Friday, January 22, 2016

Blizzard Now Trudging Into The East Coast

The American computer model predicts nearly three
feet of snow in parts of the Mid-Atlantic (brown and gray
shades, and more than a foot in many other areas (yellow and orange)
As of this morning, snow was spreading into Virginia and nearby areas, marking the start of what still promises to be an epic blizzard.

Things are already totally screwed up. Good luck getting any flights along the East Coast. So many flights are cancelled that it's gumming up the works nationwide.

Store shelves across the Mid-Atlantic states have been cleared of bread, bottled water and all the other things people buy in a panic before a storm hits.  

Washington DC still seems to be the major city most in the bullseye for this storm, with more than two feet of wind-driven snow still expected.  The biggest snowstorm on record in DC dropped 28 inches of snow, so this one could set a new record.

Even before reaching the East Coast, this storm caused problems. A likely tornado damaged at least 10 houses in Lamar, Mississippi, and there were several other reports of hail and damaging winds near the Gulf Coast.

Tornado warnings were up just west of Tallahassee before dawn this morning.

More than six inches of snow plastered Little Rock, Arkansas, and a nasty mix of snow and freezing rain, all coming down hard, was trashing most of Tennessee early this morning.

The forecast for this storm remains remarkably consistent, changing little over the past three days, except along the northern edge of the areas expected to be affected by this. More on that in a minute.

One to three feet of snow is still expected in the Mid-Atlantic states and the central Appalachians, nasty coastal flooding is still expected from Maryland to Long Island, with Delaware and New Jersey most under the gun.  A very nasty, damaging ice storm is expected in much of North Carolina.

The question mark is around New York City, the largest metro area in America and the one place where no matter how good the meteorologists are, the forecast for this blizzard will probably be wrong.

There's going to be a strong cutoff along the northern edge of the storm between blizzard and nothing

As Slate writer Eric Holthaus tweeted this morning, one computer model had 20 inches of snow falling with this storm in Princeton, New Jersey but only two inches in the Bronx, just 60 miles to the north

The zone in which you transition from feet of snow to just a dusting is almost definitely going to be a little different from forecasts, because it always is in these situations.
The bread aisle in a Baltimore supermarket
was cleared out by last night. 

So, just like in a difficult blizzard forecast last January, parts or all of the New York City region are going to be buried in more snow than expected, angering just about everyone, or much less snow will fall than expected, which would mean no blizzard, and everyone will be angry about that.

Kudos to the National Weather Service meteorologists in and around New York, and all the TV meteorologists there for dealing with this situation professionally, and not quitting, and going into a corner to cry like I and a lot of other people would have if confronted with this forecasting nightmare.

At this point, the National Weather Service is going with six to 10 inches of snow in Manhattan, with much less to the north and much more to the south.

Forecasters are more certain about strong winds in the New York area, so the blizzard warning is still up in that region. We'll see what happens.

And to everyone in the blizzard zone, definitely heed all the weather warnings, don't travel until it's over and the roads begin to clear up and all will be fine.

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