Friday, February 28, 2014

Long Winter Makes People Silly: Swimming In The Duluth Snow

Yes, it's been a long, hard winter, especially in the upper Midwest.
OK, so maybe this wasn't the best idea.  

And it's not done yet! More cold weather, and in some places, snow, is due in the next couple of days.

Up in frigid Duluth, Minnesota recently, two young guys, obviously suffering from cabin fever, put on their speedos for a swim. (They look like they might be competitive swimmers)

With what appears to be a couple feet of fresh powder on the ground, the pair decided to try seeing if swimming in the snow works, since all the water is apparently frozen over in Duluth.

The experiment didn't go that well, but it's fun to watch. So watch:


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Snow Squalls Roaming The Northeast This Afternoon Could Be Dangerous

Lines of snow squalls had emerged from Ontario Thursday morning and were marching across Pennsylvania and New York, heading toward Vermont and the rest of New England.
From CP24 in Toronto: A very heavy snow squall
bears down on the Toronto metro area this morning.  

The squalls only leave an inch or so of snow and last a half hour or less, so no big deal right?

Wrong. It can be a big deal.

Think of squalls like this as severe summer thunderstorms, except with a lot worse visibility and lot more ice.

When a snow squall hits, visibility on the roads drops to zero. The pavement dry a second ago, gets wet, then freezes instantly, turning into a dangerous sheet of ice. It's snowing and blowing so hard you can't see anything in front of you when you're driving.

From CP24,  a highway pileup Thursday morning
resulting from that blinding snow squall in the photo above.  
That is, until you see the crash in front of you and the road is icy and you can't brake in time and you crash into the ever-expanding pileup.

So be extra careful out there on the roads and be ready for changes in the weather that could come in a second.  The risk of these snow squalls will last in Vermont and surrounding New England, and New York the rest of the afternoon.

 If you can safely do so when a squall hits, it might be best to pull off the road into a safe area where you won't get hit by other cars.

Then just wait there until the squall passes. Like I said, it will last less than a half hour. Which is a lot less time wasted than if you were part of a car crash or road pileup.

Dumb Idea Chronicles: The Great Anti-Tornado Wall Of America

Tornado season is fast approaching in the United States, that potentially deadly time of year in the spring and early summer when large twisters level towns and cause general chaos across sections of the Great Plains, Midwest and South.
A tornado that was at an elevation of 11,900 feet
on Mt. Evans in Colorado in 2012. Mountains don't
necessarily stop tornadoes.  

It would be nice if we could prevent these destructive monsters, but we can't.

A guy named Rongjia Tao of Temple Univesity wants to try, though.

His thought: Erect three huge east to west walls across the central United States, one around North Dakota, the other near the Kansas-Oklahoma State line, and one around Texas and Louisiana.

He's going to present this idea to the American Physical Society in Denver this week, but pretty much everybody agrees this idea won't fly.

Tao's idea is that cold winds blast down from the north, and humid, warm winds come up from the south. The air masses collide, and that helps set off tornadoes.  He says his walls would block the winds, and thereby prevent the tornadoes from forming.

That's a oversimplication on my part, but Tao's got the basic idea about the winds right. But his proposed walls, each 1,000 feet all and 150 feet wide stretching across the Plains, though huge, won't disrupt the tornadoes. They're not nearly big enough. And even really HUGE walls might not make a difference.

Maybe these walls would briefly screw up a very weak tornado, maybe. But not a big one. And face it, who cares if a lame tornado rips one branch off a tree in the middle of nowhere?  But we do care very much when a powerful tornado levels a town and kills people. Tao's walls won't prevent that kind of tragedy.

Mountain range often don't stop or disrupt tornadoes, and mountain ranges are bigger than even Tao's proposal.

From USA Today:

"'It wouldn't work' tornado researcher Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK said in an email

Brooks said that China has deadly tornadoes despite the east-west mountain ranges there. In additon, he said, tornadoes still occur in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri despite the presense there of smaller east-west mountain ranges similar in size to Tao's proposed walls."

Brooks added: "This is essentially a case of a physicist, who may be very good in hsi sub discipine, talking about a subject about which he is abysmally ignorant."

Tornadoes often form more because of changes in temperature and wind direction as you go up vertically, rather than changes in temperature as you move from south to north.

Worse, some east-west mountain ranges could actually enhance the formation of tornadoes.

According to Wunderground:

"There are some east-west ridges in eastern Colorado, one is the Palmer Divide," (The Weather Channel's severe storm expert Dr. Greg) Forbes said. "Eddies to the north of the Palmer Divide when winds are from the southeast are a good breeding ground for tornadoes."

Here's a video (below) demonstrating how a hill can't really stop a tornado.  A strong tornado had just left Springfield, Mass in June, 2011. It scales a hill, and you can see it's not weakening. The person who shot the video ducked for cover once the tornado crested the hill and cut off the video.

Good thing: The tornado came down the hill at full strength and caused major damage to houses and other buildings in Monson, Mass. Watch, (but turn down the volume because the videographer added annoying music and sounds to the video):




Moreover, the cost of Tao's walls might far exceed the cost of the tornados the United States gets every year. It would cost maybe $60 billion for every 100 miles of wall built. And good luck getting the environmental and other permits, and obtaining the land to do this from the thousands of property owners that would be affected.

So for now, we're going to live with our current methods of dealing with tornadoes. That is, have the National Weather Service and other meteorologists issue warnings that a tornado is forming, and hope people get out of the way and into their basements and don't get killed.

For good measure, here's an even more dramatic tornado video than the one above. This one is a powerful twister having no trouble tearing up houses on a steep hill near West Liberty, Kentucky in March, 2012:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Extreme Weather Pattern Brings Another Blast Of Incredibly Cold Air

Guess what? It's cold again
The expected jet stream pattern for later today
Weather systems move paralel to the lines you
see on the map. As you can see, air comes
straight down from the North Pole into the upper
Midwest before curving into the Northeast.  

If you're in the Upper Plains, Midwest or Northeast, you're screaming "DUH!" at me, but, well there you go.

Blame it on the jet stream, again. The jet stream is a high altitude, fast moving river of air that encircles the northern hemisphere and steers weather currents.

The jet stream is usually wavy, with curves to the north or south bringing cold snaps or warm spells to particular areas.

The problem is, this winter, it's been really, really wavy. It has often curved up high to the North Pole, grabbed some frigid air and blasted it down on the eastern half of the United States.

(In the places it's gone way north, like Alaska, they've had record warmth this winter)

We're in that extreme weather pattern now. In fact, weather and climate blogger Dr. Jeff Masters quoted meteorologists in Buffalo, N.Y. as saying the jet stream pattern is the most extreme for late February in 30 years or so. The air is coming straight down from the North Pole.

Once again, this bitter cold pattern is focusing on the Midwest. Because of the repeated blasts of icy air this winter, Chicago is set to have its third coldest winter on record.

It's not that Chicago and surrounding areas had cold snaps that brought temperatures to the lowest ever seen. In fact, there weren't all that many record lows. It's the persistence of the cold that has made for a long, frigid Midwestern winter this year.

There's little relief in sight. Temperatures will remain 20 or more degrees below normal across the Midwest and Northeast for a few days.  I actually don't see signs of a major warmup for more than a week, especially in the Midwest

As has been the case all winter, although the Northeast will stay very cold, the most frigid weather will stay in the Midwest for the most part.  The Northeast might catch semi-breaks in the cold next week. It won't be warm, per se, but some days might go up to about normal for the beginning of March.

