Friday, November 20, 2015

First The Incredible Winds, Now A Snowstorm

A giant tree fell on this car in Spokane, Washington
during this week's wind storm. The woman inside
was miraculously not badly hurt. Photo by Ryan
Simm of KREM-TV. 
The northwestern United States, basically a broad stripe from Washington State to the Dakotas, is cleaning up from a massive wind storm earlier this week.

And now a snowstorm is developing across the middle of the country.

The wind storm was the main show.

At least four people were killed by falling trees and a million residents lost power, says the Weather Channel. (Note: Obnoxious auto play in link.)

Spokane, Washington had its  strongest non thunderstorm wind gust on record  at 71 mph. Things got so bad there amid the gusts and the blowing dust that the Greater Spokane Department of Emergency Management told everyone to stay inside during the storm, stay away from windows and don't call 911 unless there was a life-threatening emergency, according to television station KREM.

White Pass, Washington, in the Cascade Mountains, reported a gust of 119 mph. Gusts to 109 mph were reported near Boulder, Colorado.  Strong winds brought trees down onto houses in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The strong winds, some of the worst the Northwest has seen in many years, were caused by screamingly extra strong jet stream winds over the region. The winds came from the west, hit the coast of Washington, then went east to southeast over the Rockies.

This kind of orientation can sometimes mix these strong upper level winds down to the surface, especially near mountains, notes Dr. Jeff Masters in his Weather Underground blog.

Next up, a snowstorm. A winter storm warning is up for southeastern South Dakota (hi, relatives in Yankton, South Dakota! Expect a good seven inches of snow or so today!)

The winter storm warning for 6 to 12 inches of snow extends across most of Iowa and through northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Winter storm watches are up for much of the lower penisula of Michigan.

The snowstorm is being generated by a storm heading east across the middle of the country. The moisture supply for the storm is only moderate, but it's a vigorous system, so it's able to take full advantage of whatever wetness is in the air to generate snow. And it's cold enough along the winter storm warning path to allow snow, and not rain.

In fact, after the snow passes by, some areas of the upper Midwest could find nighttime temperatures in the upper single numbers at night over the weekend.

After that, we expect the first major Arctic outbreak of the winter over the middle of the country. Temperatures across the Northern Plains will probably fall well below zero, but that's actually not unusual for late November and early December.

It's been so warm, it will just see odd.

Winter appears to be finally here.

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