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4:00 PM EST DEC 22
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One of the things I need to get across to many of you who are just discovering this website is that I have a reputation for being skeptical about big snow storms and forecasting them. I have done a lot of work and snowstorms and I publish a very in depth the meteorologically detailed newsletter about East Coast snowstorms when the overall weather pattern support the threat of a significant snowstorm on the East coast .
But my overall point of view is be skeptical …to think what could go wrong ….to think why this is NOT going to happen. The problem is that many of you have found this website recently or last winter when we had a tremendous active winter storm season. This results in that many of you may have the perception that I love to promote and Monger / HYPE about snowstorms. I can assure you it is not the case.
But there is a difference between being skeptical and being cynical. IF you ALWAYS use climo or Probability you will NEVER EVER get the BIG events right. The probability is a difficult thing to get past the cause most of the time nothing bad happens.
99% of the time the most east coast hurricanes are not going to turn into North Carolina and Virginia and give Richmond a directed hit — which is what happened with the Isabel in 2003.
Most of the time a hurricane like Katrina is not going to hit New Orleans. Most of the time the Washington, DC Baltimore metro area is not going to see the back to back 12-24 inch snowstorms four days apart… which is what happened last year. Most of the time you will not give the hurricane season like the one we had in 2004 where four major hurricane struck Florida in the space of 45 days .
Probability is a very a tricky thing.
One of the reasons why TV folks THE WEATHER CHANNEL and nws in wakfield have been reluctant to commit to a the forecast for a major winter storm for NC VA MD DE eastern PA and NJ is that they have a certain restrictions and obligations which I don’t have as a private forecaster. So some of you have to cut them some slack. I certainly would not be making these forecasts if I was on television forecasting. No way .
Surely you can see with a television medium such as TV forecaster meteorologist there are a world of implications of such a forecast.
On the other hand since I don’t have to kow tow the party line as it were I can say the certain things about various weather models and I can be more free in speaking the truth. As I stated earlier the main reason why there has been so much uncertainty with regard to the potential storm from other forecasters and TV sources it is that the American weather model — the GFS — has for the last 10 runs showed EITHER No Low or a very weak one. As a result these forecasters do not know which model to choose and they make their choices by thinking either the American or European models are equally valid .
****That is a false choice since those three models are not of equal value with regard to East coast snowstorms atb the day 3 day 4 day 5 day 6 and Day 7 time frame.***
Early this morning the folks at HPC in their morning model discussion stated the following about the extreme winter storm scenario of the European model.
…EUROPEAN CENTRE GUIDANCE STAYS THE COURSE ON POWERFUL EAST COAST STORM DECEMBER 26-27…
WE WILL STICK WITH THE CONSISTENT ECMWF ( the european Model) FOR THE PRELIMINARY FRONTS AND PRESSURES FOR DAYS 3-7. FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE MODEL CYCLES…THE DETERMINISTIC ECMWF HAS INDICATED A MASSIVE…DEEP…SLOW-MOVING CYCLONE HUGGING THE CAROLINA AND MID ATLANTIC COASTS THE TWO DAYS FOLLOWING CHRISTMAS.
THE EURO ENSEMBLE MEMBERS HAVE AVERAGED CLOSE TO THE DETERMINISTIC ECMWF… WITH MANY MEMBERS FOLLOWING IT EXACTLY…AND OTHERS TRACKING A BIT FARTHER OFFSHORE. THE EUROPEAN CENTRE GUIDANCE HAS THE ADVANTAGE IN DEVELOPMENTAL SYSTEMS WITH ITS HIGH R ESOLUTION…AND IS FURTHER AIDED BY ITS 4D-VAR ANALYSIS IN GENERAL. ITS ENSEMBLE MEMBERS ARE MORE HIGHLY RESOLVED THAN THE GEFS MEMBERS…AND WITH DYNAMIC… DEVELOPMENTAL SYSTEMS…THE EUROPEAN GUIDANCE SHOULD HAVE THE EDGE.
