Archive for Blizzard

Major Winter Storm for the Deep South 1/9-1/11/11

Posted in Extreme Weather Video, Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by stormstream

Winter storm warnings and ice storm warnings are up for much Dixie as a major winter storm develops and rolls across the region. Some locations will see more snow than they have seen in decades, while others get more ice than they have witnessed since the big hair days of the 1980s.

I will concentrate mainly on Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina in this blog posting, since this is the region I live in and forecast for.

Basically, we can use I-20/I-85 as the boundary between significant snow and ice, with the I-20 corridor receiving a nasty mixture of both types of deadly winter precipitation. It appears from the latest runs of the HRRR (Rapid Refresh) short-range model and NAM, the heavies snow band with this system is going to streak out across central and northeast Mississippi and into northwest and northern Alabama and into southern middle Tennessee, southeast Tennessee, southwest North Carolina and the upstate of South Carolina. The deformation band where the longest duration of heavy snow will establish itself looks to be across parts of northeast Mississippi and northwest and north-central Alabama into extreme southern middle Tennessee and southeast Tennessee. This region would be one of the jackpot snow regions with more than 10 inches of snow possible. Yet another “jackpot” snow area aided by elevation would be the northeast & north-central Alabama/extreme southern middle Tennessee area, centered on the Lookout mountain area where more that a foot of snow could accumulate on the crest of the ridge. Obviously, a third so-called jackpot snow accumulation region would be the elevation-aided region of the southern Appalachian mountains from extreme north and northeast Georgia northward into southeast Tennessee and southwest North Carolina. This region, especially the TN and NC portion of that region could see over a foot of snow, with some of that accumulation coming on Tuesday and Wednesday with the passage of a clipper and the enhancement from a moist northwest flow in the wake of that system. The remainder of the Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina region to the north of I-20 & 85 will see generally 3 to 8 inches of snow, with the lesser amounts along I-20 and the accumulated snow depth increasing as you head north from I-20 with generally an inch added for every 20 miles north. Hopefully that makes sense. lol Here are some forecast totals for the airports in the region: ATL 4″. BHM: 2″. MCN: 1/2″. HSV: 12″. CHA: 11″. GSP: 8″

Now to probably the most life and property-threatening aspect of this major winter storm, the ice. Areas south of I-20 in Alabama and Georgia will start out as snow, but transition to sleet and then to light, but very steady and long-duration freezing rain and drizzle. This type of light, but steady long-duration freezing rain and drizzle is the very worst type of freezing rain as everything that falls will freeze on exposed objects and not run off. Widespread accumulations of 1/4 of glaze on exposed objects will be common south of I-20 in AL and GA to within 75 miles of the Gulf coast. 1/4 inch of glaze is the threshold for damaging freezing rain, especially softwood trees such as pines. So, widespread pine tree branches will come down onto power lines, and that will induce power outages. Of more concern is the potential for fairly large areas of .50 inch glaze ice accumulations on exposed objects within that wide .25 inch zone. These areas will see severe ice storm damage with hardwood trees such as oak, hickory and walnuts not only losing large branches, but actually splitting and falling onto home. Many pines will lose branches and bend all the way to the ground. It will be an absolute disaster for the trees of the region, and of course since we love our trees in the South we surround our homes and businesses with them. This means widespread structural damage as well as power outages from fallen branches and trees on utility lines. Here are some forecasts for glaze ice accumulations on exposed objects for the same airports I gave snowfall projections for: ATL: .10 BHM: .20 MCN: .40 (severe ice storm) HSV: .00
CHA: .00 GSP: .05

Folks, this is a system that is going to continue and evolve and change through the day on Sunday, so the forecasts I provided above, while being my best estimate based on current data, could very well change for the better or for the worse as the day goes on. The key is to not concentrate on the minor changes in terms of snowfall and ice accumulation forecasts, but just to understand and take serious the severity of this winter storm. Be weather-aware and take preparations and precautions to protect you and those you know, as well as your property. Be ready and prepared to lose power, especially in the ice storm region, and be prepared for the worst-case-scenario of not having power for several days to even as long as a week or two in very rural areas as utility companies will be stretched thin.

