Monday, February 29, 2016

Vermont's Temperatures Have Been Breaking All The Rules

A rainy, warm Leap Day commute to work this morning in
St. Albans, Vermont, following a chilly, wintry
Sunday afternoon --backwards weather  
The temperatures in Vermont have totally backwards and weird in Vermont the past couple of days.

We've been having high temperatures for the days in the early mornings, low temperatures in the afternoon, and situations where, if you drive a few miles in the Green Mountain State, you go from deep winter to spring.

Yeah, I'm confused, too.

As all of us know, the coolest temperature of the day almost always comes in the early morning, because the sun has been gone all night, and heat was lost to outer space.

And the day's highest temperature pretty much always comes in the afternoon, after the sun has heated the atmosphere for hours.

Sometimes, especially in the winter, storms and weather fronts can overrule this regime, and that's happening in Vermont, big time.

We'll use Burlington to demonstrate how this is playing out. For instance on Sunday, Burlington had its high temperature of the day of 38 degrees early in the morning, when it's normally coolest.

Then the temperature fell for the rest of the day, reaching the low 20s by early evening. Overnight, temperatures rocketed upward, reaching a record high tying 50 degrees by early afternoon. During the day the temperature will start to fall again rather than rise as it normally should.

All this happened because a cold front slipped southward across the Champlain Valley Sunday morning. It ended up stalling a little north of Rutland. Then it came back north as a warm front overnight, passing over Burlington early this morning and putting the Queen City back into the toasty air.

A cold front will come through later today, making temperatures go in reverse again late this morning and early afternoon.

This wavering weather front has really caused some wacky temperature differences in Vermont, too. At mid afternoon Sunday, temperatures in Vermont ranged from  about 20 near the Canadian border to the mid-50s around Bennington.

At the same time, Burlington was in the mid 20s and Montpelier, just 38 miles away, was in the mid 40s.

It got even more extreme this morning. At 5 a.m. at my St. Albans house, with a stiff south wind blowing, it was 48 degrees. Just 10 miles away in Highgate, at a lower elevation protected from the south wind, and in a place where the warm front still hadn't quite made it through, it was still 28 degrees

Quite an incredible difference.

There might be more weird temperature gyrations coming.

 Another storm is coming Tuesday night and Wednesday, which at this point looks like will sock us with a mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. Looking for winter storm watches or winter weather advisories to be issued for late Tuesday and Wednesday.

As it looks now, it appears temperatures might rise overnight Tuesday, then fall back down Wednesday afternoon. Our backwards weather looks like it wants to continue.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

More Mid-American Heat To Close The Winter That Wasn't

In many parts of the country the winter of 2015-16 will
be among the warmest on record. (click
on the map to make it bigger and easier to read.)   n
Seems like every time I've turned around over the past few months, more high temperature records have been set.

So it was Saturday, when more incredible winter warmth hit parts of the middle of the country. The most impressive heat was in the northern Plains, where temperatures of well below zero are normally routine for this time of year.

Bismarck, North Dakota reached a wild 73 degrees, which -- surprise! -- is the warmest temperature on record there for any date in February. Mobridge, South Dakota also hit an all time February high of 73 degrees.

Sioux City, Iowa was also 73 degrees, which is only the second warmest February day on record. I hope all my relatives in Yankton, South Dakota also enjoyed the winter heat. It was also 73 degrees there, too.

St. Cloud, Minnesota "only" reached 58 degrees, but that was warm enough there to also be the hottest temperature recorded in the month of February there.

Dozens of cities in the Plains and Midwest had record heat this weekend.

Today, the warmth is shifting eastward a bit. Chicago could well see a record high in the low 60s today.

The warmth is being shunted south by a cold front, so there won't be record heat there. That's especially true in New England and northern New York, which will stay locked in seasonably cold air for at least a week, if not more.

But people in the interior Northeast should not feel too left out with the lingering winter chill over them now. This will be easily the warmest winter on record in many cities there, including Albany, New York and Burlington, Vermont.

The warmth this winter has indeed been widespread across the nation this winter.

Over the past 30 days, the National Climate Data Center says 3,072 daily record highs have been reported at weather stations across the United States. In that same period, only 327 record lows were set.

That's pretty lopsided.

The warmth hasn't been limited to the Lower 48. According to the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Alaska has had at least its third warmest winter on record.

In Anchorage, 49 out of 50 consecutive days in January and February were warmer than normal. Many areas of Alaska have had far below snowfall and snow cover.

That's a danger. Because this makes it more likely that whatever snow is there will disappear early, giving more time for grasslands and forests to dry out, which, in turn raises the spectre of a bad summer fire season.

Who knows what the spring will bring, but for what it's worth, I have seen several long range forecasts call for warmer than normal weather across at least the northern half of the nation during March.

We'll see if that works out.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Rare Is To Have East Coast Tornadoes In February?

Tornado damage in Waverly, Virginia Thursday.
Photo from AP.  
It definitely seemed incredible strange, amid the tragedy, to have so many tornadoes sweep up and down the East Coast in the past week.

On Wednesday and early Thursday. tornadoes along the East Coast struck as far north as Pennsylvania, and severe thunderstorms with winds as high as 83 mph crept all the way north into Massachusetts.

Overall, and sadly, the tornadoes a few days ago killed nine people nationwide. 

This kind of thing happens every once in awhile on the East Coast in the late spring and summer, But February? Isn't that the season for nor'easter blizzards, not East Coast tornadoes?

Yep, and you're right if you think the East Coast tornado outbreak a few days ago was really rare for the season. But generally speaking, it's not unheard of for February.

There were of course some records set.  Pennsylvania has gotten a few rare, rather weak February tornadoes before. But a destructive EF-2 tornado in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Wednesday was the most intense (125 mph) widest (400 yards) and longest tracked (4.7 miles) of any recorded February tornado in Pennsylania.

This tornado also trashed about 50 buildings and caused about $8 million in damage, which surely is the most destructive February tornado in Pennsylvania.

The EF-3 tornado around Appomattox, Virginia Wednesday was that state's first EF-3 tornado since the epic twister outbreak of April, 2011. It was also likely the first EF-3 tornado to strike the state in February.

The tornado in Appomattox, and a separate one in Waverly, Virginia unfortunately killed four people. These are the first recorded deaths from February tornadoes in Virginia

You can see the huge Appomattox tornado and here its scary roar in the video at the bottom of this post

I'm batting around all those "EF" category tornado figures. It's known as the Enhanced Fujita scale and is metric for how strong tornadoes are. They range from EF-0 twister, which have winds of "only" 65-85 mph to EF-5 monster tornadoes that have winds in excess of 200 mph.

Up in New England, the National Weather Service felt compelled to issue severe thunderstorm watches late Wednesday. For good reason, as they did eventually develop. The National Weather Service says severe thunderstorm watches in southern New England are. on average, a once in 25 year event.