THE MOST UNUSUAL…AND THREATENING…ASPECT OF THE ECMWF FORECAST IS THE RELATIVELY LOW LATITUDE AT WHICH THE STORM MATURES AND STALLS/LOOPS .WHICH PUTS THE VERY POPULATED AREAS OF THE EASTERN MID ATLANTIC…LONG ISLAND…AND SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND IN A PROLONGED PERIOD OF HIGH WINDS AND HEAVY PRECIPITATION…MOSTLY SNOW.
Its clear that most of the TV weather folks this morning in all of VA and thru the midday hours — as well as the weather Channel — did NOT read this discussion from HPC . They continued to hem and Haw about which model MIGHT be correct. Because there is MISTAKEN General belief that the GFS and European models are of equal value when it comes to Handling east coast snowstorms in the day 3 to day 7 range ….they don’t know how to analyze the situation or what choices to make .
For example the 5AM run of the GFS…. of the GFS had the Low extremely far to the south and east of even f Charleston South Carolina and passing over Bermuda!!!
No…. I am NOT Kidding.
Then at midday today the Wednesday December 22 the new 12z GFS did a complete MAJOR reversal — known as a flip flop– and showed a hugemajor winter storm for the East coast.
Think about that … Six HRS after showing no storm except for maybe Bermuda the same model shows a major east coast winter storm.
Again if you’re thinking it’s a compromise between these various weather models and you don’t know what to do you’re making the wrong assessment. It isn’t a compromise.
What is happening is that the other weather models are turning dramatically towards the extreme solution of the European weather Model. This is why taking a compromise solution is not going to work.
What is significant about the new 12z GFS is that the model has now turned dramatically towards the European model. The 12z Canadian model also came out at midday and show a bigger system with more moisture but this Model still tracked the Low more to the east. Again which important here is not that the Canadian model might be correct ….but that it is turning towards the European model solution.
TRENDS my friends…. Trends
Now we have the new afternoon European model for Wednesday, December 22. AGAIN it shows a severe east coast NOREASTER that parks itself or stalls off the far southeast coast of Virginia for 24 hours with only a very slow movement.
Again the model shows a the very heavy the amount of precipitation and high winds for North Carolina Maryland Virginia Delaware into southeastern Pennsylvania all of New Jersey NYC and up to New York but what’s important here is that the cause the European model stalls the system… It produces the heaviest amount of precipitation over central and Eastern Virginia.
That if the European models correct… And this is still a big IF … Richmond WILL come very close to tying or breaking its all time snowfall record. The model produces over 2 inches of liquid at Richmond even more over Eastern Virginia.
All of that precipitation is all snow…. and the snow ratios for a portion of the storm will be closer to 12:1 . 2.06″ times 12… do the math.
In order for this extreme scenario to work out …. The European model depiction of this powerful NOREASTER stalling off the east coast of Virginia is going to have to occur . THAT IS KEY.
It is still quite possible that the European model is wrong about this stalling .
Indeed the European ensembles this afternoon do NOT support the idea of this Monster Low stalling off the Virginia southeast coast for 24 hours . The European ensemble DO show a track very close to the coast….. so even if we did not see the Low stall off central southeast VA coast… ALL of Eastern Southern and northern VA would see a major snowfall with amounts still around 12″ -14″. And yes there would be snow amounts well over 8′”+ in large portions of NC M MOST of MD southeast PA and NJ
The model continues to show extreme wind with this particular storm because of the intense pressure gradient. This storm could cause widespread prolong flooding throughout the western side of the Chesapeake Bay as well as the eastern portions of the Delmarva Peninsula. There could be winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour.
800 AM EST DEC 22
As you can see more and more of the TV stations and media outlets are beginning to turn towards the forecast that I was issuing 48 HRS ago— of a significant snowfall late Christmas daay or Christmas night and into the 26th for large portions of Virginia including the Richmond metro area and much of Eastern Virginia.
