Sunday, December 31, 2017

If You Think This Is Bad, Wait Until Next Friday's Arctic Blast

Blue nation: This morning's National Weather Service
home page map was a study in blue, filled with
vast areas of wind chill and freeze alerts.
I usually don't like to talk much about forecasts more than five days down the road, but this time I do want to put out an alert that the frigid Arctic cold wave we're having looks like it will reach its crescendo next Friday and Saturday in New England.

It looks very grim. Could be one of the most brutally cold days in my lifetime. Considering I'm 55, that's saying something.

Oh, I know, it might not be as bad as current predictionss are indicating now.  Forecasts change. But some indications for next Friday are shivering my timbers, let me tell ya.

First let's get through the latest Arctic blast, which came in last night. It seemed "warm" in Burlington, Vermont for awhile Saturday afternoon.  The temperature peaked at a lovely, balmy 11 degrees above zero in the afternoon, the hottest it's been since Tuesday evening.

That, of course, didn't last long. It was back to the deep freeze last night, and that will continue through New Year's Eve. Looking at the national weather map, the United States is now Blue Nation, and I'm not talking about politics.

At least half of the U.S. is colored in hues of blue on the National Weather Service home page - filed with wind chill warnings and advisories, and in the south, hard freeze warnings.

I haven't seen such a vast cold wave in the United States in quite a few years.

Can I stop right here and indulge in another rant about people on the roads? During this cold snap, we here in Vermont and a lot of other places in the vast cold zone have been getting little bouts of light snow. It's too cold for salt to work.  The snow and ice stays on the highways. The wind does appears to blow some of the snow off the roads, so they're perfect, right?

Um, no. Car tires have been compacting some of this light snow into black ice. The roads don't look too bad, but they're icy. I saw a lot of cars off Interstate 89 Friday evening and a few more Saturday. Motorists are going 75 mph. They don't get it that there's black ice, which is hard to see. Slow down, morons!!    
This cartoon by George Danby in the Bangor (Maine)
Daily News this week pretty much sums things up. 

At the bottom of this post, you'll see some videos from Michigan of people going too fast on the highways during lake effect snow squalls. People gotta learn to slow down. More people are going to be killed because people are too stupid to slow down on ice and low visibility.

Rant over. Moving on. As expected, it's damn cold today, and will be tonight for New Year's Eve festivities. We're still looking at wind chills in the teens and 20s below zero come midnight in Vermont, so 2018 is starting out by giving us the cold shoulder, to put it gently.

It'll stay cold New Year's Day, then we get into a "mild" spell Tuesday and Wednesday, when high temperatures will rise all the way up into the teens to around 20. Break out those swimsuits, baby!

Then we get into the trouble I talked about at the start of this blog post. An ocean storm will get going in the Bahamas and track northward, well off the East Coast. It will intensify rapidly, and become a vast, intense super strong wind machine.

It's still hard to say how far off the coast this monster will track. At this point it looks far enough away to spare the eastern United States from a lot of snow but it still bears watching.

Once this huge storm approaches the waters off New England, it will tend to curl a little bit toward the northwest, while still strengthening. That could cause a blizzard in eastern Maine if it comes close enough, and a little snow in Vermont. And it will probably cause an epic, dangerous storm in the Canadian Maritimes.

But that's not worries me so much about this storm. All of the Northeast, certainly including Vermont, will be in this huge storm's huge wind field. That means by Friday, I expect that north winds could be gusting in the 30 to 40 mph range, maybe more than that in the higher elevations.

Worse, this storm is going to grab a chunk of Arctic air from Canada and bring it down on us. Friday's chunk of Artic air looks like it might be even colder than the icebox we've got over us today .

The combination of wind and extreme cold looks awful. If this comes to fruition, I expect lots of burst and frozen water pipes as the cold winds push the Arctic air through every nook and cranny of our houses and buildings.

Low temperatures Friday and possibly Saturday night across Vermont and surrounding areas look like they could be in the 20 to 35 below range, and that's not including the wind chill.

Having lived in Vermont all my life so far, I think I've only experienced such conditions two or three times before

Of course, I'm still hoping current computer forecasting models are blowing this all out of proportion and it won't be so bad. That's still certainly a possibility. Maybe by Thursday I'll be doing my best Emily Litella impression: ("Never mind!") But it's still something to watch.

If you're looking for good news, it looks like by next Sunday, the deep chill will start to moderate. There will be more Arctic fronts after next Sunday, it looks like, but those outbreaks of cold air don't look anything nearly as bad as what we're experiencing today, and what we're likely to experience next Friday.

Here's those road crash videos. The first is the most dramatic. The couple in the car, which slid off a Michigan highway, narrate as cars and trucks keep smashing into one another. At least three plow into the couple's car. I'm amazed by how calm the two remain. The second video shows more of the same type of thing.

Let's be careful out there!



And here's  tow truck driver's overview of the scene in Michigan:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

If You Think You've Been Shovelilng A Lot Of Snow Lately, Watch This

A road in the snow belt of northern Japan.
Puts Erie, PA to shame doesn't it?
Here in Vermont, we're off to a typically snowy start to the winter. We're not breaking any records, but we've certainly gotten our share of snow.

Some people are probably sick of shoveling already, and it's only the end of December.

It could be worse. (It could always be worse.)  Just look at Erie, Pa. (63 inches in two days. starting Christmas. And at least another foot today.) Or Redfield, New York, (also 63 inches in two days.)

Even better, there are mountainous areas of northern Japan that get incredible amounts of snow. There are spots in this region that are among the snowiest in the world.  The relatively high elevation town of Tokamachi, for instance, averages 460 inches of snow per year. That's about 38 feet of snow.

For comparison's sake, here in Burlington, Vermont, we average very roughly 80 inches of snow per winter. That's about six and a half feet of snow.

Northern Japan's epic snow is caused by sort of the same phenomenon as the huge lake effect snow squalls common in early and mid-winter near the Great Lakes. The kind that hit Erie and Redfield. But the snow in Japan is much deeper.

Here's why: Cold Siberian winds blow across the Sea of Japan in the winter, picking up moisture just like cold northwest winds draw moisture from the Great Lakes this time of year. But the Great Lakes snow machine shuts down or at least weakens during the course of the winter as the lakes freeze, limiting the ability for moisture to get in the air to produce the snow squalls.

Not photoshop. People walk on a road cleared of deep
snow in drifts in the northern Japan snowbelt. They've
got it worse than the U.S. Great Lakes snow belts 
The Sea of Japan is relatively warm. And big. So it doesn't freeze. The "sea effect snows" go on and on all winter.

On top of that. winter storms ride northeastward along the nearby coastlines in Japan, much like those famous nor'easters in New England. Those Japanese nor'easters also dump huge amounts of snow.

Ski resorts in these snowy Japanese regions attract lots of visitors, as you might imagine. Long term, there are worries that some of these snow belts in Japan could start getting more rain and less snow as  global warming intensifies.

For now, though, it snows like crazy in parts of Japan. Thought you were a hero when you shoveled three feet of snow out of your driveway during a record snowstorm last March in northwestern Vermont?

Hah! Watch these two very fit Japanese men tackle an extremely snow laden roof after an epic snowfall.

Dangerous Cold Wave Expands, Intensifies For New Year's

This crazy ice covered dude has been surfing on Lake Superior
amid persistent subzero cold. 
As of this morning, about a third of the continental United States, including all of Vermont, was under wind chill warnings or wind chill advisories as the deep cold wave expands and intensifies, just in time for New Year's Eve celebrations.

