Friday, January 31, 2014

Mainly Rain Saturday

Snow showers arrive Friday night, bringing heaviest accumulations to our far NW counties (Hillsdale, Williams, Lenawee, northern Fulton Co, etc.) 2-3'' is possible with the majority falling by daybreak Saturday.

Temperatures will slowly surge above freezing, combating cool surface temps, and allowing the falling snow to change over to ice, freezing rain, and finally rain. 

The slow transition will take place early in the day, bringing some ice accumulation down in some areas-- mainly along the Turnpike. 

Once all temps are above freezing, and the ground warms enough, we'll be looking at all rain, and a moderate thaw for the remainder of the day Saturday. 

Moving forward, Tuesday/Wednesday has our focus.

Giving an accumulation forecast would be irresponsible this early on, but I can say with some confidence that the current projected path of the incoming low pressure system and the forecast temperature profile are all promising factors that could lead to a significant snow event. 

Also, happy to report that the Farmer's Almanac was wrong about this weekend's "Storm Bowl". 

The 197-year old publication predicted a winter storm for the NE around the time of the Super Bowl, which is being played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. 

The blast of wintry precip. we receive on Saturday will slide off the coast in an unceremonious fashion, keeping the game on as scheduled and safe :) Of course, I'll give credit where credit is due... the publication does also cite a snowy and cold season for the Great Lakes region-- so far, so good! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MAJOR pattern shift

For the better part of the entire month of January we have been stuck in a very cold and very snowy weather pattern all thanks to the position of the jet stream. With cold arctic air free to spill south from the north, temperatures have been around degrees below normal for this month.

The most recent surge of cold air has pushed the jet stream so far south that snowfall and ice are expected from Texas to Florida and up to Virginia Tuesday into Wednesday.

But going over the next few days this weather pattern will break down from extreme cold in the eastern United States into a more 'normal' pattern heading into the first week of February. This will inevitably create forecasting headaches for the Midwest. The reasons are common:

1) The temperate will be closer to freezing (making precipitation type a bigger question mark).

2) The Gulf of Mexico will be open for business. Meaning moisture will be free to surge north...ensuring weather systems will be able to create heavy precipitation. Whether that falls as rain or snow is the biggest unknown.

3) The location of the jet stream will create fast moving systems as well. Meaning lead-time for exact details of an event will be lower than normal. 

Right now we are eyeing a possible high-impact event mid-week next week. The storm system is currently WEST of Alaska (The purple dot, we are the black dot). Please be careful over the next few days with those storm 'hypers' that love to get attention posting absurd snow outputs this far out. Don't freak out and stay put for more updates as we get closer. No hype. Just the forecast. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Extreme Cold Tuesday Morning

Latest data continues to suggest temperatures may drop into the mid-teens BELOW ZERO tonight. It has happened already once this month but how rare is it? Try 20 times in the past 17,000 winter nights in Toledo. That's around .001%. 

Toledo History with lows -15 or lower
Jan 1, 1879: -15
Feb 11, 1885: -16
Jan 25, 1897: -16
Jan 26, 1897: -16
Feb 9, 1899: -15
Jan 12, 1918: -15
Jan 23, 1963: -17
Jan 24, 1963: -17
Jan 24, 1970: -15
Jan 13, 1977: -15
Jan 17, 1977: -15
Jan 17, 1982: -17
Dec 24, 1983: -15
Jan 21, 1983: -20
Jan 20, 1985: -17
Dec 22, 1989: -17
Jan 18, 1994: -16
Jan 19, 1994: -18
Jan 6, 2014: -15

Here is our Hour-by-Hour forecast for the Monday Night-Wednesday Morning timeframe:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another Mean Streak?

The long awaited arrival of Spring is going to have to wait a little while longer. While no one expects sunshine and 60s in January, we have had quite the irregular month so far. 
Beating out the Blizzard of '78 in total monthly snowfall accumulation, 2014 has become the snowiest on record in the past 130 years! 

And even more is on its way. 

Your Friday will start off quiet and dry. This isn't your average 'calm before the storm', however. Very strong winds will rage through the area, ranging between 20-30mph all afternoon long. 

