think this winter turns out and then do some "splaining" about why and how I got there.

Winter snow totals: Lynchburg 20-25 inches.  Roanoke 25-30 inches, Blacksburg 30-40 inches, Danville 10-20 inches. 

Month Temps:  December Normal to +1, January +2  February -2 to -4
Seasonal Average 0 to +1

Summary :Winter temps slightly above normal, snowfall above normal. 

If I use a term and you don't know what it is, GOOGLE it.

The "Godzilla El Nino" as labeled has behaved as expected and it makes for somewhat of challenging forecast. There are honestly quite a few good reasons why going warmer and less snow is not a bad call including the QBO and some calculated risks about what the El Nino will do.

Remember.. Western Based El Nino's are usually colder with more snow, while eastern based tend to be much warmer with less snow. Basin wide events are less frequent and have mixed results. We currently have a basin wide el nino, stronger in the west but not much stronger. The overall belief seems to be that it will trend more west based and then weaken, but not sure exactly when. This is a key factor to a later winter surge of cold and snow.

As a result, hedging on things that we are not certain about is always a risk and needs to be treated that way.

The QBO is measurement of winds in the tropical stratosphere and a negative reading favors high latitude blocking while positive is usually more associated with less blocking. The number is strongly positive currently. On the flip side, certain snap shots of the AO from the summer reflect a likely hood of a negative AO in the winter.

I've mentioned the topic before of Snow cover in Eurasia and it grew quickly in October-- the second best advance on record. This DOES support high latitude blocking. High latitude blocking is associated with longer lasting cold snaps AKA, ways to get cold and keep it cold so we can snow. (-EPO, -AO and or -WPO)

The General feel for winter :
December starts off warm but trends colder later in the month. A week either side of Christmas has a shot at a snow/ice event.  The El Nino of 09-10 had a big event December 18th. 02-03 had a Dec 5th event PLUS a big Nor Easter on Christmas Eve/Day (That was north of here, but close enough to consider) 97-98 had a small event on Dec 27 and then 4-8 incher on December 30. 86-87 had a 4-8 inch snow ending as rain in early January.

Early January trends warmer and this will last most of the month. By mid to late month we see the pattern change clearly and we know it's on the way. By late month, we are back in a colder regime and should get 1-2 small to moderate events and ONE big event that helps us reach above normal snow during February.

March - some Data supports some risks for additional snow/cold but I'm going to punt that off and avoid it as of now predicting a benign weather month.

I'm not to jazzed about basing my forecast on the hopes that we get ONE big snowfall to push us above normal. Talking with Kevin Myatt from the Roanoke Times, he cited that El Nino's winters push our likely hood for a 12 + event snowfall from 20% to 40% . I'd like to add that we could end in a near perfect pattern, storm track is a little off or cold air isn't deep enough and we end up with ice rather than snow.

Another factor is that often if we get ONE 10+ event, we see another. 09-10, 86-87 and 65-66 are prime examples of this. So, I could be too low too..

Some clunker winters with El Nino's are : 06-07 but it was east based little snow, one ice event. 91-92, least snowiest winter on record, the Eruption of Mt Pinatubo has been offered as a reason why.  72-73 in many areas to our north had NO snow, but we managed 10 inches down here so not  horrible winter here. 41-42 winter had only 5 inches, but if you look at the bigger pattern you'd think we had a snowy winter. 97-98 wasn't horrible here with a few snows east of the appalachians and 2 near misses, one that crushed those west of the Blue Ridge.

Some snow el nino winters: 09-10, big snow in December then a pretty brutal stretch from late January till Mid February. We missed the worst with 20-30 inches in a 10 day stretch but places up from DC to Philly had 40-60 inches in 10 days. 02-03 Pretty cold and snowy all winter, with the BIG event being a sleet storm. 86-87- One snow to rain just after new years then back to back events Late January, a few more events in February. 65-66- one of my favorite winters where from Mid January till  early Febryary 40-60 inches fell in a 3 week period.

So, outside of a cold snap and possible snow/ice  near Christmas- We wait for the pattern to develop in the second half of winter and should have some decent snow to enjoy. If you recall last winter, we had literally nothing then for 2 weeks it snowed 3 times, including a 6-10 inch snowfall and schools were out the most past of 2 weeks. This winter may reflect that in our "sensible" weather.

If you want my confidence level:
50% we end up within a reasonable range of this forecast.
30% we end up warmer/less snow
20% we wend up colder/ more snow and ice.

I'm using 82-83 as my top analog. We had a December snow, but a warmer month. January was warm and basically snowless, February flipped colder and had a decent event on 6 of 3-6 inches then a NICE storm of 15-20 inches region wide on February 10-11.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rain, Rainier and Rainiest..

Sure has been dry?

Rainfall this month..

Blacksburg 8.61 inches
Roanoke 8.48 inches
Lynchburg 7.13 inches
Danville 7.7 inches

Some higher elevations have in excess of 10 inches. All these places run into the James and or Roanoke River.

90% of more has fallen since Monday 9/21

Time crunched and sparring you the synoptic details...
2 options from here.

Either way, I believe we get 2 more "waves" of rain between now and Sunday.

Option 1.. Wave one is dominant, The Hurricane stays far east and we still end up with an additional 2-7 inches of rain. Will have wide spread flooding. Some trees fall as well due to weakened soil.

Option 2- Hurricane gets captured by upper air low and ends up over NC/VA as landfall. Rainfall is still 2 waves, additional rainfall is more in line of 6-15 inches region wide, flooding goes from really bad to about historic. Winds are much stronger. Trees will fall with option one simply because the ground is so wet, with option 2 the winds are much stronger maybe 20-30 sustained with gusts to 50 and trees and power outages will be much more wide spread.