The event is delayed until Christmas night. The snow may begin later in the day or early evening along the Virginia North Carolina border. This means that any sort of activities you may have Christmas day should be free of any snowfall. However the delay in the start of the coastal Low is actually making it worse because it means that the system will have a much better chance to become massive.
The overnight European model for the third run in a row is showing a massive and POSSIBLY historic winter storm that brings heavy snow as far south as Columbia and Greensberg Spartanburg SC… then into large portions of North Carolina including Raleigh Charlotte and Greensboro.. then into all of Virginia Maryland Delaware and up into the big cities of I – 95.
The snowfall amounts continue to be extremely high from this severe nor’easter. Amazingly the European model stalls the LOW pressure area off the Virginia Coast for 24 hours and as a result it snows over all of central and Eastern Virginia until early Monday morning December 27. wow…
Because of this extended period of snow the European weather model model produces snowfall which IF THE EUROPEAN MODEL IS CORRECT….. would come very close to TYING or breaking the record for the most snow ever in Richmond … and it if does not the Model is clearly showing a severe snowstorm that would certainly place it in the top five snowfalls of all time for Richmond.
In addition the winds become very strong on the 26 and on the 27th with wind gusts up to 40 mph. Only over Norfolk and Virginia Beach is this even a partial rain event but even there it ends as snow that will accumulate. Williamsburg and Newport News could see the very heavy accumulations of snow and very little if any rain.
The European model drives a heavy snow deep into Western Virginia covering Roanoke Charlottesville Culpeper Warrington and then up into the DC area with the 12″+ snow amounts.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH THIS FORECAST?
It is important to note that this is a forecast NOT a certainty. To be sure what the European model is showing is an extreme solution. But the increasing consistency of the European model data is impressive and significant.
Meanwhile the American weather model continues to flip flop violently in all different directions with absolutely no consistency and it is to be disregarded.
The Canadian weather model has a major winter storm as well BUT it is further to the east and it does not stall the system off the Virginia Coast. Because this model does not have that stall … its snowfall amounts are significantly less but it still shows a major snowfall for central and Eastern Virginia.
Because of the current pattern over the eastern half of North America there is no chance of this system coming inland and becoming a rain event. None. This is why WXRISK.COM has been strongly against the idea of the snow to rain scenario for the past 4 days. The variable here is whether not this system actually develops as fiercely as the European model is showing or whether the major Low is more to the east.
Even IF this powerful Low shifts to east … keep in mind central and eastern VA NC and Lower MD eastern shore COULD see heavy snowfall amounts. Just not extreme.
As weather Models and new information start coming out over the next 4 days I will have the latest and BEST info atr wxrisk.com and facebook.com/ wxrisk
dont foerget to check facebook.com/wxrisk for any sudden changes
21 DEC 845AM
This event is now 4 days away or LESS so can folks stop saying its 5 or 6? Jesus folks learn to ADD.
Today is DEC 21… and it will be snowing in sw Virgina by midday on the 25th and the afternoon over central VA. So lets see tomorrow is the 22nd… then the 23rd… then the 24th…. see ? thats 4 days to DEC 25. Add keep in Mind that by DEC 24 ideally we want to already have the final forecast out there… so from a Forecast range its 3 days.
REMEMBER the purpose of issuing a weather forecast is so that folks can make decisions and have Information. Issuing or upgrading the forecast for heavy snow or raising the snow amounts when it is ALREADY snowing 12 hours before the event is about to begin a sad pathetic Joke. My Job is not to say ” well I sort of got the general pattern right”… ( an accu wx special) . My job is to get the information to you …NOT to blow somke smoke up my own ass.
The overnight early morning Model data have into MORE agreement and showing MORE snow and less rain or Mix for central and east central VA (east central VA = Northern Neck and Middle Penisula). This is VERY different from the storm threat that fizzled on DEC 18-19. By DEC 14 — 4 days before the possible DEC 18 event – ALL of the Model already were backing away from ANY significant snow for ANY portion of VA.
