The Big Snow Blog

January 27th, 2014 at 9:12 am by under Weather

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog of this size.  I think hurricane Sandy was the last time it was this long.  I’ll start off right away by saying that there is still a lot of uncertainty with this incoming system.  The models are still basically all over the place.  There are some things that we are sure about though.  1.  It will be nice and warm today with highs in the 50s.  2.  The temps are going to drop like a brick tonight into tomorrow.  3.  The chance for snow is higher over northeast North Carolina than Hampton Roads, and 4.  The chance for snow has increased across the region since yesterday.  Let’s get things going!

The Setup:

Today we have quiet/warmer weather in place.  Highs will be in the mid 50s with mostly cloudy skies and southwest winds at 10-15mph.  There may be a stray shower, but the chance is low.

Today's Forecast

Today’s Forecast

The strong cold front will move in this evening.  Then after it passes we could see a few flurries in the region.  We’ll drop from a high of about 55 today to a low of about 20 degrees tonight.  We’ll have mostly cloudy skies and winds will pick up out of the north at 10-20mph.  So the really cold air will be in place for tomorrow’s event.  The high pressure area will stay to the northwest of us.  This seals the deal for cold air to stay in place during the event.  The cold front is expected to stall out to our southeast.  Then an area of low pressure will setup and move northeast along the front.

Tomorrow's Forecast

Tomorrow’s Forecast

Moisture will try to push up from the southeast and move over the colder air on land.  Therefore a band of snow will setup from southwest to northeast.  The problem…. The models greatly differ on how much moisture moves into the region.  Also, there is a very big gradient (difference in value over a set distance) of snow from west to east.  So if the low moves just a little to the east, then the values will dramatically change.  In the next section I’ll talk about the computer models.  If you want to skip this and go to the summary section, then you are welcome., but this is one time where you may want to read about them as they are so different.

The Models:

The computer models vary greatly in moisture and snow amounts.  This is one of the biggest differences that I have seen in a while.  The driest model is the latest European (0Z).  It only has 1-2″ over northeast North Carolina.  The European model carries a lot of weight, but it has also dramatically shifted since yesterday.  Check out Tiffany Savona’s weather blog from yesterday talking about it’s last solution: Tiffany’s Blog. The hi-res NAM model is the second driest.  It has about 2-3″ for northeast North Carolina with about 1-2 inches for southern Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.  That’s about it.  The regular NAM however, has a lot of snow in the region.  It has snow for northeast North Carolina basically from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon.  It has snow falling over Hampton Roads from early Wednesday morning through about Wednesday afternoon.  I added up the totals on the maps and I come in with about….(roughly)….2-4″ over the southside, 2-5″ Virginia Beach, 1-3″ Eastern Shore, 1-2″ Peninsula, 1″ Middle Peninsula, and ….8-14″ over North Carolina.  Wow!  Again, this is just one model.  The GFS Model pushes that moisture more northward.  It does have the precipitation start a little later though.  It doesn’t bring it in until Tuesday evening, and it shuts it down more towards Wednesday morning.  However, it does have some heavy precipitation for a bit.  It comes in with roughly about 3-5″ southside, 3-6″ Virginia Beach, 1-3″ Peninsula, 2-4″ Eastern Shore, 1-3″ for the Middle Peninsula, and finally about 5-10″ for northeast North Carolina.  The Canadian model is similar to the GFS with maybe just an inch less over Virginia.  Please keep in mind that the all of the models have been shifting around dramatically.  One thing I will say is that the NAM does do well with temperatures, but it is typically too strong with coastal systems.  It’s also very interesting that the higher resolution version of the NAM comes in so dry compared to its lower resolution version.

Here is our Future Trak model’s solution.  It does push the snow farther north like the NAM model.  So it has snow moving in tomorrow afternoon.

Future Trak (4pm)

Future Trak (4pm)

Notice that it has more of a rain/snow mix over the Outer Banks from Manteo southward.  By 11pm it has snow across a large section of the viewing area:

Future Trak 11 pm Tuesday

Future Trak 11 pm Tuesday

When it adds up all of the totals it comes in with several inches for the area:

Forecast Snowfall Totals

Forecast Snowfall Totals

I’d say that there are some pockets of 9-10″ in the lighter pink areas.