The New England storm watches were not the earliest in the season on record. There were severe storm watches on January 14, 1992 and January 19, 1996, says the Boston regional office of the National Weather Service.
Yellow, orange and dark green shades on ths map indicate
where NOAA's Storm Predicton Center expected
severe weather Wednesday and early Thursday. Black
dots represent actual reports of severe storms andt
tornadoes. Definitely an accurate forecast.  

Still, this was likely the most widespread severe thunderstorm event on record in southern New England for February, given the multitude of storm damage reports.

The very destructive tornado that hit Pensacola, Florida was an EF3. It was the second EF3 to hit Escambia County in northwestern Florida within an eight day period. Previous to that, there had only been three EF3s in that county since 1950.

EF-3 tornadoes have winds of 135 to 165 mph, so they're pretty nasty.

I have to give kudos to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. The areas they said would be under the highest risk of severe storms and tornadoes Tuesday and Wednesday ended up having the bulk of the worst storms.

As you can see by the map in this post, the areas the Storm Prediction Center predicted would be the most impacted were, in fact the hardest hit.

This year, tornado activity, and unfortunately, tornado deaths are off to a quick start. Winter is normally a relative lull in United States tornado activity, then things start to ramp up in March and get really busy in April, May and June.

As of February 25, the Storm Prediction Center has logged 125 reports of tornadoes, which is above average.

There's no way to tell if the busy start of the year for tornadoes portends a busy year. But we've had three slower than normal tornado seasons in a row through 2015, so it's just a matter of time before we get a destructive tornado year.

In the short term, there's a least some potential for a couple more tornadoes in the South Tuesday, but that forecast is definitely uncertain right now.

Here's the Appomattox, Virginia tornado on Wednesday:


Here's a time lapse of a severe storm sweeping into downtown Charlotte, North Carolina Wednesday:


If You Don't Like The Weather In Vermont, Drive To Another Part Of The State

I've talked a bit in recent days how the weather is in a yo-yo pattern in these parts, one day is warm, the next rainy, the next frigid, back to warmth etc. etc.

It's getting even worse, in that the weather over the next few days has often varied widely over short distances within Vermont. That's going to continue, too

Look back to Thursday for an example of all this.  The western part of the state was at near record highs in the 50s during the morning whereas parts of the eastern areas were in the 30s.

Then by Thursday afternoon, temperatures were falling through the 30s in the northwest part of the state while flirting with 60 in the southeast.

This seems as if it will continue. Sunday afternoon, temperatures might hover only in the low to perhaps mid  30s in the far northwest of Vermont with a bit of snow or mixed precipitation.

Down in southern Vermont valleys, there will be a few intervals of sun, and temperatures up near 50.

Late winter and early spring are the prime seasons for this kind of weird extremes over short distances. The forces of winter still want to maintain control, sending Arctic air down from Canada. the forces of spring are getting stronger, trying to send balmy air northward.

Vermont often finds itself in the battle zone between the two seasons in late February, March and April, and there you go.

Specifically, this weekend, a storm system is zipping along eastward just north of the International border. It'll drag a cold front southward, which will then slow down dramatically over Vermont Sunday.

Hence, the chilly air to the north, where the cold front will have gone through, and the mild air to the south, where the cold front won't have reached.

Toward Wednesday, another pretty good sized storm is likely to come along, and move just to Vermont's west. Expect another one of those storms where temperatures warm up nicely in parts of southern and western Vermont, where a chill freezing rain could fall northeast.

Details on that storm are still iffy, so stay tuned. And be prepared for lots of changes in the weather in the coming days. And probably weeks.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Vermont Flooding Subsiding, Winter Is Back, Too!

UPDATE:

Last report is Route 105 near Enosburg, Vermont and Route 15 near the Wrong Way Bridge in Cambridge have reopened because of receding water.

A few locations in Vermont got as much as 2.80 inches of rain out of that last storm, which is extraordinary for February.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:

It's been quite an active week in the weather department here in Vermont.
From television station WCAX: Damaging
floods in Hardwick, Vermont Thursday. This
flood was made worse by an ice jam
on the nearby Lamoille River. 

We had that extraordinarily heavy rain with the latest storm midweek, which set off quite a bit of flooding across the Green Mountain State.

That flooding is subsiding as temperatures have plunged well below freezing. The rain has changed to snow and tapered off to flurries.

The reason for the flooding was that the strong storm system, the same one that touched off all the tornadoes across the eastern and southern United States this week, was able to tap into oodles and oodles of tropical moisture and send it north.

For much of the storm, Vermont was in a zone in which that highly unusual amount of moisture was forced to ride up and over a layer of relatively cool air.

The rising air squeezed a lot of the moisture out of the atmosphere, and dumped it as downpours on Vermont.   Getting two inches of rain in 24 hours in February is extremely rare in Vermont this time of year.

Ice jam on the Lamoille River near Johnson, Vermont
Thursday.  
Many places, including Burlington, had more precipitation in 24 hours than is normal for the entire month of February.

If no more rain or snow comes down on Burlington in the waning days of the month, this will be the seventh wettest February on record, with 3.14 inches.

The flooding in northern Vermont was complicated by ice jams. The surge of water from the rain coming into rivers broke up river ice, and some of it jammed against obstructions in the waterways.

One such jam caused a damaging flood in Hardwick, which forced evacuations and flooded homes and businesses.

The flooding also closed many roads in Vermont. Most, but not all of them, have reopened.

Another ice jam formed just downstream from Johnson, Vermont. I was there, It was huge, but thankfully didn't cause major flooding. Both me and meteorologists at the National Weather Service who saw photos I took of the jam were surprised by how thick some of the ice chunks were.

After all, it's been a warm winter, probably the warmest on record,  so you'd think the ice wouldn't thicken up that fast. My theory is there was very little snow covering new ice when it formed. So in the rare cold snaps that we did have, the ice was able to thicken because it wasn't insulated by cold.
High water cascades over a falls near
Fairfax, Vermont Thursday.  

Flood warnings were still up this morning for the lower reaches of many of the state's rivers as the crests moved downstream.

These included the Winooski, Missisquoi and Lamoille Rivers, and the Otter Creek. Water should slowly subside in those stretches of river today.

Still, there's trouble spots. I notice Route 15 in Cambridge is closed near the "Wrong Way Bridge" because water is still over the road.

Plus, with the one to three inches of snow and rapidly falling temperatures last night, a lot of roads in Vermont are slippery this morning, whether or not they were affected by flooding.

The weather pattern is still active. Another storm will probably come through Sunday night and Monday with some snow, rain and mixed precipitation again, but it won't be super heavy.

Another storm, very similar to the one we had this week that caused the flooding seems like it might come through Wednesday or Thursday, those this forecast is still very iffy.

One main difference between the possible storm next week and the one we just had: There won't be as much moisture available to it. Which means we might still get quite a bit of snow, ice and rain, it won't be as heavy as the last one, so the chances of renewed flooding don't look as great.

