Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Early March Storm Potential

If you have spent much time on social media the past few days there is no doubt you have heard the talk about a new winter storm on the horizon for early March.

Undoubtedly some organizations will use this as an opportunity to use scare tactics in order to grow their following. In the StormTrack Weather Center we want to show you the facts of what the outlook is. Without weather models, without the huge snowfall predictions, without the hype. Here is the state of the atmosphere and what we believe is most likely to happen. 

Below is a satellite image of the water vapor in the atmosphere over North America. To many of you it probably looks like a bunch of swirls with a map thrown on it. But to meteorologists THIS is what we look at long before any computer models. It shows the flow of the atmosphere and where large pockets of moisture are present. Think of it as an MRI for meteorologists. 

For the storm next week we first have to look at the big picture. A strong jet stream and ejecting piece of energy from just north of Hawaii will be the big player here. Right now only satellites are sampling the storm, not actual weather balloons. That means while the data is still being relayed into various computer weather models, it isn't the highest quality like an actual weather balloon could achieve.

Next let's look upstream into where this storm is heading. The large high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean has aided in re-curving many of these storms all winter long into a favorable pattern for eastern US snow storms. The arctic air in place over the northern US will be tough to displace as well. If the storm heads our way, that likely sets the stage for this to be a winter storm vs rain here in northern Ohio. 

The biggest question and one that likely will not be resolved for a few more days yet is exactly how fast this energy 'ejects'. That is to say, does the storm come across the country in one large lump sum or several smaller waves. One big storm would likely increase impacts over a shorter duration but indications right now are indicating a more broken series of lows. This would spread out the effects (although weaker) over several days. 

The bottom line is -- stay tuned. We are watching this storm close but it appears another healthy dose of winter weather is heading our way for late this weekend into early next week but it is FAR too early for snowfall totals with a storm that is 3000+ miles away.