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Cold Outbreak – Snowy Rumors for the Southeast by Next Weekend?

3 Jan 2017, 4:14 pm

Arctic Exhaust: No Records But “Cold Enough”

I had a fleeting out-of-body conversation yesterday. “Yeah, it won’t be so bad” I explained. “Single digit highs, maybe 4 nights below zero, as cold as -7F or so. No big deal”. Where else can a meteorologist utter such a thing. Fairbanks? Vail? Bozeman, Montana? And it dawned on me once again: we are a race of super-humans.

“Weather Ballers” my friends out east call us, with a mix of awe and reverence. I agree.

A cruel, unforgiving northwest wind kicks in today from the Northern Plains into the Midwest and Great Lakes; cold exhaust behind yesterday’s storm – another thoughtful airmail treat direct from the Yukon. I don’t see any records as this bitter air pushes across the USA, but this will be one of the colder weeks of the winter for much of the nation east of the Rockies.

A few models are hinting at accumulating snow next weekend from the Mid South into the Southeast and Carolinas but buyer beware. It’s way too early to be tossing out potential snow amounts for a low pressure system that may or may not spin up 4 days from now. That said, if you live from Oklahoma City to Little Rock, Huntsville, Atlanta and Charlotte you’ll probably want to pay even closer attention to WeatherNation updates in the coming days. You’re due for a winter smack.

Long-range models hint at a milder, Pacific breeze kicking in the 3rd week of January as the coldest lobe of air lifts into eastern Canada. Cold enough to get your attention this week, but relatively tame by historic standards. This too shall pass…


For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Paul Douglas

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of WeatherNation

384 hour 2-meter GFS temperature forecast: NOAA and

Southeastern Snow Event Next Weekend?

Confidence levels are still very low, but NOAA’s GFS model spins up a storm along the leading edge of much colder air, with potentially plowable snowfall amounts from  Oklahoma City to Birmingham, Atlanta and the Carolinas. Too early to panic, but we need to keep an eye on this.

Moderation Third Week of January

Models continue to indicate a more zonal, west-to-east flow within 2 weeks as the core of the coldest air lifts toward Newfoundland. Old Man Winter may catch his breath for a week or so later this month, but spring fever is nowhere in sight.

Coldest Country on Earth? Yes, Antarctica is colder, but it isn’t a country. There are a lot of ways to quantify “coldest nation”, including aerial coverage of bitter cold, the most extreme low temperature, etc, but Russia, specifically Siberia, has top honors, according to Science Facts: “Russia’s winters have stopped invading armies. Rather than entering into peace negotiation with Napoleon Bonaparte, who had already conquered most of Europe by 1812, Tsar Alexander decided to let Russia’s grim climate handle the French invaders. Summers in the Russian tundra are brief. Snow and rain visit this vast stretch of land at least eight months throughout the year. In 1974, a record temperature of 96 degrees below zero Fahrenheit was recorded in northeast Siberia. Russia is the coldest country in the world.”

File photo credit: Wikipedia

The Term “Severe Weather” May Not Mean What You Think

 There is still confusion about terminology, according to Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: “…If a severe thunderstorm watch or a tornado watch is issued, this is what that means according the the SPC website

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch outlines an area where an organized episode of hail 1 inch diameter or larger and/or damaging thunderstorm winds are expected during a two to eight hour period. A Tornado Watch includes the large hail and damaging wind threats, as well as the possibility of multiple tornadoes or a single intense tornado. Typical watches cover about 25,000 square miles, or about half the size of Iowa.

Though it varies, the SPC issues about 1000 or so watches per year. SPC only issues watches. Warnings are issued by your local National Weather Service (NWS) office. A watch means that the outlined conditions above are possible during the next few hours or so. A warning means that conditions have actually been observed or expected within the next 60 minutes. According to some studies (and my own personal observations), a “not-trivial” percentage of the population actually confuses these terms...”

Fog Waves: Photographer Nick Steinberg Captures Nature in Motion

Digital Photography Review has a few samples of some truly incredible photos: “Out of almost daily trips to Mt.Tam in the summer of 2016, I would say that this was by far the best flow i’d seen. Normally the rangers kick everyone out around sunset, but on this evening they came really late and allowed me to get some rare footage of fog coming in at twilight. What I loved about this one was the layers of fog coming through the trees. The beautiful and vibrant red sky was unfortunately lit up due to a nearby fire…”

Photo credit: Nick Steinberg.

Tornado Warnings in 2016

Map courtesy of U.S. Tornadoes, which points out that the heavy warning density from central North Carolina to southern Virginia during the February 24, 2016 outbreak was the largest of last year.