That's how it stands now anyway. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Flooding Strikes Vermont As Epic Storm Trashes East

I haven't been out yet to document the flooding today
 but the tiny brook by my house in St. Albans that
we call the Woof River was raging
pretty good this morning after two inches of rain.  
We Vermonters woke up to quite a bit of flooding this morning as the enormous storm that caused all those tornadoes the past couple of days dumped record amounts of February rain on the Green Mountain State.

This wasn't just routine lowland flooding.  It was worse than that. And it was statewide.

Buildings were flooded in Springfield. Several homes were evacuated in Hardwick as high water threatened there.

Water also came close to damaging downtown Montpelier, Vermont again. Lower State Street and Route 2 there were closed due to ice jam flooding.

Other major roads that were or are closed by flooding, and this isn't an exhaustive list, are Route 2 in Middlesex, Route 125 in Cornwall, Route 30i in Whiting, Route 105 in Enosburg and Route 122 in Lyndonville.

Several areas of Vermont got two inches of rain, which is extremely odd for February. Within 24 hours, Burlington received 1.86 inches of precipitation, more than normally falls in the entire month of February.

The nearly statewide flood warning issued by the National Weather Service in Burlington was set to expire at 8:45 p.m., but I'm sure the warnings will be extended for specific areas and specific rivers through the day.

As of 8:30 a.m., there was still a line of moderate intensity showers across central Vermont, from near  Rutland northeastward into the Northeast Kingdom.  More rain was working in from New York State.

Though this rain will not be nearly as heavy as what we already received, it'll slow the rate at which all the high water around Vermont will recede.  The lighter rain will change to snow tonight, and deposit and dusting to three inches of snow on most of us. The higher totals will be in the mountains.

As bad as it is in Vermont, at least we didn't get the severe thunderstorms and tornadoes further south, though several Vermont towns saw lightning and heard thunder overnight.

Winds in severe thunderstorms gusted to 83 mph in Milton, Mass, 75 mph near Glastonbury, Connecticut and  68 mph in  Hartford, Connecticut.

Overall, there were 19 reports of tornadoes and a whopping 380 reports of wind damage along the East Coast, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. 

The weather pattern is going to remain active for sure. Several small storms, disturbances and weather fronts will affect Vermont over the next several days. Those won't drop too much precipitation, but the weather will be inclement pretty frequently.

There are signs that another strong storm could go by to our west late next week. These are the kinds of storms that have given Vermont all kinds of trouble this winter. One of January 10 caused rare thunderstorms and damaging downslope winds on the western sides of the Green Mountains.

Another on February 16 dumped rain and freezing rain on Vermont and caused some high winds. And then we had this one, that caused all the flooding.

It's too soon to say whether that next storm late in the week will actually get going, and if so, how bad it might be. But it's worth watching. At least once the water recedes from today's Vermont flooding.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Evening Update: Rapid Fire Tornadoes, Other Quick Moving Dangers Eastern United States

Large Midwestern style tornado near
Evergreen, Virginia this afternoon. 
Today has been as active a weather day in the eastern United States as I can remember, and it's been pretty exciting here in my home base in Vermont as well.

This excitement - and danger - will continue much of the night and into Thursday morning in many areas of the East, including Vermont.

Vermont might not be nearly in as much danger as the core of the tornado threat areas in the Mid-Atlantic states, but you'll still want to pay attention to the weather.

As of mid and late afternoon, tornadoes were firing up in the Carolinas and Virginia, and the situation will continue to worsen into the early evening there.

Tornado watches extend from South Carolina all the way north to central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. 

I'm sure I've never seen tornado watches so far north in February. Especially along the Eastern Seaboard. This might have happened before but I don't remember when. This is quite an odd storm.

Major tornado damage this afternoon near
Appomattox, Virginia.  
I'll combine this evening's storm update both broadly, taking in what's happening with the huge storm system's tornados, storms, floods and wind, with what's going on here in Vermont for my Green Mountain State readers.

This situation kinda warrants doing one of my live blogs, in which I continuously update things as events progress, but I have commitments elsewhere this evening,

Follow my Twitter account, @mattalltradesb, for updates I can sneak in when I'm able to.

More importantly, if you're in an area under tornado watches, or warnings, or flood, severe thunderstorm or other weather danger watches, pay attention to the National Weather Service or your most trusted weather source for the latest information.  

As noted, tornadoes were spinning up left and right in the Mid-Atlantic states. Some of them will be brief spin ups. A few will become long lasting, destructive, strong tornadoes.

I've seen numerous tornado warnings, coming one right after another. Some of the radar signatures I've seen are downright scary, with strong evidence of tornadoes headed toward heavily populated cities and signatures that suggest a lot of debris, like broken up buildings and trees, lofted into the air.

 A nasty looking wall cloud, with a potential for a tornado
approaches the Universith of North Carolina Wednesday
  
The tornado threat in the Carolinas will end later this evening as the strong storm's cold front pushes off the coast.

But the threat will come later as you move north, as the cold front won't come through until later in those regions.

While the biggest threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is from central New Jersey south, New York and New England isn't completely out of the woods.  

There could even be some rotating supercells as far north as the southern half of New England.

While very highly unlikely, it's theoretically possible for a brief tornado to touch down as far north as Bennington, Vermont or Keene, New Hampshire.

VERMONT WEATHER THREATS

Here where I live in Vermont, this morning's snow turned into a cold, steady rain today. Temperatures remained below freezing in much of eastern Vermont, so it's been freezing rain. Roads there are slick, and will be through the evening, before temperatures rise.

As of 3 p.m, Montpelier, Vermont had a good seven consecutive hours of freezing rain. Some of it came down moderately. Not only are the roads bad there and elsewhere in the northeastern quarter of Vermont, there's a chance a few tree branches and power lines could break before temperatures this evening warm above freezing and melt the ice.

I've been impressed by how much steadier and heavier the rain in Vermont has been today compared to many forecasts. The ground is frozen, so between the snow that fell this morning and the rain this afternoon, there's starting to be a lot of standing water.  
Snow, them a drenching rain falling on frozen ground
created a lot of slush and flowing water in
my yard today in St. Albans, Vermont. 

Also, small streams are on the rise. There could be localized flooding anywhere in Vermont tonight and Thursday, especially I think in the northern half of the state where rain has been heaviest.

The most interesting weather in Vermont will come late tonight, mostly after midnight, and going into the early morning hours Thursday.

That's when the storm's cold front will be approaching, then passing the state, pretty much southwest to northeast.

As I noted, the dynamics that can cause severe thunderstorms are being flung much further north than is normal for late February.

There will be a surge of warm air coming into Vermont overnight, though it won't be as strong as more to the south. Still, temperatures in some areas will climb into the 50s by dawn.

Even worse, the storm system will create what is known as a low level jet, which is essentially a band of very strong winds a few thousand feet overhead. Winds up there could reach hurricane force, although we down on the ground don't have to worry about that.