I plan to cover this winter storm in the Atlanta and north and central Georgia region starting this evening and continuing through the day on Monday. I will be broadcasting LIVE at http://stormscapelive.com and also at http://www.chasertv.com. Live streaming should start around 8pm on Sunday, January 9 and continue through the night and into the day on Monday, January 10. However, if conditions on the roads become to severe to safely cover this winter storm I will return home, but continue to stream from my neighborhood. Another great location to view live streams of this winter storm is at the Bama Camera Net on the Alabama Storm Trackers web page. The address is http://alabamastormtrackers.com/alcamnet/.

Good luck and stay safe!

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Finally! El Nino is Bringing Extreme Weather to the U.S.

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by stormstream

It’s taken half the winter to get here, but finally the low end strong El Nino weather pattern is bearing some major fruit in the U.S. in the form of extreme weather, and this active pattern looks to continue at least through the month of February, and very likely into the spring as well. Get ready for a continued wild ride on the Extreme Weather Express!

The jet stream is powerful and infused with moisture. This has led to many feet of snow across the mountains of California and the Southwest, and severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across the South. Now, we are once again heading into a period where the AO is severely negative, the NAO is negative and PNA is positive. This all equals major DOO DOO for much of the U.S. as we head into late January and through the month of February, but the most extreme weather will likely shift from the western U.S. into the central and eastern U.S. More severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will be possible in the Deep South, with major snow storms north of the heavy rain and severe storms. Also, serious intrusions of bitterly cold arctic air will be dropping into the lower 48 on a regular basis.

Anyone hoping for an early spring with an extended period of sunshine and mild to warm temperatures can kiss those hopes goodbye through at least mid-March, and I don’t care what that glorified rodent The Groundhog says in early February.

Severe Weather Threat Increasing through the Night acorss Louisiana, southern Arkansas, southwest Tennessee and Mississippi. Blizzard Continues to Rage across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Posted in Extreme Weather Video, Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by stormstream

One round of strong to severe storms with damaging winds and isolated tornadoes rolled across southern MS, AL GA and north FL this morning into the early afternoon.  Those are no longer a threat, and now all eyes turn toward the west across east and northeast TX, southeast OK, southern AR and LA where the next, more significant round, of severe thunderstorms is getting going.  These will sweep eastward through the overnight hours across the areas just mentioned and into southwest TN and MS, producing a dangerous scenario where very dangerous thunderstorms, some producing tornadoes, move across the region in darkness.  This makes an already dangerous event, even that much more dangerous.

This is one of those situations where conditions for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will actually improve through the overnight hours as wind field increase, and upper level jet energy and dynamics overspread a moist and unstable airmass.  Tornado watches will be issued in progressive order from west to east throughout the night with watches likely as far eastward as western and southwestern Alabama by sunrise Saturday.  Those of you in the danger zone overnight should have an operational weather radio, and take very serious all watches and warnings issued for your area.  It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous this situation is.

By sunrise Saturday there should be an area of severe thunderstorms moving into west-central and southwest AL.  These will produce damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes.  In the 8am to noon time frame, dangerous storms will impact the southern 2/3rds of AL, west-central and southwest GA and into the FL panhandle.  Severe storms will also extend northward across middle TN and even into KY.  Intense and deep convection could develop along the Gulf coast, and if this happens the moisture influx into storms farther north will be disrupted, and there will be a general lessening of the intensity of the event.  However, this widespread and deep coastal convection is certainly not a given so that will have to be monitored closely.  Also, there is some question as to how far north the warm front will get.  If it stays south of Atlanta, then these major Southeast population center will be spared the worst of the severe weather.   Even though there are some encouraging factors that could lessen the overall severity of this event, it remains a very dangerous one through the day Saturday that everyone needs to pay special attention to and listen for the latest watches and warnings issued for your area.  If the severe weather ingredients available for this system were to come together just right, then it has the potential to be a major severe weather and tornado outbreak on Saturday, so DO NOT let your guard down.  Through Saturday afternoon and evening, the severe threat  sweeps across the remainder of GA, north FL, the Carolinas, and VA.

