WeatherNation Blog

Could New England see more snow this weekend?

It’s not April 1st (it’s April 24th). So what I’m about to write might upset you if you happen to live in parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and yes, possibly even Massachusetts.

It might snow through a wide swath of northern and even central New England this weekend.

Remember, I’m just the messenger.

Today, Caribou, Maine, right on the Canadian border, received three inches of snow, the latest they’ve received three or more inches in almost 10 years. It looks like more snow is coming your way – and perhaps quite a bit further south as well.

The latest guidance is trying to slide some snow as far south and east as Boston – yes, Boston – for Saturday night and into early Sunday. Below, you can see what we call the 540 line (the yellow line) which shows where the temperature sits at freezing, or, very roughly, the rain/snow line (it’ll trend northward, but that’s neither here nor there). This is from the perhaps overly snow-happy GFS model:

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The one thing the GFS and the NAM model, which is in agreement with the GFS, are probably underselling here is the high April sun angle, which will cut into these snow totals. The good news for any potential snow lovers out there (I seriously doubt there’s anyone in eastern Massachusetts pining for more snow, but I digress) is the majority of the precipitation appears to be falling overnight.

I’m not really buying snow in Boston, at least not right now. I need a couple more model runs to buy into this. But if these model runs keep trending south, we may have to pay closer attention to the possibility of a late April (!) snow event in Beantown. Right now, I’d look for some wet snowflakes north and west of Boston and just a miserable rainy day with temperatures in the low 40s in the city itself.

Regardless, it looks like southern Vermont and New Hampshire and parts of upstate New York and interior Maine will see more snow out of this latest system, Here’s a look at the chances of a one inch or greater snow, from the National Weather Service (again, keep in mind the latest guidance is nudging up this possibility):

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Boston – just a heads up, your latest measurable snowfall came on May 10, 1977, when you received a half-inch of slush. In 1987, Boston got four inches of wet snow on April 28th. So yes, it CAN happen. It’s just not exactly, um, common. Your latest measurable snow usually occurs in the last week of March.

Snowfully yours, WeatherNation Meteorologist Chris Bianchi.

Active Weather Continues; Severe Threat Thursday & This Weekend

Weather Outlook
Weather conditions have certainly been a little more active as of late. The loop below shows two particular storms that we will be tracking. From heavy rain and severe weather potential to heavy snow across parts of the Great Lakes and Mountain West, it’ll be active through next week.

Lake Superior IceLake Superior early this year saw a peak ice coverage near 95%, but is currently down to 59.6%. Here were some visible satellite images from just a few days ago to show you how much ice there still is on Lake Superior.

Tuesday, April 15th
Note that you can also see Lake Mille Lacs, Leech Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish are still ice covered.

Friday, April 18th

Wednesday, April 23rd
According to NOAA’s GLERL, Lake Superior was still nearly 60% ice covered as of Wednesday, April 23rd. This is actually having an impact on the early shipping season…

Great Lakes Ice
According to NOAA’s GLERL, the Great Lakes were still nearly 34% ice covered as of Tuesday, April 22nd. Interestingly, this is nearly 20 times more ice than the long term average.

Record Levels of Great Lakes Ice?
The Capital Weather Gang has a nice, brief write-up about the recent high levels of Great Lakes ice this late in the season.

“It’s almost May and a third of the Great Lakes is still covered by ice.  This is unprecedented in records dating back more than three decades, and it’s not even close.
Environment Canada’s Great Lakes ice dataset, which extends back to 1980-81, shows the current ice extent at a chart-topping 32.8 percent as of April 22.  The year with the next greatest ice extent on this date, 1996, had about half as much ice – or 16.49 percent coverage.  The average Great Lakes ice cover right now is 2.2 percent.  There is roughly 16 times more ice than normal right now!

See more from the HERE:

Active Weather Continues
The higher resolution model below shows our first strong storm system wrapping up across the middle part of the country through the second half of the work week, while another strong storm system moves into the West Coast.

Severe Threat Thursday
Our current storm system in the middle part of the country will kick out some strong to severe storms on Thursday across parts of the Mississippi River Valley. Hail and high winds look to be the primary threat, but an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out.


Strong Pacific Storm
The next storm that we will be watching will be the impulse of energy moving into the western part of the country by late week. The 500mb vorticity (spin) map, shows a fairly stout disturbance moving into the Southwest over the weekend. As this particular storm system works out into the Plains, strong to severe storms look to once again push across the middle part of the country.


