Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Storms, Wind, Snow, Fires: Active Weather Day Across The Nation Today

My St. Albans, Vermont property was winter white
again this morning and buds on the lilac were collecting
snow as winter temporarily returns.  
If you like a lot of activity in your weather, today's a good day for you.

Huge areas of the country are experiencing strong winds, fire dangers, and a little to the north a winter storm.

Severe storms are possible in the South, too. Very few people are going to have what most consider a "nice" early spring day.

For my Vermont readers, there's a Green Mountain State specific summary further down in this post.


A strong storm was getting organized over Colorado and Kansas early this morning. It was already snowing hard in parts of Colorado and the wind has been howling since yesterday in New Mexico, parts of Texas and surrounding states.

The storm will consolidate and move fairly slowly toward the northeast, ending up somewhere in southern Quebec or perhaps far northern New England on Friday.

It's a classic spring storm, with a stripe of heavy snow to the north of it, severe weather to the southeast of the storm center and lots of wind swirling around the whole thing.

So yes, it's a classic spring storm, but don't expect a lot of classic sunny, pleasant spring weather in much of the country over the next few days.


An unbelievably large area of the nation covering much of New Mexico, northwest Texas, the western half of Oklahoma, much of Kansas and southeastern Colorado is under a high wind warning today.
From television station KJRH: Somebody set
a small pile of debris on fire and strong
winds blew embers into this Tulsa house.
The resulting fire destoryed it. 

It was so windy in New Mexico Tuesday that snow plows had to be called out to clear tumbleweeds from at least one highway.

These strong winds south of the storm center, combined with warm temperatures and especially very low humidity, is raising the risk of wildfires.

There were some wildfires already in Oklahoma Tuesday.

Plus a homeowner in Tulsa who either didn't hear or ignored warnings not to do any outdoor burns set a small pile of debris on fire. That fire spread quickly to his house, destroying it, television station KJRH reported.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center says there is an extreme risk of rapidly spreading erratic wildfires today from southeastern New Mexico, through much of northern Texas, central Oklahoma and eastern Kansas.

Strong southwesterly winds south of that storm center I talked about are coming right off the super dry southwestern U.S. deserts, so you can imagine why this is a problem.


A blizzard warning is up for much of eastern Colorado today, as winds gusting over 50 mph propel heavy snow into huge drifts. Already, we're getting reports of highway closures in that area.

Winter storm warnings are up for much of Wyoming, too, and in a long stripe from most of Nebraska all the way through Wisconsin and much of Michigan.

Through Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota and northern Iowa, four to 12 inches of snow is forecast, along with strong winds today and tonight.

Wisconsin is in for up to 14 inches of snow by Thursday, and the northern half of Michigan's lower peninsula is up for heavy wet snow, and up to a quarter inch of freezing rain, which could cause problems with falling tree branches and power lines.

Snow and mixed precipitation will spread into northern New York and northern New England Thursday.


As is common with this type of spring storm, severe thunderstorms and maybe a few tornadoes are a good best southeast of the storm center.

Today and tonight, the threat will extend from northeastern Texas up through western Arkansas, Missouri and western Illinois, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. 

This won't be the world's biggest and most extensive tornado outbreak, but if you live in this neck of the woods, you oughta keep those weather radios handy so you can hear warnings today.

On Wednesday, the threat of severe storms and a few tornadoes will move into Alabama, and parts of Tennessee and Mississippi.


Snow dusted the far northern reaches of Vermont, as expected late last night and early this morning.

There was a half inch of new, slushy snow at my  house in St. Albans, in the northwest corner of the state. But just 25 miles or so to the south, in Burlington, it was just light rain.
Daffodil shoots shivering in the snow in
my St. Albans, Vermont yard this morning.  

This is just the opening salvo in what will be a messy few days.  

A cold front was slipping south through northern Vermont early this morning, which is the cause of this light snow and rain.

A batch of cold air is moving south from Quebec, so it will be a lot colder in Vermont today than yesterday.

A few places near the Canadian border will barely make it to the freezing mark. Most of us will hold in the 30s today.

This cold air sets the stage for when that cold front starts working its way back north as a warm front Thursday.

That storm out west that I talked about above will ride along this front, and there will be a lot of moisture working north.

That means the precipitation coming along will be heavier than the light stuff this morning. The chilly air from that cold front will mean the precipitation will start as snow late tonight, and transition to sleet and freezing rain during Thursday.

Eventually, by later Thursday or Thursday night, the ice will turn to a cold but non-freezing rain.

The changeover to plain rain will take longest east of the Green Mountains, and especially in the Northeast Kingdom. Those areas have the greatest risk of having to deal with icy roads and some accumulations of snow, sleet and ice.

I'd say up to three inches of the gloppy mix could pile up in the Northeast Kingdom.

Temperatures will warm up Friday as the storm passes by, especially in the southern half of Vermont, where temperatures could get up into the 50s.

Some areas of northern Vermont could get up to an inch of rain (and melted snow and ice) I imagine rivers will rise because of this, but it doesn't look like there will be much if any flooding.

We'll have a quiet and fairly mild Easter weekend (highs mostly in the upper 40s or low 50s) and then more storminess is due by early next week, as it looks now.

It's too soon to say what kind of storm or how big it will be, but at this point it looks like it'll be mostly rain.

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