Archive for snowfall

A little rain and snow overnight, with a bigger winter storm possible early next week

Posted in Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by stormstream

The Atlanta metro area will see some rain and wet snowflakes during the early morning hours of Friday, January 21, 2011. There may be a dusting of snow in some areas by sunrise – a rather rude reminder for the folks of Atlanta that winter is far from over. Be careful as you drive to work or school Friday morning as there could be a few icy areas, especially on bridges and overpasses.

A more significant winter storm has its sights set on the Southeast region, including Atlanta for next Monday, January 24 and Tuesday, January 25, 2011. It is still way to early to talk specifics or even show any serious confidence that this storm will happen, but it is definitely on the forecast models in varying degrees of severity, so it needs to be mentioned. As it stands right now for Atlanta, it looks like precipitation could start as snow, then transition quickly to freezing rain, and then possibly to rain as the system moves out. Precipitation totals look to fall within the light to moderate range, but when dealing with freezing rain even light amounts can cause serious travel issues. So, just a heads-up at this point to watch the weather forecast closely for next Monday and Tuesday. I should have a much better handle on the specifics of this system by the weekend, and I will post further thoughts then.

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.

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.

Winter is Losing the Battle to Spring in the Southeast

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

I’m going to mention the operational GFS now, and I know it has not been all that great this winter, but I do feel that it is at least adequate in showing a big picture pattern in a general sense.  It shows a total of seven low pressure systems marching from west to east across the country over the next 16 days.  This kind of very progressive pattern greatly favors any real cold staying locked up north, and that is where most of the major winter storm threats will remain.  Also, in that entire 16 day period, the strongest surface high pressure system depicted in the lower 48 states is a 1035mb surface high in North Dakota on February 22nd.  Mostly, the SHP systems are in the 1022 to 1032mb range.  This would lead to an average to a little below average temperature pattern for the areas where these air masses cover, and that is going to be generally north of the 40 degree north latitude line.

Despite all the favorable MJO, -NAO, -AO, +PNA, WPO, WTF, WTH, BFD, OMG, BYOB, CYA, La La La Nina talk, sometimes you just have to throw all that mumbo jumbo aside and look at the big picture and use common weather sense. I n fact, that has been the absolute best forecasting approach by far all winter long, and I see no reason to abandon what works.  When I do that what I see is our chances for much more in the way of real cold and wintry threats south of I-40 being washed away by multiple rain and severe weather threats over the next two weeks or longer.  Also, the old saying is true, you can’t fool Mother Nature. The fact of the matter is the more direct rays of the sun are striking the northern hemisphere now, and the sun angle is getting higher at a pretty fast clip. It’s getting warmer and warmer.  The Robins have returned. The flowers are starting to bloom. 60 and 70 degree temps are becoming common. And springtime severe weather is becoming more common.  You know, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary going on.  It appears the change of seasons is progressing as it normally does this time of year, and for us in the Southeast a normal progression into spring means a rapidly dwindling chance for any significant wintry weather after about Feb. 20 unless you live above 2,800 feet in the Appalachians, or in North Carolina.  Heck, this winter it will probably snow in May in North Carolina!  So, the northern half of AR, and TN, the mountains of TN and NC, and the northern half of central and eastern NC stand the best chance at seeing any significant winter weather for most of the remainder of the month.

Now that I have spent most of this post throwing a warm, wet blanket on the cold and snow lovers, I will throw out one tid bit of good news for those of us south of I-40.  I do see the overall pattern possibly evolving into one that would support one last-gasp winter event for much of the Southeast in the Feb. 27 – March 6 time frame.  It may very well never come to pass, just like the end of January/early February threat that I saw ended up being bungled by the medium range models, but at least I do see some sliver of hope for a winter’s last stand type of event.  Also, one can never truly with 100% confidence say winter is over until around Tax Day in the South, so keep hope alive!  I haven’t given up, I’m just keeping a realistic head about it and if a big winter storm or major cold blast happens in the next two weeks to one month, then I will be very pleasantly surprised.

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.

Significant Upslope Snow Event for the Central and Northern Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee

Posted in Severe weather, Winter weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by stormstream

There’s not too much to say about today’s non-system that hasn’t already been said, so I won’t waste any more time talking about it.  I will say that I would not be surprised to see an inch of gloppy, wet snow on the Cumberland Plateau this morning. I’ve driven up to the rest stop on I-24 in Monteagle, TN several times in situations like this, and been rewarded with some nice snowball-making snow.  And as for the second short wave, the clipper, that earlier looked like it could possibly provide parts of the Southeast with a dusting of snow on Tuesday night, well that now looks to provide only some light rain and snow flurries Tuesday afternoon, but will be a major factor in fueling the system that the majority of this blog post will concentrate on.

The cold front moves across the region today.  Light snow will overspread the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, and provide an inch or two of snow for locations above 2,800 feet.  Not a big deal.  The big deal comes Tuesday afternoon and night.

A winter storm watch is in effect for the following counties in the mountains of western North Carolina from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon:  Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Madison, Yancey, Haywood, Swain, Buncombe, Graham, Ashe, Watauga, Grayson, northern Jackson, Caldwell mountains, Burke mountains and McDowell mountains.

During the day on Tuesday the upslope flow becomes firmly established across the mountains, and snow shower activity will steadily increase through the morning and early afternoon.  As the afternoon wears on an upper level disturbance will swing through the region and enhance the snow, as well as produce some wind.  That is when things get really interesting for especially the central and northern mountains of TN and NC, and especially west and northwest facing higher slopes.  Snow showers will increase to intense snow squalls and the wind will increase, producing low visibilities and blowing and drifting snow.  This will all generally be after about 2pm, and lasting through Tuesday night.  After that, the disturbance passes, and just general light to moderate snow shower activity will continue through the afternoon on Wednesday before coming to an end around sunset on Wednesday.  When all is said and done, elevations above 2,800 feet in the central and northern mountains of NC, and TN mountains along the border with NC, will have a general 3 to 6 inches of snow on the ground, and the ski resort elevations above 4,000 feet could see up to 8 inches, and possibly more than that in the most favored upslope regions.   Beech mountain, Sugar mountain and Wolf Laurel should make out very well with this event, so skiing will be back in full swing for the TN and NC ski resorts through the upcoming weekend.

Just a quick mention about the cold weather, then the warm up and severe weather chances that I mentioned in my blog yesterday.  We are definitely still on track to see some cold weather Tuesdsay and especially Wednesday.  Lows in the ATL area could drop into the 20’s with teens outside the city, with highs only in the 40’s on Tuesday, and possibly not making out of the 30’s on Wednesday.  Then starting Thursday the warm-up begins, and we are into the 60’s by the weekend.  In fact, this looks to be an awesome weekend coming up for any outdoor activities.  Heading into next week there are still some indications that a pattern that could favor some intense thunderstorm activity for parts of the eastern half of the nation could evolve by the middle or end of next week.  There is no way to be any more detailed than this right now.  This will be something that I’ll be monitoring, and as details come into better focus, I will certainly pass along my thoughts on this, but that probably won’t be until early next week.