Storms Ahead?
The Storm Prediction Center has already issued severe weather outlooks from Saturday through Monday for the areas below. The deepening area of low pressure looks to kick out a multi-day severe weather potential.

saturdaysunday monday

Days Since Last Tornado Warning
This is an interesting map that shows how many days it’s been since we’ve seen a tornado warning in any particular National Weather Service county warning area. note that it has been nearly a year since we’ve seen a tornado warning in parts of eastern Kansas since the last tornado warning.

2014 Tornado Count
According to the Storm Prediction Center, the 2014 PRELIMINARY tornado count through April 22nd is at a very low 109 reports. The 2005-2013 average through April 22nd is 428 reports! In 2013 we saw just 223 reports through that date, while in 2008 there had been a whopping 643 reports through that date!

High Amplitude Weather Pattern
The strong storm that looks to kick out several days of strong to severe thunderstorms, looks to also nearly stall across the central/eastern part of the nation. The end result will be a just stream that will get all bent out of shape, this type of weather pattern is known as a High Amplitude weather pattern, which means that weather tends to get stuck… The image below shows the 500mb vorticity (spin) map for Tuesday, April 29th. Note how the lines bubble north in the western third of the country, while the lines dip south across the eastern two-thirds of the nation. This will dictate warming and cooling and it certainly looks warm/hot in the Southwest, while it appears to be quite chilly in the eastern two-thirds of the nation.

Temperature Outlook
Take a look at NOAA’s HPC 6 to 10 day temperature outlook, which will take us into early May. Note that the temperature trends from April 29th to May 3rd mirror what the jet stream will look like next Tuesday, April 29th. Next week is going to feel very March-like…

Precipitation Outlook
According to NOAA’s 7 day precipitation outlook, it looks quite wet across much of the nation through early next week. As our 2 storm systems plow across the nation, heavy rainfall from convective type showers will likely several inches of precipitation in the central part of the country.

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

Flooding: An underlying threat in the south?

Just on Monday I wrote about Tallahassee’s historic rains so far this spring. Well, guess what: more rain is on the way – a lot more – and it’s going to bring some big problems for much of the southeast next week.

Yes, the big story with this upcoming severe weather threat is the potential for perhaps our biggest outbreak of the season so far (and the possibility of widespread strong tornadoes) through the southern plains and even into the deep south this weekend and into early next week. But the hidden issue next week, in addition to the severe weather, will be flooding concerns for the water-logged south.

As Aaron Shaffer mentioned in his WeatherNation blog earlier today, one of the big concerns with this upcoming system is that it’s going to be a slow-mover. By the time this vigorous low develops in eastern Colorado on Saturday to the time it FINALLY moves off the east coast on Wednesday (that’s 5 freaking days!), it’ll bring storms and big rains to areas in between for the better part of a week.

The southeast has already seen some impressive rain so far this spring. Let’s look at some rainfall totals compared to normal so far this month:

Atlanta: 5.37” (normal April total: 3.36”)

Baton Rouge, LA: 3.51” (normal April total: 4.26”)

Birmingham, AL: 6.61” (normal April total: 4.38”)

Jackson, MS: 10.42” (normal April total: 4.96”)

That’s big stuff, particularly in Jackson and Birmingham, where you’re already near or over double the amount of rain you typically see in a given April! Unfortunately there’s more rain to come, and it’s these exact areas that could be targeted.

Here’s a rough look at the kind of rains that we could be seeing in parts of the deep South from this storm system (image on the left is for Monday, the right is for Tuesday):

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Somebody in Louisiana, Alabama or Mississippi is probably going to wind up with a 4-5 inch bull’s eye out of this storm, and wherever that is unfortunately is going to get some nasty flooding along with it. Factor in last month’s heavy rains and the ground is fully saturated around these parts, and we could see quite a bit of flooding next week. Residents near swollen rivers in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and north Florida need to be on high alert this week.

Flooding rains just a few weeks ago brought some big floods and earlier on to parts of the south. They could be repeated once again, if the current forecast holds. Stay tuned to WeatherNation for all the latest.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

Saturday’s Severe Threat – And How Its VERY Slow Movement Could Mean 3-4 Days Of Storms

One of my favorite things as a meteorologist (and storm chaser) is examining an upcoming severe weather threat.  A lot has been mentioned about this Saturday’s severe threat, so we’ll talk about that before we get to how sluggish this next storm system looks to be – and the overall severe risk as a result.

Here is the basic wind flow forecast (the large “L” indicates the center of low pressure) for Saturday evening:


See all of the reds and pinks there?  That is warmth.  We’re watching humidity also.  I’ve been mentioning a lot about drylines lately (you can read more about them here) on WeatherNation – as severe season has kicked in… and there is another potent one to discuss setting up with our next weekend storm system.