During tomorrow night's famous New Years Eve ball drop in Times Square the temperature will likely be in the upper single numbers with wind chills as low as 10 below. Quite dangerous if you're out there too long and not for me, thanks.

I'm a cold weather wimp. First Night organizers will hate me, but I'm staying in. Enjoy First Night, definitely, but here in Vermont, do so while dressed for minus 20 wind chills or worse. I have a feeling the indoor events during the celebration in Burlington,  Vermont will be more popular than those outdoors.

I'm feeling a bit bad for the Vermont ski resorts: They finally got a year in which the Christmas week snow and snow conditions are terrific. But it's so cold that I'm sure it's discouraging some people from venturing out. There even have been some occasional wind holds on the lifts this week over wind chill concerns. That mght happen this weekend, too.

As the cold wave expands into the states in the Deep South, there's another concern: Freezing pipes. That's a problem here, of course. But down there, homes aren't very well insulated. It'll be easy for pipes to freeze, burst and flood homes. There will be a wave of insurance claims, for sure.

Cold waves like this always come in surges. There's at least two more Arctic surges here in Vermont to go through before there's any hope of relief. The first one is coming in tonight and tomorrow, in time for the already mentioned New Year's Eve festivities.

The cold will ease up a bit temporarily Tuesday and especially Wednesday, when highs could reach 20 degrees. Still cooler than normal, but not terrible. Then another Arctic surge hits next Thursday and Friday with more painful Arctic air.

No promises yet, but there are signs that starting in a little more than a week, temperatures might moderate again to near normal January temperatures. Let's hope so.

Not much snow is in the forecast, except for areas slammed by lake effect snow squalls near the Great Lakes.

Forecasters have been eyeing the possibility of a frigid, strong nor'easter next Thursday, but for now at least, most indications now are there will be a very strong storm, but it will be too far off the coast to give us much precipitation. A few computer models still bring the storm closer to the coast, so it still bears watching, just in case.

In any event, it does look like the storm would be close enough to give us strong north winds during the Arctic surge late next week, which means wind chills will be the most ridiculous yet in this cold spell.

Not everybody is hibernating amid the chill. Below is a video of a guy who has been enjoying surfing on Lake Superior during this cold blast. Never mind temperatures are below zero and wind chills are in the 20s below up there. This guy is nuts:


Friday, December 29, 2017

Donald Trump Is A Big Fat Idiot (Climate Edition)

Gusss I gotta re-run this map for Donald Trump.
It's the world this week. Blue is colder than normal. Orange
is warmer than normal. See? The whole world isn't
frigid, just part of North America.
I know I will offend some of you with a political rant on a weather and climate blog, but the exasperating Donald Trump has just exasperated me again with his climate bullcrap.

Just as he did three or four years ago when a nasty cold winter cold wave hit New York City, The Donald is now tweeting that the current Arctic cold blast the eastern half of the U.S. is getting "proves" climate change is a hoax.

Of course, by Trump's logic, the record heat waves that swept different parts of the country in recent years would "prove" that global warming is even worse than anybody thought.

Neither scenario is true, of course. Everybody knows, except Trump and his minions soaked in oil industry money, that when one small part of the world is particularly warm or particularly cold, that doesn't mean anything.

Trump either is too dumb understand the basic difference between weather and climate, or he hopes his followers are too stupid to figure it out.

For the record, the Dumbster, er, Trumpster tweeted this out: "In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!"

Sigh. Let me explain it to Trump again. Weather is what happens outside your window in the moment. It's cold now. It will be snowy sometime later this winter. We'll probably have a thaw, then another cold wave. It will rain. There will be mixed precipitation, spring will someday arrive. What happens just depends on what weather system is over your head on a given day.

Climate is the long term trend. Over a a wide area, or the whole globe for that matter.

The New York Times used an analogy that even Trump might understand, because it involves money:

"......weather is how much money you have in your pocket today, whereas climate is your net worth. A billionaire who has forgotten his wallet one day is not poor, anymore than a poor person who lands a windfall of several hundred dollars is suddenly rich. What matters is what  happens over the long term."

I'm sure Trump's ill-informed weather and climate tweet from Thursday night was mostly aimed at his dumb (or at best, badly misinformed or brainwashed) base, who chortle at the eggheads who actually understand science, just a little. Or live in a world where facts matters. Where physics is a reality, not some hoax perpetrated by those greedy Chinese.

Hey Trump! It's winter, you dipshit! It gets cold in the winter, with or without global warming. Grow up!

Of course, Trump's tweet was as predictable as this current cold snap. On Wednesday, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang tweeted the following:

"U.S. to be coldest region in world relative to normal over next week. Please note rest of world will be much warmer than normal lest anyone try to claim pocket of cold in U.S. debunks global warming which they will invariably and irresponsibly do."

I guess Trump is getting his marching orders from the Washington Post now, instead of his old standby, Fox & Friends.

As noted, I'm waiting for Donald to tweet that global warming is here the next time a record warm spell hits. I bet all there will be is crickets at that point.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

So Cold There Might Be Funnel Clouds On Lake Champlain

In this map of how far above or below normal temperatures
were across the globe yesterday, note the cold in much
of North America, but the warmth in most of the rest of
the world. (Click on the map to make it bigger
and easier to read.)
In case you haven't noticed, the core of the cold arrived  here in Vermont and it's not going to go away anytime soon.

Most of us were in the teens below zero this morning. Over in New York State, Watertown, deep in lake effect snow from Lake Ontario, dropped to a remarkable 33 below zero as skies cleared there early this morning. That broke a record for the date of -23, set in 1993.

As I mentioned yesterday, the cold is widespread across the northern tier of the United States, and that will continue.

And it's a strong cold wave compared to many in recent years. Flint, Michigan dropped to 17 below, their all-time record low for any dates, though records only go back to 1921 in Flint. It might have been colder there before 1921.

Here in Vermont today, the air will grow slighly more unstable, and the wind will shift subtlely so that it will move generally north to south down most of the length of Lake Champlain. That sets the stage for some light lake effect snow, mostly south of Burlington.

More interestingly, it also sets the stage for cold air funnels and even brief waterspouts on Lake Champlain. This sometimes happens when the lake water is relatively warm and the air is super cold. These waterspouts aren't dangerous, and don't come on shore.

But if you dress warmly and you can stand it, find a view along the southern reaches of Lake Champlain (Charlotte would be good) and see if you can spot any funnels.

As mentioned yesterday, North America is the world's cold spot for now. Nowhere else in the world is nearly this far below normal. Central and southern Canada, and the northeastern half of the United States are the only real super cold spots in the world right now, at least compared to average.

To even things out, central Asia, parts of eastern Europe, parts of Siberia, southern Australia and northern Alaska right now are super warm compared to average for this time of year.

This frigid pattern still looks like it will last through at least the first week of January. Temperatures in Vermont and elsewhere will wax and wane a bit through the period, but generally stay at least 20 degrees below normal for most of the time.

Unfortunately, one of the more intense periods of cold looks like it will come on New Year's Eve. Remember how we were talking about the possibility of a nor'easter this weekend? Ain't going to happen. But a storm will form way off the New England coast and head northeastward away from the region while strengthening in the open waters of the Atlantic.
Warm thoughts on a cold day. As temperatures
 fell into the minus teens around my house in
St. Albans, Vermont, the Johnny's Seeds
catalog came in the mail to provide warm thoughts

That set up will increase northerly winds over the region Sunday, and also tug down another shot of pure North Pole air for New Year's Eve.

