Saturday, November 1, 2014

Update: Scenes From A Record Early Southern Snow. And Maine's Still Screwed.

Snow on palm trees in Lexington, SC
Saturday. Photo by Lisa Grise via Twitter.
Today was an incredible day in the Carolinas.  

They had their first snow of the season, and in many cases, it broke the record for earliest snowfall by many days or even a couple weeks.

More incredibly, some areas got several inches of snow. A few places in the higher elevations were closing in on two feet as of late Saturday afternoon.

Up to 22 inches of snow as reported near the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina had by far their earliest snowfall on record.

This is one of the most extreme, bizarre storms I've ever seen.

The snow around Greenville and Columbia is particularly incredible because the South Carolina cities are at low elevations. It's only snowed a couple times in those cities in November since the 1880s, and those cases were much later in the month.

Both of these South Carolina cities had their first snowfall of the winter earlier than cold northern wintry cities as Bismarck, North Dakota, Buffalo, New York and Burlington, Vermont.

Snow and foliage in the southeastern U.S.
Photo by Ted Overbay via Twitter
This storm isn't done. The snow in the Carolinas was caused by an incredibly strong upper level disturbance that dove due south from the Arctic, through the Great Lakes and into the Carolinas.

On it's way through the Great Lakes, the disturbance unleashed very strong winds on Chicago, causing high waves and flooding along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The strong upper level disturbance had so much cold air with it, and and so much energy, that it dropped temperatures to near record low levels.

The heavy precipitation with the disturbance further cooled the air, and the result was snow.

As a strong weather disturbance that was an
ingredient for today's southern snow passed
Chicago Friday, it stirred up big waves
on Lake Michigan. Photo by Nick Ulivieri via Twitter
The upper disturbance finally made it to the coast northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at mid afternoon Saturday. Interactions with another, southern disturbance, and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream are making a nor'easter develop explosively.

A bomb is what we call these things, since they get going so fast and so extensively.

This "bomb" will move north, meaning New England is screwed. At least parts of New England, anyway.

As I said this morning, we're lucky the storm is tracking quite a ways offshore, so the worst effects will miss much of New England.

Still, a high wind warning is still up for Cape Cod and the islands. Coastal flood warnings are up along much of the New England coast, too. especially on north facing beaches where the strong winds will push ocean water ashore.

Harlan County, Kentucky on Saturday.
Photo by Debra Callahan via Twitter.  
The big part of this storm still looks to hit the eastern half of Maine. The storm is going to move more north, rather than northeast, once it gets past Cape Cod, so it will really affect that part of Maine.

Up to 14 inches of snow is likely to fall there, and it could drift quite a bit as winds will gust over 40 mph.

Very heavy snow, a foot or more in some areas, will hit parts of New Brunswick, Canada Sunday.

Inland areas of the Northeast, including western New England and northern New York, are in for a blustery Sunday, with some snow flurries, especially early in the day.

It was already snowing steadily in some mountainous areas of Vermont Saturday afternoon, but accumulations will generally be less than 3 inches in the mountains, and no more than a dusting in the valleys.

At my house at a low elevation St. Albans, near Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont, I was treated to the joy of doing yard work this afternoon in a drizzle that was mixed with bits of sleet and slush. Yummy!

I still think the weather in the eastern United States will settle down this week and become much more seasonable. However, frequent rain showers will probably affect much of the Northeast.

However, the weather pattern remains dynamic, and there's still a greater than usual chance that other strong storms could hit hit the Northeast between November 5 and 15. That's no guarantee, of course, but it's something to watch.

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