The Canadian European and GFS (american) weather Models are increasing the amount of Liquid this major Noreaster is going to produce. Despite the blather you may have heard on some of the Richmond TV 11pm last night about how this MIGHT be rain for Richmind…. AGAIN I need to point out that overnight NONE of the Model data.. NONE… shows this event will be rain OR even snow to rain.
Instead these new early Tuesday morning weather Models drive significant snowfall –6″+ into DCA Baltimore and Philly for the 1st time ( the data earlier showed little snow for those areas). The new data shows about 0.9″ liquid for RIC which would be around 10 ” of snow (if this data is right) and MORE to the south and east. Areas such as New Kent and chesterfield and the Middle Peninsula and North Neck may see total liquid of 1.25″ and 1.50″ for the Lower MD eastern shore.
IF we assume a 10:1 ration that is a LOT of snow EAST of I-95. Given how cold the air mass the ratio may be more like 12:1. There will be sharp drop off in the snow amounts to the west… areas such as Roanoke Charlottesville DC and Winchester stand a good chance of seeing less snow than Richmond or Tappahanock.
More at 2pm… and facebook updates all day at facebook./com/ wxrisk
20 DEC 455 PM EST
OK I have lots of talk about in a lot to say so let’s get right to it. First because this is a developing situation and the model data is coming out as fast and furious am trying to get the updates out as fast as I can but if… It can get hectic. Last night I was up until 230AM …LOL….
maps out soon
The 12z — Mididay weather Models and data continues the trend of showing a significant winter storm for large portion of Virginia Northern North Carolina and Maryland especially the eastern shore of Maryland — and possibly into the Washington, DC and Baltimore area.
All the model data here at midday shifted to the SOUTH with a storm track. This places Virginia and especially central and eastern VA in a near ideal or textbook situation for a significant winter storm. It must be remembered that the storm track for central and Eastern Virginia to see significant / major snowfall is NOT the same track as it is for the big cities of I-95 cities. There are exceptions to this rule where Richmond will get a major snowfall when Washington, DC Baltimore and Philadelphia is also hit with a Major snow but for the most part … that is NOT that case.
There is little doubt that if you watch the the clowns over at the weather channel –or over accuweather — you will see almost no mention at all of Eastern Virginia and the lower Maryland Eastern shore in their discussions. In other words… IF for example… they are forecasting the Low to miss the big cities of 95 and pass to the south and east …it never occurs to them to think that that such a track is a very good track for central and Eastern Virginia seeing significant snowfall.
This afternoon accu wx is forecasting 6-12″ from DCA to BOS which is totally supported by NO model data at all. Of course there are an awful lot of subscribers up there in the NE corridor right?
Closer to home the afternoon discussion from Wakefield is finally mentioning snow but they continue to talk about snow to rain or at least the possibility of snow to rain over central Virginia and the Richmond metro area. That is still possible but I must emphasize again that as of today there is absolutely no model data of any kind that shows Richmond getting rain OR snwo to rain from this situation. Now that doesn’t mean that cannot happen and it doesn’t mean that the model data cannot change so I suppose are leaving the door open that the snow could change to rain and back to snow again.
It is a reasonable and cautious forecast at this point but right now I am very skeptical about any transition to rain for the Richmond metro area or any serious mixing of the snow to rain… maybe sleet. For a few hours. Maybe.
That dramatic shift we saw the GFS very early Monday Morning tells me that the GFS model should NOT be considered the model of choice — UNTIL we get with 72 or 84 hrs of the event. Instead it would be wise to use the 1 weather model which has been consistent and not changing …. The 1 model were the other model data is shifting towards ” IT” . That Model is the European.
The European model at 12z show a the shift to the south and east which is bad news for the big cities of the northeast but good news for snow lovers into central and Eastern Virginia. The 12z European ensemble mean strongly supports the the 12z the operational European. It has the developing Low tracking from southwest Georgia along the the Carolina Coast day and passing just north of Cape Hatteras. This is just a perfect classic track for big snow for eastern and Central Virginia as well as a NW and N centraL North Carolina ns the Lower MD eastern shore.
