Archive for heavy snow

Late Season Winter Storm for Dixie

Posted in Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2010 by stormstream

A late season winter storm is taking aim on parts of the Deep South.

Low pressure will roll eastward out of New Mexico & Texas on Monday tracking across the northern Gulf of Mexico, or just inland along the Gulf Coast states on Monday night and Tuesday. Meanwhile, some upper level energy from the northern branch of the jet stream will phase with this system, and give it a shot in the arm as it impacts areas from Alabama to Georgia and into South and North Carolina.

Temperatures are only going to be marginally supportive of snow, and really this could go either way fro areas of Alabama and Georgia. It’s either going to mostly all rain with maybe a brief changeover to snow for a few hours at the end of the event. Or, it’s going to be rain changing to a wet, heavy snow with large snowflakes falling steadily for at least 6 hours and accumulating to several inches. Unfortunately, we probably won’t know exactly how this is going to hash out until the actual event is unfolding on Monday night and Tuesday.

So, as of this time on the Sunday morning prior to the event I am not willing to put out an official forecast, so here is my unofficial thinking: 2 inches for Atlanta, GA, and 1 inch for Birmingham, AL. Mt. Cheaha, the highest elevation in Alabama could pick up 3 inches, and the east and northeast metro of Atlanta could see 3 inches, with maybe some isolated 4 inch amounts.

I’ll give my official thoughts on this system by 11pm EST on Sunday.

Active Pattern to Continue into the New Year!

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by stormstream

We are locked into an active weather pattern across much of the country that should last into the New Year. Many significant storm opportunities and blasts of arctic air can be expected. Looking into my long range forecasting crystal ball I see the next big-ticket storm system affecting parts of the country with heavy snow and rain a few days either side of Christmas. Right now I’d say the most likely regions impacted would be from the Plains to the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Maybe a white Christmas for many? I hope so!

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.

Severe Storms in Central Georgia Today, and Heavy Snow Possible Sunday. I’ll be Storm Chasing Today and Sunday.

Posted in Extreme Weather Video, Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by stormstream

STORM CHASE STATUS: ACTIVE

TARGET: Central and southwest Georgia and southeast Alabama.  Macon, GA to Columbus GA to Troy, AL to Panama City, FL to Valdosta, GA to Macon, GA.

TIME: Depart Atlanta at 11:30am EST.  Arrive in target by 1pm.  Actively storm chasing until approx. 9pm.

LIVE INTERNET BROADCAST: 11:30am – 3pm at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mike-phelps-mobile-weather-stream (live video and audio) 3pm-9pm EST at http://www.severestudios.com/livechase.  Chasing as Mike Phelps.  Live video only.

AVAILABLE FOR LIVE PHONE INTERVIEWS: 2pm – 9pm EST via mobile phone at 404-202-6317.  Leave message on voice mail and I’ll call right back.

DISCUSSION: A warm front stretches west to east across central Georgia this morning.  This front should remain in this general area through the afternoon and will provide a corridor of increased low level helicity that could be a breeding ground for a few tornadoes.  I don’t think we will want to stray too far south of that warm front today.  Dewpoints in the mid 60s have moved into south-central Alabama this morning, and will continue to spread across southeast AL and into portions of southwest GA and the western FL panhandle this afternoon.  All models indicate a broken line of supercells developing along and ahead of an advancing cold front from central GA into south-central AL after about 3pm today.  These storms will have the potential to produce large hail and damaging winds, and in that corridor of higher helicity near the warm front there will be a threat for isolated tornadoes.  There is a CAPE and EHI max that has been showing up now on a few runs of the NAM so I believe what we will do is head southwest from ATL on I-85 and establish a base of storm chase operations in Columbus for a while and then adjust locations from there.

WINTER STORM DISCUSSION: Forecast models remain consistent in showing an upper level low snow event across parts of the Southeast starting later today in the Mid-South and spreading south and eastward across Dixie tonight through Sunday.  This is a very dynamic system with good moisture associated with it, and the potential certainly exists for some heavy snow.  The last couple of runs of the NAM have taken the upper low on more of a southerly route over what it was showing this time yesterday, although the 06z NAM shifted north again.  If this track comes to fruition then a swath of significant snow (3+ inches)  will extend from Memphis, TN to Birmingham, AL Atlanta, GA to Greenville, SC and northeast from there.  It is very difficult to pin down the exact location of the heavy snow in these upper level low snow events this time of year, so who is to say that the area I outlined above will ultimately verify, but we are gaining more and more of a consensus among the models that this track of significant snow is becoming more likely.  In my opinion, there is still the potential for this system to produce some “jackpot snows” on the order of 5 to 10 inches, but it remains impossible to pin down the location for that.  I want to strongly caution that certainly nothing is set in stone with this system as of yet.  There is still a rather sizeable potential that it will end up being far less of a big deal than a lot are anticipating.  Keep in mind that snow outside of the state of North Carolina and the mountains of Tennessee, has been basically non-existent this winter.  La Nina winters simply do not breed big snows outside of those areas.  Also, the forecast models have been less than stellar in their performance this winter.  Honestly, we are not going to feel real confident about any snow forecast with this thing until it is actually happening.  So, watch the system closely, but don’t be quick to jump onto any snow or non-snow bandwagons until the wagon is actually passing through your area.

If this system produces significant snow near Atlanta, GA on Sunday then I will be broadcasting it live on the internet.  I’ll have details about this live broadcast in my Sunday morning blog.

An Wild Weather Weekend for the Southeast with Severe Weather and Significant Snow Likely!