So far, this late February pattern hasn't been that stormy. True, there's a blizzard warning up for parts of Minnesota, but that's mostly due to strong winds picking up the snow that's already on the ground.

A series of small storms has been coming in from Canada, across the Great Lakes and into the Northeast, giving bouts of light snow every other day or so.  Most places hit by these little storms pick up a dusting to just a few inches of snow each time one of the little systems comes through.

A stronger storm, possibly with a lot of snow and ice, looks like it could affect the Midwest and East sometime early next week.

Since we're getting toward spring, the surges of warm air from the south are getting stronger. The increased contrast between the warming air to the south and the cold air to the north could help set off some severe thunderstorms or tornadoes with next week's storm in the South. Maybe.

We have to wait a few days to really come up with a good forecast of who gets what type of precipitation and when next week.  Stay tuned.

And yes, someday, spring will come to the Northeast and Midwest. Someday.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vermont Spring Flood Threat? Well..... Maybe

In Vermont, the Burlington Free Press put out an Associated Press article last week discussing what might be a rising chances of spring floods in the Green Mountain State this spring.
Severe flooding on the Lamoille River near Cambridge, Vt.
after torrential thunderstorms and rapid snowmelt in April, 2011.  

The headline was "Vermont Snows Prompt Worries Of Spring Flooding"

That's true, but at this point, it seems that chances are spring flooding won't be extreme, unless some incredibly extreme weather comes into the picture in the next few weeks

It's true the snowpack has increased in recent weeks and rivers are very, very frozen, two factors that could contribute to floods.

However, I don't expect a big spring flood disaster like the state got in 2011 unless something unprecedented happens.

The Burlington Free Press/AP article did not say we would get a flood like 2011, but understandably the piece brought the idea up. People are still spooked by that disaster, and the even-worse Tropical Storm Irene floods three or four months later in 2011.

The spring of 2011 was a special case.  It really was a worst case scenario.

The late winter snow cover that year was among the deepest ever seen in Vermont. Many feet of snow covered the ground in the beginning of March, especially in the mountains.

Worse, that 2011 snow cover had an unusually high water content. That meant there was the potential for massive amount of water to be released when the spring thaws came.
Strong winds over a badly flooded Lake Champlain
send waves crashing onto a North Hero, Vermont
highway in April, 2011.  

And that's what happened. Still, the flooding wouldn't have been too bad if the spring of 2011 was relatively dry.  Instead, it was easily the wettest spring on record in Vermont.

Early on, in April, torrential rainstorms caused river, street and basement flooding.  A storm that caused the worst tornado outbreak in United States history in late April of that year sent record warmth and very uncommon, torrential thunderstorms  into Vermont, causing severe flooding in some rivers, especially in the Lamoille River Valley.

The huge volumes of water poured into Lake Champlain, and meanwhile, the torrential rains continued to pour down from the sky during May. The result was by far the worst flood on record in Lake Champlain.

The flood also lasted a long time, well into June, due to the repeateded heavy rain. Millions of dollars in damage hit homes, camps, roads and other properties near the lake in Vermont, New York and Quebec.

Needless to say, all those bad weather spells in spring, 2011 coming all at once is pretty much impossible to replicate.

So I don't expect anything nearly as bad in 2014 in Vermont or surrounding states.

Still, there are some things to watch for, which could cause some real flooding trouble as we head into the spring.

This Year: 

The biggest flood threat this year, at least in my mind, is ice jams. Some thaws in midwinter have left jumbles of broken ice piled up in some rivers, and those piles threaten to jam up again if higher water moves them.
Camps severely damaged by record flooding
along Lake Champlain in May, 2011.  

All the rivers have also re-frozen solidly in the face of February cold spells.

Far colder than normal weather this week will extend into March, so the river ice will continue thickening, spelling more and more potential for trouble once we get the spring thaw.

Thick ice chunks make more bigger, more solid ice jams than thin, breakable ice.

If we get ice jams, chances are they might form in fairly remote areas, so they won't be that much of a problem. So what if Farmer Bill's field goes under water for a couple days in late March?

But if the ice jams form near communities, we could have a real disaster, like the ice jam flood in Montpelier in 1991. Needless to say, the ice breakups in northern New England rivers are going to have to be watched carefully this spring.

In January, the snow pack in the mountains of northern New York, and in Vermont and New Hampshire were way, way below normal, which, had the trend continued would have greatly minimized the threat of spring flooding.

But the snow cover caught up in February and it's now near normal. The water content is pretty high in that snow, too, since last week's rainstorm largely soaked into the snow rather than melting most of it.

Still the amount of snow, and the amount of water in it, is much, much less than it was in 2011.

The longer we go into March without a good thaw, the greater the chance it will turn really warm later in the spring and melt the snow suddenly, which could cause some river flooding if we get a lot of rain.

The good news is this week, only light amounts of snow will add to the snowpack, so the potential water for floods won't increase markedly (Although there are some highly uncertain hints northern New England could get a pretty good sized snowstorm next week, which would definitely add to the snowpack)

Finally, there's frozen Lake Champlain. Water levels are a little above normal now in the lake, because of some winter rainstorms. The lake is mostly iced over, so water can't evaporate from the lake that much. Of course, evaporation only would have lowered water levels only a tiny bit.

Flood stage in the lake is 100 feet, and I think there's a pretty good chance the water in Lake Champlain will reach that height as the snow melts this spring. But that's still way different than 2011, when the water got up to 103 feet above sea level.

I can't imagine the lake remotely close to that height again this spring, unless the impossible happens and we get a lot more rain this spring than the record amounts in 2011.

The bottom line around Lake Champlain and surrounding areas:  Yeah, watch for spring flooding because there's about a normal chance that could happen. But don't panic over it. There's no reason to see signs of a watery apocalypse.

Elsewhere in the nation, places like the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the rest of northern New England could be in for some flooding this spring, given deep snow cover in those areas.

As in Vermont, it depends on how much rain falls in the spring, and how fast it finally warms up.

Here's a video I took of the severe flooding on Lake Champlain, in Colchester, in May, 2011.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter's Back, But Shut Up About The "Polar Vortex" It's Not The "In" Thing, OK?"

After a brief hiatus, winter is back across much of the eastern half of the country and it's going to stick around for awhile.
At least Mad Magazine had some
fun with the "polar vortex" craze
and stupidity of this winter.  

A persistent weather pattern, with a big ridge of high pressure over the West Coast, or over British Columbia and Alaska in this case, is directing cold Arctic air toward the United States and will continue to do so all week.

This weather pattern has been more or less stuck like this since November. Gawd, it almost seems like it's permanent. Let's hope not.

Speaking of hope, I'm really hoping people shut up about the "Polar Vortex" already.

Since January, when the term got popular, every hint of wintry weather has some people jumping up and down about the Polar Vortex, as if it were some big weird scary monster that just formed this winter and is going to destroy the planet.

Just relax, OK.

So we're on the same page, let's review: The Polar Vortex is a gyre of spinning cold air high up in the atmosphere, usually somewhere near the North Pole. It's too high up in the air to affect us directly, but if it's overhead, or anywhere near us, it's probably colder than usual.

This Polar Vortex is almost always somewhere up around there in the north. It is a very normal thing, and it has been known to weather experts for many, many decades.

It's part of Meteorology 101, really.

