Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Skating Through The South And Blasting Through Winter

Ice storm damage in Helena, Arkansas. By
Stephanie Arnold via KATV.  
Another big winter storm is ending for most of the places it blasted yesterday, and the eastern part of the nation is settling in for more Arctic air.

This is one of those winter that, in general, wasn't so bad at the beginning but really built up to a big crescendo toward the end.

The big problem with yesterday's winter storm was the freezing rain and ice accumulations stretching from Arkansas to North Carolina.

Widespread power failures are still going in Arkansas, Tennessee, northeastern parts of Georgia and sections of North Carolina. (Plus there's probably a few nearby areas I skipped.)

NBC is reporting this morning at least 330,000 homes and businesses across the South have no power because heavy ice accumulations brought down trees, branches and power lines.

It's cold where there's no power, too. Arctic air punched back into the region behind the storm. For instance, it was 14 degrees this morning in Nashville, where about a half inch of ice paralyzed the region.

You start to get power failures during freezing rain if the ice accumulates to about a quarter inch thick. In Tennessee, ice was as much as three quarters of an inch thick, reports the Weather Channel. Many areas reported at least a half inch of ice.

Car crashes, were of course common. Some of them were because people were driving too fast for the conditions.  The city of Memphis, Tennessee reported at least 73 car crashes in about 16 hours, the Commercial Appeal newspaper said. 

WAVY-TV in Virginia had a camera set up on the side of the road in Hampton, Virginia, when this happened:

Notice the SUV stopped just inches from the camera (and the guy standing by filming.)

No serious injuries were reported in this crash.

North of the ice zone, it was heavy snow. Coleman, Kentucky picked up 18 inches of snow, and widespread totals of six to twelve inches were reported from Missouri to Virginia.

As expected, the outer edges of the storm were clipping southeastern New England as of Tuesday morning.

Luckily, after six feet of snow in the past month, this won't amount to much, but it won't help. An inch or two could fall in the Boston area today, and Cape Cod and the Islands expect two to four inches.
Ice storm damage in Memphis, Tennessee.
Photo by Nikki Boertman/The Commercial Appeal

Although it will remain very cold in New England for at least the next week, it might not snow all that much more in the next few days. There will be nuisance snows on several days through the weekend, though.

However, with (cross your fingers!) no HUGE dumps of snow into Saturday, municipalities in New England, with help from outside agencies like the Vermont National Guard, can do some power snow clearing.

You know, get tons of bucket loaders out there to dig the snow out of the streets and store it
in "snow dumps" fields.. or even disposing of it in the ocean, a move that is only legal in extreme cases, due to the pollution contained in the snow from the streets. I think this does qualify as an extreme case.

Speaking of extremes, the cold is locked in through much of the week. The National Weather Service in Indianapolis said the town of Seymour, Indiana got down to 13 below this morning. So did Burlington, Vermont. Of course 13 below in Vermont is not as rare as it is in Indiana but it's still damn cold.

Plus, the overnight low got down to minus 30 in Saranac Lake, New York, minus 26 in Whitefield, New Hampshire and 24 below in Morrisville, Vermont and Sherbrooke, Quebec.

This comes after dozens of cities and towns reported record lows. Erie, Pennsylvania reached 12 below, its all time record low for any date. Watertown, New York reached 34 below on Monday.

Another surge of Arctic air will blast into the Midwest and East Wednesday and Thursday. There's a chance Nashville could get below zero. If that happens, it would be the latest in the winter that has happened on record.

I'm watching another possible snowstorm in the Northeast on Sunday or Monday, but I have no details. Forecasting computer models are all over the place with this, so there's nothing I can hang my hat on yet. We'll see.

The weather pattern is stuck pretty much for the rest of the month. There are still some very uncertain signs the weather pattern could change in early March, but I'm not 100 percent sure it will yet, and it could always change into a pattern that brings more snow and cold to places that don't need it.

Stay tuned.

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