So if you're going to First Night or anything else on New Year's Eve, expect actual air temperatures to drop below zero by around sunset or even before. The winds will stay up all night, so wind chills could easily be in the 20s and 30s below zero.

You'll want to dress very warmly and be extremely careful New Year's Eve. I totally don't mean to be a Carrie Nation type scold, but remember, too, that alcohol makes you more susceptible to the cold, and impairs your judgement, so you might not go inside to get warm soon enough. Just keep that in mind.

A couple of other tips: Keep the gas tank full in your car. That increases the chances that it will actually start in these frigid mornings. Also, don't leave the dogs outside for that long.

Yeah, they're furry, but the pups still get dangerously cold quickly in this weather. Sure let 'em out to do their business and run around for a few minutes, but they can't take long periods of time outdoors.

There are hints it might briefly turn "warmer" for a day or two around next Wednesday when afternoon temperatures could, ahem, soar into the upper teens above zero.

We'll see.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Severe Cold And Big Lake Effect Snows Will Probably Prompt Climate Arguments, Again

The six to 10 day forecast into the beginning of January
keeps the eastern United States quite cold. 
We're now in the heart of a long, long Arctic cold wave in much of the eastern two thirds of the nation that will close out 2017 and begin the first several days of 2018.

Wind chill advisories and warnings this morning extended from Montana to Maine and south as far as Kansas.

Locally, here in Vermont, winter chill advisories are up in the "warmer" valleys like the Champlain, and wind chill warnings are up elsewhere. It's too bad it's so cold: Ski conditions for the holiday week in the mountains are actually quite good. Better than most years.

Now that we've got the long, long, cold wave established and we're still getting those lake effect snows, activists who concentrate on climate change are going to be making noise again.

I'll give you the bottom line first, then the explanation:

For those of you who say all this cold and lake effect, deep snows are "proof" that the climate isn't warming, you're wrong.

For those of you way all this persistent cold and record breaking snows are signs of climate change, you're not wrong, exactly, but I think you could be overdoing it.

First of all, I have to give the usual statement before I dive into this whole thing: Individual weather events in small parts of the world are very rarely a clear signal of climate change, though they can be influenced by the phenomenon.

Also, to state the obvious, winter cold waves like this one have always happened with or without climate change. Arctic blasts in the winter are perfectly normal. As are lake effect snowstorms near the Great Lakes.

This is, of course, a very strong cold wave. International Falls, Minnesota had a record low of 36 below this morning, and the town of Cotton, Minnesota made if to 41 below.

As cold waves go, this one is covering a pretty big area, too. It goes most of the way across southern Canada, and covers, or will cover all but the southwestern 25 percent of the United States.

But in the grand scheme of things, even that vast cold area isn't all that big when you take the entire Earth into consideration.

So if it's cold where you are, you are not experiencing the whole world. You're freezing your ass off. That's not global warming. It's just bad luck where you are, if you hate cold weather.

Even though this cold wave will last up to two weeks in some places, that's not climate. It's weather. People always tell us to think of it this way, and it make sense: Climate is nature's personality, weather is her mood. In other words, good natured people are occasionally angry. Weather sometimes very briefly goes against decades long trends. No big deal.

Now, could this weather set up be a perverse symptom of climate change? Well, possibly, but there's a lot of more mundane things at work here, too.

Let's look at that epic, record shattering lake effect snowstorm in Erie, Pennsylvania, the one that dumped 60 inches of snow on the city in two days. Lake effect snows, as I've said, are normal. Cold air sweeps across the relatively warm waters of the lakes, easily picks up moisture and deposits that moisture on the shore as snow.

Lake effect storms usually arrange themselves in narrow bands. In the middle of these snow bands, it's a zero visibility blizzard. Five miles on either side of these bands, the sun might be shining. Often, but not always, these snow bands move north or south, east or west a little bit, depending on the prevailing wind, so no one place stays in the heavy snow.  
Erie, Pennsylvania was buried under 60 inches of snow
in two days. Photo by Greg Wohlford, Erie Times Union

Sometimes the snow bands do stay in one position. And if the wind comes from a direction that is most efficient at picking up moisture from the lake, the result is incredible amounts of snow.

That's what happened in Erie. The band of snow stayed positioned over the city, and the direction of the wind was perfect for manufacturing LOTS of snow.

So that's the main reason why Erie got clobbered. However, there is a legitimate climate change angle to all this. If the overall air temperature in the Great Lakes are warmer, despite the occasional cold snap, the lakes will be warmer, too. Warmer lakes mean more moisture can get into the air, making the lake effect snowstorms that much more intense.

Also, lake effect doesn't work if the lakes are frozen over. The cold winds can't pick up moisture from the lake water if that water is sealed off from the atmosphere by ice. As Climate Central points out, if it's an overall warmer winter, the lakes don't freeze as quickly, and you have more opportunities for lake effect snows on the occasions it does turn cold.

Now what about this extended cold spell? Is climate change influencing it? Well, it's possible, but certainly not definite. Cold waves lasting this long have always occured on occasion, so this isn't some weird unprecedented climate change disaster.

However, there is some scientific evidence that a relative lack of sea ice in the Arctic, as we are experiencing now, can help weather patterns in the mid-latitudes where we live get "stuck" so a particular kind of weather would last longer than it otherwise would.

It's been a very warm winter once again in the Arctic, so ice cover up there is below normal. That means it's within the realm of possibility that this cold wave here is lasting longer than it otherwise would.

I have no idea if that's actually the case right now, and I doubt any scientist yet knows, either. But it's definitely something for people smarter than me to study, to really understand if melting Arctic ice is messing with weather patterns much further south.

Meanwhile, stay nice and bundled up. You're going to be cold for awhile!



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Philippines Typhoon Kills Up To 240 People

Destruction from Typhoon Tembin in the Philippines
 this past week. 
While we're shivering our timbers in the Northeast U.S., the nearly never-ending typhoon season in the western Pacific continues onward. (This is normal, they get occasional typhoons for much of the year.)

Unlike the very destructive Atlantic hurricane season the tropical storm and typhoon season in the western Pacific was relatively tame in 2017, especially compared to recent years.

However, a tropical storm that later became a minimal typhoon named Tembin caused a terrible, deadly disaster over Christmas weekend in the Philippines. This storm's deadly punch came in the form of torretial rains that triggered flash floods and mudslides, killing somewhere between 160 and 250 people in the southern part of the nation.  (There is still some confusion on the number.)

Typhoon Tembin capped a terribly tragic Christmas season in the Philippines. Another typhoon killed 50 people and damaged or destroyed 10,000 or so homes in the central part of the nation a little over a week ago. Another storm sank a ferry this month to the northeast, killing five people. And in another tragedy not related to the weather, a shopping mall and office building fire claimed at least 37 lives. 

Typhoon Tembin threatened Vietnam, forcing evacuations there, but the typhoon dramatically weakened and ultimately steered clear of Vietnam, so it caused little damage and no injuries there.

According to the Category 6 weather blog, another typhoon might form in the western Pacific over the next couple of days and threaten the Philippines by around New Year's Day.