HOWEVER:

This type of weather set up is conducive to form at least a few scattered thunderstorms embedded with the rain coming in ahead of and with the cold front.

The thunderstorms could "grab" some of that high level wind and bring it to the surface, which would create some damaging wind gusts. This could happen anywhere in Vermont with this system, but most areas won't have that problem. I just want to alert you to the possibility of it happening.

The weather set up also encourages thunderstorms to spin. There's a small chance this set up could create some rotating supercell thunderstorms as far north as perhaps Rutland and White River Junction.

Now before you panic, the chances of what follows is highly remote. Believe me, it's NOT something you should count on.

But there is a theoretical possibility that a brief tornado could spin up in far southern Vermont with this. I strongly doubt this would happen, and even if it did, nothing would be remotely as destructive as what's going on in the South.

But, tornadoes are rare in Vermont to begin with. We average one a year, if that. I've never heard of one in February, as Vermont twisters invariably happen in the warmest months of the year. Wouldn't it be wild if a brief tornado touched down in Vermont in February? That would be one for the record books.

I do see one computer model that has a very strong squall line of thunderstorms approaching western Massachusetts and Bennington County, Vermont just after midnight tonight.

With the possibility of rambuctious North Country thunderstors in mind,  NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has a marginal chance of severe thunderstorms extending as far north as Rutland and White River Junction. 

Though as a noted, there could be a localized strong thunderstorm wind gust all the way to the Canadian border.

After morning highs in the 50s, which could challenge records for the date Thursday, temperatures will start to fall into and through the 40s Thursday afternoon. By then, rain showers will become much lighter in Vermont.

Temperatures will continue to fall to below freezing levels Thursday night, and there could be a few snow showers around then and on Friday.

Which is perfectly normal weather for Vermont this time of year. Imagine that. Normal weather in a Green Mountain State winter that has been extraordinary in its weirdness and extremes.


Tornado Disaster Shifts East Today. Also, A Blizzard

A tornado ripped the all and much of the
roof off a Gold's Gym in Prarieview, Louisiana
Tuesday as about three dozen people worked
out in the building. Amazingly, nobody
was hurt.  
As expected, Tuesday was a terrible tornado day across the southeastern United States.

At least three people died in the series of tornadoes that stretched from Louisiana to Florida.

The threat of deadly, destructive tornadoes continues today along much of the central and southern East Coast, with the Carolinas and Virginia under the greatest threat.

Isolated severe thunderstorms could extend as far north as southwestern Vermont, which is incredibly far north for a February storm outbreak.

I don't think I've ever seen NOAA's Storm Prediction Center entertain the admittably very slight risk of a severe thunderstorm in Vermont in February.

But this is an odd storm and an odd year. There's a slight, but better chance of severe thunderstorms in the New York City metro area, very odd for February.

Tuesday's Destruction:

The worst of Tuesday's tornadoes hit in Louisiana, where at least two people died and 30 or so people were injured when a tornado hit a mobile home park in Convent, Louisiana.

As tornadic waterspouts crossed Lake Ponchartrain, a weather station on the causeway there recorded a wind gust of 120 mph.

Another person died in Purvis, Mississippi when a tornado hit a mobile home there.

A large supercell came off the Gulf of Mexico and unleashed a tornado or tornadoes around Pensacola, Florida. Cars were swept off Interstate 10, and several apartments and homes were destroyed. Many others were damaged.

There was also a lot of tornado damage around Dothan, Alabama Tuesday night. Some videos of all this scary weather are at the bottom of this post.

Grim Tornado Forecast Today

Today, strong upper level winds and winds changing direction with height will focus on the Carolinas and Virginia, which, as noted, is the area most under threat from severe weather. The worst of it will probably be this afternoon there.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center says there's a moderate risk of damaging winds and tornadoes, including possibly a couple strong, long lasting tornadoes in eastern North Carolina. Moderate risk is the second highest level in a five point alert scale for severe weather.

Via Twitter from @ExtremeStorms an apartment complex
destroyed by a tornado last night in Pensacola, Florida.  
Raleigh and Goldsboro, North Carolina are in this higher risk area.

Other cities under the gun for possible severe winds or tornadoes include Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, Washington DC,  Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.

Looking beyond today's threat, the next chance for any severe weather or tornadoes is near the Gulf Coast next Wednesday, but that possibility is very uncertain at this time. We can just hope the ingredients don't come together for more dangerous weather then.  

Also, Blizzards, Floods And Wind

Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms aren't the only problem the large, strong storm tracking over the Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes today.

A blizzard warning is up today for parts of eastern Illinois and western Indiana. There, up to a foot of heavy wet snow with winds gusting to 50 mph will make today an ugly one in that region

Winter storm warnings extended in a stripe from southeastern Missouri to northern Michigan for heavy snow. This is on the colder, northwestern side of the deep storm, which explains the heavy snow.

To the east the story is rain, and quite a bit of it. Flood watches are scattered through southern Ohio and along the southern and central Appalachian chain.

The heaviest rain looks like it would fall over much of New York, Vermont, northern New Hampshire, northwestern Maine and southern Quebec, including Montreal, where more than two inches of rain could fall in spots.

No flood watches are out in these areas, but some might be issued later.

In many communities in this heavy rain zone two inches of rain in a single storm is odd for February, since a lot of these places average two inches of rain or melted snow in the entire month of February.

Still, I don't think flooding will be too widespread in this area since snow cover, normally deep in late February, is close to non-existent this year.  That means melting snow won't add to the runoff much, so that would make any flooding not as bad as it otherwise would be.

Following are a few videos of the tornadic weather in the South yesterday.

A motorist in Louisiana captured rapidly swirling black clouds and then a tornado touchdown. This is the tornado that caused the deaths in the Convent, Louisiana mobile home park:




Television station WWL in New Orleans captured this very large waterspout, with two smaller satellite spouts, on Lake Ponchatrain on Tuesday:




Mark Oberley spotted the tornado in lightning flashes and power line failures as it moved into Pensacola last night:









Variety Pack Storm Affecting Vermont Now Through Thursday

Traffic moved slowly down the hill on Fairfield Hill
Road in St. Albans, Vermont as snow piled up
quickly to nearly two inches deep. It will
have changed to rain by afternoon.  
If you like the weather to change, this is the storm for you, fellow Vermonters.

I woke up this morning to a fairly heavy, wet snow, mixed with a little sleet at my hacienda in St. Albans. It was still coming down as of 7:15 a.m. and we'd accumulated 1.7 inches already. Roads are slippery.

If it hasn't already done so where you are, the snow will go over to sleet and freezing rain, then to rain pretty soon.

If you haven't left for your morning commute yet, be prepared for a slow go of it. The road crews are out, but it's still iffy out there.

The snow and ice will change to a light, cold, but not freezing rain this afternoon, so people who like this brief winter wonderland better get out there now and enjoy it because it's going away pretty soon.

Those of you who managed to squeeze out a couple inches of fresh powder won't get much more before the changeover to ice, then rain.