Sometimes, the Polar Vortex moves abnormally south, or a piece of it breaks off and sends cold air plunging into places like the United States or Europe. Again, this is completely normal weather behavior and is not a sign of the Apocalypse or anything like that.

People got excited in early January because the Polar Vortex slipped south far enough to graze the northern United States. That far southward slip of the vortex was slightly unusual, but certainly not unprecedented. It has happened many times before

Our close brush with the Polar Vortex in January got everybody, especially in social media, into a tizzy. Now, the term Polar Vortex is a cliche, and gets mentioned every time it gets kind of cold.

Stop it already!

This week, the Polar Vortex is in Canada, where it belongs. It is slightly south of its usual position, and the jet stream is working partly in tandem with the vortex to bring us our colder than normal weather this week.

The only bit of good news is we're getting toward March, so while temperatures are going to be as far below normal as the were during some of the January cold snaps, normal has gotten warmer, so the cold waves have, too.

It'll be uncomfortable out there, but not 40 below.

Here in Vermont, expect high temperatures all week to run in the teens to around 20, and nighttime lows will bottom out within a few degrees either side of zero.

I don't see any big snowstorms anytime soon, but light snowfalls will come through from time to time, especially in the mountains.

I don't see any signs through mid-March in which we'll have any long spells of warm weather. There might be a warm day thrown in there once in awhile, but for the most part, it will stay wintry for a few more weeks.

Blame who you want for that, as long as you don't start screaming "Polar Vortex," OK?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

World's Most Unique Newscast Advertising Slick Roads, A "Frozen" Parody

Pity the poor television newscaster by the time you get toward the end of February in what has been a tough winter.
Reporter Bob Herzog belts out his "Frozen" parody
about icy roads. It's certainly a sight to behold.  

For so many days, these news anchors have gotten on the air to tell you the roads are icy and snowy and dangerous.

How many different ways can you say this day after day and remain engaging, not boring?  Will people just tune you out?

One reporter is bravely (I think) trying to prevent us from tuning out.

Bob Herzog, an anchor and reporter for television station WKRC in Cincinnati,  decided to do quick a performance on air with his song "Just Don't Go," a parody of the Idina Menzel song "Let It Go" from the Disney movie "Frozen."

Hmm, I wonder if this silliness is related to the comedy of the old radio station comedy "WKRP in Cincinnati. Even the call letters of the real and fictional stations are similar.

Anyway, Herzog is a bit of a strange one, doing traffic reports of sorts by performing parody renditions of George Michael's "Faith,"  and something called "Traffic Man" done to Elton John's "Rocket Man"

When he can't come up with a good report, he just does  really odd lip syncing to the likes of "Gangnam Style,"  and  Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe"

But he really hit his stride, of sorts, when he did this report on the nationwide scourge of dangerous, icy roads this winter with this parody from "Frozen":


Saturday, February 22, 2014

U.S. Government Forecasters Last Fall Said This Winter Would Be Kind Of Warm. Oops

Last fall, I was a bit relieved when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center said the upcoming winter would be sort of on the warm side.    
This long range forecast for the winter, issued by
U.S. government forecasters in November
did not capture how cold the winter would be
in the eastern half of the nation.  


If that came true, maybe my fuel heating bill wouldn't be as high and nasty as it otherwise might have been.

Well, as you all know, that forecast was pretty much wrong

Much of the nation east of the Rockies has had a good old fashioned cold winter. Not the coldest ever, not the most extreme, but pretty darn cold.

The entire winter wasn't exactly one Big Fat Giant January thaw.

The not-so-great forecast from the Cimate Prediction Center is more evidence that mid-range forecasts, weeks and months out are lousy. A lot more research needs to be done to make them better.

It would be extremely helpful to have reliable forecasts for weeks and months down the road. Yeah, the accurate forecast for tomorrow can tell us whether to bring an overcoat or an umbrella, but in the grand scheme of things that's not totally crucial for the greater good of society.

What if long range forecasts for weeks or months down the road were reliable and accurate?  Water managers in California, for instance, would be able to tell how stringent water regulations should be because they'd know whether the drought there was going to get worse or not.

Midwest farmers would have a good idea about what kind of rainfall and heat the summer would bring, which would inform them as to what crops to plant, when to plant them, which pests will most need controlling and when to harvest.

Less important but still crucial, here in Vermont, ski resorts would know in advance if an upcoming winter would bring lots of snow or not, which would influence their long term plans on snowmaking and how much staff to hire to serve skiers and riders.

And yes, if long range forecasters were accurate, I would have been better able to predict how much cash I would have had to fork over to keep my house warm all winter.

The reason long range forecasts weeks or months down the road are so lame is scientists don't have a great understanding as to why large scale weather patterns set up the way they do, and when they do. 
For instance, forecasters didn't count on a persistent ridge of high pressure along the West Coast of the United States this winter.

That ridge worsened the California drought, and re-arranged the jet stream so that it delivered repeated Arctic blasts of frigid air to the eastern half of the nation this winter.

Scientists want to better understand why things like the western ridge developed. It has to do with a complex web of changing ocean currents and temperatures, poorly understood weather phenomenon on one side of the globe that affect much of the rest of the planet, and probably atmospheric mysteries that scientists don't even realize exist yet.

The Climate Prediction Center does implicitly acknowledge their long range forecasts are iffy. Back in the fall, they did have vast swaths of the country in an "equal chances" catagory when the December-February forecast came out, reflecting the inherent uncertainty of predictions two or three months out.

There were bits and pieces of the forecast that were accurate, so it's not all bad. The prediction called for below normal temperatures in the northern Plains, which was right. It also said New England would probably be on the warm side.

This winter, New England wasn't warm, necessarily, but the region wasn't as far below normal temperature wise as the Midwest, Middle Atlantic States and South. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, for instance, are only slightly cooler than average for this winter.

Given the unreliability of long range forecasts, don't ask me what kind of spring and summer we're going to have.  All I can tell you is we will have bright days and dark nights, most afternoons will be warmer than most nights, and if the wind blows, the breeze will come out of a direction.

That's about as good as anybody can do.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Great Satellite View Of Today's Massive Storm

The huge storm that caused all kinds of issues in the eastern half of the nation, including blizzards,
tornadoes, floods, severe thunderstorms and high winds, looked awesome today in this satellite photo from NOAA:

Click on the image to make it bigger and easier to see the details.

January Was World's Fourth Warmest, Despite Chill In U.S. Media Centers

The people who spent the last month or so whining that the cold weather in January was "proof" that global warming doesn't exist got some, well, tepid water thrown in their face yesterday by news from the National Climate Data Center.
This map from the NCDC shows that although the eastern
United States, part of Siberia and eastern Europe were
cold in January, 2014, most of the rest of the world was warm.  


Their monthly global temperature analysis for January came out, and the Data Center determined that on a global basis, January, 2014 was the four warmest on record and the hottest January since 2007.

The Climate Data Center's revelation was no surprise to people who watch these things, as most months have been scoring in the Top 10 warmest globally.

As we in the eastern United States shivered in the opening weeks of 2014, we watched much of the world bake, or at least bask in relative warmth.

Each of the past nine months, on a global basis, scored in the Top 10 hottest on record.

It was mostly climate change "experts" like Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz who basically said the U.S. cold wave in January indicated global warming was a crock.

So, for the record, again: If where you live gets a cold wave that  doesn't prove that global warming is a hoax. Conversely, if you have one heat wave where you live, that doesn't in and of itself prove global warming is happening.