Into The Deep Freeze, For A Very Long Time

Increasing winds begin to blow powdery snow off of
pine trees Christmas afternoon after a morning storm left
six inches of new snow in West Rutland, Vermont 
We had a very nice Christmas morning snowfall here in Vermont, and a brief, but violent stormy burst around Boston with an hour long bout of gale force winds, super heavy snow, thunder and lightning.

All that Christmas fun is gone now, but we're in to the very, very deep freeze and it's going to last awhile from the Plains to the Northeast. And the Great Lakes effect snows are epic. More on that in a minute.

Here in Vermont, the temperature is going down, down, down. The cold wave will begin in earnest tonight, and last until, I'd say around January 5 or so. That's a long time.

The cold through January 5 will wax and wane over time, but it will be much colder than normal throughout. The first especially rough patch begins tomorrow and goes into Saturday. We're talking highs in the single numbers at best and lows in the teens below zero through the period.

The cold might relax just a tad over the weekend, then get super, super nasty again after that.

At this point, it doesn't look like we will be getting much snow through the period. Just a snow shower or interval of snow from time to time as reinforcing shots of Arctic air arrive from time to time.

An aptly-named business near Erie, Pennsylvania after lake
effect snows dumped an incredible 53 inches of snow on the
city over two days. 
The European weather computer models are still suggesting a nor'easter this weekend, but at this point, it looks like that storm will probably be too far south and east to give Vermont much of anything. It still bears watching, though, as it's possible it could still come close enough.

The most likely people to be affected by this potential storm are in far eastern New England.

After a warm early autumn, the Great Lakes are relatively warm and the contrast between that water and the frigid Arctic air is creating some epic lake effect snows.

Erie, Pennsylvania is really in the news today because of their epic lake effect storm. They had a least 53 inches of snow since yesterday. That sets a new record for the most intense snowstorm in Pennsylvania history. The previous record for that big a storm in Erie was in the 1890s, but it took 13 days, not two, to get up to 53 inches.

Erie has had 92 inches of snow so far in December (!!!!) Their annual average snowfall is 99 inches, so definitely, yikes!  They had as much snow in 36 hours as they normally do during the entire months of December and January.

Further north, in the famous snow belts in the Tug Hill Plateau near Watertown, New York, a lake effect storm total of up to six feet of new powder or more is expected by Wednesday night.

See? It could be worse here in Vermont. How would you like to shovel six feet of snow while it's 20 below?

We'll survive this.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Very Quick Christmas Eve Storm Update

Christmas Eve forecast from the National Weather Service
in South Burlington. Still looking at four to eight inches
of fresh fluff. Looks like the least could be near Rutland
ad the most in the southern Green Mountains and
Northeast Kingdom 
On my way to visit relatives this evening, so here's a quickie update to our upcoming snowfall. You won't see a post from me again until Tuesday as I will be off celebrating Christmas.

We're still looking at a widespread four to eight inch snowfall across Vermont Christmas Day.

A couple picky little things with the forecasty that are becoming apparent:

As the National Weather Service in South Burlington notes, the wind will come out of the southeast for the early part of the storm, lasting until about 7 or 8 a.m. or so Christmas morning. This could sharply limit the amount of snow that falls during this time along the immediate western slopes of the Green Mountains.

It looks like there's the possibility of a particularly intense burst of snow somewhere between midmorning and early afternoon across at least parts of Vermont. Snow during this time frame could come down at a rate of an inch or two per hour. Pretty darn heavy.

Winds will pick up as the snow tapers off late Christmas afternoon. While it won't be snowing nearly as hard by then, the snow that's coming is going to be light and fluffy. Expect LOTS of blowing and drifting, with patches of badly reduced visibility, snow drifts and continued slick roads.

The big Arctic blast we've been planning on is still a go, starting during the day or evening Tuesday and going right into the weekend.

Next weekend has a lot of BIG question marks. We know it will be quite cold then. But will there be a chance of light snow or snow showers from weak little storms coming in from the west, or will there be a big nor'easter on the coast to give us a lot of snow. The European model is going with the nor'easter, while the other models are in Meh! mood with just those light snows.

I have no idea which model is right. Neither does anybody else. So just keep that one in your back pocket for awhile.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

A REALLY White Christmas Is Set For Vermont, Rest Of The Region

The National Weather Service in South Burlington,
Vermont is still forecasting a general four to eight inch
snowfall across Vermont on Christmas Day. A winter
storm warning is in effect. 
As of Sunday morning, it looks like the roads are getting cleaned up fairly well after the rain, freezing rain and snow of Saturday. That gets us a chance to do last minute stuff and travel before the next winter storm hits.

It's going to be a very, very white Christmas in Vermont. And this second half of December appears to be the opening weeks of what is increasingly looking like a harsh winter. We shall see.

It's certainly been somewhat harsh lately, with cold snaps and icy, snowy precipitation events coming fast and furiously for the past couple of weeks. And it's getting more harsh.

All that freezing rain, rain, followed by snow and rapidly falling temperatures late Saturday afternoon and evening caused lots of travel nightmares across much of Vermont. There were lots of slideoffs and accidents. Firetrucks couldn't even make it up a hill in Winooski to respond to problems.

OK, that's done. Now we're facing a Christmas Day winter storm warning for northeastern New York, northern Massachusetts and all of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. (Upgraded from yesterday's winter storm watch.)

Expect widespread accumulations of four to 10 inches across this region, with locally more as you head off into northeastern Maine.

This is all caused by storm that has laid down a stripe of snow across the central Plains and into the Ohio Valley. The storm will come out of the Ohio Valley and start getting into New England early Christmas morning.

From there, a nor'easter will rapidly form on the New England coast and take over before zipping on up into the Canadian Maritimes toward Christmas evening.

The snow will start after midnight tonight, so driving around this evening will still be OK. Christmas morning, not so much. The snow will taper off in the afternoon, so things might not quite as bad on the roads toward Christmas evening. However, you'll also have to contend with some blowing and drifting snow as winds pick up.

There's still ice on the trees in many parts of eastern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, so the winds could knock down some more branches and power lines, but I don't think the problem will be too widespread. Luckily, the snow that comes with the Christmas storm will be light and powdery, so it will blow off tree branches rather than weigh them down further.

After this storm goes by the doors open for the long-advertised Arctic outbreak. It will get increasingly cold Tuesday, and be absolutely brutal Wednesday through Saturday a least. Look for highs barely getting to zero, if that, and lows in the teens below zero region wide. There will be some areas in the 20s below.

As noted yesterday, this cold will last awhile. It might moderate some, at least temporarily in about a week, but the overall pattern well into January favors colder than normal weather.   Yeah, as if we all love paying a billion dollars per second on our heating bills, right?

Whether this will be accompanied by any other substantial snowfalls is anybody's guess. On the one hand, the pattern well into January favors storm development along or off the Eastern Seaboard. On the other hand the Arctic air coming in from the north and west is so heavy and strong that it could easily keep any storms that do form well south and east of our region, so we would not get all that much snow.   We'll have to wait on that.

The lake effect snow machine will certainly go nuts for at least the next few days. Some areas of western New York, especially near and south of Watertown off of Lake Ontario, can expect three or four feet of lake effect snow, possibly locally even more than that, by Wednesday. Yikes!