Temperatures will keep rising tonight as that strong storm system passes to our west. It will draw lots of warm, wet air ahead of it into our neck of the woods.

As you may have heard, this storm has caused a lot of tornadoes across the South, and will do so again in the Mid-Atlantic and southern Atlantic coasts today. The unstable air associated with this will scream northward all the way to us later tonight and tomorrow.

Don't be at all surprised if you hear a rumble of thunder or two or three with this. It's unusual to have thunderstorms with this kind of system get north to Vermont this early in the season, but there you go.

In fact, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has a marginal risk of isolated severe thunderstorms extending as far north as Rutland, Vermont. I don't think I've ever seen the Storm Prediction Center entertain the notion of a severe thunderstorm in Vermont in February. Incredible!

If it does thunder, it will be twice this winter it's occured. A somewhat similar storm touched off Vermont thunderstorms on January 10. An odd winter indeed.

At least any thunderstorms we get with this storm won't contain any tornadoes like down south, so that's a good thing.

Temperatures will briefly skyrocket again on Thursday, reaching the 50s again in most of Vermont. That would be the 16th time since December 1 it's gotten to 50 degrees or higher in Burlington. That's an awful lot of warm days for a Vermont winter.

There's going to be quite a bit of rain with this thing. The NOAA's national site calls for more than two inches of rain in much of Vermont, though the National Weather Service office in Burlington thinks it will be more along the lines of three quarters of an inch to 1.5 inches of rain.

Under normal conditions for late February, when there's a lot of snow on the ground, an inch of rain, temperatures in the 50s and snow melt is a recipe for a somewhat nasty flood. But there's hardly any snow on the ground, so the flooding won't be that bad, if we get any.

Rivers will sharply rise, and the Otter Creek in Rutland County might actually get to minor flood stage.

Do note the ground is frozen, so a lot of water will pool in low spots rather than soak into the ground. So beware, because the sudden lake in your backyard might end up flowing into your basement. Get those sump pumps ready!

Even in such warm winters in the Green Mountain State, the balminess never lasts and that will be the case here. The storm's cold front will bluster through by Thursday night, dropping temperatures back down below freezing by Friday morning in most spots.

There will be a little snow with this cold front, with a dusting in some of the valleys and maybe a couple inches in the mountains. No big deal, but be prepared for some ice on the roads Friday morning as Thursday's rain freezes and a little snow comes down on top of it.

Heading into the weekend, Vermont can expect some fairly average weather for late February, with highs in the upper 20s and 30s, lows mostly in the teens and maybe some snow showers around here and there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

As Of Tuesday Evening, Tornado Outbreak Really Bad And Getting Worse

Tornado damage today in Paincourtville, Louisiana.
Photo via Twitter by Michael DeMocker, a photographer
with the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  
The big tornado outbreak in the southeastern United States is underway, and as I write this as of 7 p.m. EST Tuesday, it's getting worse.

Most of the damage so far today has been in Louisiana, but now things are spreading into Mississippi and Alabama.

The parent storm system causing this is much stronger than a normal low pressure system located in Texas and Louisiana.

Usually, such storms don't get this strong until they're lifting northward up the Eastern Seaboard or up into the Great Lakes.

This is causing conditions to its east that are extremely conducive to tornadoes, some of them strong and long lasting.

Since the parent storm keeps getting stronger and more organized, the tornado threat is increasing in the Deep South this evening.

Tornado damage Tuesday near
Belle Rose, Louisian. Photo via
Twitter @ayee_its_erinn  
It's kind of a worst case scenario. The worst of the tornadoes are developing after dark, when you can't see them coming. Some of them are really strong, all of them have a fast forward speed.

This threat will continue all night. No real relaxation of the tornado threat overnight, which you get in most tornado outbreaks.

Also, many of the tornadoes are wrapped in rain, making them hard to see. That's been true all day and will continue tonight. (You'll see some of this phenomenon in the videos at the bottom of this post.)

So far, I've seen one unconfirmed report of a death, and several injuries, some serious, in Louisiana.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has declared this a particularly dangerous situation, and we can expect more horrible news overnight from Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the threat will move eastward during the day, and an area from extreme southern Maryland to Florida is under threat for more destructive tornadoes.

(It's very odd to have the tornado threat as far north as Maryland this early in the season. It's only February.)

It looks like the biggest threat Wednesday for big tornadoes is over eastern North Carolina.

Let's all hope that the inevitable particularly strong, long lasting tornadoes stay over rural areas and not hit any big towns and cities. But it's pretty populated in the areas under the greatest threat, and I worry that we will have terrible news of a tornado disaster when we wake up Wednesday morning.

The nation has had three years in a row, from 2012 through 2015  with below normal tornado activity. This year so far has bucked that quiet trend. Let's hope that trend does not continue.

Time for videos:

You can see how hard many of the tornadoes in this outbreak are hard to see as they're approaching.

Here's storm chaser Max Olson documenting one crossing Interstate 10 near Baton Rouge. I wonder how many people drove into this thing:



The New Orleans Times Picayune documented this tornado damage in Paincourtville, Louisiana:



Early reports indicate at least one fatality and several injuries at this RV park in Convent, Louisiana:

Hey Vermonters! You'll Need Extra Time To Get To Work And School Wednesday Morning

Expect a slippery commute Wednesday morning
in much of Vermont as some snow and mixed precipitation are
in the forecast.  
As a terrible tornado outbreak proceeds in the southeastern United States today and tonight, us Vermonters will have to gird for a much less severe weather event, but one that will have a bit of an impact on us anyway.

There's a winter weather advisory in effect for all of Vermont into tomorrow afternoon for all of Vermont except the Champlain Valley.

For the record, that winter weather advisory is up for almost all of New England and eastern New York.

Snow will gradually spread south to north across Vermont tonight and then go over to sleet and freezing rain before dawn in some areas, after dawn in others.

Accumulations of snow and sleet will only amount to an inch or two, and there will be less than a quarter inch of ice accumulation. So DON'T expect all the trees and power lines to collapse.

But DO expect icy roads Wednesday morning. That'll slow you commute. Plus close some of the state's schools, so you might have to come up with some Plan B to stash your kids for the day while you're at work.

I noted the Champlain Valley is not covered by the winter weather advisory because it will warm up quicker there. But there will be icy, slippery roads in that area tomorrow morning, too, so be aware of that.

The precipitation will change to plain rain Wednesday afternoon. The last area to see the changeover to plain rain will be the Northeast Kingdom.


Vermont Forecast Tuesday: We Get The Big Storm, Too

It clouded up quickly in Vermont this morning as a one-two punch of storms which will start later today and go through Thursday.

The good news is this storminess won't be nearly as dangerous as it's going to be in the southeastern United States, what with all the tornadoes expected there.

But here in the Green Mountain State, there will be things to watch out for.