I'm leaning option one as of now with a 70/30 probability.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What does the Godzilla El Nino mean for Winter in Lynchburg, Roanoke, Danville and Blacksburg?

There is no simple answer for this question. Some of our snowiest winters have been tied to moderate to strong El Nino's. Conversely, some very boring and benign winters have been strong El Nino's.  What can we learn from them?

When the water is warmest towards South America, the winter is usually not severe. When the water is warmest towards the Central Pacific, closer to the international dateline, the winters tend to be more severe.


Boring Examples

1997-1998- SUPER El NINO, our are of Central/Western VA had 1 significant event, 4-10 inches, 1 Elevation dependent event (12 -24 inches above 2000 feet) and a near miss.

1972-1973- 6-12 inches total for the winter with a near miss to our south. February ran -3 for the month, but wasn't very snowy.


09-10- VERY Cold and snow, snowfall was 30-50 inches for the winter region wide with 2 to 3 events above 10 inches.

86-87- 3 big events region wide, 2 smaller events, 30-50 inches region wide. 2 12 inche snowstorms within 4 days of each other. Crippling 2 weeks.

65-66  Incredible winter, jammed into 3 weeks where 40-60 inches of snow fell region wide during those 3 weeks. Storm after storm pounded our region from Mid January to Mid February. Crippling 3 weeks.

Sidebar: Chatting with a lady up in Covington, my weather hobby came up. She mentioned that her son was born during the horrible stretch of winter weather as her husband was actually visiting Lynchburg. Snow removal/ Snow Travel was harder back then and it took him days to get home including the last 10 miles by horse.

Above Normal

57-58- Colder winter, 25-35 inches total, one BIG storm in February, 8-15 inches region wide.
82-83 Winter was non existent much of winter, early December storm of 3-6 inches, early Feb storm of  3-6 inches. BIG Mid February storm of 12-20 inches region wide. (Historic Storm for the East coast)

Currently, the El Nino is MORE east based (leans boring winter) but the warmth has been moving west. Much data has the central area becoming warmest which hedges towards cold and snow. I'm not quite willing to jump on that yet. However, a few thoughts:

1. Winter may resemble last winter in that most of the events fall in a 2-3 week period.
2. The risk for a "Big one" will be at the highest level.
3. Much of December and January may be boring and warm.
4. My current hedge for winter would be the "above normal" but not Severe group.  I'm going to let September play out, review some more data and have a complete Winter Outlook by Mid October.

In essence, December and January will average above normal temp wise with a small event or two possible. A time or two where a storm takes a perfect track, but has no cold air to work is very likely. Winter will be consolidated into 2-3 weeks from Late January to Mid Feb with a BIG event possible.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Severe Weather Tips and Guidance

Severe Weather is fun and exciting but can also be very dangerous.. here are a few thoughts about ways to protect yourself and raise your personal awareness.

1. Have a good radar app--  Android- Rainy Days,  iPhone- My Radar.  Have them in motion so you see if the storm is moving towards you..etc.

As a corollary- if you're not good at geography, learn a little. Often a warning cites a location and tells you where the storm is heading. Example : Storm is near Forest and heading NE towards Lynchburg and Madison Heights. That's an easy example. Know the counties near you so you get an idea where these things are headed.

2. Beware of OLD 411 on Facebook. Often a warning gets issued for a region and the next AM it's cycled up on Facebook again. Once again, if anyone has Zuckerberg's email, let him know to write some code so we can expire weather data, which has become a great medium to get important information to the masses.

3. TWC-  TWC is a nice resource, but in severe weather times, I strongly recommend watching your local stations. Why? TWC covers the entire nation and your local guy does your area specifically and only. Yeah, TWC scrolls your data non stop, but they will also have tons of 411 on wherever else in the nation is having severe storms. This is NOT a knock on TWC, but advising you to find more specific information to your area.

4. Lighting and outside play, sporting games. If you hear thunder, end the game, Get your kid off the field, out the pool, etc Lighting can be 10 miles away from a storm. Many places have adapted policies to reflect this but don't allow parents, coaches or even you kids (please let us swim longer, it's far away) The pool will be there when the storm passes, the game can be rescheduled but lives can't be resurrected nor do all injuries heal as we want.

5. Know the difference between Watch and Warning.
Watch- storms are possible with *hail, strong winds, tornadoes
Warning storms are happening with hail, strong winds, tornadoes

With that, learning geography helps because a Tornado warning for Henry County for a storm heading Due East shouldn't scare you if you live in Evington. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Winter review..

Now that we are into April and any shot of snow/ice is really gone-- let's go back and see how I graded out.

Winter outlook 14-15

Overall, we grade out pretty well.
December was the warmest month and in Lynchburg we ended up right in the range of snowfall, with Roanoke and Blacksburg being just a smidge low. I called for temps to be 1-2 degrees below normal, and we ended up in the -3 to -4 range region wide because of the ridiculous -9 to -10 departure in February.

One of the best quotes is:

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. 

Now, my timing was slow by about two weeks and that was because the trough axis was a bit east and pulled back west into mid February. We had some colder temps before that but it was basically dry. 

It started out on Valentines day with a decent Saturday that ended with a STRONG cold Front passage, where we had a about a quarter inch of snow. That lead us up to the Presidents Day storm where 6-9 inches of snow was common over all of our area. The following Saturday we had Snow to ice where parts of Amherst county had 10-12 inches, while Rustburg south only had 1-2 inches. The official number on the Climo report for Lynchburg is 6 inches, but I think that was a mistake that I talked to Sean Sublette about before he left and it was never corrected at the NWS. That would actually knock Feb 15 out of the snowiest February ever, but this is science and exact figures matter. 

