Big System, Big Blog!

March 6th, 2013 at 9:08 am by under Weather

We are in the middle of a strong storm system that will have some big impacts over several states including Virginia and North Carolin.  This morning the center of the storm was right over Emporia.  East of the low the winds were easterly and varied in speed.  This pulled in mild/moist air in off of the ocean.  You could see and feel the moisture in place. We had fog, rain showers, and even a few thunderstorms as some of the local instability increased.

Satellite/Radar This Morning

Winds have already gusted up to 40mph on the Eastern Shore.  The winds will pick up elsewhere later this morning and will gust up to 35mph out of the southwest.  Rain showers will be on and off through the afternoon.  We will see a little wintry mix (pink on map below) in some of the inland/western cities in our viewing area through the afternoon.

Future Trak (3pm)

Temperatures this morning were in the upper 40s to near 50.  This afternoon the west/southwest winds will pull over some of the colder air.  So temps will pull back to the low 40s and stay there.  Aloft this system is wrapping in the warmer more moist air.  So a lot of the snow in central Virginia will turn into cold rain showers later today.  Even tonight the system is expected to have enough mild air to remain mostly as rain in Virginia.  However, the models do hint at a little strip of snow on the back side of the low in the overnight.  Our Future Trak model even shows a hint of this at 1am:

Future Trak (1am)

I think we’ll see the changeover line move farther south.  Possibly even down to the metro.  The surface temperatures will be above freezing, but this could be a quick burst of heavy wet snow.  (Maybe very quick).  So that’s why I’m leaving open the possibility for a brief dusting in the metro with the higher chances northwest of the metro.  Here is my snowfall forecast which I’ll likely amend by midday:

Snow Forecast

For one thing I may have to boost the numbers up by Richmond.  Dry air should start to push into the region by early tomorrow morning.  As the system moves off to the northeast and strengthens it will dump more snow onto the northeast states.  High pressure will build in behind it Thursday into Friday.  This will increase the pressure gradient which will keep the winds going.  Winds will stay strong out of the northwest Thursday into Friday.  Hopefully, the winds won’t be as strong Friday.  These winds could lead to some tidal flooding.

Minor tidal flooding is forecast for most of the Chesapeake Bay.  Tides will run about 1-2 feet above normal.  Luckily the winds aren’t northeast, and the moon phase is not that conducive to flooding.  (Waning Crescent) So things could be worse.  However, there may be some moderate tidal flooding along the bay side of the Eastern Shore and the sound side of the Outer Banks.

Tidal Flooding Thursday/Friday

Here is the latest tide forecast for Sewell’s Point.  We commonly use it as a marker for the tides in Hampton Roads:

Sewell’s Point Tide Forecast (NWS)

This forecast is from the National Weather Service.  Minor tidal flooding begins at about 4.5ft  (It used to be 5ft).  Moderate starts at about 5.5-6ft.  Duck North Carolina is aiming for 6ft by Thursday morning.  That is the threshold for moderate.  I don’t know of any gauges on the Currituck or Albemarle sounds, but I can say that I don’t believe that the tides will be as bad as hurricane Irene or Sandy.  That was when we had major tidal flooding.  With that said the waves will be fairly high over the ocean.  So I do think we could have some minor beach erosion over the Outer Banks.  We’ll probably have some more overwash on highway 12 as well, but that is common with these types of storms. Kiptopeke on the Eastern Shore is forecast to rise to near 5ft through the period.  That is the threshold for moderate tidal flooding.  Again I don’t expect that flooding to be like the flooding during hurricane Sandy.  There may also be some high waves and moderate tidal flooding up towards Chincoteague (closer to the center of the storm) tomorrow into Friday.

We have picked up about a half inch to an inch of rain already.  We can expect about another half inch with a few areas getting another inch of rain.  We may see a few more thunderstorms as the warm moist air at the surface encounters much colder air aloft.  I don’t expect severe weather on a large scale, but winds will already be gusting to 35-40mph outside of any heavy downpours.  So we could see some locally strong gusts.

Be careful driving out there today.   The winds will really pick up.  So watch the bridges and overpasses.  Don’t let those winds push you around.  Also the roads will be wet, and a few sleet pellets may make for a couple of slick areas inland.  You can be impressed today as you look out the window knowing that you are under the center of a big storm system.  If we just had a little colder air in the forecast, then we would be sitting under piles of snow.    :  (     Is it Spring yet?

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

6 Responses to “Big System, Big Blog!”

  1. Rick says:

    Since I live in an area of Hampton that is prone to tidal flooding I have the chart posted from NOAA as a link in my favorites, and refer to it often. I have been through several floods and believe we will not see any more that 5 ft at sewells point for this storm. It is all about wind speed and direction, and since the winds are shifting to the west and then NNW I don’t believe we will see the increase in storm surge that would lead to higher tides. I may be being overly optimistic – but I think for most of us that have to deal with flooding this will be a very minor event.

    1. Jeremy Wheeler says:

      I agree with you as far as Hampton Roads is concerned. Could be a little worse on the N.C. sounds. Jeremy

      1. Rick says:

        I may have to revise my previous statement – if the wind is out of the NNW it really shouldn’t keep pushing the surge up – but this high tide is about 1 foot higher than predicted – so if the surge doesn’t make a down-turn than we will be looking at close to 6ft of tide at sewells point at 5 am which would cause some issues for many of us.

  2. Jeff says:

    It just wasn’t our winter this year Jeremy. That should mean that it’s our turn next year! I want another one of those storms where se VA gets a ton of snow with a sharp cutoff line between Williamsburg and Richmond.

  3. matt says:

    I am over in Chesapeake near great bridge..temps here have been falling..we are down to 34 now and I see what areas to be sleet/freezing rain…any changes in the forecast..I missed the noon one

  4. Cody says:

    This is not a minor tidal flooding event AT ALL. Currently under a coastal flood warning for moderate tidal flooding.

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