Round One

The first of two storms, by the far the weaker of the pair is coming in later tonight. Snow will start in southern Vermont and spread northward. I bet it'll be to the Canadian border by midnight.

Also from south to north, a few hours after the snow starts, it'll change to sleet and freezing rain late tonight and tomorrow morning.

This precipitation won't come down hard, but it'll be enough to slicken the roads. A winter weather advisory is up for this evening, tonight into tomorrow morning in far southern Vermont.

As it continues to warm up Wednesday, precipitation will change to a light, raw occasional non-freezing rain. Some ice might continue in the Northeast Kingdom into Wednesday afternoon.

Round Two

As the second, much stronger storm approaches and heads toward the Great Lakes, it'll probably actually keep warming up Wednesday night until high temperatures once again get into the 50s on Thursday. That'll be the fifth or sixth time this month we've been up in the 50s.

We'll get a good slug of rain with this, especially late Wednesday night and the first half of the day Thursday. Don't at all be surprised if you hear a rumble or two of thunder during this time. (Thunder is still kind of unusual this time of year but this is a strong storm system, so that's what you get.)

Since there's precious little snow on the ground to melt, this heavy rain won't cause widespread flooding. But be alert for some small stream and creek flooding. And since the ground is frozen, water will pool big time in areas instead of soaking into the Earth. You might end up with a brand new pond in your back yard

Also, since the rain will come down hard, there could be some local urban flooding in the bigger towns and cities.

Temperatures will crash Thursday night, the wet roads will freeze and there will be a bit of snow, mostly in the mountains. Look for maybe a dusting or an inch in the valleys by later Friday, and perhaps a few paltry inches in the mountain.

All Kinds Of Bad, Dangerous Weather With Looming Big Storm

The areas in yellow, orange and especially red
are under the gun for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms
today and tonight.  
One of the worst storms in what has been an active winter for the United States is about to hit.

Pretty much every hazard is coming with this one, including a widespread area under risk of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Depending upon where you are, theres also a risk of strong winds, flooding, snow and ice.

I'll go over all aspects of this storm, of course.

An Initial Burst

Before the main show, there's actually a smaller, initial storm that's coming along first. It was depositing moderate rain in the Mid-Atlantic states this morning, and will very likely produce a burst of snow, then mixed precipitation later today and tonight in the Northeast.

Winter weather advisories are up for much of the Northeast because of this initial snow. Some areas could get up to three inches of snow. This evening's commute could be tricky across Pennsylvania, southern New York and possibly into southern New England,

It'll still be cold enough for freezing rain and icy roads in much of New England and a few colder pockets of New York and Pennsylvania Wednesday morning. The good news is the ice won't be as bad as the last storm around the 15th and 16th of this month because we didn't have a big Arctic outbeak in the past couple days to chill pavement.

Still, watch out in the Northeast while driving to work tomorrow morning. It'll be weird, with some areas well above freezing and other sheltered low spots still cold. You might be cruising along fast on wet pavement and suddently encounter an ice rink. So just keep it slow.

The Main Show, With Tornadoes:

As this smaller, initial storm affects the Northeast later today, the main storm will have been organizing in the south all day today.

Usually these types of storms have a lot of energy and moisture available to them, but they're still fairly unorganized. The only consolidate into a strengthening storm center as they move up the East Coast or northward toward the Great Lakes.

This time, the storm center itself will already be strong over Louisiana today, and will keep getting stronger  as it moves into the Tennessee Valley tonight.

All this means big trouble for the Southeast:

Winds aloft will be strong, and change directions with height. This is a very favorable set up to create strong, spinning thunderstorms. Those are the kind that can easily create tornadoes, sometimes strong ones.

The threat for tornadoes will exist today and tomorrow in a wide area from Louisiana to southeastern Virginia.

Today, the threat will start to ncrease first in far eastern Texas and Louisiana, then get more threatening as you go east. Much of the southeast is at risk for tornadoes later today and tonight, but the biggest chance lies across much of the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.

This would include the cities of New Orleans, Jackson and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.  NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has this area in a moderate risk for severe weather, the second highest alert level for storms in a five-level alert system. When there's a moderate risk, it's a sign forecasters are particularly worried about the storm potential.

Schools are already closed in many of these areas today, because nobody wants hundreds of kids in one building being hit by a tornado, and they don't want them out in school buses if dangerous weather hits.

The individual storms and tornadoes will move forward very fast, so there won't be much time to take shelter when a tornado appears. Worse, the strongest tornadoes might come after dark in parts of Alabama and Georgia. People will be either sleeping, or it will be too dark to see them coming.

Everybody in the area I outlined, and in the areas under threat tomorrow, should have a weather radio with them. If you get a warning, take shelter instantly, even if you don't see skies that look particularly threatening. These tornadoes and severe storms will sneak up on you fast.

As the main storm center rides north toward the Great Lakes, very warm humid air will flood northward up the eastern seaboard. This will extend the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes as far north as North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. That'll be tomorrow, tomorrow night and for points furthest east, Thursday morning.

A marginally severe thunderstorm or two might work as far north as Atlantic City, New Jersey on Thursday morning.

Non-severe thunderstorms Thursday could easily extend as far north as Montreal, and could happen anywhere in New England except possibly much of Maine

Other Storm Risks:

As is often the case with this kind of storm, there's going to be areas of heavy rain and possible flooding with this.

Flash flood watches are up for a broad area from central Alabama northeastward to western North Carolina and western Virginia. Heavy rain with this storm will fall on soil already saturated by previous storms

Local flooding is possible in downpours throughout the East with this storm, but it probably won't be extensive, record flooding. Just don't drive through roads that are flooded

Another area of heavy rain could hit southern Quebec, where there is the possibility of at least a little flooding in spots, says Environment Canada.

It's always colder on the west side of storms, and this case is no exception. Winter storm watches for possible heavy snow are up for northwestern Indiana and much of Michigan.

Monday, February 22, 2016

"Hairy Panic" Of Australian Tumbleweeds Buries Part of Town

"Hairy panic" tumbleweeds engulf the entrance
to this Australian house. 
Combine a really nasty drought and a farmer who doesn't maintain his property very well in Australia and you get something called "Hairy Panic"

According to the BBC, people in a row of homes in Wangaratta, in northeastern Victoria province in Australia, have been spending several hours each day cleaning the tumbleweeds from their homes. Sometimes the "hairy panic" reaches to roof levels

Hairy panic is one species of a grass found throughout Australia. This species has long hairs along the edges of its leaves, hence the name.

Under the drought conditions, the hairy panic dries out, forms into tumbleweeds and blows around until caught by obstructions, like houses.

Property maintenance can be a chore, but imagine having to spend several hours a day cleaning up the mess of hairy panic? And what do you do with this stuff?
A woman stands waist deep in
"hairy panic" tumbleweeds at her Australian home.

And we were I live in Vermont thought shoveling snow off the driveway can be a pain in the ass. Besides, the snow here eventually melts away. You can't say the same for hairy panic.