Next we had the Huffman special on Feb 25-26 where 3-4 days out many outlets bought the storm well to the south and I held on my 3-6 inch call and it worked out very well for our region. 

Lastly, the snow to ice in early March topped of our winter season. My forecast was on par with everyone else as we all had to guess at where the sleet line ended up. 

Best Call: 3-6 inch event Feb 25-26

Proud of: Hitting the sleet on the Presidents day storm. It cost us about an inch and a half of snow here, but not I did pull the sleet into Lynchburg if you check my map Here

Needed work: The Saturday event I played the north trend and it drifted a bit south last second. I could have hit the ice a bit harder too-- it wasn't a HUGE ice storm but it was significant.

Summer Outlook? Working on it-- El Nino summers tend to be warmer than normal.

I grade that a Solid A-- not bad compared to my TOTAL F for my outlook last winter.  We've hit our average snowfall the past 2 winters and 12-13 was only off by 1-2 inches. We've also hit a trend of bigger events. From The 96-97 winter until 07-08 winter we only had 3-4 snow events over 6 inches in that 13 year stretch. Since 08-09 we've had 9. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Any cold left?

We are stepping out of what was one of the most intense 3 week winter periods in our area ever. The time period rivals any 3 week stretch combined cold/snow-- we had a few colder and few snowier, but combination of them both is top notch.

Finally, a break is on the way and we should begin to feel some seasonal temperatures. March is known for it's wild swing and it seems the next week or so should be normal to even ABOVE normal. Late next weekend/early the following week we will be be looking at the rebuilding of the west coast ridge that led to our continual dumps of cold air from the north pole. This could be another round of perhaps late March mischief.

Understanding the pattern, the PDO is a scale that measures temps in the pacific in certain locations. Positive numbers indicate a better change for a west coast ridge. Those who follow the weather know that Cali and nearby states were super warm and dry. I know I recall seeing countless reports of insane numbers in Seattle of 70-80 to the place that's the 49 and rain capital of the world. The PDO is a cyclical pattern.

As we start to wind down winter, I tend to fade out a bit in severe/hurricane season, especially when it's boring around here. It's probable PAST when I need, but I've been working on a blog that conveys some ideas about finding a good forecast in the digital era. In the next week or so, it will likely be a 2 part blog that may help you find out quicker what the weather will be like.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

No big changes

Map from Yesterday holds..

Sleet is going to be an issue where sleet develops between 8-10 in our area and doesn't change to snow till mid to late afternoon. Temps keep falling all day-- upper 20's by late day. We do get a few hours of snow late afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rain, Ice then snow-- Tricky forecast on the way. School days appear to be a 2fer-- Thursday and Friday off for most schools.

Tricky forecast on the way with ANOTHER winter event a virtual lock. The difference is we could escape with a minor inch or two of sleet and snow or could end up with 4-5 inches.

It's a simple set up, where an arctic cold front is pushing in the same time a HUGE slug of moisture is moving in. The exact time the the front gets in, and then the time it takes for the sleet to mix with snow will determine what happens.

Timing is Everything.

If anything the trend has been to nudge this more south, as all data yesterday moved that direction. There has been many systems where they nudge close enough to keep us in the game, and then as the event unfolds, the snow/sleet line ends up 50 miles north of modeled. This is HUGE because as modeled now-- The sleet line gets to Roanoke/Lynchburg before Sun up tomorrow, while it doesn't reach Danville until noon. So, sleet line moving about 10 miles an hour?? Further, after that we are waiting for the entire column of air to cool enough to flip it to all snow. What would be 6 inches of snow, could end up being just 1.5 inches of sleet. (Snow falls at a 10-1 ratio, while sleet is 3-1 at best)

Here is a map of my thoughts as of now-- In General, along 460 from Blacksburg to Roanoke to Lynchburg.  1-2 inches of sleet, 1-2 inches of snow 2-4 inches total. Change over rain to sleet 5-7 AM, Chang from sleet to snow 12-2 PM. It all ends by dinner time.

Southside- Martinsville to Danville 1-2 inches total sleet snow. Sleet mixes Late morning/early afternoon, ending as snow.

We have no wiggle room, meaning if this is off by 30 miles south, we only get an inch or two. Conversely, if the model data is off 30 miles to the north we could be looking at 6-7 inches. A fluid situation like will require some game time updates, so follow me on FB or Twitter for updates.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Wednesday Night- Thursday

Please follow me on Twitter--  @Lynchburgwx or follow me on FB personally or my Lynchburg Weather FB page. That's where I can convey some quick thoughts without the total blog post.

Big rain maker comes through and the snow should be melted and gone by Wednesday, and the very day another round of snow and ice is likely at this point.


Arctic front comes after the first round of rain and slowy sinks through our area. This is a key to the forecast because there is another ripple of energy riding along this cold front and depending on where this sets up, the ice and snow follows.

I about always play the north trend on the models and .. and as of now we are on the bottom rung of decent snows on some models while others go well to our north with about all of the frozen. This would mean that we may get little or no snow and ice.  Those north models are the same ones that pointed last week before the rest of the model date pushed the heavier snow into our area. I give pause a bit because when there is legit arctic air, that's a game changer at times on north trends (AKA, stops it-- reference blogs from last March 3)

I'm going to hedge in the middle now and suggest that the Heaviest snow (4+ inches) stays north but up to 4 is possible Wednesday night into Thursday. I also have a bit of concern that we have some sleet issues because arctic fronts VS subtropical jet is a breeding ground for COLD air undercutting the warm and a warm layer hangs on between 5-8k feet above the ground.