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

All systems are still go for severe thunderstorms, then snow across parts of the Southeast this weekend, and we are now getting into a range where I can throw out some more specific forecasts with some measure of confidence.

First, I’ll discuss the severe weather prospects for Saturday and my plans to chase the storms and do a live internet broadcast of my storm chase.

It is hard at this point to say exactly where the greatest threat for severe storms will be on Saturday.  The models are pretty much showing the area in Georgia and eastern Alabama along and south of I-20 as being in the threat zone.  However, I’m not sure the models are handling the effects of the large convective system over central AL and GA very well.  Surely this will reinforce the boundary farther south than the models indicate.  Right now, I’m thinking along and south of  line from Macon, GA to Troy, AL will be my target for severe weather on Saturday.

Steep lapse rates, rather low freezing levels, and the potential for rotating updrafts will lead to very real possibilities of large hail.  Also, the shear, divergence aloft and strong 250mb winds will lead to the chance for long-tracked supercells with a chance for a few tornadoes.

The plan right now is for me and my chase partner, Greg Zamarripa, to depart Atlanta at 11:30am and head for either Columbus, GA or Macon, GA as a base.  We will then head out in any direction from there to intercept storms.  We hope to be in our target by 2pm EST.  Storm chaser Mark Aubin will be targeting the Florida panhandle for any severe storm activity that erupts farther south.

I will be broadcasting my storm chase live on the internet on Ustream.tv and Severestudios.com.  Between 11:30am and 3pm I will be streaming live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mike-phelps-mobile-weather-stream.  Then, from roughly 3pm EST onward I will be streaming live at http://www.severestudios.com/livechase as Mike Phelps.  On the ustream.tv broadcast the viewer will have the ability to not only view the live video, but also hear audio from within the chase vehicle.  You’ll be able to listen in on critical nowcasting conversations and storm chase strategies, so you’ll actually feel like you are riding along with us on the chase.  There is also a chat feature where you can interact with me via instant message, and I can talk to you live.  The severestudios.com broadcast will not feature audio, but the video could be spectacular at times since we will be streaming at that location during the height of the storm chase.  I will be available to the media for live phone interviews any time at 404-202-6317.

Now onto the snow prospects for Sunday.

This looks to be a classic late winter/early spring upper level snow events for parts of the Southeast.  The upper low drops in from the northwest bringing with it a supply of moisture, cold air and strong dymamics.  These events are notoriously difficult to forecast and the area of heavy snow that falls will be dictated very much by the exact path the upper level low takes.  Right now, I’d say a general trace to 3 inch snowfall looks like a good bet across TN, northern and central AL and GA, much of SC and much of NC.  1 to 3 inches for Memphis, Birmingham, Huntsville and Chattanooga.  1-2 inches for the west Atlanta metro area, and 2 to 4 inches for the east and northeast ATL metro.  3 to 6 inches for Athens, GA.  4 to 7 inches for Greenville, SC.  I won’t venture to throw out a snowfall forecast for Columbia, Charlotte or Raleigh just yet, but they could also make out very well.  I also believe someone in the Southeast is going to see some “jackpot snow”of a foot or more, but it is impossible to pin down who that will be at this juncture.  I hope it is my backyard!  🙂  Now having said all that, I do need to caution that the bust potential with upper level snow systems in the Southeast is very high.  Honestly, we are not going to have a fully confident handle on this thing until it is happening.  The cities I listed above could just as easily end up seeing a lot less, or a lot more.  Definitely a system to monitor closely as there are sure to be several changes in the forecast over the next 24 to 36 hours.

I will also be streaming live video of the snow storm, and I will have more details on that in my blog entry Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

Severe Thunderstorms, then Snow this Weekend for the Southeast!

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2009 by stormstream

A wild weather weekend is in store for the Southeast from Friday through Sunday.

On Friday, the stage is set for a severe weather episode across central Mississippi into central Alabama.  Hail and damagaing winds look to be the biggest threats, but there will also be the threat for some tornadoes as well.  If dewpoints reach the 63-67 degree F. range, then even a strong tornado or two will be possible along and just north of I-20 in MS and AL on Friday afternoon and evening.  By early evening the threat for strong to severe storms will extend into parts of western and northern Georgia.

On Saturday, the main threat for severe storms will extend from central and south Georgia into the upstate of South Carolina and central and eastern North Carolina.  Instability will decrease, while upper level dynamics increase.  Overall, the threat on Saturday does not look as great as that on Friday, but nonethelesss, damaging severe thunderstorms will be possible, especially across central GA, and an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out.  I may be streaming severe weather video at http://www.severestudios.com/livechase.  If I do, I’ll be sure and let everyone know.

Saturday night through Sunday and even into Monday morning is looking VERY interesting in terms of significant snowfall.  Yes, it does snow in March in the Southeast, in fact, some of our biggest snowfalls happen in March.  this will be a fairly long duration upper level low snow event IF it pans out.  These are notoriously hard to forecast and pin down the areas of greatest snowfall accumulation until the event is actually unfolding.  These events are also notorious for “jackpot snows”, where someone in a small area or narrow swath gets absolutely crushed by heavy snow.  We had one of these early in the season across southern Louisiana into southern and central Mississippi.  I won’t get specific yet, I’ll just say that significant amounts of wet, gloppy snow will be possible across northern and central MS, AL and GA, southern TN, much of SC and central and eastern NC.  Could this threat fizzle like so many have this winter?  It sure could, so it will be important to keep an eye on the forecast and not get too carried away just yet with this threat in any direction.  We’ll know much more about the potential snow threat and more specific details by Friday night and Saturday morning.