Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Top Weather Stories of 2018.. and a sneak peek into 2019.

I do make snow maps for the entire region, but I am Lynchburg centric on much of my banter talk  because I live there. It could easily be made this has been the most extreme weather year EVER in the Hill City.  I'd refer to you Kevin Myatt from the Roanoke Times for the year in review for the Roanoke/NRV  region.

My top events in order.

1. The April 15 tornado-
Wow, A tornado started on Timberlake/Waterlick and ended way up in Amherst County. This was the first actualy tornado in the city limits in recorded history. Hands down, the most impressive event of the year.

Click here for the NWS write up on the storm and  click here my favorite video from the Compter Exchange is the Tornado heads up Timberlake.

2.  August 2nd extreme flooding-

I recall seeing the first radar image and thinking it may get ugly and it was worse than I ever could have imagined.  A large swath of our region saw 5-8 inches of rain in 2 hours causing incredible flooding. Here are two images that show radar totals , and keep in mind radar totals are often underdone.

The red areas exceeded 6 inches of rain. It was a sharp cut off with the reporting location at the airport seeing under one inch of rain in that time period. 

3. Has to be the December snowfall.  You could argue this was the biggist region wide storm since January of 1996. Other storms had more in certain areas, but very few areas of the region had less than 10 inches. (Dec 09 and Feb 14 would be the competition. 

4. Record setting  precipitation: For the year we are over 60 inches and should see another inch or two  from rain Thursday into Friday. I will add the rainfall for Michael and Florence in this for Lynchburg specific, even thought the impact of those events, especially Michael were greater in Roanoke/ Danville.  For everyone in our area, this is the wettest year on Record. 

When does Winter Return?? 

With the big start to winter, all we need is to hit the climo numbers for each month and we finish in my stated ranges. With that, those numbers are averages and we never fit weather into nice neat boxes. 

I'm fairly confident we are heading back towards a colder patter but it will take a while to really ramp up. 

By Jan 5th the pattern doesn't stink for anything but rain. 

By Jan 10th, we could see more than a nuisance event. 

By Jan 20th, we may end up in a pattern that has a few threats in sight.. meaning a storm ends Monday and we are already talking about another even Saturday. 

Remember that in the low- moderate, west based El Nino winters, 86-87 and 65-66 had pretty big 1-2 week periods and 02-03 had literally a storm every Thursday from Jan 15th on until the Presidents Day sleet fest.  

Not that cold is fun without snow, but this may be a "kids stay home from school because it's too cold"  day or two during the colder stretch. If lows are in the single digits and highs are not expected past the high teens, the usually pull the plug on school. 

Of course, nothing is a lock yet and we will fine tune this as we move in closer. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Record storm wrap up and what's next??

Wow, so what a storm.. most places saw a foot or more region wide. This is without a doubt the most significant storm this early in the season for our area.

My last posted map was..

Not a bad call, but a little low on the north side and a little low south of Danville. 

I had actually made another map and never uploaded it..

Would have been a little better in some areas but missed the 20 inche totals. 

Actual storm totals..

That northern side was way underdone by everone. This somewhat shows why I didn't really back off Friday when the data sunk south again. Northern edges are always a bear and there were some suble changes that lead to 13.5 in Charlottesville, 11.5 in Richmond and 15-20 in Lexington to Covington areas. 

I ive in Lynchburg and the official total will be 11.7, I had an even 12 or so and region wide 12-15 seems to be the common numbers for our area. 

We are off to a nice start this winter with over 50% of more of the seasonal totals already achieved. 

Outside shot at a little snow and ice late this week but we should be mild until Christmas week. That may be the transition week and then by early January we should be back into a colder pattern. 

In moderate El Ninos-- When you get one storm over 10 inches, you often get a second or even a third. 

09-10, 86-87 and 65-66 were winters that had 2 or more storms over 10 inches in most of our region. 02-03 had a plethora of storms between 3 and 6 inches. 

Meaning, enjoy the break-- we may chatting a lot as the season moves forward. 

Hope you saw my heavy snow video! 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Double digit snowfall like across much of region Starting Sunday Pre dawn.

This is the type of events that bring meteorologists, hobbyiest and casual weather  fans to the brink of frustration and sanity.   The pattern and set up looked like a snowstorm, but there were several issues that had to be resolved.  This leads to models drifting all over the place and general chaos about the forecast. It seems we have a general idea that 1 inch of liquid, falling as snow like reaches at least to hwy 460 from Blacksburg east through Appomattox. Hence, my totals are going up.

A few points:
Don't rely on your app. Most take one model and spit out what the model says. It is a huge disservice in a winter weather event 5 days out. Accept that the "chance" is there and the details will be ironed out.  It is important to be comfortable with not knowing the exact details.  To me, that's half the fun-- figuring it all out.

