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Mid-Atlantic Discussion – December 16, 2010

A brief update…

Snow will start to fall in the region tomorrow morning, with WV and southern VA getting hit the hardest as snow totals top out in the 5-8 inch range. Closer to home, 1-2″ of snow is expected in the D.C. and northern VA areas. Richmond could be looking at 2-4 inches. The snow should start falling around noon in the D.C. area.

For D.C., the event should be rather short-lived, lasting only through the late evening tomorrow, with some light snow showers possible in the early morning hours.

An update on this weekend’s potential storm will hit the web on Friday.

What to Watch Fore(cast) – Dec 13-20

Darn it, forgot to post an update on Friday about the storm… at least I get a second chance this week!


Another chilly start in the East – Tonight and tomorrow night will be quite chilly in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast as temperatures 20 degrees below normal and windy conditions put lows in the danger zone for many, including freezing temperatures into southern Florida!

Soggy in the West – Several systems will batter the West Coast from the Pacific Northwest down to central California this week.

Brief Thu/Fri disturbance in the East – Another weak system with wintry precipitation will move through the southern Mid-Atlantic and Southeast during the second half of the work week.

Potential snowstorm early next week – Models continue to hint at a potential East Coast snow storm around next Sunday and Monday, which could be the first big snow event of the season for many along the I-95 corridor.


Record-setting cold will be in place in the Southeast over the next two nights, with plenty to worry about as temperatures drop below the freezing mark all the way down into southern Florida. The whole eastern half of the U.S. will be feeling the chill, with near-zero lows in the Midwest, lows in the teens and wind chills near zero in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and the risk for a central/southern Florida frost tomorrow night.

A weak disturbance will move into the eastern half of the nation Thursday and Friday, which will bring a quick shot of light rain and wintry precipitation into the southern Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and northern Southeast. The northern edge of the precip. could scoot just south of D.C., which would be insult to injury from last week’s system that performed a similar trick.

The subtropical ridge that has been providing the Southwest with warm and dry conditions will begin to break down near the West Coast this week as a series of disturbances relentlessly pound the West Coast with precipitation. These storms will track as far south as central California, bringing some needed rains into the area. Unfortunately, it looks like the ridge will hold on enough to keep the Desert Southwest from seeing most of the action. The Desert SW could get some rain Thu/Fri, but it will only be a small relief in an otherwise dry forecast.

The big event that’s still in the running for next Sunday and into Monday is a possible coastal system along the East Coast, which could bring snowfall from the Carolinas up through New England. While confidence in a snowstorm event, especially one that hits the coastal areas with significant snow, isn’t terribly high, models have hinted at such a system for a number of days now, including a direct hit via the latest American model (the 18Z GFS). For more in-depth discussion on its impact on the Mid-Atlantic region, see the last two paragraphs from yesterday’s Mid-Atlantic Week Ahead forecast. I’m being rather optimistic for snow at this point, though, with other forecasters being a lot more critical (and likely more realistic) with this system’s potential. The next few days will be pretty interesting in the world of weather model watching (and yes, such a world does exist for those of you who haven’t been to the American Weather Forums yet).

Post Discussion: Let’s not forget about the lake-effect this week, either! More in store for areas already hit hard by last week. Couldn’t fit it into this week’s highlights!

Mid-Atlantic – The Week Ahead (Dec 12-19)

We start off the week with rather dreary conditions as rain ahead of a cold front moves over the region today. Behind the cold front, limited remnant moisture could produce a dusting to an inch of snow across the coastal areas as the leeward mountains receive 1-2 inches of snow this evening.

Skies remain rather dreary Monday through early Wednesday, with brisk winds from the northwest and lows in the upper teens to lower 20s Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The clouds may inhibit the lows from dropping, but wind chills in the single digits are certainly possible Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be a brief break in the cloud deck Wednesday before another system developing over the Ozarks region moves over the region on Thursday.

Currently, the models do not indicate precipitation above southern VA, but if last week’s Southeast-cutter system has anything to tell us, it’s that the models might be too aggressive to bring the storm tracks southward. This will play into the forecast going into early next week as well. D.C. could likely be the northern cut-off for Thursday’s precipitation, with light amounts of sleet and freezing rain possible in the affected areas. Accumulations of up to a tenth of an inch will be possible in the region.

Most of the snow-lovers have their eyes set on early next week as some models indicate a potential Nor’easter for the 19th-20th. Like Thursday’s storm, this Sunday system is probably progged too far to the south (compared to what’s shown on the European, which suggests surface low formation along the Gulf Coast near LA/MS/AL. The GFS (American) model appears much less optimistic with this potential system, bringing the upper-level energy to the East much more quickly, which would result in an out-to-sea system. As was the case with this weekend’s system, the GFS appears to not build the subtropical ridge into the Southeast as strongly as what should actually occur, which would result in the system turning to the north more quickly than what is shown on the GFS operational run.

What does all of this mean for next weekend’s storm? The Nor’easter potential with this system is certainly the highest out of what we’ve seen this far out this winter. For our region, I could see this as a rain changing over to snow event, with major snowfall potential along the eastern slopes of the Appalachians. So long as the models aren’t completely amiss, snow totals of 2-4″ are possible in the D.C. area from this system, with 6-12″ in the eastern mountain region. The low track would be from central NC up through eastern VA, Delmarva, and up through LI and southern New England. The skeptic in me says that this storm could wind-up even further north and west than my forecast.

First winter 2010 snow accumulation for some in the Mid-Atlantic

Light snow started falling this morning throughout most of WV, VA, MD, and PA, and is continuing towards the coast. Some areas in northern Maryland received 1/2 an inch of snow.

Here are a couple of shots I took right at noon in Gaithersburg:

First accumulation of the season!

There’s accidents all over the place..

Tornado Thursday – 5 June 2009 Goshen County, WY

The Goshen County, Wyoming tornado was one of the few tornadic storms that VORTEX2 was able to study in its first year of operations. Mike Bettes was on the scene for The Weather Channel, discussing what he sees in live coverage with Dr. Greg Forbes. It was definitely a sight to see when the tornado went horizontal and the Weather Channel crew had a great view looking down inside the tornado!


Storm Chasers Season 4 comes to a close tonight

Tonight is the “behind the scenes” episode of Storm Chasers, which may be the best episode of the series. Hopefully it will be a lot less about the drama and much more about the reality of storm chasing and film/TV production.

It airs at its usual time of 10pm EST tonight.

Only five more months until the 2011 chasing season!