Extreme outcomes:

If we max our the snow potential, 6 or more inches is very possible. This will be a huge event over parts of KY, WV, TN and sw from there.

If we escape with a minor hit, literally nothing could fall.

Last week I felt very comfortable with my call all along  3-6 and it was very good. Here, I am much less certain and just trying to get the word out of the "possible" event. I'll FB/Tweet a few thoughts as the mid day models unfold as I have time during the work day and will have a full blog update IF needed to update where

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Advisory level Ice event likely Sunday

Well, you had 3 days off from winter weather and 35 degrees has never felt so balmy, right?

Ice event likely tomorrow--not a huge deal, but churches may be cancelled and play dates will be spoiled.

Storm tracks well to our NW, but our low level cold will be difficult to scour out-- high temps today only in the 30 degree range or so. A quick burst of snow is possible before sleet and then eventually freezing rain falls. Sleet could be a coating to a half inch or so and then we just wait out the freezing rain. Temps should creep above freezing late afternoon/early evening.

Expect the NWS to issue a Winter weather advisory this afternoon for all regions from basically all day. Expect southside, per the norm to warm up fastest.

Looking forward, we should remove the snow pack with some warmer temps, high dew points and rain Tuesday. Thursday, another cold front approaches and the models hint at a shot of some winter type weather.  My hunch is the GFS overnight is too far south and we would end up on the ice side of things if anything (But ice in March is rare here, but happened last year)

March-- looks variable, with honestly maybe a few more shots at winter weather the first 2 weeks.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter Storm wrap up and is March a Lion or a Lamb, or both.

Yes, I was glad it panned out how I had anticipated and was able to let you all know before most forecasters even mtioned snow. BUT, you're only as good as your last forecast so it's time to move on. General 4-6 inch amounts in the Lynchburg area, 5-7 southside, 3-5 NRV and 2-3 far NW regions. What was interesting for me at least, I dozed off around 11:30 and the snow was just about to start. When I woke up it was a very low ratio snow. Once we got some good lift going on, we had some really high ratio snow from that point forward. Hence, even with a high of 34 today and decent cloud cover A LOT of snow melted today.

Side note:Charlotte had a big bust and I felt bad for the kids and snow lovers down there. The NWS forecast was for 7-11 inches, but the sleet and rain line was just south of town. 20 miles off and most of the city got a quick inch or two then rain.

Moving forward- Outside shot of a system Sunday bringing a little light snow or ice and another system Tuesday but at this time they look NON threatening. Granted, I've not had the time to really look into it, but at worse it's a quick coating to an inch then a little ice then rain. Could be nothing too.

Tuesday is another maybe "brief snow, a little more ice and then rain". Would not be shocked if our snow cover is gone by Wednesday at the latest, except those GIANT parking lot plowed places.

BTW, I appreciate this shares of my blog on facebook and other places. PLEASE share all you can and like my FB page. One long term goal I have is to blog for our local newspaper somewhat like Kevin Myatt does for the Roanoke times (If you follow his blog, he's excellent and 99% of the time we agree- we have an on going chat with another forecaster to bounce ideas around ) Point being, help me reach my goal /

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The kick is's up

It's been an exciting run of afternoon model runs where FINALLY most data agrees with my 3-6 call. Now, let's not jump for joy before we actually see the snow fall, but things are looking good.

For most of our area a general 3-6 inches will fall. This includes Roanoke - Lynchburg-SML- Martinsville-Danville- NRV areas.

All the counties along the VA/NC state line are at risk from some bonus snow. Places from Danville, east to South Boston, Bugs Island have legit shots to see up to 10 inches. This will have "banding" of snow and if you are in those areas, snow will add up fast. Those bands will flirt with Lynchburg, but likely not quite make it in.

It's GOOD!

(Live call of this storm)

Updates on FB/Tweet as needed- As you all know I'm a fan of snow pictures so go ahead and tag me if you want! I do look at all of them.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm feeling it, and models are trending my way.

No big changes. I'm going to hold at 3-6 for our area, with maybe a bit more down towards the VA-NC line. I think the 3 inch line makes up to the Staunton-Charlottesville area.

Most data is SLOWLY moving towards my forecast. Bottom line-- it's a strong vort on the sub tropical jet. There are some sound reasons to say why it won't trend north but they always do, even if the track is the same latitude, the precipitation spreads out more. I could bore you with model maps, but just know that every run, most data slides north 15-25 miles. By this time tomorrow we should see close to what I expect. One phantom run of the NAM will sink south, causing fear and panic.Hold it steady and we should be good.


In VA-- south of a Covington to Charlottesville To Fredericksburg line, a general 3-6 inches. Some places in the MT Empire, along the state line and Hampton Roads area could grab a few extra inches.

Will fine tune this forecast later and add more detail.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

More snow?? (Don't shoot the messanger)

What a wintery week--
For the week, officially, 13 inches of snow fell and we had a negative departure on our temps of just under -24 degrees. Most schools close all of last week and some are already closed tomorrow.

Lynchburg set an all time record low of -11

More snow??


Long story short-- another arctic shot comes in tomorrow and another short wave rides out of the south west. The models want to suppress it to and keep the snow 100 miles or so to our south.

How many times have I mentioned north trends on the models??