You have to look at all of the Earth, and you have to watch long term trends over many years and decades to understand whether the world is warming, and at what pace that is happening.

By the way, based on National Climate Center Data, if you are under the age of 29, you have never seen a month when the global average temperature was below normal. (The last time we had a chillier than normal month was February, 1985)

The pace of global warming, at least on land surfaces on Earth, has slowed over the past 10 years, but hasn't "paused" as some people suggest.

The reason for the slowdown in the pace at which the world is warming, at least as felt in places where people actually live, is poorly understood.

Maybe the effects of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere might not be as strong as some thought. Or some other natural factor is slowing the warming, at least temporarily. It might be the oceans are collecting the extra heat for some reason. Some scientists said last month increased trade winds in the Pacific Ocean might have blunted the pace of the warming

When there's an El Nino, a period of warming in the eastern Pacific, the pace of global warming increases. When there's an El Nina, the pace of the warming slows.  We've had a lot of cooling El Ninas recently.

There are indications an El Nino might start later this year.  If that happens, it will be interesting to see if things get hotter faster on a global basis, or the slower pace of the warming continues as it has in recent years.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

If Anything, Today's Wild Storm System Even Wilder Than Forecast

As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday tornadoes appeared to be spinning up in Illinois, western Tennesee and other nearby areas, as they had been most of the afternoon, signaling the storm hitting the nation from the Great Plains east is even nastier than I would have predicted.
Via @Shireman Farms on Twitter,
a tornado today near Concord, Ill.  

There seems to be more tornadoes with this system than originally thought. Most of the severe weather was expected to be mostly damaging straight line winds. Those straight line, damaging winds are definitely happening, but there are tornadoes in the mix.

Also, there's been several reports of tornadoes in Illinois, more to the north than I thought was going to happen. Oddly, these tornadoes are happening in places that were covered in snow a couple days ago. Tornadoes are rare, or nonexistent on snow covered ground.

What a change in the weather!

So yeah, this storm is big and dynamic.

Where I sit in the Northeast, we're going to be affected by this storm quite a bit. But on the bright side, no tornadoes.

In Vermont, where I am now, today was vaguely spring like. There was some sun, it was 40 degrees and a little snow melted.

Don't let that hint of spring fool you. As the storm's warm front approaches tonight, the accompanying precipitation will cool the air, so much of central and northern New England is in for a nasty spell of wet snow, sleet and freezing rain overnight.

Roads will get icy and slushy and gross, so your trip to work Friday morning might not be so fun.

Precipitation was just moving into Vermont and the rest of New England as of 6:45 p.m. Thursday. Expect one to three inches of glop, basically overnight, north of Interstate 90 (The Mass. Pike).

It'll go over to rain most places in New England during the day Friday, with the icing lasting into midmorning at least in northeastern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and western Maine.

I still don't expect much flooding from this rain, as most of the water will just kind of soak into the snowpack. There might be some ice jams and street flooding especially in low elevations of southwestern Vermont, in New York south of the Adirondacks, south of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and in southern New England.

Elsewhere in the nation, all hell continues to break out. I just receive a report of severe flooding around Champaign, Illinois. Blizzard warnings are still up for parts of Iowa and Minnesota. Winds are expected to gust to 60 mph across a wide swath of the Midwest.

And yes, it's still expected to turn cold again. It'll be chilly this weekend in the Midwest. The Northeast can expect one more mild day Saturday before the chill returns.

We'll see lots of below zero readings again in the Midwest and Northeast by the end of next week.

So yes. Sigh.





Though Deadly, Severe Thunderstorms Are Amazingly BeautifulBeautiful Storm...

Severe thunderstorms are forecast today and tomorrow from the Midwest to the East Coast.
Gorgeous storm photography by Nicolaus Wegner.
Time to buy up some of us work, everyone!  


These won't be those classic isolated, but huge supercell thunderstorms you get on the Great Plains in the spring or summer, but instead they will be along a gusty squall line.

Damaging wind gusts are the main threat from this outbreak, but there might be a couple of tornadoes.

This week's storms won't be beautiful, per se, but some severe thunderstorms are, especially when viewed on a wide open prarie.

Watch this video by Nicolaus Wegner as gorgeous proof.


"Texas Hooker" Storm Brings A Thaw, And Messy, Noisy, Stormy Weather

It's briefly warm across most of the eastern half of the nation today, as expected, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's nice out in most places.
Snowmelt and heavy rain from today's "Texas hooker"
storm might cause flooding in parts of the Midwest.  

A vast area from the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys all the way to the East Coast are in line for violent thunderstorms, and maybe a tornado or two, today and Friday.

Because of rain and melting snow, flood watches are up for a broad stretch from Illinois to western New York. High wind alerts are up in spots from Oklahoma to the Great Lakes. A blizzard is looming for Iowa and Minnesota.

Here in northern New England, look out for a nasty bout of mixed precipitation tonight, followed by a drenching rain on Friday.

It's all due to a strong storm in the nation's midsection. Believe it or not, a nickname for this type of storm is a "Texas hooker."  No, prostitution isn't involved. A Texas hooker is a storm that forms in or near the Lone Star State, then hooks northward toward the Great Lakes.

Texas hooker storms usually cause a wide variety of severe and nasty weather, and this is no exception.

Most of New England from Massachusetts north is under a winter weather advisory for tonight. The Texas hooker's rains will come in as some remaining cold air hangs on in the face of invading warm ir.

The result will be a nasty mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain overnight. It won't be enough to bring down trees in most places, but the roads will get terrible. In Vermont, the bad weather will start after dark tonight, intensify after midnight, then gradually turn to a plain rain Friday.

In the Champlain Valley, there might not be much ice or a mix, as southerly winds will be able to scour out the cold air better than in the rest of northern New England. Most of the precipitation in places like Burlington and Middlebury will be a cold rain.

In Vermont and the rest of northern New England, I don't think Friday's rain and thaw will cause much flooding. There will be some street flooding due to ice-clogged drains, and there might be a few ice jams.

But most of the rain will soak into what until tomorrow is a largely powdery snowcover.

It still looks like most of the nation east of the Rocky Mountains is in for another few bouts of very cold weather next week, and probably into early March.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Proof That Everybody's Tired Of This Long Winter. Even Chicago Meteorologists.

Weather geeks like me like to look at something called the National Weather Service forecast discussions to better understand the reasoning behind why the predictions came out the way they did.
A frigid January view of Chicago. Even the National Weather
Service there is crying uncle about this winter.
Photo by Jim Young/Reuters.  

The forecast discussions are available to the general public but that's not the intended audience.

The discussions are usually dry, not terribly engaging texts full of scientific terms, murky abbreviations and generally quite un-poetic prose.

Here's a tiny piece of a typical example, taken today from the Burlington, Vermont National Weather Service office:


NAM...BTV-4KM AND 12KM WRF DO SHOW AN
INCREASE IN PRECIPITATION COVERAGE ACROSS VERMONT AROUND
18Z...LASTING THRU THIS EVENING. NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES OTHER THAN
TO LOWER POPS/QPF A BIT ACROSS NRN NY. OVERALL LOOKING AT 0.10 TO
0.15" ACROSS VT AND < 0.10" ACROSS NRN NY.


Yeah, I know. Most people don't get that. I eat it up, but I'm strange. Weather geek, you understand.