La Niña May Drive More Tornadoes in 2017

It was a relatively quiet 2016 for tornadoes, but a La Nina cool phase in the Pacific may help to spark more numerous and violent tornadoes in spring of 2017, according to EcoWatch: “…The strong El Niño of 2015-16 likely helped tamp down tornado activity this year, at least in the heart of Tornado Alley. Researchers at IRI/Columbia University have shown that the most active spring seasons for tornado and hail over the central U.S., especially the Southern Plains, are linked to strong La Niña events, while the very quietest seasons are related to strong El Niño events. In January 2015, the researchers, led by John Allen (now at Central Michigan University), called for better-than-even odds (54 percent) of a below-average number of tornadoes this year, as opposed to the 33/33/33 percent split (below, above, and near average) one would otherwise expect. (See more details at this conference presentation). As with Atlantic hurricanes, even a mostly quiet season can still produce deadly mayhem if one destructive event, such as a major landfalling hurricane or a family of violent tornadoes, happens to hit the wrong place at the wrong time. “It’s an ongoing challenge to think about how to convey this information,” Allen told me. “I think it’s also worth noting that we still don’t have a lot of other climate signals for improving our forecasts when we don’t have ENSO-driven predictability…”

Map credit: “During El Nino events (top) the frequency of U.S. tornadoes typically drops. When a La Nina phase prevails (bottom) tornado frequency goes up (indicated by red areas). The effect is strongest in the boxed area.” Nature Geoscience 2015, courtesy IRI.

2016 Weather In Review Around the USA

A Look Back at New England’s Year in Weather

Here’s an excerpt of a good recap from WBZ-TV, CBS Boston: “…A T-storm moved through eastern Worcester County, then through central Middlesex County. Isolated wind damage was reported in Marlborough and Sudbury, then it produced a tornado. Concord was hit by the tornado, classified as an EF-1 by the National Weather Service. This was the first tornado warning since August 4th of 2015. First Massachusetts tornado since June 23, 2015 (Westminster/Wrentham). And, the first “nocturnal” tornado since July 11, 1970 (2:15am in Townsend). More info on the damage here…”

Image credit: “Concord experienced a tornado in the summer.” (WBZ-TV)

High Waters: Floods of 2016 Transformed Eastern Iowans’ Lives 

Cedar Rapids and much of eastern Iowa experienced near-record flooding last year. Here’s an excerpt from The Gazette: “…In Cedar Rapids, where the Cedar River created at 21.9 feet on Sept. 27 — the highest since the historic 2008 flood — the city still is figuring the cost of a gargantuan effort to stave off what could have been a far worse calamity. In the aftermath, 19 Iowa counties became eligible for federal assistance to help rebound from at least $22 million in damage caused by extensive flooding along the Cedar River from Sept. 21 to Oct. 3, President Barack Obama declared. The Gazette’s online readers voted the Cedar Rapids flooding as the story of the year for 2016…

Snowzilla Tops List of 2016’s Most Significant Weather Events in Washington D.C.

Here’s a clip from Capital Weather Gang: “…When all was said and done, a controversial 17.8 inches of snow was recorded at Reagan National Airport for the District’s total, enough to tie as the fourth biggest on record. Folks like me in the northwest part of the city recorded 2 feet. Baltimore picked up 29.2 inches, its largest snowstorm on record, and Dulles International Airport recorded 29.3 inches which ranked No. 2. What made Snowzilla truly unique was that the District and most of the region picked up 80 to 85 percent of an above-average snowfall season in this one storm. Throughout recorded history, there is no other winter with that kind of stat. The closest was 1941-1942, also an El Niño winter, when 80 percent of the snow fell in one storm in late March. But that was a smaller storm, and the seasonal snowfall finished below average…”

Image credit: UW-Madison CIMSS

Top Story of 2016: Thousand Year Flood

Southern West Virginia was hit especially hard in late June. Here’s a recap from “A day that dawned with severe thunderstorms and torrential downpours and ended in tragedy, June 23 undoubtedly will go into the Mountain State’s history books as the day of the thousand-year flood. Southern West Virginia’s hardest hit area, Greenbrier County, saw 11 inches of rain fall in less than 12 hours that Thursday, according to Emergency Management director Al Whitaker. Affecting 44 of the state’s 55 counties, the downpour caused flash flooding of small streams through neighborhoods that had never before seen a flood. In many places, that water drained into nearby rivers; the Greenbrier, Meadow, Elk, Gauley, Cherry and New all peaked above flood stage. Swept away in the floodwaters were roads and bridges, parks and schools, homes and businesses and, most dear, 23 lives — 15 in Greenbrier alone…”

Photo credit: Rick Barbero, The Register-Herald. “A house was forced from its foundation and floated onto Anjean Street in Rupert had to be cut in half to open up the lane.”

