Archive for 2009 winter storm

Southeast Winter Storm and Cold Wave

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by stormstream

It’s not often that we are 4 days away from a winter event in the Southeast, and most of us in the know are feeling reasonably confident about the forecast. Now that this pattern evolution that has been ongoing for more than a month has finally reached its concluding stages, the medium range models are going to handle the pattern reasonably well for the next few weeks. So, not only is this event going to be handled well, the upcoming winter events (one or two could be significant for the Southeast) over the next two weeks will also be handled better than they would have a few weeks ago. This is good news for those of you who make a living forecasting this stuff. I think it is pretty clear that the Thursday/Friday system is going to be a light to moderate snow producer for areas along and north of I-20/I-85. I agree with the general consensus of this being a widespread 1-3 inch snow, with a few jackpot amounts in the 4 to 6 inch range. Here is what we need to focus in on regarding this event: It may not be a big snow storm, but it will be a high-impact winter storm. The cold ground will insure that snow that falls will immediately stick to all road surfaces and create immediate travel problems. For areas where the snow moves in during the day on Thursday this will create a situation where schools and businesses will need to anticipate this and close early to avoid a life-threatening afternoon rush (shades of “Snow Jam ’82”). Then, there is the aspect of out-of-the-ordinary cold. The cold will not be record setting in terms of temperatures, but could approach record levels in terms of its longevity. With such long-lasting cold this will pose a serious threat to folks who do not have adequate heating for their homes, and also for pets outside. Please be sure to take the necessary measures to protect those two groups. Also, make sure to insulate any pipes on exposed outer walls and leave your faucets dripping. Anyone who has ever dealt with busted pipes knows this is an incredible inconvenience as well as being very expensive. Please DO NOT use a torch to thaw out your pipes or you will torch your house. Finally, the snow that falls will not melt off the next day as is the case with most Southern snows. This snow will be on the ground and on roads and parking lots for days. It will get packed down and create very icy and dangerous areas. So, while not a big snow storm, this one will certainly be a dangerous and problem-causing situation during the snow fall and several days afterward. Finally, I want to address the chance for a swath of significant freezing rain to the immediate south of the snow. The fact that this will be a fast moving system should limit freezing rain amounts, but it will still be enough to create glazing and cause problems.

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