Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lots Of Weather Hazards Coast To Coast

Lots of weather alerts across the nation this weekend.  
Let's marvel this Saturday morning at all the pretty colors on the national map, right there on the home page of the National Weather Service  

Lots of pinks and blues and greens and purples.

All those colors are a sure sign that an unusually large number of people and areas in the United States are at risk for hazardous weather today, tomorrow and beyond.

There's a variety of winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings in the Northeast, more winter storm warnings and watches in New Mexico, the central Plains and the northern Rockies, wind chill advisories in the northern Plains, freeze warnings in the Southwest.

There's also flood watches in parts of the southeast and in the Pacific Northwest. There's even a blizzard warning, the second since Christmas, atop the high volcano peaks of Hawaii. 

Later today, the yellows, oranges and reds depicting severe thunderstorm watches and warnings, and perhaps a tornado warning or two, will grace parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

Let's start with the biggest trouble spots:


It's cold in New England this morning, especially in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where temperatures are a few degrees either side of zero.

Meanwhile, a storm system with a big slug of wet, warm air is zooming toward the Northeast, on a collision course with that cold air up there.

Warm air being lighter than cold air, the wet, mild air will be forced up and over the cold air in New England. When air rises, it releases its moisture as precipitation. So later today and tonight, there's going to be a nice big burst of snow over northern New England. Expect three to seven inches of snow, in fact.

Before skiers up in that neck of the woods even have a chance to start rejoicing, the snow will change to sleet and freezing rain, icing up the works. Then the warm air will win out, and the precipitation will go over to rain and drizzle on Sunday.

The snow and ice might be a little more intense than first thought, so winter weather advisories have been upgraded to winter storm warnings over a good chunk of northern New England.

In southern New England and the mid-Atlantic states, it might briefly get warm enough to challenge some record highs on Sunday. But don't get used to the warmth. More on that in a minute.

The snow and ice tomorrow and early Sunday might be enough to bring down a few trees and power lines, but it won't be quite as bad as the two storms that socked the region earlier this winter. Travel on the roads, however, will be lousy, to say the least.

An arctic front will blast across the Northeast Sunday night, and temperatures will fall all day Monday. There might be some snow squalls, and any water from melting snow will freeze in a flash.

Roads will be tricky in spots again Monday morning and conditions will rapidly change. With that in mind, let's not have another icy road pileup like we had in New Hampshire Friday, OK kiddies?

The Northeast is going to be subject to three surges of bitter Arctic air. The worst one will come through Wednesday, plunging temperatures into the teens and 20s below across northern New York and northern New England by Thursday morning.

High temperatures in the North will struggle to rise to 0 on Thursday, and strong winds will make it feel worse. I hope you have a good supply of hot chocolate, you denizens of places like Lake Placid, New York, Montpelier, Vermont, Littleton, N.H. and Rangely, Maine.

After a (sort of) warmup on Friday, one more surge of Arctic air will come through, but I don't think it will be as bad as Thursday's


You southern belles and dudes will get the worst of the weather today and early Sunday. That storm that is headed toward the northeast has pulled, and will pull warm, humid air out of the Gulf of Mexico into places like Alabama and Mississippi.

As the storm's cold front approaches, it'll touch off some severe thunderstorms and maybe a couple of tornadoes later today.  This won't be a widespread, springlike outbreak, but you all remember what happened just before Christmas in Mississippi and Louisiana.

There could be one or two tornadoes, so keep your ears perked up for any warnings, and take cover if they do issue such an alert.

There are also flood watches for a wide area covering parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and a little bit of eastern Arkansas. This storm is capable of unloading a boatload of rain in a short period of time. We're talking some areas getting two, three, even four inches of rain in just a few hours.

Stay out of those low lying areas, my friends. And please don't drive through flooded roads. We're all sick of seeing dufuses get their cars mired in deep flood waters and having to be rescued.

The Southeast, which has so far had a pretty warm winter, will also get to share in the Arctic blast later this week. It won't be the worst cold wave ever, but temperatures in many parts of the South might not get above freezing Thursday and frosts are possible well down into the Florida Pennisula.


Let's take a trip this morning to the lovely city of Grand Forks, North Dakota. As of 7 a.m. their time, the temperature was 2 below, it was snowing, there was blowing snow because the wind was coming out of the north at 32 mph, with gusts to 44 mph. The wind chill was 29 below.

Enjoy this morning's "warmth," Grand Forks!

It's now the warmest it will be there until probably Thursday. The temperature will fall all day today, get into the 20s below tonight and stay below zero until midday Thursday.
Scenes like this one in Burlington, Vermont from a couple
winters ago will be common across much of the nation in the
upcoming week as arctic blasts arrive.  

Most of the northern Plains are in the same boat as Grand Forks as that Arctic cold snap heading toward the Northeast has already settled into the Plains and will stay for awhile.

Blowing snow over the next few days in many areas of the Plains will add to the hazards.

I think this is why the northern Plains are lightly populated.

I have relatives in Yankton, South Dakota, and the area is surprisingly beautiful. Except this time of year. I love you all out there, but I'm not coming out for a visit until May, OK?

That Arctic air is going to blast into the Great Lakes area, too. Right now, there's some mixed precipitation over that region, so it's not so good there.

It'll get below zero this week over a wide area around the Great Lakes, and the areas that often get big lake effect snowfalls will get them this week.


Freeze warnings were this morning for parts of California and Arizona as that region finishes up its cold spell, which brought rare snow to low elevations in the deserts, not to mention pretty images of snow in normally torrid cactus-strewn regions.

It's going to turn sunny and warm across much of  California this coming week.

Not so in the Pacific Northwest. A strong warm front is heading their way with several inches of rain. Flood watches are up, but luckily it doesn't appear these floods are going to be major. But you'll want to be careful driving near some of those pretty mountain rivers in the Cascades and Olympics.

The bottom line: Yep, it's winter. And this is turning out to be one of those winters where you expect just about anything.

And then some.

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