Overall Summary:

You can see what our tools are showing above.  So you can clearly see that there is a lot of uncertainty.  When the models go back and forth, then they usually oscillate around a solution.  No model is completely dry.  So expect at least some accumulating snow in the region.  Most likely over northeast North Carolina.  I’m not buying into the NAM model’s crazy numbers just yet, but some of the GFS numbers are possible.  Our Future Trak model does a good job, but it does use data from the NAM.  It’s interesting that the European model has changed so much in the last 2 days.  We do have  a Winter Storm Watch up for most of the viewing area.  A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Dare county N.C.  Those are from the National Weather Service.

Watches And Warnings

Watches And Warnings

They talk about 3″ or more in the Watch area.  They mention a possible 4-8″ in the Warning area.

The next step will be for us to see what the next set of models comes up with.  Then I’ll post another blog shortly after that.  I’ll try and put out my snow forecast during the midday show as well.  I’d say this next system will be like hitting the small target on a dunk tank with the target getting bigger towards the last minute.

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

15 Responses to “The Big Snow Blog”

  1. jay williams says:

    What is hampton roads looking like for snow…. only this area….

  2. Thanks for the time and thoughtful elaboration here. I’ve just started discovering the confusing landscape of all these various weather models – mostly via the Facebook postings of wxrisk.com. Your blog here is the first I’ve seen that makes such extended references to these models (though again, I’m a recent arrival to this study). Could you give us a link to where we could learn more generally about the model systems themselves – their individual origins, and how they differ from each other? I found the “Global Forecast System” page at Wikipedia last night, but I’m wondering if you can point us to, say, something like a compare-and-contrast table, or similar chart, anywhere. Thanks again!

  3. Jack says:

    At what point will the next set of models become available?

  4. sheba edwardson says:

    I found it very interesting about the different models.I have lived in VA. BEACH (lynnhaven area) so iguess i am in southern part since the 70s and it always appears we get our most significant snows from these southern storms.i would love to see 6 inches plus.

  5. Looks like the good old Carolina Low event. I have lived here almost all of my life (I’m in my 60′s) and this has baffled every weather person when it happens. I’m betting on more snow in Virginia Beach. Good luck in nailing this down.

  6. Adam Mehring says:

    Jeremy, First off I appreciate all that you have been doing on here and I’ve seen all over the internet how tricky this storm is going to be and how it may come down to the last 12-24 hours to figure this one out. My question to you is do you see Williamsburg being left out in this one?? I know things are a bit complicated as of now but was just curious..

  7. Jasko says:

    Could newport news get atleast 5 inches from this storm? Also, thanks for all youre hard work helping us to be ready for this storm. Great job Jeremy!

  8. Melisa says:

    Hey Jeremy, was wondering what your thoughts were as to how much Newport News will get, Im sure you get this type of question a lot and I’m sure it is hard to predict just how much snow one city is going to get especially when your models are jumping all over the place like these seem to be, so I guess what Im really asking is: Is what are the chances of us on the peninsula seeing a bigger accumulation of snow than last week?

  9. Jeff says:

    Great blog post Jeremy. I’m curious what you think about the snow ratios with the arctic air? Just 10:1 or maybe higher than that?

  10. phoebe says:

    Jeremy…. Thanks for keeping us all informed. Direct TV just dumped TWC, so you’re providing a much needed service. Here’s hoping for a “major” dumping, as we see it rarely here in Kill Devil Hills. I’ll be checking back often.

  11. [...] off of the latest information.  I did a very big blog this morning.  You can check it out here: Jeremy’s Big Morning Blog.  It has the general overview of the developing situation.  It talks a lot about the models, but [...]

  12. Duffy says:

    Can you show a more detailed view of the Hampton Roads area in one of your upcoming blogs? The expanded view is nice, but it would be better if we could get an idea of each of the major cities (eg, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, etc).

  13. amanda says:

    how much do you think Yorktown will get? Also when are you execpted to update the map?

  14. Bryan says:

    Your professionalism, quality and detail in delivering us forecasting, recommendations and warnings is exceptional. Keep up the great work!

  15. [...] The Big Snow Blog It's been a while since I've done a blog of this size. I think hurricane Sandy was the last time it was this long. I'll start off right away by saying that there is still a lot of uncertainty with this incoming system. The models are still basically … Read more on WAVY-TV (blog) [...]

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