Now, we are 4 days out and I'm not promising (or cursing) anyone with more snow-- but I struggle to think we won't at least clipped from this (1-2 inches) or maybe even a decent snow (3-6 range)

This would be Wednesday night into Thursday.

More updates later.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Special Morning Update- increased snow totals. - Total NOW CAST event.

Light snow is breaking out in western regions already, with flurries in Roanoke already. This is a good sign for snow lovers, and 

As I said last night, the difference between 6 inches and 2-3 is only 15 miles based on model data. Slight shifts mean all the difference. Still watching this, the model trends REALLY drifted the snow back to our region. The euro, which had no snow as of noon yesterday drapes the 3 inch line into our region now..

With that, Roanoke to Lynchburg 3-6 inches

15 miles north of these LOCALS 6-10 inches. 

Ice mixes late afternoon, some rain overnight. 

This is a NOWCAST event-- I can't promise we won't have to massage these numbers either way. Facebook and Twitter updates all day as needed. Snow may be falling VERY soon into LYH. 

This is a snow map from the RGEM model-- it's been the MOST south all along and has drifted south even more. This model says double digits in Roanoke and getting darn close to that in LYH..

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's going to be ugly-- BUT, not that ugly

It's 6 am and the current temp at LYH airport is -7. I have a resource near the airport who reported -4 on his car 2 hours ago. Ridiculous cold topping off a very wintery week.

Weekend Storm talk:

The Euro has a chance to redeem itself, BIG TIME! It's not been great all winter, Highlighted by the 12 inches that didn't fall in Philly, the 2-3 feet that didn't fall in NYC and numerous phantom snow storms in the 4-6 day range that never came to fruition. However, as all the early morning and mid day data trended towards a pretty big event, the Euro continued to hold to the idea that the best snows past well to our north and west while we get lighter stuff and that by the time significant precipitation moves in, we are in ice mode heading towards rain mode.

All of the model data has stepped in that direction. As a result, the NWS has downgraded the Watches to an advisory for places east of the Blue Ridge and warnings west of the Blue Ridge.

What do you think?

This isn't a north trend storm wise, but just where the precipitation will develop and move east. With most other guidance moving towards the Euro, I'm going to shade all data in that direction.

1-2 inches Lynchburg area. Coating to Inch Danville, and 2-4 west of the Blue Ridge with some ice one top in all regions. My concern is we even have to step back on these a bit. Now, the cold air may not break down as fast it's just that the first wave goes well north and we don't do much of anything for a while.

Will update later, but as of now I'm not too high on BIG snow totals.

Lexington north up along 64 will do pretty well snow wise, with 4-8 inches.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wintery Weekend on Tap..Sloppy Saturday and Soaking Sunday.

But first-- Today. 

Similar to Saturday, Strong cold front approaches the air and because it's such an extreme cold blast, there is a good bit of energy tied into it so we should see a line of snow squalls rocket through with 15 to 45 minute blasts of snow.  Could be a coating and in an extreme case an inch or two is possible. Timing will stink because it will be mid to late afternoon.

The Cold...

Tomorrow morning will be brutal with temps down around 5 degrees and windchills -5 to -20. UGLY and the kids won't have school. Friday AM will have CALM winds, but literal temps will be 0 to -10.

The Snow.

The details are slowly coming into focus, but this weekend won't be good. We'll have that cold air sitting in place and a very wet system approaching our area. Due to the lack of blocking (Famed -NAO) I've mentioned, this storm again will eventually be able to dislodge the cold air and we may hit for the precipitation cycle when all is said and done.

Highlights as of now--

By noon Saturday most of our area is snow.
By late afternoon most of the area is NOT snowing, but the temperature is still below freezing and stuff is falling from the sky.
By Sunday AM-- the temp is above freezing and it COULD still be raining.

Often, as you get close to these events the models catch on that it's harder to dislodge the cold air. As an example in this last storm-- sleet fell in areas where freezing rain was expected. This happened because the cold air depth was greater than modeled. (Lower levels of atmosphere)

This is NOT my prediction, but a general idea of what these events do:

Mountains 3-6 inches, ROA- LYH 2-4, Southside 1-3 inches with a good bit of ice on top.

So, we have 3-6 inches of snow left, add a few inches, add some rain and start the melting. Both Saturday and Sunday will be pretty ugly days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A winter storm with no big surprises..Wicked cold and Weekend Snow!

Yesterday's snowy event ended up close to what I thought. A few short term issues where I didn't think much sleet was going to make it in and we actually had a good bit of sleet after midnight. I think the official number will be close to 8 inches. I measured 8.5 inches and now have 8 but I crashed around midnight and missed the sleet show. I'm putting my total at 9 inches. There's about an in inch or so of sleet and snow on top so I'm going to put my final as 9. My 6-10 was a good call and that 8-14 zone area did well with some Mountain regions hitting over a foot, but some locals had a tad less..

Even with small short term error, I did beat the sleet drum louder than most and once again I was right. I thought it was OVER, and that snow ended earlier than thought rather than the sleet didn't make it up here.

Pretty impressive event with temps in the lower teens with snow falling. I've been down here with temps 17 or so with sleet and or snow falling, but 13 is unreal.


If we don't get above freezing today, we will NOT get above freezing till this weekend.  I'd say 50/50 shot we get above freezing today. Another arctic front comes tomorrow and we could get another snow shower like we did Saturday with a quick coating to a half inch.

20% shot we get below zero Wednesday AM.

50% Shot we get below zero Thursday AM

80 % shot we get below zero Friday AM.  Extreme arctic high parks right over us and we could see some record setting cold of 0 to 5 BELOW zero.
For the record, I'm going conservative on the cold, and legit shot that both days are below zero and Friday is CRAZY cold.