National Weather Service agencies have confirmed the threat of this storm. Winter Weather Advisories have been issued for all of NW Ohio and most of SE Michigan-- with the exception of Lenawee and Monroe Counties. There is also a Wind Chill Advisory in effect. 

Snowfall officially arrives by midnight, along with those gusty winds. We're talking falling, blowing and drifting snow for a period of 12+ hours. From 12am-12pm Saturday, snow will be accumulating along roadways and on surfaces across the area while drifts build up, thanks to the wind. 

2-4'' is expected Saturday.
1-3'' is expected Sunday. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Records

With the cold snap that is anticipated by next week, it is possible we threaten the top-10 coldest January record book in Toledo. Here are some other records for the month in Toledo:

#WarmestColdestWettestDriestMost SnowLeast Snow

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Snowy start to 2014

This year has certainly started on a snowy note. In fact, looking back through the data, the first 7 days of 2014 were the snowiest first week of a year with the records available. With 20 days still to go it is likely we will go even higher on the charts for snowiest January's on record:

(Data as of 1/11/14)

1) 1978: 30.8"
2) 2009: 30.7"
3) 2005: 27.6"
4) 1918: 26.2"
5) 2014: 24.4"
6) 1895: 22.3"
7) 1999: 22.1"
8) 1910: 21.0"
9) 1987: 20.5"
10) 1994: 20.2"

Get more weather information by following Meteorologist Ryan Wichman: Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gazing to the Skies: Northern Lights

For a group of people as cold as mid-westerners have been over the past few days, the sight of the Aurora Borealis will be one for sore eyes. 

The dazzling lights are typically only viewable by an audience much farther north, but on the lucky occasion, they appear farther south. That will happen Thursday night for parts of Michigan and Ohio, weather permitting. 

Also known as the Northern Lights, this other-worldly glow is caused by a strong coronal mass ejection... a solar flare! Tuesday, a massive solar flare erupted from the sun from one of the largest sunspot groups of the star's surface in 10 years, according to NASA. The radiation and electrically charged particles sent from the sun's surface into the earth's atmosphere cause the Northern Lights. 

Tuesday's Coronal Mass Ejection sends particles hurting towards the Earth's atmosphere

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, the sun's coronal mass ejection is "forecast to set off G3 (strong) Geomagnetic Storm activity." The good news? The particles are not harmful, though they can cause interference for satellites and GPS devices.

Unfortunately, cloudy skies tonight may prohibit easy viewing of the Lights. Flurries and partly to mostly cloudy skies are in the forecast, so we'll have to look closely and find a break in the clouds to enjoy the spectacle.

Forecast: Thursday Night 1/9-1/10

The range in color all depends on the type of gas-to-gas collision that is happening as the sun's energy enters the earth's multi-chemical atmosphere. The most common to see are green, yellow, and blue. Reds and pinks are the rarest colors. 

Polar Vortex: Will We Experience It Again?


The term: Polar Vortex is nothing new to the meteorological community. Science nerds and geeks alike have used the phrase when forecasting winter weather for decades (perhaps longer!), but social media has only now made the term relevant to the general public. 

Well, that and -30 to -40° wind chills.

If you're just hearing about it now, here's the deal:

Typically the coldest air is found in and around the Arctic Circle. A large circulation that permanently resides near the north pole will frequently slide farther south, ushering colder air into southern Canadian Provinces and often across the border into the US. 

Typical Polar Vortex near Arctic Circle

This process happens during all 4 seasons, but is most amplified during the winter. 

When the polar jet sinks far enough south, the Polar Vortex follows suit, and will swing south, bringing along with it an Arctic blast of unseasonably cold air. 

Irregular Arctic Blast due to southerly track of Polar Votex
The most recent outbreak is a great example of the potential within our atmosphere to do great things. In this case, an amplified trough of colder-than-normal air rapidly fired down into the US, thus bringing along some of the coldest air in 30 years. 

Extreme Record-breaking Cold
This time around, the result was drastic. Overnight lows 10-20 degrees BELOW zero for three nights in a row, coupled with a wind that brought 30-50° subzero wind chills into play. 

This was an extraordinary case, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen again.