Whether you like winter or not, we're going to get plenty of it. And whether or not you like winter, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Evening Storm Update: Stay Off Roads This Evening; New Storm To Sock Us Christmas Day

Here's an initial forecast for the amount of snow expected on
Christmas Day - this from the National Weather Service in
South Burlington. At this point, it looks like most of Vermont
is in for six or seven inches of snow on Christmas.
As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, rain and freezing rain in the northern Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont had changed to snow, and this changeover was working its way steadily south and east and will encompass most of the state through this evening.

By the way, that light predicted Christmas snowfall I was talking about this morning ain't so light anymore. There's a winter storm watch out for the region on Christmas Day for what now appears will be a mid-sized storm. More on that in a bit.

First, let's get through what happened today and what's happening this evening. Gawd, it was an awful day weatherwise through northern New York, the northern two-thirds of New England and southern Ontario and Quebec.

There was lots of freezing rain for most or all of the day, especially in parts of northern New York, eastern and central Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and a good chunks of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

As expected, the Connecticut River Valley in Vermont was included in the zone that really got socked by the freezing rain. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without power from just south of St. Johnsbury all the way down to the Brattleboro area.

Even in places that got a cold, but ostensibly non-freezing rain today, like the central and southern Champlain Valley of Vermont, the ground was chilly enough that even though the air temperature was something like 35 degrees, the rain froze on roads, sidewalks, parking lots and the like. It was nasty.

There were tons of car accidents and crashes, road closures and the like throughout the region,  As expected, enough freezing rain fell on parts of New Hampshire an Maine that there were some issues with tree branches and power lines failing under the weight of the accumulated ice.

If the freezing rain hasn't changed to snow yet where you are, it soon will. It won't amount to much in most locations - I suppose one to three inches will do it. But as temperatures drop below freezing, the falling snow combined with the water freezing, will make it bad for driving and walking this evening.

I noticed during the height of the rain this afternoon that there was a bit of street flooding in Burlington, Vermont due to snow-clogged drains. Those big puddles freezing up will be pretty interesting by Sunday morning.

If you need to travel in Vermont or through most of New England or eastern New York this weekend, you've got a narrow, safe window of opportunity tomorrow - Christmas Eve. The road crews will have been out by morning, and there will be little if any precipitation to speak of.

But now, let's get into the Christmas Day snow.

It looks like the storm on Christmas Day will be a little stronger and a little closer to the coast than many forecasters thought earlier. That means more snow.

This still won't be a blockbuster, but there is enough expected snow to prompt winter storm watches for wide areas of the Northeast, including much of New England away from the coast of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Ice accumulates on tree branches in Lowell, Massachusetts
on Saturday. Photo via television station WCVB

Here in Vermont and surrounding areas, look for a general four to eight inch snowfall - the least to the northwest and the most to the south and east and higher elevations. The snow will begin in earnest in the wee hours of the morning Christmas and continue for most if not all of the day.

This still looks like a well-behaved storm with no sleet or freezing rain in inland areas like Vermont, interior New Hampshire and western Maine. Still, the roads will be slick all day so watch out for that.

Vermont ski areas must be rejoicing. They got some good dumps of snow, then some rain and freezing rain to help establish bases today, then more powder tonight and Christmas.

Here's the only drawback for skiers, and the rest of us. It's going to be frickin' COLD during the middle and end of next week. We're talking highs barely making it above zero and lows in the teens below zero, with some isolated cold spots.

Unlike the cold waves of the past couple of winters that only lasted a day or two, this one starts Tuesday and goes at least into next weekend.

Computer models are also hinting at some sort of nor'easter with maybe, just maybe, the potential of some decent snows somewhere in the Northeast or Middle Atlantic States. It's way too soon to pin down who, if anyone will get the bulk of the snow out of that potential storm.  Don't pay serious attention to forecasts that offer specifics of this potential storm until at least Thursday.

Anyone who tells you they know precisely where and how much heavy snow will fall next weekend is, um, snowing you.

Saturday Morning Storm Update: Slushy, Icy Today, Little More Powder On Christmas

Roads weren't so bad in Winooski, Vermont as of 8 a.m.
this Saturday morning, but freezing rain and rain was moving in.
Phase Two of our winter storm comes today, and there have some modest changes in the forecast for Vermont today. 
Winter storm warnings are downgraded somewhat to winter weather advisories. That's mostly because we're not looking at much more snow accumulation, but it will still be slick today, especially east of the Green Mountains and regionwide late this afternoon.

It does look like the freezing rain and sleet will probably transition to a cold rain west of the Green Mountains, and a few places to the east as well.

It was already 32 degrees in Burlington, Vermont as of 8 a.m., which is somewhat encouraging for rain versus freezing rain. Still, the temperature might drop a bit at the onset of the heavier precipitation. And surface temperatures are cold. Expect at least some ice.

 However, quite a few areas, especially in areas sheltered from the south winds east of the Greens, will keep going with the freezing rain.

In New England, I think the worst areas for freezing rain will be the Connecticut River Valley, central and southwestern New Hampshire, southwestern Maine and maybe north-central Massachusetts.

Already, a wave of freezing rain this morning has caused chaos in Massachusetts, including the Boston metro area. Parts of Interstate 95 were closed this morning due to multiple crashes.

Just to be on the safe side, if you have any travel plans on the roads, it's best to do it Sunday, when the weather will temporarily be quieter.

The rain will change to snow from west to east this afternoon and early evening, so that's when things will go downhill on the roads today for the entire area. Though to be clear, it's not so wonderful this Saturday morning, with patches of light sleet and freezing rain around.

The bulk of the precipitation was still off to the south before dawn today, though, so the real period of mix and rain and ice and yuck will come through later this morning and afternoon.

I don't think the snow this evening will amount to a huge amount - maybe a dusting to three inches, with locally more in the mountains. Just a little powder to frost the soggy, crusty stuff we'll be left with by the end of the day.

By the way, the amount of snow that fell Friday on Vermont was just about what was forecast. Most places got three to six inches of snow. Waterbury Center was the winner, with over nine inches. There was also an area of the central Champlain Valley that usually loses out on the snow champion title that got quite a bit. I see there was at least eight inches of new fluff around Ferrisburgh, for example.

The forecast for the next storm on Christmas Day has so far changed little. It won't snow hard, but the fluff will come down most of the day. It will contribute to the proper mood for the holiday, but if at all possible, I'd get to your destination Sunday evening rather than wait and drive Christmas morning.

I'm still quite certain it will turn brutally cold from Tuesday and especially Wednesday onward into next weekend. There are some suggestions there could be a cold snow toward the end of the week or the weekend but that's highly uncertain, and I wouldn't worry too much about it at this point. Just get ready for the Arctic blast. I hope Santa brings you something really warm to wear!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Quick Friday Evening Update: Round Two Of Vermont Storm To Be Messier

A pleasant steady snow, fitting for the holiday season, fell on
Burlington, Vermont's Intervale Friday. Get ready for some
uglier winter weather starting Saturday. 
As I'm writing this, it's 6 p.m. Friday evening, and I trust a lot of you have made it home safely.  

We're nearing the end of the kinder, gentler Phase 1 of this two phase winter storm. Too bad we just can't stop at this. It's very Christmas-y out there.

That's true even though we had dozens of people slide off Vermont roads today amidst the snow. I'm sure in some cases it was nobody's fault, but there's a few of you out there that, ahem, have lived in Vermont for decades and still haven't figured out that ice is slippery.