So it's always cool when whoever writes these forecast discussions have a little fun. In Chicago, the National Weather Service yesterday humorously addressed the general groaning and gnashing of teeth in describing how a thaw would be short-lived, and rough winter weather would return:

GIVEN OUR TRACK RECORD
FOR SNOWING ON SATURDAY`S LATELY...THE WISE BET MIGHT BE FOR
MEASURABLE SNOW ON SATURDAY! FOR ANYONE WHO MAY CATCH A TOUCH OF
SPRING FEVER WITH THE RELATIVE WARMTH OF THURSDAY...FORGETABOUTIT!
ECMWF/GFS BOTH PAINT SUCH A BLEAK...DISMAL...COLD...AND
POTENTIALLY SNOWY PICTURE NEXT WEEK THAT ITS LIKELY TO LEAVE MANY
WINTER WEARY SOULS READY TO CURL UP INTO THE FETAL POSITION AND
BEG FOR MERCY FROM OLD MAN WINTER!

Fetal positions aren't terribly scientific, but such a thing is perfectly understandable given the kind of winter much of the nation has had. 

A Wintry Kind Of Thaw Across The Nation's North

That long awaited, brief thaw in the Great Lakes area into the Northeast is on, but wintry complications aren't making it seem too terribly springlike.
A thaw in the Northeast and Midwest is complicated
by warnings of more storms and cold ahead.  

Take the area around Minnesota and Wisconsin. Yeah, it'll get into the upper 30s and low 40s today, but already, blizzard and winter storm warnings are up for tomorrow and Friday.

Hard to enjoy the warmth when you're getting ready for a winter storm.

A freezing rain advisory is up for most of Pennsylvania this morning. Warm air is trying to get in, but the chill is hanging on this morning, so the rain will freeze until later today.

The real zone of spring weather will be in the Ohio Valley and mid-South, where temperatures will get into the 60s today and Thursday, and severe thunderstorms will sweep the region Thursday.

Here in interior New England, another little dusting of snow will blow through today. Most places will only get a dusting to three inches, but it's just another thin layer to add to the deep snow cover.  It might be warm enough for a few raindrops to mix in around the Champlain Valley and the lowlands of southern Vermont today.

It will be warm and quiet in Vermont and surrounding areas Thursday, with temperatures flirting with 40.

But late Thursday night and Friday, as a surge of precipitation accompanying a strong storm system moves in, sleet, freezing rain and a bit of snow will ice up the roads for the early Friday morning commute.

That icy mix will change to rain during Friday morning, but still, yuck.

By Saturday, the return of winter will have engulfed the northern United States again, except for the Northeast.

The warm air won't be routed from Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine until Sunday, so Saturday will be the last day to enjoy the thaw for awhile. (That is, if you enjoy thaws. Some people still like winter. Like skiers, riders, and snowmobiliers)

And they shouldn't worry too much. Winter weather will be back for more than a week after this semi-thaw passes.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New York City: Snowboarding Mecca?

As I mentioned in this morning's post, New York City has had a LOT of snow this winter. (It snowed there again this morning)
NYC turns into a snowboarding Mecca this winter.  

The Big Apple has had at least as much snow as Burlington, Vermont, which is traditionally more of a winter wonderland than most places in the nation.

So it is, as the video below demonstrates, that New York City has turned into a wonderful snowboarding mecca, at least to the people in the video.

I'm sure the NYPD wasn't too thrilled with this, but it is a lot of fun. Watch:


Latest Snowfall Hitting Northeast, Again

Snow was spreading into New England early Tuesday morning, after already having left a swath of 2 to 8 inches of snow across the Midwest yesterday.
A pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike
last week caused by icy roads and people going
too fast for the conditions.  

It's another case of "Here we go again" in the East.

The storm that caused the snow yesterday is heading into New York State and starting to weaken as expected.

A new storm is trying to get going along the coast. You can already see a concentration of snow in and around New Jersey as the new coastal storm begins to crank up.

Up here in Vermont, the snow was just starting to move into the state as dawn broke. The forecasts from last night haven't changed much, with 1 to 3 inches expected by tonight in the northwestern part of the state to 3 to 6 inches in the southeastern half of the state.

Watch out, though. It seems like there's more car crashes on the highways in Vermont during a modest snowfall like this one than during a big storm. I guess people think a little snow isn't as slippery as a lot. But guess what? Only a bit of slush or ice can cause big problems.

I know I'm being Captain Obvious when I say that, but it's worth mentioning because I don't think some people get it.

They've expanded the winter storm warning beyond the borders of New Hampshire and Maine down into central Massachucetts. The whole winter storm warning region will get 4 to 8 inches of snow today.

That's not huge, but with all the snow already on the ground and the worst of the snow probably hitting near the afternoon rush hour, those regions will have some difficulties today.

The storm system will head out tonight. Another weak little thing will come through Wednesday, dropping a dusting to an inch or two of snow on Vermont and the rest of northern New England, with maybe a little rain in teh valleys as that long awaited, brief thaw starts coming in.

We get a relatively sunny, warm day on Thursday. with temperatures well into the 30s to near 40 in northern New England and in the 40s more to the south.

That gusty rainstorm is still expected all over the Northeast, all the way into northern New England Friday, (possibly preceded by some freezing rain and sleet in parts of northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire late Thursday night)

After that, it's a gradual cooldown over the weekend, and we revert back next week to that chilly weather pattern we've gotten used to all winter.


Some Near Record Snowfalls, Other Places, Meh!

Some of the big cities that are getting snow, like Philadelphia and New York, are already having one of their snowiest Februaries, and getting toward being among the snowiest winters on record.

New York's Central Park has been about as snowy this winter so far as normally very white Burlington Vermont. As of Monday both New York and Burlington had coincidentally each had 55.6 inches of snow so far this winter.

If it doesn't snow any more this season in New York, it wll be the 8th snowiest winter on record there.  Burlington's snowfall so far this winter comes to just about normal, and there, no snow records seem ready to fall.

Philadelphia has also had almost exactly the same amount of snow as both New York and Burlington, with 55.4 inches as of Monday. That's a whopping 39" above normal for Philadelphia and this, too, will be among the snowiest winters on record in Philadelphia.



Monday, February 17, 2014

More Snow Than Earlier Thought Coming Tuesday To Parts of New England

Thundersnow and bursts of really heavy snow were accompanying a storm system in the Great Lakes area on Monday.
Expected snowfall Tuesday, courtesy of the National
Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont.  

The thunder and the heavy snow are indications that the fairly compact storm moving toward the Northeast is packing more of a punch than origionally thought.

Which means more snow is going to come down in parts of New England than originally thought.

The storm is still going to do the same thing forecasters have been predicting for a couple of days now. It will head toward New York State and weaken as it transfers its energy to the New England coast.

But with more energy with the storm, there will be more snow, and it will be more widespread than some meteorologists originally thought.

The least amount of snow will be in the northern Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont, where the original storm from the Midwest will be weakest, and the area will be the most distant from the new storm forming on the coast.

So, at this point, places like Burlington, Plattsburgh and St. Albans are in for maybe 1 to 3 inches of snow.

In the southern half of Vermont, closer to the storm, look for three to five inches on Tuesday and Tuesday evening. Actually, east facing slopes in the southern Green Mountains, places like Ludlow, Mount Holly, Dover, Woodford, might be closer to six inches.

Southern New Hampshire and coastal Maine look to get the most out of this, with maybe four to eight inches.

The snow keeps coming, doesn't it?

There's still going to be thaw during the second half of the week, and northern New England will lose a little bit of its snow cover in an expected rain storm on Friday.