Meanwhile, back in the middle part of the country a raging late season blizzard is well underway and will continue through Saturday and into Sunday.  Thundersnow, snowfall rates of 3 inches per hour, 50 mph winds, zero visibility, 10 to 20 inches of snow, and snow drifts 10 to 20 feet high will create and extremely dangerous condition for those hardest hit across the northern TX panhandle, the OK panhandle and northwest OK, and southwest and central KS.  Here is a link to a web cam in the city I spent the first 32 years of my life in, Wichita, KS.  http://www.360wichita.com/wichitacam/  They have been spared the worst of it so far as some warm air aloft has worked in and created a lot of sleet for Wichita, but coler air aloft will quickly rush in and very heavy snow will fall most of the night and into Saturday morning, piling up to 10 to 16 inches in depth.  Tree limbs and power lines are going to come down in the strong winds and snow, and many folks in the region are going to lose power tonight, and it’ll be a few days before crews can get out and fix the problems.  Just a terrible situation.  My elderly parents live in Wichita, and I’m very worried about them.

My plan is to monitor the weather situation closely from the StormStream Severe Weather Operation Center through the night.  Storm chase and live streaming operations could begin as early as 8am Saturday and continue through much of the day.  I will be streaming at http://www.severestudios.com/livechase/ and http://www.ustream.tv/channel/stormstream-forecast-operations/

Major Outbreak of Severe Storms and Tornadoes acorss Dixie Friday and Saturday. Blizzard in the Plains.

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2009 by stormstream

The next few days will feature WEATHER GONE MAD!  Dangerous and possibly strong to violent tornadoes whipping across the South, while in the colder air Across the central Plains into the Corn Belt there will be a full-blown blizzard.  There is no sugar coating this – many lives and property will be impacted and put in danger by weather conditions between now and Sunday.  These types of high-impact, dangerous weather events always leave a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I know there could very well be people going about their daily lives today that will no longer be with us in a few days.  Taken tragically and prematurely by an act of nature than cannot be controlled, but while we cannot control the weather we can certainly talk about it in strong, attention-getting ways that will hopefully make people understand the seriousness of the event, and hopefully spur them to take the necessary steps to protect life and property, thus mitigating losses.

All of the ingredients are there for a high-end severe weather event across AR, LA, MS, AL, TN and western GA during the day Friday and through Friday night.  Northern and central LA, southern AR, southwest TN and western MS appear to be at the greatest risk for all modes of severe weather during the daylight hours on Friday.  the risk will exist for strong to violent long-tracked tornadoes, and I am most concerned about the Mississippi Delta region being ground zero for this potentially deadly weather.

Heading into the darkness of Friday night and early Saturday morning, the greatest threat translates eastward across the remainder of MS, all of AL, western GA and much of TN.  The severe thunderstorm and tornado parameters remain strong, and there is a very real threat for strong to violent nighttime tornadoes across a region that is frequented by these in set-ups like this.  Overall the parameters are generally weaker than those forecast for Friday afternoon, and hopefully that will lessen the severity of the nighttime event, but the potential is certainly there for just a horrible night, especially for eastern MS and much of AL.

On Saturday exact timing and location of the surface features becomes a question, and a precise forecast hinges on the location of these features.  In general, it can be said that severe weather and tornado parameters continue to weaken, but are still high enough for a significant event that would include the possibility of tornadoes.  As the surface low lifts northeast, the unstable airmass in the warm sector will surge north and northeast ahead of it.  This means that there threat for significant severe weather will now extend as far north as the eastern sections of the Ohio Valley.  Under the gun for severe weather on Saturday will be the eastern half of GA, northern FL, SC, NC, eastern TN, central and eastern KY, southern and southeast OH, WV and VA.  At this point I cannot be more specific about Saturday, except to say that the severe weather threat remains significant and potentially dangerous.

While all of this is going on in the South and East, a blizzard will be raging across southwest KS, the OK panhandle and northern TX panhandle during the day on Friday.  Thundersnow will also be a possibility with snowfall rates over 3 inches per hour and howling winds.  This will be a very dangerous storm for anyone traveling across this region, and those caught outdoors unprepared for the extreme winter weather conditions.  The heavy snow and blizzard conditions shift into northern OK and central and eastern KS early Saturday morning, then northeast into the Corn Belt region during the day on Saturday.  The danger factor for travelers and those caught outside unprepared remains high through Saturday.

Looking ahead, another major winter-style storm is possible for parts of the central and northern Plains and western Great Lakes early next week.  The middle and end of next week could again feature a multi-faceted severe weather and winter-weather-producing storm for the eastern half of the country.

Blizzard Conditions Expected Tonight in the Tennessee and North Carolina Mountains. I’ll be Broadcasting Live on the Internet from that Location!