Anyway, Friday featured a nice, light fluffy snow, and fairly calm winds. The snow has piled up on the trees and everything else, and it's very Currier and Ives out there.

But of course, we're talking Mother Nature, and she's going to destroy this idyllic scene. Or at least damage it. And she's still going to annoy us with ice and mixed precipitation on Saturday.

So far, we've generally gotten two to six inches of snow across most of Vermont. Burlington is closing in on six inches, but I just got home to my place in St. Albans, less than 30 miles north of Burlington, and I only have 2.1 inches of new snow. That's OK. Still pretty, and two inches of fluff is easy to shovel off the driveway.

The snow is tapering off, and will just come in light fits and starts tonight, and begin to mix with sleet overnight, too. That sets the stage for what could be a really ugly Saturday. Sorry.

The next, stronger wave of precipitation will sweep into Vermont Saturday morning and continue through the day. The anticipation stil is that the western half of the state will have sleet, freezing rain, then maybe a few hours of cold rain before things go back to snow in the afternoon or evening.

Many eastern areas might not get above freezing, which raises the alarm for quite a bit of ice accumulation from freezing rain. Most places east of the Greens will probably get only a tenth of an inch of ice accumulation. That makes the roads a dangerous skating rink, but not enough to bring down trees and power lines.

But a few places could still see a quarter to a third of an inch of ice accumulation, which could bring down some branches and power lines. Like I said this morning, nothing like the epic ice storm of 1998, but still not good.

At some point Saturday afternoon, colder air will start moving in, and the rain or ick will change to snow from west to east across the region. It's hard to say exactly when this will happen, but road conditions will rapidly deteriorate as this happens.

That's especially true in areas that go to a plain, cold rain west of the Greens earlier Saturday. I'm writing off the areas east of the Greens as a travel nightmare all day. In the Champlain Valley, there might, maybe be a late morning/early afternoon window in which we'll get just a plain, cold rain, and the roads won't be too bad if you have late breaking Christmas errands.

But the roads will rapidly get bad as rain changes to snow, and a lot of people might be caught out on the roads as they get super slippery super fast. Again, I'm not sure exactly what time this will happen Saturday afternoon or early evening, but beware.

Needless to say, winter storm warnings remain in effect through Saturday evening across Vermont. 

The snow will taper to flurries later Saturday night. Sunday - Christmas Eve - still looks quiet. But we're still looking at snow to redevelop late Sunday night and continue through much of Christmas Day.

I'm still thinking the Christmas snow won't be a blockbuster, but perhaps there will be one to six inches of snow, the least off to the northwest, the most in the higher elevations in southern Vermont.

On top of that, it still looks like it will start to turn brutally cold Tuesday or Wednesday, and this will last awhile. At least beyond Friday. Though by no means will this be the worst cold wave Vermont has ever endured, it probably will be the most intense and longest such Arctic outbreak since at least February, 2015, or February 2014.

That Big Messy Christmas Weekend Winter Storm In Vermont Just Got Bigger, Messier

Updated forecasts call for generally six to 12 inches of
new snow and ice over the region by Sunday morning.
Click on the map to make it bigger and easier to see.
I hope you've got a strong back and a strong constitution: The storm coming in today and Saturday for Vermont and surrounding regions looks like it'll be a nasty one.

At least nastier than we originally thought. On the big bright side, we're now guaranteed a white Christmas.

The National Weather  Service for the past 12 to 18 hours or so have been busily upgraded the winter weather advisories in Vermont to winter storm warnings, which now cover the entire state.

Expect a storm total six to 12 inches of snow, along with some ice. Ick.

Winter storm warnings are also up for much of eastern New York and southern and central New Hampshire. 

This storm is coming in two waves. The first is sort of easy-ish to forecast, but the second phase is a bear.

Let's break it down. A surge of moisture today is causing snow to break out. It was already snowing through central New York and southern Vermont before dawn today, and that will work its way north. Through the day and into the evening, expect a general three to five inches of snow for most of Vermont. (As usual, a few towns might get slightly less, and a couple of other towns will probably hit the jackpot and receive more, but you get the idea.)

That snow will taper to areas of snow flurries and freezing drizzle late tonight, in anticipation of very messy Round 2 on Saturday.

I'm as amazed as the National Weather Service in South Burlington that computer models earlier in the week had us at 50 degrees with rain on Saturday, now, this. By this, I mean a complicated mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and maybe rain on Saturday, with temperatures during the day near the 32 degrees.

What exactly will fall from the sky in any particular spot at any particular time in Vermont and surrounding areas is almost impossible to say. Forcasters are trying, but I think it's just best to go with the broad brush: Mixed precipitation on Saturday wherever you are. Could be freezing rain one minute the next, sleet a minute later, maybe some snow, maybe some cold non-freezing rain.

Overall, the worst of the ice will be in the eastern half of Vermont and into New Hampshire. There, the temperature is less likely to sneak above freezing for any time at all, so freezing rain will pile up on cars, trees and power lines.

Bad roads are the main concern with this, but there might be enough ice in a few spots in eastern and central Vermont, much of New Hampshire and into parts of New York and northern Massachusetts were some branches and electrical lines could snap under the weight of the ice. I don't believe this will be a devastating, multi-day disaster with power failures, but it will be inconvenient for some, for sure.

Ice will be a problem all the way into Maine and parts of the Maritime Provinces of Canada, too. Maybe also parts of southern Quebec.

All this slop will change back to snow Saturday night, with a few more inches of accumulation.  As I said, the grand total of snow, sleet and ice accumulation looks like it will be in the six to 12 inch category.

It'll be pretty much over by Sunday morning, but the cleanup will be back-breaking, with all that wet snow, ice, slush and mess to get rid of.  If you're older and out of shape, put a teenager to work cleaning that up. This is not worth a Christmas heart attack.

Then there's Christmas. It's still uncertain, but current projections are that the expected new storm will be fairly weak and to the east. That said, it will very likely snow on Christmas Day, and the roads will turn slick again. At this point, anyway, we're not expecting a huge new accumulation, but it sees like we'll get a little additional snow, anyway.

If you're not exhausted from all that, the door opens to an Arctic blast next week. By Thursday, high temperatures will stay at or below zero, and nighttime lows will be in the minus teens. Then add the wind chill factor to that. Brrrr!!!!

By the way, it's too soon to get into details, but the weather pattern appears to favor very cold weather and possible bouts of storminess continuing right into the second week of January. Are we shaping up for a tough winter? Not sure yet but it's beginning to look like that.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Complicated, Messy Christmas Weekend Weather On Our Doorstep

Here's what the National Weather Service in South
Burlington, Vermont is thinking for snow accumulation
Friday. The most will fall in southern Vermont. Click on
the image to make it bigger and easier to see. 
If you want a day to travel or finish your errands here in Vermont before Christmas today's your day.

Sure, it's kinda chilly out, but there will be a fair amount of sun. Roads are pretty clear. The only
chance of precipitation is maybe, just maybe a flurry over the mountains or near Lake Champlain.

Then it's a mess for days. At least I think so. Christmas Day remains a HUGE iffy wild card. More on that in a minute.

Let's get through the first wave of storminess first. This first wave, due Friday and early Friday night here in the North Country will almost exclusively come in the form of snow. It's a repeat of this past Monday, except more snow will come down in most places than on Monday.

Expect a general three to seven inches of new snow. The most will come down in south central Vermont, especially in the mountains roughly between Rutland and White River Junction. The least amount will hit near the border with Canada.