Top 6 Southwest Florida Weather Events in 2016

Fox4 in Fort Meyers, Florida has a recap: “From tornadoes to summer storms, hurricanes to record heat, 2016 has been a year of some wild weather across Southwest Florida. Here’s a list of 6 of the top weather events this year. Last winter was marked by El Niño, a pattern favoring more active weather for Florida, including a greater occurrence of severe storms and tornadoes. In mid January, a rare EF2 tornado struck SW Cape Coral leaving a trail of downed trees, damaged homes and devastation. More instances of tornadoes and damaging winds would occur with impacts felt in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Naples and Golden Gate…”

Freakish EF-2 Tornado for Coastal Oregon in 2016 reviews the strong tornado that shocked residents of Oregon in 2016: “…The highest profile event on the entire Oregon coast took place in Manzanita and Oceanside on October 14 when both places had a tornado lumber through. In Oceanside there was no damage, but Manzanita had over 100 homes and buildings torn apart, power lines ripped out and the town was actually cordoned off for a few days. Most dramatically, the town lost one third of its trees. It was later designated and EF2. Footage of the event even made national TV news. Almost as big a story was why this happened. Tornadoes along the coast are nearly unheard of. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), this one was the combination of a lot of different elements coming together, some of them quite unusual. The NWS called the storm itself “rare,” in that it was a low pressure system that coincided with a storm that was atypically strong for this time of year, making things so much more unstable…”

Photo credit: Amy Van Dyck

World’s First Solar Road Opens in France

EcoWatch has details: “…According to the Guardian, about 2,000 motorists will drive on the roadway during a test period of two years to see if the project can generate enough energy to power street lights for the 3,400-resident village. The panels consists of extremely thin yet durable panels of polycrystalline silicon that can transform solar energy into electricity. The panels are designed to withstand all types of traffic, including heavy-duty vehicles and in terms of efficiency, Wattway claims its panels have a 15 percent yield, compared to 18-19 percent for conventional photovoltaic panels. The French government plans to eventually pave 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of its roads with solar panels. “The maximum effect of the program, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8 percent of the French population,” Royal said earlier this year about the iniative…”

Can Carbon Capture Technology Prosper Under Trump?

Here’s the intro to a New York Times story: “Can one of the most promising — and troubled — technologies for fighting global warming survive during the administration of Donald J. Trump? The technology, carbon capture, involves pulling carbon dioxide out of smokestacks and industrial processes before the climate-altering gas can make its way into the atmosphere. Mr. Trump’s denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting climate change, a view shared by many of his cabinet nominees, might appear to doom any such environmental initiatives. But the new Petra Nova plant about to start running here, about 30 miles southwest of Houston, is a bright spot for the technology’s supporters. It is being completed essentially on time and within its budget, unlike many previous such projects…”

Photo credit: “Carbon capture equipment at the Petra Nova plant southwest of Houston. Credit Michael Stravato for The New York Times.

HGTV Will Never Upset You: How The Network Beat CNN in 2016

Say what? Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg: “…The escapist appeal of looking at other people’s beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN. Riding HGTV’s reality shows, parent company Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. has seen its shares rise more than 30 percent this year, outperforming bigger rivals like Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Viacom Inc. HGTV’s formula is relentlessly consistent: a shabby house gets a makeover, and a happy couple moves in. A variation on the theme — house-flipping for fun and profit — works too. The network has aired 23 different flipping shows over the past few years. Today “Flip or Flop” and “Masters of Flip” run in prime time…”

Photo credit: “Drew and Jonathan Scott of HGTV’s Property Brothers.” Photographer: Zack Arias/Used Film Studios via ScrippsNetworks.

Climate Stories

Top 10 Tropical Cyclone Events of 2016 Potentially Influenced by Climate Change

Jeff Masters reports for “Category 6” at WunderBlog: “Tropical cyclones—which include all hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms and tropical depressions—are expected to change in intensity, frequency, location, and seasonality as a result of climate change. Many of the tropical cyclones of 2016 exhibited the type of behavior we expect to see more of due to global warming. Here, then, is a “top ten” list of 2016 tropical cyclone events of the type we should expect to see more of due to global warming. Tropical cyclones are heat engines which extract heat energy from the oceans and convert it to the kinetic energy of the storms’ winds. Thus, the strongest tropical cyclones are expected to get stronger in a world with warmer oceans. It was not a surprise that in 2016—a year with the warmest ocean temperatures on record, globally—we saw the strongest storms ever observed in the two of the six ocean basins that tropical cyclones commonly occur in. If we include the Northern Hemisphere’s strongest tropical cyclone on record—Hurricane Patrica of October 2015—records have been set in three of the six ocean basins over the past two years…”

Image credit: “A visible image of Tropical Cyclone Fantala collected at 1025Z (6:25 am EDT) on April 18, 2016, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on board the Aqua satellite. The north tip of Madagascar can be seen at bottom. At the time, Fantala was the strongest tropical cyclone ever observed in the Indian Ocean, with winds estimated at 175 mph.” Image credit: NASA.