But starting next week, the weather pattern reverts back to one that favors cold weather, and also has at least some promise of at least some light to moderate snowfalls from time to time, going into early March.

Dramatic, But Brief Warmup This Week For Bone-Chilled Midwest, Northeast

As I woke up this morning at my home in St. Albans, Vermont, it was 8 below outside. Yet another cold morning in what has proven to be a rather long winter.
A snow-flecked Jackson the Weather Dog looks
to the skies over his St. Albans, Vermont yard
on Sunday to see if more snow is coming.
Unlike some people, Jackson says he is
not yet that sick of winter. 

While the snow on the ground is pretty, there are a lot of people here in Vermont and in the entire eastern two thirds of the nation begging for a taste of spring.

Well, that taste of spring is coming this week, but you'd better not get used to it. It won't last that long.

It's starting wintry out there today.  Temperatures have gotten to near 20
below in some of the cold hollows in northern New England and New York.

Yet another snowstorm is blowing across the upper Midwest, spreading another 3 to 10 inches of snow across places like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The storm will weaken some as it heads east, so places like New York and Vermont should only get one to three inches of snow out of this, with maybe on a dusting in the northwestern corner of Veront and far northern New York.

The storm will redevelop along the coast, so parts of New Hampshire and Maine could get several inches of snow out of this Tuesday afternoon and night.

Unlike most of the snowstorms that have swept across the country this winter, there's no blast of Arctic air behind this one. Instead a mild stream of air from the Pacific Ocean will cross the nation, establishing a brief coast-to-coast thaw this week.

Since it's getting toward the end of February, it's time to start thinking about the spring severe weather and tornado season. It looks like the burst of warm air combined with a storm system will cause some severe thunderstorms, with maybe a couple of tornados in the Ohio Valley and Southeastern United States Thursday and Friday.

Just a sign of the impending season, I guess.

However, winter is not done. The thaw will start to get replaced by Arctic air again by the end of the week in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes.

Here in the Northeast,  some above freezing temperatures are due Wedneday and Thursday afternoons. The warmest day will be Friday, with readings well into the 40s all the way up to the Canadian border in Vermont and New Hampshire.

I know some skiers are going to disappointed by a bout of rain that looks like will also come through northern New York, and Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine on Friday.

The rain won't be too heavy, and at this point it looks like the rain will soak into the snow and we won't have too many flood problems. Although there might be a couple of ice jams, and some street flooding from ice-clogged drains.

Of course, the rain will ruin the nice powder consistency of the snow here. But what can you do?

That cold air heading into the Midwest at the end of the week will eventually hit the Northeast by Sunday or the beginning of next week.

It looks like from then on, a persistent cold pattern, like the one we have had to deal with most of the winter, will set up shop for the end of February and definitely into the beginning of March.

The only bright spot, for those sick of cold weather, is it's hard to get cold waves as intense as those in January once you get toward March.  And on clear days the strenthening late winter sun really takes a bite out of the chill and makes things tolerable.

So it'll be wintry, yes, but it could be worse, I suppose.

So yes, a taste of spring is coming this week, but just a taste. We'll have to wait longer for the real deal.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cold and Snowy, Yes, But the Worst of Winter is Over: A Love Letter To Late February

The temperature where I live in northern Vermont only got into the low 20s today. The snow is deeper than it's been all winter. It's going to go below zero again tonight.
It was only about 20 degrees today around my
house in St. Albans, Vermont, but the February sun
has gotten strong enough to start melting the
snow off the stone wall near the south wall of my garden shed.  

So it might seem strange to hear me say it, but the signs around me on this beautiful February day tell me the worst of winter is behind us.

Oh, I know there's plenty of winter left. I wouldn't be surprised to see it go down to 10 or 20 below again before spring hits. Many of the biggest, baddest snowstorms we've had have come in late February and March.

But I do see winter's grip loosening. The sun feels much warmer than it did a month or two ago. The snow melts on the south sides of roofs, on the sunny side of snowbanks, and on steep slopes facing the south.

A cold 20 degrees really doesn't feel as bad as a cold 20 degrees did before Christmas, that's for sure.

I saw a goldfinch today. Their colors turn drab in the winter, but was that a bit of spring yellow starting to peek through on his belly?   And the chickadees are starting to break out their early spring songs.

I've noticed through the years the harshest winter cold ends around mid-February. The long spells of bitter cold below zero weather aren't as intense, and definitely don't last as long as they did in January.

For the record, the normal temperature in Burlington, Vermont today is three degrees warmer than it was in late January. That's not much, but it's a start.
When we get a half inch of snow in mid-February, like we
did last night, I don't obsess over clearing it out
of my driveway like I did in December.  I figure the strengtheing
late winter sun will eventually take care of it.  

This is the time for winter sports. The harshness of deep winter is diminished, the snow is probably as deep as it's going to get, and you can enjoy a full afternoon of the outdoors without worrying about it getting dark just after 4 p.m.

The sun set in Burlington, Vermont at 4:13 p.m. in mid-December. Tonight, it sets at 5:23 p.m. Twilight on a clear evening like this goes on until well past 6 p.m.

I don't mean to rain on winter lovers' parade. You still have plenty of days to enjoy it.

For those of you who are not really the winter type, though, hope is beginning to sprout like those flowers pictured in the seed catalogs flooding your mailbox.

You winter haters will have your share of disappointments with new cold snaps, new snowstorms between now and the time spring really sets in.

But you pretty much made it through another winter.

You can at least think about starting to celebrate.

A Winter Of Snows, Storms, Floods, Drought, Heat and Cold: A "Stuck" Jet Stream And Maybe Climate Change to Blame?

The eastern half of the United States has been stuck in a cold, stormy pattern since December.
Immense storms have repeatedly pummeled
Britain this winter. Is a "stuck" jet stream,
and by extention climate change to blame?
 

Out west, the song "It Never Rains In California" has never been truer than this winter, as the southern half of the state especially has been stuck in a long drought.

January in Alaska of all places was one perpetual thaw.

Britain is drowning in floodwaters after the stormiest winter in memory, with one huge blast after another hitting the region

At first glance, this might all appear unrelated. But there seems to be growing evidence that the jet stream, that river of upper level air that steers weather systems, is getting very wave, and stuck.

According to Wired UK, the jet stream exists largely because of the contrast between the the frigid Arctic and the hot tropics.

When the temperature contrast is big, the jet stream tends to scream at accelerated speeds, leading to the changeable, but usually not terribly extreme weather we all lived with, seemingly until recently.

But when the temperature contrast between the Arctic and the tropics is not as great, the jet stream gets very wavy, veering sharply to the north in spots, dipping low to the south in others. It also gets "stuck" in position more often, so if you're under a stormy spot in the jet stream, you get stuck with stormy weather for weeks on end.

The result is weeks of rain and flooding in Britain, the no rain at all in California, and one snowstorm after another in the eastern United States.

The jet stream this winter has indeed been extremely wavy with huge pushes to the north and south in different areas of the northern hemisphere.

The Arctic has been warming over the past few decades much faster than the tropics, so the consrast between the two regions isn't as great as it once was. According to Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, this helps explain the stuck, extreme and odd weather we seem to be increasingly experiencing at mid-latitudes, like  Britain and the United States.

All this is not proven yet, but there does seem to be increasing scientific evidence that climate change might be messing with the jet stream.

With the Arctic continuing to warm faster than the tropics, Francis said we should expect more of this type of thing in the future.

Here in Vermont, there's an old saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute, it will change."