Every weather forecaster will be wrong on some aspects of their forecast.  We (They) often focus on their local area and then fan out to areas that they know, but not as well. I have no issues saying I am expect on Lynchburg weather. I do well other places but I know the local nuances better than likely anyone living in the area. Sadly, I have spent literally 20 years now reading computer model data about weather and storms here. The further you get away from any one person's area of local knowledge, the less accurate a forecast will be.  (AKA, people who ask me 2 hours away I can take a stab at it but it won't be great, I have not invested as much into understanding your area.

With that, I accept part of the map will be wrong somewhere.

My totals are going up. Honestly, there is some wiggle room especially in the Lynchburg area for a tad more than I show even though my totals have increased.   I am actually typing this up before the noon model data believing if anything we see another drift north on the snow totals.

I'll save you the weather jargon. This is a big wet system. There is just cold enough air in place and it will snow. A lot. Any place may end as sleet or freezing drizzle. Places in Charlotte, Pittsylvania and Henry County may mix a little more but will still get crushed.  There may be a few minutes where it snows so hard you just stop and smile and say WOW! I expect a few Facebook posts of " Heaviest snow ever". I would not be shocked to see 2 inch an hour snows at some point tomorrow in all areas.

I'll start tweeting/posting more on FB as we get close with the latest up to date information and will include computer modeled snow maps at this point forward.

Noon data looks even better, FYI 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Weekend storm potential update!

Short Summary: Models continue to show the potential for a signficant snow event Saturday into Monday.

Can you tell me how much?? It is still too soon to throw out amounts. Most model data is showing  1 to 2 inches of liquid falling out of the sky for the event, and most of that is snow. There is a risk of some mix, all regions but especially southside regions.
(Snow is usually 10 to 1 ratio, so 1 inch of precipitation is 10 inches of snow.

Can this really happen, it's awfully early in the cold season? That's a great point and it would be quiet the anomaly for event over 6 inches this early in the season. For recent history, I moved to Lynchburg in 1996 and we had 1 storm 6 inches or more this early in the year, back in 2002 (And actually an analog year this winter too)

What can go wrong and we won't get any  or much snow? 
There is quiet a bit that can go wrong.

1. Storm remains too far south and we get fringed.
2. Storm comes too far north and we flip to ice and rain.

Both are possible. The models currently oscillate between a great track for our region and a tad suppressed, especially the regions north of HWY 460.

What can go right? 
I don't post snow maps 5 -6 days out. It's poor taste and people struggle with uncertainty. Simply beause the models change doesn't mean the event isn't or is happenning.

With that, some of the crazy runs had a large swath of 20+ inches across our region. This was accomplished by the primary batch of snow targeting our region and then the upper air support taking a great track that keeps it snowing another 12 hours that racked up the 20+ inches. Not a likely outcome, but could be partially right where we get the majority of our snow Sunday then a second batch falls into Monday Morning.

When will you give us accumulation ideas? 

If the model data is consistent, I will blog up tomorrow "floors and ceilings"..

Meaning, if everything goes wrong we can expect XYZ if Everything goes right we can expect XYZ.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Next weekend's possible Snow/Ice event..

There has been chatter about this event for several days now so I figured I'd write up rather than short tweets and posts that lack detail. 


Dec 8 to 10th--

Set up:

Cold air filters in as an impulse rides along the sub tropical jet. This means timing is everything. Some runs are slower with the storm and the cold air is LEAVING meaning a chance to ice/rain while others are too fast with the storm and the cold air isn't here yet, meaning rain to ice to snow.  Models that show the storm starting overnight Friday are warmer to start while others that Delay the onset to Later Sunday end as Rain.

Could this be a significant event:

Yes, but a lot can and will change in 6+ days. Cold air is often not as cold as modeled and storms like to start a little quicker. (read above, this could mean more ice/rain, less snow)

What will I see on Social Media:

Expect a strong influx of snow maps from every backyard forecaster. Take them with a grain of salt. They often include what would fall as ice/sleet and even rain as snow.  They are useless at this time, and quite honestly most of the time.

Any initial guesses on accumulations:

Anyone who says they have a strong idea on what will happen at this point is foolish. Don't trust them.  Many of you may know I am Family Counselor in real life and in both meteorology and counseling, you have to be comfortable with gray areas and uncertainty. This is the case here.

1. It's early in the seasonan and we don't know the seasonal biases on the models yet.
2. We will have to deal with always present adjustment north modesl do  as we get closer.
3. It's a long ways out so the data will have several changes and adjustments.

With that,

Places along and West of the Blue Ridge  and north of Hwy 460 have the best chance of a plowable snow, with some ice mixed in, places south of that region may still see snow but now as much and an increased risk of ice/rain. 

I will start tweeting and posting maps and thoughts will more comprehensive blogs when I need to convey more information.

Thanks for sharing with your friends and family.