Over the weekend, another storm not THAT far off from this one will take place where a storm takes aim at our strong arctic air. The arctic air will be a bit more stale and I think the ice line makes it in sooner and likely ends as rain. No initial thoughts yet, but it could be advisory or warning level event.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Some during storm tid bits

Based on observations-- storm seems to be taking southern route. I feel a little less nervous for sleet working into Lynchburg, Danville and South Boston should mix later on as anticipated.

Based on trends now-- and model data-- 460 from Blacksburg to Richmond is the bullseye for this event. Totals of 8-14 inches will be common in this area.

I think we need 12.5 inches to get a top 10 snowfall in Lynchburg. Outside shot we get it., under 10% but still a shot.

Great ratio's have NOT developed here yet-- . As the low gets close to the mts and a low level jet interacts, we could see larger flakes and more fluff. So, the cold temps made it stick fast but we are NOT getting 15-1 ratio yet. Same report out of Roanoke.

Let's get ready to RUMBLE!!!

We are all systems go for what will end up being a significant storm across all of our region. Note on this quick radar shot that we already have snow falling ALOFT, but it's drying as it falls. (Called VIRGA)

Snow should overspread most of the area by noon. The heavier stuff should hold off till late 
afternoon.  The worst of the storm will be between 5 pm and Midnight and things will taper down quickly after that, flurries wrapped up well before sunrise. 

Updated Map
Easy to understand. The dotted black line is as far north as the sleet COULD make it, In
the places north of the 3-6 zone, don't expect sleet to be a big issue, some cold fall LATE in the event.
Do you promise it's going to snow? 


Can anything go wrong and we don't get as much?

The atmosphere is fluid so once you get data it's already changed. Unless your in the 3-6 zone, the floor for any one location is 4 inches if EVERYTHING went wrong. Conversely, I can see that 8-14 zone pushing a tad east is everything goes well. 

What about school days?

Most area schools closed today- good call in that these east west moving storms tend to start faster. With anything over 4 inches, we usually get back to back snow days, so I imagine most people are out Wednesday.

Where this gets bad is- Another SEVERE arctic oubreak passes our area Wednesday. AM temps could go below zero. I've never noted a model runs where MULTIPLE runs have MOST of VA below 0. Thursday and Friday will be a delay, if not closed as well and another system starts to bear down on our region Saturday. 

With the holiday week,  we could hit the grand slam of snow days-- the Entire week off. It's like a rain shortened no hitter for any school that was already closed today, but still rather impressive. 

This should the last blog on this event. Will be doing live tweets and FB updates as the storm starts and continues.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Storm Watch over our ENTIRE area... SIGNIFICANT snow likely now.

Certainly had a feeling that would be the right course of action after watching evening model runs.

First, in my "weather hobbyist" ever running chat-- I noted that I failed to mention the bitter cold this AM and snow showers yesterday. It wasn't a shock and played out as I expected. That was an exciting 20 minutes of snow.  I need to do a better job of conveying messages about cold and windchill. It's the big story today with temps at 7 or so this AM and windchills well below zero.

The wave 1- wave 2 issue has been resolved. For the last few days, resolving if wave 1 or wave 2 would be dominant was causing model chaos, which in turn lead to forecasting challenges. The traditional thinking was slow this down, let the jets phase as I mentioned and we'd get a bigger event.

1 is the polar Jet, 2 is the Subtropical Jet. 
Where this ended up was, the phase was NOT needed and Polar Jet is riding solo on this event. 

1. Time issues- When the thought that the phase was needed, it was almost a full 24 hours slower. As a result, our storm time is now Monday afternoon until Tuesday morning.

2. Mixing issues? Here goes my north trend talk. We are literally in the bullzeye at this point and 100% snow on most of the models. These things tend to nudge north with time. I'd put odds at 50/50 that some mixing occurs late in the storm up to the Blue Ridge including Danville, Lynchburg and Martinsville. 

3. Snow amounts.  I held to my thoughts of 2-4 and I'm glad I kept snow options on the table. Looks like DOUBLING that amount nice place to start most places. Even if we mix, 4 inches should occur most places. Very possible places exceed 8 inches and I've noted that in my map.

4. VERY cold during this event and even colder after. Reasonable shot many places get close to 0 Wednesday and Thursday AM. 

5. School closings-- Be ready for some serious closing issues. Tuesday is about a lock to be closed. 
Wednesday at best will be a delay, but with cold temps MAYBE slightly above freezing Tuesday afternoon I doubt the back roads are clear enough to have school Wednesday. Thursday AM will be COLDEST of the days with lows near 0, slightly below 0 possible. That screams 2 hour delay unless we get the 8-10 inch amounts possible. That gets us to Friday. (I heard some schools did not close for Presidents Day too-- which somewhat bothers me and I got an email from Abe Lincoln and he's really upset about it) So, as of now-- 1 day closed and 2 days delayed is about a lock.  2 days closed and 1 day delayed is likely. 3 days closed 1 day delayed is still an option and man, for you teachers out there-- would not rule out  the entire week being gone if your specific region gets 10 inches. 

6. Another storm on the map next weekend. Has the potential to be a decent event, good changes it's a mixed bag and another big cold shot behind that one. 

Region wide 4-8 is likely. ON the west side of the red, up to 10 inches possible.
These numbers may need to be massaged a little either way as we get closer
to the event. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Not going to change anything...