It's all enough to prompt a winter weather advisory for Friday. The morning commute might be tricky in southern Vermont. It'll be a slow mess region wide Friday evening, so get ready for that.

That's round one, which will peter off to scattered freezing drizzle late Friday night.

Round two comes Saturday, and that one will be a real mess. Before I get into it, do understand that temperatures will be pretty marginal on Saturday - right near the freezing mark - so things will probably not work out exactly as forecast then. But it's enough in the general sense to be prepared for some rough travel, and some extremely icy conditions in some areas.

As it stands now, mixed precipitation will probably change to a cold rain over western Vermont and  most of eastern New York during the day Saturday. Messy, and an icy morning, but perhaps not the end of the world.

I'm definitely worried about the St. Lawrence Valley of New York, the eastern half of Vermont, especially the Northeast Kingdom and a large chunk of central New Hampshire. In these areas, precipitation has a really good chance of staying in the form of freezing rain and sleet.
Here's one computer model's take on the freezing rain
potential Saturdau. The deepest pinks are where
the thickest accumulation of ice is expected -
a quarter inch or more. 

That's because cold high pressure is going to keep feeding low level cold air down from the north into this region. Meanwhile, a surge of very warm air will ride up and over this cold low level air. A perfect recipe for freezing rain, even an ice storm.

It's possible that ice could accumulate to a thickness of a quarter to a half inch in a few places in the colder areas I just outlined. Not only is that enough to make the roads dangerous, it's also beginning to get into the territory where the weight of ice could bring down trees and power lines.

On the bright side, one storm on Saturday will come up into New York State and weaken, while a second storm forms along the New England Coast. Neither will really fully get their acts together, so precipitation won't be quite as heavy as it otherwise could have been.

Still, I'm certain new winter weather advisories or other winter weather alerts will go up for the region on Saturday. They haven't yet only because the National Weather Service doesn't want to confuse people because they already have advisories up for Friday's snow.

Back here in Vermont, the cold rain will likely change back to snow Saturday night, then taper off, but not before accumulating at least some. Plus all the water will freeze back up, and the ice from the storm will stay put.

Definitely dangerous underfoot for walking beginning Saturday and lasting into the foreseeable future.

On Sunday, it looks like we'll be between systems, so that might be the time to sneak off to your destination. It won't be perfect. I imagine there might be sone snow showers around, plus we're all have that remaining ice on the ground to deal with.

Then we get to Christmas Day, and there's still a huge number of question marks surrounding the potential for maybe, just maybe a substantial snowstorm. The American computer models don't develop much of anything, and push whatever forms well south and east on Vermont. Translation: The American models aren't forecasting any major snows for Vermont on Christmas Day.

The European Model, however, brings a nor'easter along the New England coast and dumps a lot of Christmas Day snow on Vermont. However, the European model did trend a bit east this morning, which would cut back on the snow here in the Green Mountain State. We'll see if that eastward bump is a trend, or just a blip.

The bottom line is it's still anyone's guess as to what will happen with the weather on Christmas Day.

Elsewhere in the nation, bitter cold air is surging into the northern Plains and will gradually spread south and east. Parts of North Dakota and Minnesota won't get above zero from Sunday evening to at least Wednesday.

That cold air will arrive here in Vermont starting next Tuesday, which means a round of subzero nights for us next week.

In southern California, unbelievably, the fire risk continues amid strangely dry conditions. The highest threats are today and Sunday, when winds are forecast to be strongest.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Quick Update: What To Expect With Vermont Weather Leading To Christmas

It's possible some areas aroud the region could be icy like
this on Saturday. Stay tuned to forecasts and travel alerts. 
This is pretty much an update of yesterday's post, as everybody is keenly interested in what kind of weather we'll have to deal with here in Vermont leading up to and through Christmas. There's a few changes, and I'm sure a few more changes are in the offing.  

And once we get to Christmas Day, the uncertainty of what will happen is way above average.

The details, with notes on how confident I am in the forecast each day:

REST OF TODAY: Partly cloudy, breezy, turning colder. Some snow showers around, mainly in the mountains and mainly before mid afternoon. Some icy patches on the roads as temperatures drop and water freezes. Forecaster confidence: High

THURSDAY: Quiet and cold. Some increase in afternoon clouds. A north breeze will slacken to near calm. Forecaster confidence: High.

FRIDAY: Basically a repeat of Monday. Light snow will overspread the area. We're looking at a general one to three inch snowfall, with locally higher amounts in the mountains. Both the morning and afternoon commutes will be affected by slippery roads. Forecaster confidence: Moderately high.

FRIDAY NIGHT: Snow gradually mixes with sleet and freezing rain, especially late at night. Forecaster confidence: Moderate.

SATURDAY: Forecast models are trending the storm further east and locking in the cold air more aggressively than they did a few days ago. The storm will probably still go by just to the west of Vermont. Look for a messy day with snow, ice, and rain. Freezing rain will last the longest east of the Green Mountains, and might not change to plain rain at all in New York's St. Lawrence Valley and possibly parts of the Northeast Kingdom.

It still looks like there will be a period of plain rain, especially in western Vermont and much of eastern New York. This could change, though, if the storm keeps trending further east. At least it looks like not all the snow on the ground will melt. Earlier forecasts suggested it would. Earlier in the week, I thought it might be 50 degrees or more on Saturday. Now it looks like it'll be in the 30s to near 40.  Forecaster confidence: Low to moderate.

SUNDAY (Christmas Eve) Looks like we'll be between systems, though that's not certain. It will be colder than Saturday, so any precipitation that does come down will very likely be snow. At this point, it just looks like scattered snow showers during the day. Forecaster confidence: Fairly low

MONDAY: (Christmas Day) Huge amounts of uncertainty here. Forecast models are all over the place with storminess in the Northeast. Some forecast models give us a decent day long Christmas snowfall, a few other models give us an ugly mix of precipitation, and still others take the storm too far to the south  and east to affect Vermonte at all.  Some real big question marks here. Stay tuned on this one. Forecaster confidence: Very low. 

AFTER CHRISTMAS: A nasty surge of Arctic air will have gotten into the Northern Plains and Great Lakes by Christmas weekend. Looks like that cold air will come in from Tuesday onward net week. I'm not sure how cold it will get, but it will certainly be colder than normal, with subzero temperatures a good bet. Forecaster confidence: Moderate.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

No Escaping Rough Christmastime Weather Across The Nation

Will kids be test driving their new sleds Christmas
morning in our area, like these youngsters? It all depends
upon how a busy weather pattern works itself out between
now and December 25. 
You might have to forgive me in this post, as I will be jumping around between updates on some very changeable weather that will continue for the next week or more here in Vermont, and some Christmastime weather and travel hazards going on across the rest of the nation.

Christmastime is a busy time of year anyway, and Mother Nature is definitely getting into the act. She's going to be very busy and keeping us very busy through Christmast and the end of the year.

Locally in northern New England, the current storm, a weak-ish one, has behaved so far largely as expected. There was a general one to three inch snowfall yesterday afternoon and evening across northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Things were going over to rain showers this morning, though there was still freezing rain (ugh!) in New York's St. Lawrence Valley.

It will be thawish around here today, with light rain showers and mild temperatures, but that won't last long. More on that in a minute. I told you I'd be jumping around.