Yes, Some Extreme Weather Can Be Blamed on Climate Change

The attribution signal is strongest with heat waves and extreme rainfall events, reports Scientific American: “Droughts, wildfires, heat waves, intense rainstorms—these are all extreme weather phenomena that occur naturally. But climate change is now increasing the frequency and magnitude of many of these events. Flooding in Paris and the Arctic heat wave are just two instances where climate change contributed to extreme weather in 2016—and there are many more examples. Yet how do scientists know that global warming influenced a specific event? Until recently, they couldn’t answer this question, but the field of “attribution science” has made immense progress in the last five years. Researchers can now tell people how climate change impacts them, and not 50 or 100 years from now—today. Scientific American spoke with Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, about how attribution science works and why it’s a critical part of helping communities prepare for and adapt to climate change…”

Climate Change in 2016: The Good, The Bad, an the Ugly

St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham reports for The Guardian: “…The best news of all, in my opinion, is the continued cost reductions and huge installations of clean energy both in the US and around the word. Wind, solar, and other renewables have been on an incredible run of decreasing costs and creative financing, which has made them economically competitive with dirty fossil fuels. Improvements and expansion of grid-based power storage has also advanced. These storage abilities are needed to allow intermittent power sources (like wind and solar) to play an even larger role in delivering power to the grid. In the end, clean power will win out based on simple dollars and cents – regardless of the fact they will also help save the world...”

Photo credit: “A firefighter watches as smoke from a wildfire swirls around a stand of trees near Morgan Hill, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. A heat wave stifling drought-stricken California worsened the state’s wildfires in 2016.” Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

San Diego Among 5 Cities Leading Fight Against Climate Change

Times of San Diego has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…With a population of nearly 1.4 million people, San Diego was the largest U.S. city in 2016 to have committed to producing all its energy from renewable sources. The city, located in the drier southern part of California, has had to introduce water cuts to combat prolonged drought in the state which has been aggravated by climate change. San Diego’s mayor Kevin Faulconer has committed some $130 million of a $3.4 billion budget for 2017 to funding various projects to tackle climate change such as installing solar panels to new bike lanes and energy-efficient street lights…”

Photo credit: “Electric vehicles being charged in SanDiego.” Photo courtesy SDG&E.

As World Warms, How Do We Decide When a Plant is Native?

Here’s an except from Yale Environment 360: “…Natural range shifts of birds and other mobile species have been documented in the past decade, but new studies suggest that many native plants are also struggling to keep up with climate change by migrating to higher elevations or towards the poles. In an analysis of the flora of Worcester County in central Massachusetts in 2013, biologist Robert Bertin found that the ranges of native plants appear to be contracting. “Northern” species most widely distributed in upper New England, he wrote, are declining faster than the region’s “southern” plants, primarily from New England’s lower reaches, which are expanding their ranges northward. In a paper published earlier this year, biologists detected significantly fewer shifts in elevation by plants in California than by other organisms such as birds and mammals…”

How Climate Change Threatens Famed Amalfi Coast

The Christian Science Monitor reports: “...Climate change, blamed by experts and locals on global warming, has led to more intense rainstorms in Italy, sometimes with devastating impact on communities in this region south of Naples. “We are experiencing rainfall that is much more intense – we are seeing torrential, almost tropical, rain,” says Michele Buonomo of Legambiente, a national environmental organization. “It has happened in the last 10 years – the period in which we have seen the hottest temperatures globally for at least two centuries,” says Mr. Buonomo, who is the president of Legambiente in the region of Campania, which encompasses the Amalfi Coast. “Italy has done very little over the years to respond to the challenges of climate change. We need more action from the Italian government. Spending is not keeping up with the increase in more extreme weather events...”

Photo credit: “A view of Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The region is famed for its scenery, but the steep terrain is also vulnerable to mudslides.” Alfredo Sosa.

Climate Change Highlights in 2016

Here’s an excerpt from Huffington Post: “…May saw yet more records broken around the globe. In India, temperatures reached an incredible 51 degrees Celsius (124 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rajasthan, breaking the previous record high. Severe drought followed the extreme heat ― at least 330 million people were without sufficient water. The heat and drought compounded the misery for many people, especially in rural parts of the country, who were already dealing with several years of below-average monsoons, which are becoming more erratic because of climate change…”

Image credit: Giphy.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Paul Douglas

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of WeatherNation

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