I had hoped to gain a little more clarity yesterday for this event, and while we did get some my confidence level has not climbed a ton. Once we established that the low would not cut to our west, but move to our south I moved the region snow total to a general 2-4 inches. That isn't going to change at this time. 

Key Factor:

I've used the term phasing, which is when energy aloft from 2 jet streams work together. I used the term "bundled" energy and this is in that realm as well. The model runs that show a decent event 
have decent phasing and those who don't have a smaller or a NON event. If that energy from the Baha area ejects and phases (interacts) quick enough, we should have a decent, if not significant event. 

Best locations: 
At this point in time places along the VA/NC border are at higher risks to see more significant snowfalls. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Model trends

If you want a snow storm-- Yesterday started as a great day and ended on the downslope. 

The trend yesterday was to slow down the system, keep the cold air in place and kept us on any models to an all snow event. Some of the mid day model runs had stripes of 9 to 15 inches across much of our regions. 

A late afternoon model run pulled the low more south and then ALL the late evening model runs went south and most kept the snow out of our region. However, the ensemble runs kept snowfall region. As a refresher, ensemble forecasting is taking a specific model (GFS, ECMWF, GEM- American, European and Canadian) and running a set amount of times with changes in run to weed out a bias of a model. 


Great question and I'll do my best to answer. 

In general, this type event trends north as we get closer. So that's one in the in our favor. We have some subtropical jet interaction and those are famous for last day north adjustments even just in where the heaviest precipitation lines up. 

A concern is that the drastic trend on ALL the models could indicate something. 2 of those issues are:

1. The energy aloft is split, and as a result the storm is sheared out and weak, not throwing back moisture into the cold section. Just like bundling your TV and internet services, bundled energy is good for bigger storms. 

2. COLD air. The track has been adjusted in part because the cold air coming down is harder to forecast and the models adjusted in part because of the cold air in place AND the cold air coming in. 


Yesterday I went 2-4 east regions. (Meaning east of the Blue Ridge) and west 4-8. This was based on the idea that we'd have a mix at certain points. Remember that forecasting is FLUID and information changes. Not much data shows the storm cutting to our west-- so the mix idea has dropped greatly. 

I'm going to blend the ensembles and operational models and hold to an idea that a 2-4 inch snowfall is the most likely outcome at this time. Usually, I'd love a low that is 150 miles too far SE at this time based on the ever present north trend, but with the drastic change yesterday (AKA disturbance in the force) I'm not positive we have a really good grasp on this yet. 

Model runs today between 9 and 1:30-- I'll toss a few ideas from those on FB and Twitter. But, as of now-- the best guess is 2-4 inches region wide, maybe more SE regions. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Presidents Day followed by a snow day (s)

Legit threat Unfolding for Tuesday of next week...followed by bitter cold

The big picture of the pattern still isn't GREAT, but like most winters if you get enough storms rolling by ONE has enough cold air to work with for at least a spell.

A storm passes to our north Saturday-Sunday with some very COLD air in place Sunday-Monday. This cold air will set the stage for what could/should be a legit winter storm for our region.

1. This won't be an all snow event.

With a departing high pressure off the east coast, at some point we mix and change to sleet, freezing rain and even rain for a while. Literally as the storm ends and more ridiculous cold air zooms in right on the tail.

2. School/work is at risk Tuesday if not longer.

Looks like the event should start between Midnight Monday night and Lunch time Tuesday, and should start as snow. The slow change to ice then rain will happen and may even end as snow (also could remain ice some regions the entire event)

Temperatures/rain won't warm up enough to melt whatever falls and then temps by Wednesday AM are below freezing and stay there for days. Taken literal, at best we are above freezing 12 hours late Afternoon Tuesday till early Wednesday and then temps plummet during the day Wednesday. Temps fall back below freezing between Midnight and 5 AM and tumble all day long. By 5 PM we are down in Teens. Thursday AM lows are 0-10 above.

If you get 4 inches of snow at your house, by the time the ice/rain ends-- it may be 1.5 inches of slush and then it's going to freeze ROCK hard.

3. Initial Guess??

I don't mind throwing out thought as long as you as the reader accept this is fluid and subject to quite a bit of revision.
Broad brush now-- Western regions 4-8, with a good bit of sleet and freezing rain on top.
Eastern Regions 2-4 with a good bit of sleet and freezing rain. Ice may be the big idea for a while, ending as rain.

The world will look like a glacier for a few days after with lows in the single digits after the storm.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Superbowl Sunday & Nor Easter Comments.