Posted in Extreme Weather Video, Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2009 by stormstream

I will be broadcasting live from the location of the snow storm this afternoon and tonight.  You can view my broadcast live on the internet at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mike-phelps-mobile-weather-stream.  When I am not streaming you will see a slide show of my weather and nature photography.  The main broadcast time today will be between 3pm and midnight, although I will be streaming my drive to the location as  well, and that will be between 11am and 3pm EST.

A strong upper level disturbance combined with a moist upslope flow will cause snow across the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina to increase after noon today, and become heavy toward sunset.  Wind and heavy snow tonight will create blizzard conditions on the mountain tops.

Total snow accumulations between now and Thursday morning will be 2 to 6 inches at elevations below 2,800 feet.  Elevations between 2,800 and 4,000 feet will see 4 to 8 inches of snow, and elevations above 4, 000 feet will see 6 to 10 inches.  Some of the favored west-facing slopes at 5,000 feet and above elevation could see a foot of snow, combined with 50mph wind and wind chills of 20 below zero tonight.  Truly blizzard conditions.

My plan to intercept this major winter storm is to head north on I-75 to I-40, then take I-81.  I’ll then take I-26 eastward to Johnson City and make a final plan to either target Roan Mountain, TN or Beech Mountain, NC.  The plan is to be in the target area by 3 or 4 pm EST.

Major Southeastern Winter Storm Still on Track, but Many Questions Remain

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by stormstream

As has been the case since about the middle of December, it is model madness today in regards to the major winter storm that will affect the Southeast next Sunday night through Wednesday.

The GFS is trending faster and weaker with the system. If this model were to verify then most areas between I-40 and I-20/85 would see a minor to modest snow event, with the southern Appalachian mountains making out pretty good, and areas north of I-40 doing ok. Nothing rip snortin’ as my friends in Texas would say, but still a nice little winter event.

Meanwhile, the 0z run of the ECMWF (European model) shows a classic Southeast snowstorm track with plenty of cold air in place to create a heavy swath of snow from Birmingham to just north of Atlanta to Raleigh. With a heavy dumping of snow in the southern Appalachian mountains.

Then you have the NAM, our high-resolution short range model that is showing the low pressure system also taking a favorable route for significant Southeast snow, but without the cold air that the GFS and ECMWF show. Thus, you end up with rain for much of the duration of the storm south of I-40, with a changeover to flurries and snow showers on the back side as colder air dumps in. Again, the southern Appalachians get a heavy dump of snow.

So, based on what the “Big Three” are showing today, one can conclude that there is a pretty good chance for a nice dumping of snow in the mountains of TN and NC, with potentially a foot or more adding up between Monday night and Wednesday evening. Monday night and Tuesday being synoptic snow, meaning snow with the system itself, then Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday being a prolonged period of northwest flow snow and snow showers behind the system that adds yet another 3 to 6 inches on top of the 4 to 8 inches that has already fallen. The ski resorts will be lovin’ it! This part of the forecast one can feel somewhat confident about. However….

For most of us in the Southeast who do not live in them thar hills, the snow forecast for Monday and Tuesday is still a very difficult one. Now it would be a lot easier if the forecast models had been performing consistently well this winter, but that is not the case. All of the big three, the GFS, NAM and even the ECMWF (statistically the most reliable medium range model) have been performing consistently poorly since about the middle of December. So, what we have to do is look at the performance of each one over the past 50 days or so, and try to draw some conclusions on which one is going to do the best based on past performance.

The GFS has tended to be too fast with moving systems in the 1 to 5 day range. This was very much the case with the last system – the ice storm. I feel that it is again too fast with the movement of the current system.

The ECMWF has been inconsistent this winter in the 6 and 7 day period, but it has performed much better than the GFS in the 1 to 5 day range. Therefore, I would tend to lean more toward following the ECMWF solution with this particular storm.

Finally, the NAM had not performed well at all as a short range forecast model up until this past storm. It did pretty well with the ice storm west of the Appalachians, and I regained some faith in this model again. However, with the system that will be developing this Sunday I feel it is under-forecasting the cold air. There is a decent snow and ice pack north of the Southeast region, and this is going to help with the southward penetration of cold air into the Southeast. Also, the NAM does not show much of a surface high pressure reflection across the northern Plains, the source of the cold air for our early next week storm. It has a 1034mb high over Idaho. Meanwhile, the GFS and ECMWF both snow a nice over 1030mb high pressure system seeding the cold air for the Southeast. I’d tend to buy the colder models over the warmer NAM at this point.