Across the southern United States, from Texas to Georgia, there's a LOT of fog around. That's not helping with the aftermath of the big power failure Sunday at Atlanta's major hub of an airport. They're trying to clear a backlog of stranded passengers from that event, and the widespread fog is delaying even more flights. Another ugh.

Back to us here in Vermont: The warm, and in some places windy weather today will be replaced by a cold front today that will bring temperatures back a little below normal by Wednesday night. (Temperatures will get below freezing tonight, and either fall or hold steady during the day Wednesday.)

That, and the cold weather predicted for Thursday is just what we told you about in Sunday's post, so again, so far, accurate enough.

The further out you get in a forecast, the less likely it will match reality. We did say there would be another temperature swing by Saturday and it would thaw again. That remains true, but the Friday and Saturday storm will turn out to be messy, just as I has worried about.

Again, this is subject to change, but here's the current scenario. The Friday and Saturday storm is still expected to go by to the west of New England,  putting us on the warm side of the storm. However, the storm will be a little closer to us than first expected, so it won't be quite as warm as we first thought, and it will be harder to scour out the cold air Friday night and early Saturday.

It looks like snow will overspread the area Friday and Friday night, then change to sleet and freezing rain. It will be especially tough for the cold air to retreat from the valleys of eastern Vermont, northern New Hampshire, northwestern Maine and the St. Lawrence Valley of New York, so late Friday and the first half of Saturday at this point look pretty ugly and icy for those regions.

A brief thaw will probably ensue Satuday afternoon and early evening, but instead of temperatures in the 50s, it'll be closer to 40 degrees in most places. Then another cold front comes through, and the weather gets super uncertain for Christmas Eve and especially Christmas Day around here.

A sharp Arctic outbreak is coming into the Northern Plains and Great Lakes area late this week and this weekend. It will initially have trouble pushing east. We don't yet know how much trouble. All we know at this point is there will probably be a sharp contrast east to west across the far eastern part of the United States, including New England.

Chances are, it might be springlike in Boston and Arctic in Burlington, but we don't know for sure yet. Making things more complicated, there will likely be storminess riding up along the East Coast on Christmas Day. We don't know yet how much precipitation there will be, who will get snow, who will get freezing rain, and who will get rain. The potential is high - but not certain - for a messy Christmas Day in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the nation is not going to catch a break for the days leading up to Christmas, Christmas Day, and the days leading up to New Year's Day.  After the fog clears in the south, areas of heavy rain, localized flash flooding and occasional threats of severe thunderstorms are likely in different parts of the South off and on today through Sunday.

That frigid air mass will keep things Arctic and below zero in parts of the Northern Plains and northern Great Lakes later this week and on Christmas weekend. On the bright side, it won't be the coldest Christmas ever, but it will still be a very Jack Frost type of holiday.

The fire threat in southern California has temporarily diminished, but will likely ramp up dramatically by the weekend, so their wildfire nightmare still isn't over yet.

Escaping to Hawaii? Good luck: The island chain is under a flash flood watch at least through late Wednesday night.

How about Alaska? They've been having what is for them record warmth. It'll stay warm up there for the next week at least, but much of that huge state is covered by a variety of winter weather, winter storm and blizzard warnings and advisories.

By the way, the weather pattern looks extremely active across almost the entire nation from Christmas onward through at least the first few days of 2018. Expect more weather news during your Christmas, and when you ring in the new year.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Easy Target, But I Love How This TV Meteorologist Destroys Flat Earthers

TV Meteorologist Keith Carson has had it with the Flat-Earthers. 
Apparently, believing that the Earth is flat, not round is the latest Big Thing.

Meteorologist Keith Carson of television stations WCSH and WLBZ in Maine, recently went off for five minutes on why the Flat Earthers are wrong. The YouTube video of Carson's rant went viral.

At first, you wonder why Carson would go after such a weird, unsustainable theory like "the Earth is flat."

But it looks like he decided just to have fun, plus he objects to the Flat Earthers raising money from the gullible, money that could go for more worthwhile things like cancer research. The rapper B.o.B, for instance, is trying to raise money to launch rockets that he said would "prove" the Earth is flat.

Alrighty, then.

Carson starts with the fact there are zillions of photos taken from space that show a round Earth. All fake, say the flat earthers. By the way, they don't have a solid conspiracy theory that the government is trying to hide the "fact that the Earth is flat, Carson points out.

It's just that - this is convoluted, as these things are - this round Earth idea is to try to make people used to and enthusiastically support space travel while the government tries to militarize space, or something like that.

And the flat earthers don't blame NASA. They just think the fine folks at NASA are simply unaware the Earth is flat. Or as Carson snarkily puts it: "Poor NASA. So clueless."

Carson concludes his piece: "Find the edge of the Earth, lean backwards ad prove to me that gravity is just another big lie."

Here's Carson's video. Totally worth the view:





Sunday, December 17, 2017

Heads Ups: Could Be Messy Travel Heading Into Next Christmas Weekend

I don't know if Christmas weekend travel will be as dicey as
in this photo, but there is a definitely potential for wintry storms
in Vermont and surrounding areas Friday through Christmas Day.
Christmas is a week from Monday already, and it's time to start traveling to visit friends and relatives. My husband flew off to South Dakota this morning. Luckily, there's no major weather issues in his flight path, so that's good.

Many of the rest of us won't be so lucky. It's looking rather stormy, especially in the eastern part of the country, as we head toward next weekend.

I'll mainly focus on here in Vermont and surrounding areas, at least at first. Expect some pretty big swings in temperatures and weather conditions all week as you finish your Christmas shopping and get set to travel.

It was certainly cold as heck this Sunday morning, as temperatures across most of the region dropped below zero again - the second time in a week that's happened.

It'll be a little better this afternoon - teens to around 20 - before other big changes come. It'll continue warming up Monday. That'll come with a price. It always does. There will be some snow showers around, maybe even some freezing drizzle as we keep warming well into the 20s.

Tuesday brings a brief thaw, with temperatures around 40, with showers. And some wet snow in the mountains. So it'll get sloppy and slushy.

Then another cold front comes through by Wednesday morning. It'll get pretty cold again, and Tuesday's slush will turn into sheets of ice. And crusty snow. Watch out under foot. It'll be slip and slide weather for you pedestrians Wednesday and Thursday. Roads could be kinda slippery Wednesday morning, too.

From there, big changes come again. Another storm system is expected to arrive Friday and Saturday. At this point, it looks like a warm one, at least around here. That probably means snow to icy precipitation to rain and back to snow at the end. This storm is nearly a week away, so it's hard to tell exactly what it's going to do. Stay tuned for updates, but what I've described looks like the scenario at this point.

Along the East Coast, it looks like there will be rain, with a fair amount of snow in the Great Lakes region. This storm should be over for almost everyone by Saturday afternoon and evening. However, some indications are that another storm could spread coastal rain and inland snow across the Northeast on Christmas Day.

There's even a chance it could be a fairly substantial snow. But looking at things eight days in advance, it's very hard to tell if that scenario will play out or not.  Could be a bust. Don't count on that storm yet, for sure. We'll see how it turns out.

It also looks like a very strong cold snap will begin to invade the Northern Plains and Great Lakes next weekend, and intensify on Christmas a few days thereafter. That very cold air will probably reach the Northeast after that maybe storm on Christmas. It's definitely looking like a very active weather pattern through the end of the year, and possibly into the beginning of 2018.