"It's physically draining and mentally more draining, said resident Pam Twitchett in an interview with Prime7 News in Australia.  

The local town council said it can't help because the hairy panic is not considered a fire threat. (Judging from the pictures, I beg to differ. Imagine what it would look like if you put a lighted match to this stuff?)

No word from the farmer, either, on whether his lack of property maintenance is contributing to the problem.

Here's a wild news report of the wild panic drought tumbleweed crisis:







"It's physically draining and mentally more draining," resident Pam Twitchett told Prime7 News Albury.

  • Also known by its Latin name Panicum effusum, it is a grass that is found in every Australian state 
  • It's called "hairy" because while there are a number of other Panicum species, none have long hairs along the edges of their leaves
  • It grows rapidly and can form tumbleweeds which are dead grass with seeds inside designed to disperse them for reproduction
  • It can cause a potentially fatal condition called "yellow big head" in sheep if eaten in large quantities
  • Wangaratta veterinary surgeon Richard Evans told the BBC the weed would lose its toxicity once it dried up.
    "The important thing is it's not going to kill people's dogs and cats, it just makes a hell of a mess," he said.
    Authorities are unable to help with the clean-up because the tumbleweeds do not pose a fire threat, reports say.

  • Growing Severe Weather And Tornado Threat On Gulf Coast

    NOAA' Storm Prediction Center has a severe
    weather risk in the Southeast Tuesday.  
    A storm gathering strength near the Gulf Coast early this week could well prompt another outbreak of severe thunderstorms in tornadoes in an area hit hard by such weather a week ago.

    NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has a bit of a risk of severe weather in parts of Texas today.

    However, on Tuesday, the risk grows quite a bit especially in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

    This is almost exactly the area that had the worst of the 20 or so tornadoes that damaged or destroyed numerous homes and businesses on February 15 and 16.

    Of course, you never know precisely how bad a severe storm or tornado outbreak will be in advance, but it's something to watch.

    The storm will bring a lot of moisture and instability off of the Gulf of Mexico, and the wind will veer with height. These are perfect conditions for tornadoes.

    The Storm Prediction Center's outlook for Tuesday says one or two of the tornadoes could be strong.

    This storm is yet another example of how a strong jet stream over the southern United States, caused in large part by El Nino, is causing rough weather in the South.

    There have been repeated tornado outbreaks from Texas to Florida since December. And here's another one, apparently.

    Monday Vermont Forecast: Told Ya Weather Would Yo-Yo Like Crazy.

    Clearing skies early this morning overhead in my
    yard that still incredibly remains pretty
    much snow free in February. It was cold, though,
    when this pic was taken. About 15 degrees.
    After a rather springlike weekend in Vermont that brought high temperatures up into the 40s, it's back to winter today.

    Temperatures in the upper teens to lower 20s this morning will barely budge by afternoon, and then we'll sink down to the single digits tonight, with maybe a few subzero readings.

    Last week I told you that the weather would Yo-Yo all over the place for the rest of the month and that's just what's happening.

    After this bout of somewhat wintry weather, it's going to turn warm and stormy again.

    As clouds increase Tuesday, temperatures will rise to the upper 20s to low 30s, about normal for this time of year.

    Then that strong storm that will move from the Gulf of Mexico to the eastern Great Lakes will start to affect us.

    Later Tuesday night, it'll start to snow lightly, then it will gradually change to ice and then rain Wednesday as temperatures rise back above normal. This initial mixed bout won't be particularly heavy, but  you'll want to watch out for some slick roads Wednesday morning.

    Temperatures will probably keep rising Wednesday night into Thursday as the bulk of the rain moves in. Although it will end up raining fairly hard at times, I don't think there will be any widespread flooding. There's not much snow on the ground to melt, which otherwise would add to the storm's runoff.

    Then, after the storm, the roller coaster weather continues. It'll be colder by Friday with snow showers, especially in the mountains.

    I'm still watching the possibility of a subzero blast of Arctic air in about a week. It's not certain yet, but March could definitely come in like a lion, especially if you think a weather lion has an Arctic feel to it.

    Sunday, February 21, 2016

    Large Storm In East This Week; More Wet Than Snowy

    Forecasters are getting a much better handle on the fairly large storm that's coming up midweek.
    Here's one version of the forecasted storm
    on Wednesday and Thursday. Results will
    probably vary, but this forecast map has
    the storm moving north over western New York
    Thursday morning, bringing rain to Vermont
    and the rest of New England.

    It's definitely looking more wet than white in the eastern United States, including in my home base of Vermont.  

    Computer models are still struggling with this storm, so the forecast isn't completely set in stone. It could still surprise. 

    But at this point it seems it'll behave similarly to the last storm that brought ice and rain to the East last week with one major exception: 

    There's MUCH less cold air ahead of this storm, so freezing rain and ice and that sort of thing don't look like it will be as intense and widespread as last time.

    In Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, this storm is mostly looking like another blow to the ski industry and winter lovers. There probably will be some snow Tuesday night and Wednesday, but at this point, it'll probably go over to a light, occasional rain Wednesday, and then a steadier, heavier rain Wednesday night and/or Thursday.

    Northern New England is getting quite the snow drought this year. 

    Still, some areas, especially up on northern New England will see some ice out of this before a transition to rain. The best chances of freezing rain with this thing would be in eastern Vermont, interior New Hampshire and parts of northwestern Maine. In all those areas, though, freezing rain will very likely go over to plain rain. 

    The storm will gather near the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday, then head northward Wednesday and Thursday toward the eastern Great Lakes, as it seems now anyway. In fact, it might be further west than the last storm. Though that's still uncertain. 

    This means that areas of western New York that got plastered by heavy snow the last storm has the most uncertain forecast. It's a tossup in western New York at this point on whether they'll get a heavy, wet mostly snow storm, or rain. 

    We'll want to watch for locally strong winds Wednesday night and Thursday, too. The best chance of that, and it's not a certainty, would be along the western slopes of the Green Mountains in Vermont, and possibly along the New England coast, too. 

    CLIMATE NOTE: It now appears this winter is a shoo-in for the warmest winter on record in Vermont, or at least at the official National Weather Servide station in South Burlington, Vermont.

    After an incredibly warm December, and a very mild January, this February needs to average just a degree above normal or a little less than that to make the winter of 2015-16 the warmest on record.

    Through Saturday, February was running 4.3 degrees above normal in Burlington. Paltry cool spells Monday and Tuesday, and at the end of the upcoming week, won't erase that much at all. Then add in today's warmth and the big mild spell expected with the midweek storm, and we'll end up with a quite mild February.

    There's also a slight chance Burlington might have its least snowy winter on record this year. So far, the city has had 25.9 inches of snow, less than half the normal up to this date. The least snowy year was 31.8 inches in 1912-13, so we're still almost six inches shy of that.

    Usually we get quite a bit more than six inches of snow between late February and April, so chances are we won't break that 1912-13 record. But it's something to watch. There's a good chance this year will be in the Top 10 list of least snowy winters, anway. 