The 18z GFS is coming out as I write this but quite frankly I really do not care wet the 18z GS shows. It would not surprise me at all if the models showed sunny skies on Christmas Day or whether it showed a large asteroid heading for the planet.
900 AM DEC 20
Given what happened with the weather models last week one might expect a weather forecaster to be a little cautious in jumping the gun when it comes to the next significant winter weather event for Virginia and the Middle Atlantic region. But that would be a mistake.
For one it is always a bad idea to fight the last battle at the wrong time. Just like in war … in the weather Biz… you have to accept losses and defeats. Because sometime you dont get a break and it keeps coming at you. Like it did last Winter… and as it seems to be doing again this winter. Second the two events winter events we had last week were not significant events. The first event came out of Kentucky which fell apart as it moved east out of the Mountains. The second event which was supposed to occur on December 18 – 19 never showed up. Originally the weather models show a possible major winter storm for Virginia and the Middle Atlantic states but as we get closer to the event the models rapidly moved away the from that possibility. That si always a sign from the weather Models that its NOT going to work out.
REMEMBER.. as we get closer to an weather event… the idea is that weather Models should be coming together . Think about it… Weather Models SHOULD be a lot more accurate and in Better agreement at say 36 hours then at say 7 days. Right? That is the exactly what we are seeing Now… and the exact opposite of what we saw last week.
In the early morning hours of Monday all of the weather models moved into strong agreement that a major winter storm is going to occur on Christmas day over the Middle Atlantic states from Northern North Carolina into Connecticut. This includes most of Virginia as well as the big cities of I- 95 corridor.
One of the reasons why the winter storms last winter were so easy to forecast 5-6 days out by WXRISK.com (not by others) was that these were BIG systems and as a rule ….weather models do a much better job in forecasting major weather systems several days ahead of time.
Historically for example the great blizzard of January 1996 was forecasted by the EUROPEAN weather model seven days out. Hurricane Isabel was detected by the EUROPEAN weather models to make a direct hit in Virginia 7 days out. The president’s Day nowstorm FEB 16-17 which dumped 10 to 24 inches of snow from western and North Virginia to Massachusetts was detected 7 days out by the EUROPEAN weather Models.
The strong model agreement that we have early this morning has a major Low pressure area coming out of the Gulf of Mexico and rolling up the East coast cannot be overlooked.
Of course it is a little deceptive to call this historic since the most snow that Richmond has ever seen on Christmas Day is 5.4 inches. (6 inches of snow would be historic for Xmas day in Richmond). However the model agreement here is very strong that the potential exists for at least 6 inches of snow … and possibly double that… over many areas of central… western and northern Virginia. The heavy snow potential also exists for much of Maryland including the lower Maryland Eastern shore New Jersey southeastern Pennsylvania NYC Long Island and Connecticut.
In SOME ways this system as is currently being depicted by the weather models resembles the historic blizzard of January 1996. Of course no two snowstorms are ever exactly like but we are now five days away from this event. The snow will begin to move into Kentucky and much of Tennessee on DEC 25 then spread rapidly eastward into western NC amd all of VA Christmas night. Southeast VA may even see the some significant snow before changes over to rain in Hampton roads area. Even though the snow will be over in Eastern Virginia by the late on the 26th of December it will continue across DC in the big cities into the northeast most of Sunday. Winds over Virginia will increase significantly possibly gusting up to 40 miles per hour AFTER the snow has ended.
All persons and businesses within the commonwealth and the Middle Atlantic region needs to follow the potential development of this major winter storm closely. It has the potential to cause significant disruption to travel and businesses for several days. As weather Models and new information start coming out over the next 4 days I will have the latest and BEST info Here and facebook.com/ wxrisk …. images and maps will be out in 15 MINUTES
DEC 18 820 PM
XMAS DAY SNOWSTORM FOR VA & MD ???