If you just read that Wikipedia link you’ll really get a good feel for things with this dewpoint forecast for Saturday evening… I highlighted in brown the dryline region:



That is your root cause for what looks to be day 1 of at least 3 days of severe storms.  Even the Storm Prediction Center is talking about the extended series of days with severe threats:



Day 4, 5, and 6 on this map correlate to Saturday/Sunday/Monday in real life – if you’re keeping score.

So what gives?  Why are we seeing such a slow moving system?

Well, to start with – the low pressure center wraps itself up to the point we could even add a 4th day to that severe outlook (I’d imagine it’s not there just yet largely because a 4th day of a wrapped up low isn’t usually a sure thing this far out).

Here is a 4 day progression I just mapped out – with the “L” indicating the low pressure center.  Think of that as your northern tip of the severe chances for each of those days.



Look at that progression!  It’s a state or so a day – if that!

So why do storms sometimes wrap up and move slowly east?  That is a very large question/issue, and I’ll explain in basic terms with a link to a longer explanation if you’re curious.  Basically, there are tilts in the jetstream.  When it is tilted a certain way, patterns tend to be more “progressive,” while if they are tilted a different way they will be more stagnant.  That way is often described as “negatively tilted” and that is exactly what we’re dealing with for this upcoming system.

Look at this jet-level wind map for Saturday evening:



So there you go.

You’ll definitely want to stay tuned.

WeatherNation Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer @ashafferWNTV

Aaron Out web2

Soaking Rain Events On The Way – March Relapse Next Week

A Healthy Dousing

We’ve had a few warm blips (Easter Sunday was a balm for the senses) but overall a cool bias is forecast to linger into May. This, in turn, increases temperature contrasts over the lower 48 states, whipping up stronger storms, capable of pulling moisture north from the Gulf of Mexico.

Another factor: El Nino, forecast to kick in by summer, which also tends to favor cooler and wetter weather. With any luck meteorologists won’t be dragging around the D-word (drought) much longer.

Waves of Rain. GFS guidance shows heavy showers and a few T-storms pushing across the Midwest later today and Thursday; a second storm spinning up over the Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley late in the weekend and early next week. California is still too dry, but much of America east of the Rockies will see plenty of rain in the coming days.

April Drenching. Some 3-4″ rains are predicted from Omaha to near Des Moines over the next 5 days, with over 1″ of rain by Sunday evening for much of Minnesota. The Pacific Northwest sees soaking 2-5″ rains capable of flash flooding. Source: NOAA HPC.

Severe Risk. NOAA SPC predicts a “slight risk” of severe storms from near Lincoln southward to Oklahoma City, Midland and Wichita Falls, Texas later today, including a few isolated tornadoes.

Slowest Start To U.S. Tornado Season On Record. It’s a little premature to get too complacent about a lack of major tornado outbreaks (93 so far nationwide, less than a quarter of “average”, to date). That’s the topic of today’s edition of Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over this years tornado stats. So far, we’ve been extremely lucky to see only 93 tornadoes. But in all things weather, it can change on a dime. Peak tornado months are May followed closely by June. So don’t write off tornado season yet, this could be just the beginning.”

Quietest Start To Tornado Season In 60+ Years? So says NOAA SPC. Details from the Storm Prediction Center here.

Experts: Civilians Not Ready For EMP-Caused Blackout. No kidding. has the details; here’s the introduction: “The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable. “The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way….”

Photo credit above: Wikipedia. “They’re Testing: The government testing electromagnetic pulses uses a simulator hanging over an airborne command post.”

Space Weather Prediction CenterHere is NOAA SWPC’s new (beta) web site with a host of resources and tracking tools to keep an eye on the greatest potential source of dangerous EMP-like CME’s or coronal mass ejections, capable of bringing down communication systems and portions of the grid.

Waste of Space. 135 million pieces of space junk? The amount of garbage hurtling around the Earth is almost incomprehensible. If this keeps up we may resemble Saturn before long. Here’s a clip from Foreign Policy: “…There are some pertinent facts about space debris that demonstrate the pressing danger. Roughly three-quarters of all space debris — 23,000 items over 10 centimeters across, 300,000 measuring between 1 and 10 centimeters, and over 135,000,000 fragments less than 1 centimeter — is presently found in low earth orbit (LEO), the area extending from 99 to 1,200 miles above the Earth. Traveling at an average speed of 18,000 miles per hour, even small pieces of debris can damage or destroy satellites and spacecraft...”