That adage might become less and less true in the future.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weather Porn Videos: Yet Another Epic Storm In Britain

As the U.S. East Coast digs out from another winter storm, and parts of New England brace for a blizzard tonight, Britain is enduring yet another in an endless series of destructive storms.
Waves crash ashore in Newlyn, Britain during
a severe storm on Friday.  

This has been going on all winter over there. There's immense coastal destruction, terrible inland flooding and record high levels on the Thames River.

The latest brutal storm hit Friday, just as the U.S. East Coast storm was ending (and going out to see, on its way to, you guessed it, Britain)

For a look at yesterdays's British storm, we go to the seacoast community of Newlyn for this scary weather drama:



 And to Portholland:

 

A "Bomb" Of A Storm Will Rake Eastern New England, Glancing Blow In Vermont

A few snowflakes were starting to come down outside the window of my house in St. Albans, Vermont, the first harbingers of the next storm to come through.
More snow is expected in New England over the weekend.
Not much in Vermont. A lot in eastern Mass., Maine.  

I'm thinking, "Yikes! I haven't even finished digging out from the foot of snow we had yesterday."

Luckily for me, this storm is only going to be a glancing blow in northwestern Vermont and I already have plenty of snow to play in.

I don't need more snow and I'm not going to get much more. Phew!

Not so in eastern New England. This storm is going to have a lot of drama with it in that neck of the woods.

There are blizzard warnings up for extreme eastern New England, and on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Heavy snow and strong winds will also slam the rest of the coastal New England, much of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.

This is an atmospheric "bomb" which is what we can a storm that develops and strengthens explosively as it makes its way up the coast.

It was only just starting to develop along the North Carolina coast as of midmorning Saturday, and the radar and satellite images of the system were already really, really impressive.

It's very unusual to get two strong nor'easters along the U.S. coast within two days of each other, but we're getting it now.

This one is taking a track much more to the east of the one that dropped tons of snow and ice in the eastern United States Thursday and Friday.

So the areas from western Virginia on up into New York and western New England that got buried late in the week will only get about one to three inches of new snow out of this one.

But along the coast, Yowza! The storm will be a fast mover, so it won't have time to drop an enormous amount of snow. But it will be extremely heavy during the storm. Up to a foot of snow could fall on eastern Massachusetts and up to 18 inches in eastern Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.

Winds in the blizzard zone could gust to 60 mph. This will be a real powerhouse.

Like I said, snow amounts with this storm taper off a lot as you head west. Here in Vermont, expect a dusting to three inches, with maybe four or five inches in the southeastern corner of the state.

After a cold Sunday and Monday, (but not the extreme cold we saw sometimes in January) it looks like a thaw might set in toward the end of next week. That's a bummer for powder lovers, I know, but it won't be strong enough a thaw to melt all the snow.

It will just temporarily make it easier to use the snow to make snowmen and have snowball fights.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Of Discontent (Ctd): Giant Snowball Smacks Oregon College Dorm

About a week ago, there was up to a foot of snow in the Portland, Oregon area.
In this photo from Reed Magazine
a giant snowball that had rolled down a
hill smashed into a dormitory,
damaging a wall.  

Some students at Reed College in the area decided to make a giant snowball in the quad, just for fun.

Then they had the bright idea to roll the thing down a hill. Two math majors gave the giant icy orb a shove.  Down the hill it went.

But our math majors maybe need to study their calculations more. The huge snowball, weighing up to 900 pounds, plowed into a dorm building, bowing in the wall, according to Reed Magazine, published at Reed College.

The two students who shoved the snowball down the hill immediately reported the mishap to campus security and said they felt totally awful about causing the damage, which will amount into the thousands of dollars.

Since the students didn't cause the damage on purpose and reported the problem as soon as it happened, they won't get in trouble, says Reed Magazine.

Ah, the dangers of winter.

Glad to note nobody was strong enough to pick up the snowball and hurl it at someone. That would have hurt!

For Those Of You Sick Of Winter: A Hilarious Forecast

Some people are rejoicing in the snow that has slammed the eastern United States. Skiers and riders and beyond ecstatic.
Sick of winter? The video in this post
might lighten your mood. Or infuriate you.  

Others aren't so enthusiastic. To many, winter is a pain in the butt. The cold hurts, the roads are lousy, the shoveling is backbreaking, the gloomy weather sends people off into the deep end.

The sick of winter subset might like the parody of those Weather Channel local forecasts, you know the ones with the soft jazz in the background, and the blue screen giving you the updated forecast for your area.

Hat tip to reader Margo Howland for alerting us to the following hilarity: (Some swear words on screen, so maybe NSFW)


Friday Noon Update: Snowstorm Slowly Winding Down In the North Country

After watching snow fall pretty heavily around my St. Albans, Vermont property all morning, the snow is definitely getting lighter, following a trend going on across New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The snow is beginning to taper off along
Fairfield Hill Road in St. Albans, near my house,
but snow still snow has to be cleared. Roads
will remain slick this afternoon.  

Winter storm warnings have been mostly dropped, or will be by around 1 p.m. as the snow continues to taper off.

Light snow showers will continue the rest of the day, but most places will get an inch or less of additional accumulation.

The exception is the western slopes of the Green Mountains, and maybe some of the western slopes of the Adirondacks, a few highland spots in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and some of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

There, they could get get a few more inches of snow before it finally stops tonight.

The snow is tapering off, but the roads are still in pretty rough shape, despite yeoman's work by state and local road crews in northern New England and New York.

Gusty winds continue from the northwest, and that will continue the rest of the day. Snow will continue to blow and drift onto roads.

And there's plenty of snow to blow around. Those bands of snow that were predicted with this storm definitely formed. The worst of them were across central, southern and southeastern Vermont, maybe a little east of where some forecasters might have thought.

The upshot is the Champlain Valley of Vermont got a bit less snow than forecast, but not by much. The six to 12 inches of snow in that region is a pretty good dump. I'll  have to measure again, but it looks like I got a good eight or nine inches in St. Albans.

As expected, the Green Mountains and southern Vermont really got nailed. The last update came in around 10:30 a.m. and showed a whopping 23.5 inches in Mount Holly,  Vermont and several places in central and southern Vermont around a foot and a half.

I'm sure later updates will have a few storm totals bigger than these.

There still might be some interesting weather in our future over the next week or so. Another storm is brewing in the Midwest. It's going to become another nor'easter. Most forecasts still have it waiting to really crank up until it gets off the New England coast.

If that expected outcome happens, New York and Vermont will only get a little snow, three inches or less, with somewhat more in New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts, and Maine gets another whalloping.

Another weak system comes in Monday with some more light snow.

HOWEVER: There's always a "however." Some of the computer forecasting models are hinting the Saturday and/or Monday storms could have a bigger impact on northern New England than we think now

A few models crank out 4 to 12 inches of snow in Vermont Saturday through Monday. That's no guarantee. The models that are hinting at the heavy snow aren't always reliable when we're still a few days in advance.

So I'll offer an update when the forecast becomes more clear. We still have to shovel off all the snow that came down last night and this morning anyway before we worry about future snows.

Most Intense Part of Snowstorm In Vermont Friday Morning.

You know what?
Web cam grab from a CCTV camera along
Interstate 89 in Bolton, Vermont at around 6:30
a.m. Friday demonstrates the challenges for
commuters in Northern New England this morning. 

Just stay home. Don't go to work today. Especially if you're in northeastern New York, much of Vermont, New Hampshire and western Maine.

