Santa Claus is Storming Into Town
I know it goes without saying, but you’re running out of time to pick up a gift for your family and friends! I’ll admit, I’m not 100% done with my shopping yet. I’m the procrastinator, normally shopping on Christmas Eve, then sneaking away to wrap presents in the evening, as my family catches up around the fire. So, might as well ask…are you done with your shopping, and do you have everything wrapped?? Hopefully, Santa is wrapped in several layers when leaving the North Pole! Here’s a look at your Christmas Day forecast for a few fitting towns across the nation. By the way, join us here at WeatherNation as we track Santa on his trip around the World!
The most commonly asked question we get this time of year as meteorologists, “Will the weather cooperate for my holiday travels?” Well, if you’re heading west on Christmas Eve, expect to run into some delays. The parade of storms continues pounding parts of California, Oregon and Washington with heavy rain and mountain snow, and now that snow is spreading into the Intermountain West. BLIZZARD WARNINGS have been posted through tonight in the mountains of southern OR and northern CA, with 6 to 12-inches of additional snow and winds gusting over 50 mph creating near zero visibility.
Meanwhile, even bigger problems may develop in parts of the central and southern plains for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Scattered showers and rumbles may delay a few flights into Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta early Monday. Light snow is expected to brush into Pittsburgh and Buffalo late Monday, potentially slowing travel a bit. By Christmas, all eyes will be on 2 separate areas. Severe storms, including hail and damaging wind are looking more likely around Houston, TX just before sunrise and as families are opening gifts. Storms are expected to intensify(potentially significantly, containing isolated tornadoes) as they shift east into Louisiana, eventually impacting Alexandria and New Orleans. Around lunch time, severe storms will spread toward Jackson and Biloxi, MS, then into Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Mobile, AL. Monday night, storms roll out of Alabama and into Georgia and the Panhandle of Florida, still packing large hail and damaging wind potential. Isolated severe storms are possible in the Carolinas Wednesday, but coverage is not expected to be as widespread.
On the back side of the same low responsible for drawing up copious amounts of Gulf moisture and warm air, a punch of very cold air will transition rain to freezing rain, sleet and snow. Yes, areas that don’t typically see a white Christmas could see a heavy round of snow and wind! Models vary quite a bit, but all point to a swath of at least 6-12″+ swinging out of Oklahoma, into Arkansas and parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, before all is said and done Wednesday. WINTER STORM WATCHES have now been issued for much of Oklahoma, and from Popular Bluff, MO to Mount Carmel, IN. This will eventually include parts of Arkansas and more of MO, but as of this blog write-up, watches have not been posted in these locations. One of our models shows this low curling up the eastern seaboard and combining with a coastal low. If this does occur, expect heavy snow and wind sliding into the New England states Wednesday into Thursday. Any way you slice it, Wednesday travel could be slowed considerably in the southern plains and east of the Mississippi River. Another round of snow and severe weather may be in the cards late in the week as well.
Let’s step back to our severe weather potential, and take a look at how rare tornadoes are on Christmas Day. Only 32 tornadoes have touched down across the Nation ON Christmas. The last tornadoes recorded Christmas day occurred back in 2006. 5 twisters tore across Florida, causing an estimated $30 million damage in Daytona Beach. Nobody was seriously hurt or killed.
If you’re still looking for a last second gift idea, head to a local big-box or electronics store and pick up a NOAA Weather Radio. We consider these inexpensive life insurance policies, giving you a heads up when severe weather is on the way. They’ll even wake you in the middle of the night, which may come in handy in parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
Meteorologist Bryan Karrick