Dickens Winter

This week marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great Charles Dickens.

Meteorologists are familiar with the phrase “Dickens Winters” to mark the extraordinary cold the prevailed during his lifetime, which took place during the Little Ice Age. You can read more about Dickens Winters here.

Anyone want to go back to those temperatures?

Major Weather Pattern Change?

For most of December and January, the wind flow in the upper atmosphere has been from east to west west to east across North America as shown with the thin black lines on the 18,000′ wind map from this morning:

The deep purple is the extraordinary cold (even for winter) in Canada.

The 10-day forecast from the European Center for Medium Range Forecast shows a major change in pattern very wet weather in the West and the potential for some of the very cold air to come south in about 14 days.

Stay tuned.

The Cold Blast to Start 2012

After Wichita reached an incredible 66° on New Year’s Eve, points east of Wichita will start the year with cold and windy conditions. And, some spots near the Great Lakes will have blizzard conditions with Lake Effect snow.  AccuWeather has the details.

The lake effect situation is now starting to set up per AccuWeather’s regional radar from 11:30am.

Windy End of the Year

The amber color = high wind warnings. Gusts above 60 mph are already being reported in Colorado and they will spread rapidly as a cold front moves across the region.  The magenta color = high wildfire danger.

Near the Great Lakes are pink = winter storm warning and blue = winter weather advisory.

Topsy-Turvy White Christmas

Who has had more more snow this season than Chicago + Boston + New York + Buffalo combined?

Answer: Midland, Texas. The town, in southwest Texas, is suffering from a severe drought but the recent unusual weather patterns have brought more than usual snowfall.

Hat tip: AccuWeather.

Today’s Storms

We have a tornado watch in effect until 1pm in Mississippi and Louisiana:

The strong thunderstorms are expected to spread east today. This is the tornado probability with the brown-tint an area where you should keep up on the weather. Note it includes Atlanta — and the Atlanta Airport.

In the Rockies and High Plains, it is snow.

Denver has received 7″ of snow and parts of Boulder County north of Denver more than a foot. There are 1 hour, 15 minute delays at Denver International Airport. This will be a regional storm affecting mostly Colorado and New Mexico. Amounts out into the low Plains will only be an inch or less.

Quick Travel Update

Here are the snow depths as of 7am:

From NWS, click to enlarge

Roads are closed throughout the western third of Kansas, including I-70 west of WaKeeney along with much of southeast Colorado, northeast New Mexico (including I-25 into southern Colorado), and the western Oklahoma Panhandle. The snow has stopped in these areas so conditions should start to improve this afternoon.

The snow has not stopped falling farther east. Here is the AccuWeather regional radar from 9:45am:

And, here is the forecast additional accumulation from 7am (the time of the map above) to 9pm CST, which should be the ending time of this storm. Another 2-3″ will fall along I-70 in central Kansas where it is still open, but is already snowpacked.

Believe it or not, there is another storm behind this one for the Central third of the U.S. plus the East may receive some snow by Christmas.

This is the last forecast I’m going to post on this storm. Tomorrow when the final figures are in, as is customary, I’ll review the forecasts against what actually occurred.

This evening, I’ll post regarding the new storm threatening the Central U.S.

Winter Storm Progress

Here is the current list of warnings: Blizzard = orange. Pink = winter storm. Blue are winter weather advisories (a less erious condition).

And, here is the AccuWeather regional radar. The rain is now starting to change to snow along the southern Colorado-Kansas border as the storm moves east.  Thunderstorms are continuing to bring beneficial moderate to heavy rains in the southern High Plains.

Severe thunderstorms with a tornado threat will exist later this afternoon and tonight in a broad band from Dallas to Houston.

An Amazing New Tool

You often hear of “black ice.” One form of black ice can form when fog deposits ice directly on roadways without precipitation falling from the sky. That is known as “freezing fog.”

A new type of satellite image depicts previously hard-to-detect freezing fog in shades of orange and red. Here is an example showing the freezing fog in the tough terrain of the Pacific Northwest.

University of Wisconsin, click to enlarge

More progress. This data will allow us to help keep traveling safer through better monitoring of dangerous conditions.

Good News: More Moisture. Bad News: Winter

A very slow moving low pressure system in the upper atmosphere predicted to linger over the Southwest is going to bring much-needed moisture to the region. Here is the precipitation amount forecast for the next ten days (via AccuWeather’s professional site, this is the European model):

click to enlarge

And, a significant amount of the moisture is going to fall in the form of snow. The graphic below are the probabilities of one inch or more of snow accumulation:

6pm Wednesday to 6pm Thursday

6pm Thursday to 6pm Friday

And, even heavier and more widespread snows will likely spread into the Plains Friday night and Saturday.

By Sunday morning, most of the Nation west of the Mississippi will be colder than average — in some areas much colder. Winter is coming!

Bill Kean, RIP

The Family Circus has always been one of Kathleen’s and my favorite cartoons. This edition, from January, 1979, has a special place in my heart:

Mr. Kean passed away earlier this week. The cartoon has been produced by his son for many years, so no change is expected.

The Storm’s Evolution

Here is the AccuWeather regional radar as of 10:21am CST:

NWS experimental radar forecast at 4pm shows widespread rain throughout Kansas (good for easing the drought) but minimal thunderstorm activity.

But, by 7pm, strong thunderstorms — with tornado potential — develop in southwest Oklahoma and northwest Texas (red) while the winter storm gets underway in Colorado and New Mexico (purple).