As you can see from this late day radar Image from the folks at Wakefield the snow line is into southeastern Virginia and reaches about 20 miles to the south and east of Richmond — and just south of Petersburg. This snow is close to the Richmond Metro area of but I don’t think it’s gonna make it any further to the north and west.
It’s now time to turn our attention to the potential for a significant snowstorm or a moderate snow fall and Christmas day / night for much of Virginia and possibly even for the Richmond metro area.
Starting from early today the operational gfs became very bullish with this system. The model takes a piece of energy in the jet stream (which we call a shortwave in the weather business) and amplifies it as it crosses the Mississippi River. Then a second piece of energy drops in from Canada and when these two pieces of energy in the Jet stream merge ( “phase”) they cause a significant Low pressure area to form on the East Coast Christmas day & Christmas.
The 0z Saturday GFS develops the Low over NC into large snowstorm for the entire East coast but that solution is silly… it is overdone and has no support from any other model. The 0z European model and the European ensembles have a much more reasonable solution by developing a moderate area of Low-pressure over Kentucky tracking it through Southern Virginia or North Carolina and then off the coast and out to sea. This would bring a moderate snowfall to much of Virginia and dome Maryland Washington, DC area BUT this solution would not turn up the coast and bombed out the big cities of the I-95 corridor.
The 6z and 12z GFS continue to develop this Low into a significant event but are more reasonable and follow the pattern and other models are showing . In other words they bring significant snow to VA and MD (made a Northern North Carolina) on Xmas Day and Night then take this Low out to sea. This mean that according to the the 12z saturday GFS and GFS ensemble means Philly NJ NYC and Western New England would miss out on the snow.
The problem here with the GFS and GFS ensemble solution is multi faceted. Most of the time the gfs loves to over develop and over phase two pieces of energy into big systems. In addition the model lives to ” dig” systems in the Jet stream way too far to the south. It is uncommon for a piece of energy in the Midwest to drop southeast into in NC. It has happened in the past to be sure but it’s not common.
The key feature that the GFS and GFS ensembles are focusing on which forces this system to drop into North Carolina and give Virginia to snowstorm on Christmas Day… is a piece of energy over far Northern Quebec Canada. On DEC 23 and 24 the GFS Model has this peice of energy moving SW…. into southwest Quebec. This is why the GFS model drop the Midwest energy well to out south and spins up a Low and Xmas Day snowstorm for VA and MD.
Interestingly the 0z and 12z Saturday the European model as well as the European ensembles are also quite bullish with this system. This is a bit of a surprise because usually it is the GFS which drops these Lows too far to the south while the European model is far more realistic and further north with its tracks. To see the European ensembles keep this low pressure area this far to the south and bring significant snow to much of Virginia and Maryland is a real surprise.
This solution is also supported by the 12z saturday Ukmet Model as well.
If we want to stay level headed and reasonable about this then what we are probably looking at ( assuming that these models come to fruition) … is a 2 to 6 ” snow Christmas afternoon and night. If the system slows down and develops a closed Upper Low in the Jet stream as it approaches the coast the snowfall amounts could be a few inches more than that . But that is unlikely as the models show the system moving at a fairly good clip as it sweeps off the coast in a ENE direction.
One last point I wish to mention. Most of the forecasts — from private weather sources as well as the climate prediction center — have been calling for a fairly typical La but Nina pattern for January and February . In other words the cold pattern we seen in December is likely to break down and the pattern will turn milder. There is a strong tendency for Jan& Feb winters that feature La Nina events to run mild.
However the European model weeklies have come out. This is a relatively new product from the Europeans and it has the forecast maps projected out to four weeks. The European weekly models do not show the pattern breaking down and it keeps it cold right through the middle of January. Sometimes the European weekly models have shown some skill and sometimes they have been absolutely worthless. But I wanna to get this out there to let you know that there is some indication that the pattern might not turn Mild in January