The Brain Injury That Made Me A Math Genius. Amazing, but apparently true. Salon has the remarkable story – here’s a clip: “…Because of a traumatic brain injury, the result of a brutal physical attack, I’ve been able to see these patterns for over a decade. This change in my perception was really a change in my brain function, the result of the injury and the extraordinary and mostly positive way my brain healed. All of a sudden, the patterns were just . . . there, and I realize now that my injury was a rare gift. I’m lucky to have survived, but for me, the real miracle—what really saved me—was being introduced to and almost overwhelmed by the mathematical grace of the universe…”

Does The Moon Influence Human Behavior? Some new research is emerging that suggests the answer is yes – staring with our sleep habits. Here’s an excerpt from a long but excellent story at Aeon: “…When volunteers in their study, whether old or young, stayed in the lab during the three or four days around the full moon, they spent five minutes longer trying to fall asleep than those who stayed in the lab during other times of the lunar month. Their full-moon sleep was 20 minutes shorter, they felt less rested, and slept 30 per cent less deeply than those who visited the lab during other times. They couldn’t see the Moon, and the researchers hadn’t even noted the Moon phase at the time…”

Which Cities Sleep In, And Which Get To Work Early? Here’s a clip from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight: “…How much do American cities differ in when they begin work? The Census Bureau collects data on this through the American Community Survey. This data isn’t especially user-friendly, but I figured out the median time Americans begin their workday in each metro area. All the figures that I’ll describe here refer to the location of work — not the location of residence for the workers — since some Americans commute between metro areas for their jobs…”

Climate Stories….

Preparing The U.S. Military For The “Threat Multiplier” Of Climate Change. Here’s a snippet from a story at Stars and Stripes that caught my eye: “…Climate change worsens the divide between haves and have-nots, hitting the poor the hardest. It can also drive up food prices and spawn mega-disasters, creating refugees and taxing the resiliency of governments. When a threat like that comes along, it’s impossible to ignore. Especially if your job is national security. In a recent interview with the blog Responding to Climate Change, retired Army Brig. Gen. Chris King laid out the military’s thinking on climate change: “This is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years. That’s the scariest thing for us. There is no exit strategy that is available for many of the problems.…”

Photo credit above: “An F/A-18 from the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron is fueled with a 50-50 blend of biofuel and jet fuel. Experimenting with biofuels is part of the military’s push to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.” Kiona Miller – U.S. Navy.

Interactive Map Shows How The U.S. Has Warmed Since The First Earth DayMashable has the article and interactive graphic – here’s a clipper: “Since the very first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States in 1970, average temperatures across the U.S. have increased markedly. A new interactive graphic from Climate Central, a nonprofit research and journalism organization, shows a state-by-state breakdown of those temperature trends. According to Climate Central, average temperatures in the lower 48 states have increased at a rate of about 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit per decade…”

Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can not eat money.” – Costa Rican saying

NOAA Releases Arctic Action Plan. Details from NOAA: “Earlier this year, President Obama released a plan for moving forward on his national strategy to advance U.S. security and stewardship interests in the Arctic. Today, in keeping with the goals and tenets of his strategy, NOAA unveils its Arctic Action Plan—a document that provides NOAA scientists, stakeholders and partners a roadmap to make shared progress in monitoring, understanding, and protecting this vast, valuable, and vulnerable region. Climate change is making the Arctic a greener, warmer, and increasingly accessible place for economic opportunity. However, climate impacts such as sea ice loss and rising ocean acidification are straining coastal community resilience and sound resource stewardship. Impacts are also being studied outside the Arctic, as NOAA scientists and colleagues work to better understand the region’s influence on global weather and climate patterns…”

Ancient Tundra Discovered Under Greenland Ice Sheet. Extreme melting is leading to some interesting discoveries, under the ice. Here’s a video clip and explanation from The Wall Street Journal: “A team of scientists have found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet for 2.7 million years, providing strong evidence that the ice sheet has survived many periods of global warming.” WSJ’s Niki Blasina reports. Photo: Joshua Brown, University of Vermont.


Column: Get Past Fake Debate On Global Warming. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Wasau Daily Herald: “… It is obvious now that no amount of scientific evidence and no degree of consensus among climate experts can shake the true denialist. It’s as if there are two parallel universes. For the denialists there is the universe created by Fox News and the Heartland Institute, and news from that world is reported Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, and many others. In this world climate models don’t work, global warming has stopped, but if there is warming it is from natural causes, there is no scientific consensus, but if there is, tens of thousands of scientists from different countries and diverse fields are all conspiring together to create the greatest hoax the world has ever seen…”


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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather.

April 2014
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