The most intense part of the snowstorm is going on from before dawn this Friday into midmorning at least.

As of 6 a.m., it was really snowing hard as I see out my window in St. Albans, Vermont.  The few cars on the road are crawling slowly past my house through drifts and awful visibility.

Heavy snow is falling in bands moving across Vermont and surrounding areas, as was forecast.

Some of the snow bands are so intense, there's a slight chance of a rumble of thunder. Lighting detection maps weren't showing any activity as of 6 a.m., but there is a very small shot of getting some thundersnow.

Winds are gusting to or a little above 30 mph. The snow is powdery so it's blowing around easily in the gusts.

The upshot: The morning commute hours in northwestern New England are going to be just awful and really not worth it. Are you listening Burlington? Montpelier? Plattsburgh? Conway? Lebanon? Berlin -both of them?  Take a snow day. Don't even get in your car. The world will go on without you. Trust me.

Between the bands of heavy snow and the gusty winds, near whiteout conditions are expected at times, according to the National Weather Service in South Burlington. The snow will be falling onto and blowing across the roads so fast that the plow trucks will have trouble keeping up.

So stay home.  Yes, that's wimpy for a New Englander, but so what? At least wait until this afternoon when things will be getting better.

Most of the schools are closed anyway so you don't have to send the kids off. Sharpen and/or wax your skis, make sure your snowboard is ready to go and be ready to enjoy a powder day later today or tomorrow.

As of shortly after 6 a.m., it was a little early to get updates on how much snow has fallen so far. Here in St. Albans, among the last places to get into the snowband, there was only about 4 inches new as of 6:15 a.m, but the heavy snow had only started an hour earlier, so we'll have much more than that by the time the storm is done.

I'm sure some places in central Vermont are closing in on a foot.

The thinking is the same as last night in terms of what the snow totals will be. Expect to finish up with 8 to 16 inches across the northeastern third of New York, pretty much all of Vermont,  and most of New Hampshire and Maine.

A few spots, especially in favored mountain locations in those areas, could end up with two feet of snow.

That 8-16 inches with isolated amounts to two feet is about the amount of snow that fell in the entire path of the snowstorm up until now from northeastern Georgia all the way into New York State. That's an amazingly large chunk of real estate to get that much snow.  Definitely a rare, but not unprecedented event.

Back here in northern New England, the snow will slowly start to taper off at midday and by mid afternoon, it'll just be flurries and blowing and drifting snow to contend with. The exception is the western slopes of the Green Mountains, where it looks like the snow will keep going pretty much all day.

For those of you who will be digging out, or better yet, enjoying the fresh powder on Saturday, the good news is it's going to be fairly mild, with highs in the 25 to 30 degree range. So enjoy!

Another, smaller storm will zip through Saturday afternoon and evening, dropping a bit more light snow on northern New England.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowstorm In Vermont Likely More Of A Blockbuster Than Originally Thought

The afternoon updates are in for this big snowstorm and in Vermont especially, National Weather Service forecasts for the amount of snow that will come down have gone up quite a bit.
Heavy snow falls on a Queens train station
earlier today. It could easily snow just
as hard in Vermont, surrounding states
later tonight and Friday morning.  

This increased snow expectations are most noticeable in the northern Champlain Valley.

Where forecasts this morning predicted a mid-sized 4 to 8 inch snowstorm in that area, the predictions are now for a good 10 to 16 inch dump.

The winter weather advisory out in the St. Lawrence Valley of New York has been upgraded to a winter storm warning because four to eight inches are expected in that area.

Back in Vermont, there is the possibility that up to two feet could accumulate on some of the ridgelines in the central and southern Green Mountains. Valley locations elsewhere in Vermont are expecting 8 to 14 inches, at or just slightly above this morning's projections.

I've been watching the radar patterns with this storm and they're a little weird. An initial heavy, but narrowing band of snow is working its way north from southern Vermont and central New York and that will probably cause a fairly decent burst of snow this evening.

There's a huge dry slot, an intrusion of cool, dry air into the middle of the storm, which is typical of these types of nor'easters. That dry slot looks to me like it might work its way into northern New England for a time tonight, and the snow could taper off for awhile.

If the dry slot does make it into Vermont, or nearby, enough warm-ish air might accompany it to cause a little sleet or freezing drizzle, especially east of the Green Mountains, according to the National Weather Service in South Burlington.

If that mix does arrive, it won't amount to much at all and quickly change back to snow.

But it seems like the core of the storm will come up the coast, and set up another band of heavy snow on its northwestern flank between midnight tonight and into Friday morning. That seems to be where forecaster thing we'll get most of this big powder dump.

The NWS meteorologists in South Burlington think that heavy snow band will set up over western Vermont, the Champlain Valley and parts of northeastern New York.  Snow could come down at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour for a time, which really is incredible.

Uncertainty still hangs in the air. I and everybody else is excited about this heavier storm forecast, but if the heavy snow band doesn't really set up, or sets up in an unexpected place, the predictions for a heavy Vermont/New York/New Hampshire snowstorm could turn into a bust.

I just want to throw that out there in case we're surprised by a lack of snow Friday morning.

Of course, if the forecast is right, and I'm not doubting it, the trip to work could be hellish in northeastern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire Friday morning with deep snow, heavy falling snow and winds to 30 mph blowing it all around.

The snow should gradually dwindle down to snow showers during the day Friday. Continued gusty winds will continue the blowing and drifting. At least it won't be that cold as temperatures will remain in the 20s.

Believe it or not, another nor'easter looks to get going Saturday. But relax, it won't amount to much in western New England.  It'll form off the mid-Atlantic coast, but not really get cranking until it gets past New England.

That means Vermont and eastern New York can expect only a couple of inches of snow at most from that, with maybe more as you get toward New Hampshire and Maine.

The only bad news for snow lovers: It could rain toward the end of next week.

1 p.m. Thurs. Snow Update: Maybe Upping Possible Accumulations?

As of 1 p.m., snow was slowly spreading northward across Vermont and adjacent New York and New Hampshire.
1 p.m Web cam grab from Interstate 89 in Berlin,
in central Vermont shows the snow had started there.
It'll continue to work north this afternoon.  

It'll come down lightly at first, but I'm watching a wicked intense band of snow across Pennsylvania.

That band of snow is more inland than I first thought, and it makes me wonder if the snow might come down a bit harder tonight in parts of Vermont than originally forecast.

I'm not sure, but it's worth considering.

The nor'easter itself is still a little stronger than expected and is strengthening a little more than I thought it might, which might also boost snow totals in and near Vermont a bit.

Also, some of the latest computer models coming seem to give us a bit of extra snow.

Here's what the National Weather Service  in South Burlington says in their noon forecast discussion as they monitor the storm:


HAVE NOT MADE ANY CHANGES TO
PERIODS OF FORECAST BEYOND THIS AFTERNOON...BUT AVAILABLE 12Z
GUIDANCE SUGGESTS THAT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS FOR TONIGHT MADE NEED
TO BE UPPED A FEW INCHES...ESPECIALLY FOR WESTERN VERMONT AND
MUCH OF NORTHERN NY. WILL WAIT FOR REST OF GUIDANCE TO MAKE ANY
CHANGES TO EXPECTED SNOW ACCUMULATIONS.
 

So there you have it.  As is often the case, there's still some uncertainty right up to the point at which the snow is starting, which is typical of these hard to predict nor'easters. Stay tuned!