    Back to the forecast: 

    Down near the Gulf Coast, this storm Tuesday and Wednesday might cause another outbreak of severe weather, but at least at this point, I don't think it'll be as extensive in the last storm, which produced several damaging tornadoes from Louisiana to Florida. 

    After this storm goes by, it'll turn colder in the Northeast, as it pretty much always does after a storm passes.

    In fact, there are signs there could be a pretty intense cold wave starting in about a week or so, and then lasting a few days. Though very likely not as intense as the Valentine's weekend Arctic blast, initial signs point to the possibility another bout of subzero air in northern New England, including Vermont, to start March.

    However, we WILL be getting into March, so even if temperatures recover to just normal by the second week in March, it will still feel warm-ish, like it has all winter. 

     

    Saturday, February 20, 2016

    Mild Rest Of The Weekend In Vermont

    Unlike in Vermont's Champlain Valley, it was
    rather pleasant last night in Provincetown, Mass 
    I'm writing this Vermont weather summary from Provincetown, Massachusetts for reasons that are a long but pleasant story, from which I will spare you.

    I'm just glad I wasn't in Vermont's Champlain Valley last night, given the bouts of snow, the blowing snow and the screaming winds that must have made for an unpleasant night.

    For the record, it was quite nice here in Provincetown.

    And on the bright side, the ski areas picked up a few inches of snow, which is good if you want to go out on this mild day.

    The rest of the weekend in Vermont will be mild by February standards. Most of the snow and rain showers in Vermont are moving out, but there still is a risk of light rain showers today.

    Winds will gradually diminish today, but it will still be on the breezy side. But it will be in the 40s. Maple producers: Check your sugarbushes. The sap will probably be running today and tomorrow.

    Sunday is going to be mild, too, but a cold front coming in might produce a few scattered rain or snow showers, especially toward the end of the day.

    After seasonably cool weather Monday and Tuesday, we're still watching a storm for Wednesday.

    I still don't know what kind of storm, to be honest. The computer models are all over the place. Some take it up through Michigan and the Great Lakes, which would quickly change snow to rain in Vermont.

    Others take it close to Vermont, which make for an ugly mix. A few more take it along the coast, which would produce more in the way of snow.

    At the moment, the National Weather Service office in Burlington, Vermont is going with a snow mixing with or changing to rain scenario.

    But stay tuned. Anything could happen with this, and we won't be able to pin it down very well until we get toward maybe Monday. That'll still give us two days or so to prepare for whatever's coming.

    Wednesday's potential weather won't be the most extreme storm ever, but it could be somewhat disruptive. So we'll see

    Terrible Tropical Cyclone Winston Slams Fiji

    Photo shows Tropical Cyclone Winston just
    beginning to batter Fiji on Friday.  
    Tropical Cyclone Winston, the strongest such storm on record in the southern hemisphere, has just slammed the low lying Pacific Ocean nation of Fiji, in what is being described as a worst case scenario for the islands.

    Winston packed winds of 185 mph as it roared over Fiji. It was a Category 5 storm, the worst possible.  Reports are just beginning to filter out of Fiji. As of 7 a.m. eastern time in the United States, we know of at least one fatality and widespread destruction.

    The web site Stuff New Zealand reported that even before the full force of the storm hit, tourists on Fiji were reporting widespread power failures and roofs blown off buildings.

    The tourists said they were especially concerned about local residents, who lived in flimsier houses than the sturdy hotels they were hunkered down in.

    The epic Winston is the latest in what seems to be a trend of super tropical storms. Last October, Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane on record in the northern hemisphere. 

    Satellite view of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone
    Winston, which is battering Fiji. 
    A recently re-assessment of Patricia by the National Hurricane Center showed the maximum sustained winds in Patricia were 215 mph, which was 15 mph stronger than initially reported.

    Even the 200 mph winds made it the strongest northern hemispher hurricane on record so 215 mph is pretty incredible.    

    Overall, 2015 was the busiest year on record for tropical systems in the Pacific Ocean. This included several super typhoons in the eastern Pacific.

    A super typhoon, which is a hurricane in the eastern Pacific, is defined as one having sustained winds of at least 150 mph. 

    Here's a brief video of Winston in Fiji causing destruction even before the full force of the storm hit:


    Friday, February 19, 2016

    Vermont Weather Outlook Friday, February 19

     A clear, pleasant but cold view from my weather deck
    in St. Albans, Vermont. Changes are coming in
    the weather though, as they always do.
    Since this is a Vermont-based weather and climate blog, I'm going to at least try to start issuing Vermont-based weather outlooks in addition to the rest of the content you always see here.

    It dawned clear and cold in Vermont this morning, with temperatures in the single digits, with a few below zero readings in the chillier mountain valleys. This is pretty typical for this time of year, no biggie.

    We're in an incredibly changeable weather pattern though and changes are coming fast and furious.

    It'll actually turn warmish this afternoon, with readings getting into the 30s.  The blue sky you saw first thing this morning will be replaced, gradually, by increasing clouds. The wind will pick up from the south, too, especially in the Champlain Valley.

    A windy but fairly moisture starved storm is coming out of the Great Lakes region and will pass to our north tonight and Saturday. It'll drag a warm front through overnight, so there will be some snow breaking out. It wont amount but it won't amount to much, though.

    Most people will get an inch or less. A few places will get up to two inches, especially in the mountains.

    The winds will really start to howl late tonight, mostly in the Champlain Valley. So from midnight to say, mid-morning Saturday expect gusts in the valley to go to 45 mph. That's might be enough to take down a few branches and power lines. Nothing widespread, but something to be aware of.

    That storm to our north will also pull along some of that warm air that has been setting records in the Plains states. There won't be record warmth here, but definitely a thaw Saturday afternoon into Sunday, with temperatures in most places getting into the 40s.

    It's been one of the warmest winters on record, if not THE warmest, so we shouldn't be surprised by these thaws by now.

    There might also be a few rain showers Saturday, though nothing heavy.
    One computer model, shown here, takes
    a storm coming along Wednesday or so
    to our west, giving us snow, ice and rain.
    Other models take it to our east, giving us
    all snow. Don't believe any forecast on this one
    yet. Way too uncertain.  

    The big question mark is a storm you might have been hearing about that might come our way the middle of the upcoming week.

    As is to be expected five or six days before the storm actually gets here, we have no clue what it will bring. Chances are it will be a fairly substantial storm. But will it come close enough to give us a lot of precipitation? If so, will it be a lot of snow, rain, ice or what?

    Well, right now I haven't the foggiest idea. Any forecaster who tells you he or she does know is lying.

    Computer models are all over the place with this thing. Many put us in the "sweet spot" just to the northwest of the storm to get a lot of snow. Some other models take it out to sea. Others take the storm to our west, and we'd end up with a snow to ice to rain changeover scenario.

    Stay tuned on this one.