I wanted to comment first on the Nor'Easter from this past Monday-Tuesday. Tough storm but fun to attempt and forecast. There has been a lot of comments either way and my readers are usually kind towards me for many reasons, some being that they've known me their entire life. (Yeah, like you Shannon H) It was like a comedy of errors watching model runs (Most run 2x a day, some run 4x a day and some run every hour) The lack of trends and consistency was remarkable.
1. Models are just that-- MODELS. They are not sensible weather and literally once the data is uploaded it's already WRONG. Point being, we've made huge advances but models will be wrong. When a low has to reform and the difference is 75 miles between a foot and NOTHING, these things will happen.
2. Damage control can be mitigated by conveying uncertainty in the forecast. Outside of Eastern New England, this was a KNOWN possibility all along. Chatting with a friend and his wife along the CT coast, I promised them a foot and said 24-30 was possible. I knew that was a lock. They were on the western edge of where I KNEW a foot was possible. I would not have promised them 2 feet. They reported 20, but a met from the area reported 14.
3. Start small. Even in most of Massachusetts, I found the 2-3 feet NWS calls a bit much. It's always easier to start small and convey totals could go up based on strength and track. In NYC area, where they were on the far west of the 2-3 feet 'modeled" snow-- even more so a reason to go low.
4. The trick is in the wording-- there has to be some ambiguity in forecasting.  Convey a cushion to your audience allows you to back track when needed.
5. You, as an "receiver" of the forecast needs to educate yourself.  Be able to tell where you on a map, have a radar app on your phone. (Rainy Days for Android, My Radar for Iphone)
6. Media outlets need to be quicker in updating forecasts. When a storm is developing wrong, radio stations, etc often have the "old" tape running for a long while after a storm is clearly going to different.
7. Facebook could do the world a favor and make a special category for Weather services, even if it doesn't include my "folksy" page. For legit weather entities, OLD data coming up in the FB stream is brutal. For the average person, they could have been VERY confused. I'd see an update from NWS near NYC that had old maps, then the new maps underneath it based on their algorithm of who liked and posted. Rather than putting more pressure on these outlets to delete data, have something done where old data can be pushed back in time sensitive situations like this. Facebook and Zuckerburg have changed the world-- how about some efforts to save some lives and just make it easier. SO many people get information from  facebook about the weather. Make it a priority that people are getting CURRENT information, not 12 hour old data, which is ancient in weather terms.

Superbowl Sunday-

Don't think it's out storm again. *Lynchburg and Roanoke area*

Just can't get a break this winter. Decent cold air in place, and a strong arctic front racing our way and it seems the cold air will be 12 hours too late. Storm tracking JUST a bit to close for all snow.

1. Departing HP slow to leaving-- this doesn't allow our storm to move or develop south.
2. Our actual Low, forced to move between
3. Arctic High bringing cold air.

Low should track NE Louisiana to Bristol TN to Norfolk.-- if not even a shade north.

Starts as snow, mixes with sleet and rain, ends as snow.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Forecasting ...

Means to predict or estimate.

Remember that when your weather guy gets one wrong. :)

True story last weekend while watching that Seahawks - Pack game that I put on facebook-- Famous last words, this feels over. Pack had dominated most of the game, Seahawks had no time and again could not move the ball. We know how that ended up for my call-- NOT TOO GOOD!

This storm has been up and down-- the best thing I said was when it was suppressed (Best snows over eastern NC per the models) is that I am more concerned it will be too warm than not wet enough.

This map shows where our LOW is tomorrow early evening and shows you where the is a LOW over CANADA where we need a high. That low is what costs us a decent snow event. Had it been a decent High that pushed JUST cold enough air, we'd be looking at a 12 inch snow fall.
Note the L near FL coast and the SECOND L in Canada. That is killing our cold air supply. 

Forecasting this has been tough. There are no exact flow charts to show you what should go where for temps and this is very marginal everywhere. 

1. Danville should be mainly rain. Maybe a quick burst of sleet and or snow start then a cold rain. 

2. Roanoke and Lynchburg won't see a ton of snow, but an inch or two of sleet and snow is possible, especially west of LYH towards Roanoke. 

3.  Lynchburg will start as a burst of snow and sleet and move to sleety rain and maybe a period of freezing rain. The data shows cold air JUST above the surface so literally SNOWFLEX could have ice forming while timberlake road is just wet. (It's happened before)

4. Roanoke Will start as sleet and snow, hang on to sleet longer and end as rain. 

5. Would be remiss to not mention Blue Ridge Weather has idea of a second wave of snow saturday AM. Would be rare, but possible 

6. Fast mover- best stuff should actually be gone by midnight or shortly there after. 

We do have some other chances for snow in the next 2 weeks. Superbowl weekend LATE has an interesting set up where there is a strong pulse on the Sub tropical Jet and some decent cold shots coming from the arctic regions. Both seem legit.
1. The SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) bottomed WAY out which means the get will be more amped with moisture and energy. 

2. The EPO is forecasted to go negative. That is what kept us cold most of last winter. 

This will be a now cast event-- I like a quick coating in LYH and some freezing rain. I like more sleet in Roanoke, ending as rain. The further up 81 you get, the more snow and sleet you get. Decent event Hagerstown, Lancaster..etc. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dusting off the blog..Friday- Monday

It's been a while since a blog and honestly, I'm leaning towards event one (Friday Night and Saturday)NOT being a big deal for us. It's the classic case of so close, yet so far away. I think we get from between .75 to 1.25 inches of rain/junk falling out the sky saturday and 50% it's mainly rain, 25% we get enough snow to cover the ground and WAY at the bottom, 10% chance of 4+ inches of snow. (Not the WPC 10% chance either, for my weather enthusiasts)

Without getting to technical, where we need a HP to supply cold air, we have a low pressure. parts of NW Virginia and MAYBE the Mts to our west could survive this, but for Roaonke, Lynchburg and Danville LIKELY means MOSTLY rain. We've got 3 days to play this out, but I often say-- when is the last time in a storm we ended up colder than progged. Answer is--..A LONG WHILE.

Will update as needed, but strongly in the mainly rain for the Roanoke, Lynchburg and Danville areas. Areas above 2k feet and well to the north and west like Harrisonburg, etc may do well.

Event 2- Clipper type system is going to dig VERY deep Monday time frame. (Dig- how far south it goes with the upper air energy) In general, I like to see the energy at least at the VA/NC state line, if not down to -40 in Carolina. This vortmax is possible heading into GEORGIA. Funny, because it's not far off from making a heck of a low and there is a way we miss the storm as it moves south and then north up the coast.  As of now, this may be our first chance to get decent snow of like 1-4 inches over much of the region.

Will update with some maps later for those who like more data.