So, with all this said, my forecast for this system at this time follows closely what the ECMWF is showing in terms of surface low track and cold air, although I do feel the track of the low will be a bit more north and west of where the 0z ECMWF is forecasting it. I am also using the NAM as my forecast model of choice in regards to the speed of the system. This all translates into the potential for a swath of significant snow stretching from northwest MS middle TN, northern AL and north GA, and into western and central NC. The mountains of NC and TN will also see a heavy snowfall of a foot or more in some locations. By “northern AL and north GA” I’m talking about a line from Tupelo, MS to Cartersville, GA to Taccoa, GA. Still too early to pin down amounts in the potential swath of significant snow, but amounts could be over three inches. South of that more significant snow, I’d say accumulating snow will be possible along I-20/85 for cities like Birmingham, Atlanta and Raleigh. Again, it is too early to pin down a specific amount forecast so I’ll give a range of anywhere from a trace to 3 inches.

Finally, we cannot forget there will be a severe thunderstorm component to this storm. First for southeast TX and southern LA on Sunday, then along the Gulf coast of MS, AL and the Florida panhandle on Monday. Parts of extreme south GA and the Florida peninsula on Monday night. Then the eastern Carolina’s on Tuesday. Main threats will be damaging winds and some hail.

I just took a look at the 12z NAM, and here are some quick thoughts on that. First off, the NAM continues to show a slower speed with this system. I am even more confident now that the faster solutions shown by the GFS and ECMWF are less likely to verify than the slower NAM. So, I think the NAM is definitely onto something in regards to speed. Next, the 12z NAM is snowing the surface low tracking across the Gulf of Mexico, well south of the coast. This has resulted in a deeper southward penetration of the cold air, so the 12z NAM is definitely colder than its predecessor. Based on what I am seeing, I’d still say a swath of significant snow is possible for much of central and southern AR, northern MS, northern AL, much of TN and western and central NC. Maybe not so much of a dumping for the mountains of TN and NC if the low tracks that far south. I still buy the ECMWF track of the surface low more than I buy into the southern track depicted by the NAM. It’ll be interesting to see what the 12z ECMWF shows.

Bottom line: Still more questions than answers, but we are definitely starting to get some answers now, and more will come into focus later today and especially tomorrow, so stay tuned!!

Major Winter storm WILL Impact Parts of the Southeast Next Monday and Tuesday

Posted in Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by stormstream

I normally do not make such a declarative statement so many days in advance of a weather system, but based on my thoughts on how the weather pattern would evolve all month, and based on overwhelming model support, I feel 100% confident in saying a high-impact winter storm will affect parts of the southeast on Monday, February 2 and Tuesday, February 3, with the worst of the storm happening in the noon Monday to 6am Tuesday time frame based on current models.

Of course nothing is set in stone with this system, and much can change between now and Monday.  The most likely things to change would be the strength and track of the surface low pressure system.  These changes, even if slight, can and will translate into major changes in the forecast since the synoptic heavy snows associated with the low pressure system are likely to be confined to a rather narrow corridor.  So, pinning down exactly where the heavy snow will set up this early in the game simply cannot be done with any kind of accuracy.  Sure, someone could throw a forecast out there, and they could very well get lucky and have it verify, but it would truly be a case of “skilled luck” as I call it.

In general terms, the areas that are most likely to see snow Monday would be northern MS, western and middle TN, northern AL and northwest GA.  On Monday night and Tuesday morning the snow would affect the remainder of north GA, the upstate of SC, eastern TN and western and central NC.  The central and northern mountains of TN and NC look particularly interesting as they could see a burst of heavy synoptic snow early Tuesday morning, then a prolonged northwest flow upslope event that lasts from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning that will add to their snow depth.  The ski resorts will be loving it by next weekend.

Finally, there will likely be a severe thunderstorm component to this system.  A severe squall line with damaging winds being the main threat could sweep across southeast AL, southern GA and much of FL Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning.  Depending on the track of the surface low, central and eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina could get in on some severe storm activity as well.

Many more finer details regarding this storm will come into focus this weekend, so keep checking in for my latest thoughts on this major system.