Author Archives: John Kassell

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First Look At Thoughts On Winter 2017-18

Category : Top Weather Stories

When we look how our atmosphere responds to perturbations, this is what we call weather. The weather we experience is cyclical, both climatologically and globally. What may happen in Siberia will have some type of impact on the United States’ weather in the future, a general rule of thumb is around 21 days. Why do I bring all of this up? To bring an appreciation to the science of long-range and seasonal outlooks. Season outlooks are not meant to perfect, but more of a guide as to how our atmosphere will handle these long-range perturbations in our atmosphere. It is by no means an easy task, but it is certainly a craft that many have dedicated their lives to and continue to dedicate their lives to.

One of biggest drivers of our weather and climate patterns is oceanic behavior. How warm or how cold the temperatures of the water play an absolutely vital role in what weather we experience day in and day out as well as long-term weather patterns that occur throughout a meteorological season. The atmosphere’s response to changes in the ocean has an amplified effect on the variations of our winter weather (or lack thereof) every year.

I’m sure many, if not most of you, have heard of ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) and its phases. The El Nino phase of ENSO is where the waters of the central and eastern tropical Pacific are warmer than average. This phase occurs every 2 to 7 years. On the contrary, the La Nina phase of ENSO is where the waters of the central and eastern tropical Pacific are cooler than average. The latest outlook discussion from NOAA suggests that the northern Hemisphere will be in a developing La Nina phase of ENSO this winter, indicating a better than 50% of La Nina conditions during the Fall and upcoming Winter months. How the atmosphere responds to ENSO phases is noted by the “Southern Oscillation” in the term, ENSO. The atmosphere’s peak response to ENSO phases generally occur throughout the Winter months across the Northern Hemisphere.

With a La Nina phase, the primary jet stream tends to drive the storm track through the Pacific Northwest. This generally produces wet conditions during the meteorological Winter months. This same pattern also produces a track that would drive low pressure systems into parts of the Midwest, and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys resulting in above average precipitation for these regions for the same period. On the counter side, this pattern would favor periodic ridge building across the southern half of the United States on the foundation of high pressure systems. This would produce drier conditions across much of the southern half of the country while bringing milder temperatures across Texas and eastward through the Gulf States and Southeast US.

The greatest opportunity for colder conditions during a La Nina phase stretches across Montana and across the High Plains as the dip in the jetstream across that region which serves to usher in colder air from Canada. The Midwest, Northeast and New England are accustomed to seeing colder than average temperatures during a La Nina phase. Keep in mind though, for as much as ENSO plays a vital role in our winter, it is only one factor among several.

In the figure above, we note the cooler than normal (0) SSTs stretching across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. This is characteristic of the La Nina phase of ENSO.

The figure above illustrates the common pattern setup resulting from the La Nina phase of the ENSO cycle. The setup of the jetstream (thick, blue arrow stretching across CONUS) will be critical for winter storm tracks throughout meteorological Winter.

Season models have been fluctuating all over the place on their projections for air temperature departures, meaning how much warmer or colder, compared to normal, various regions of the US will be this winter. I personally do not see great use in utilizing air temperature projections. As I discussed earlier, oceanic behavior and sea surface temperatures convey a more telling message for the weather patterns we might experience over the Winter months.

According to the JAMSTEC seasonal model, as characteristic of a La Nina, the equatorial waters of the central and eastern Pacific are modeled to be cooler than normal, while across the northeast Pacific, average to above average warm waters are modeled to evolve through the Winter months. Looking at the JAMSTEC SSTAs through meteorological Winter, one particular area of interest when I do my research is how warm or cool the waters are across the Northeast Pacific, especially from the Alaskan Gulf, southward to just off the west coast of the United States. If there is a warm signal that is modeled to develop during the Winter months from the Alaskan Gulf down through waters off of the western US coast, this tells me that there are favorable, seasonal conditions that would conducive for blocking high pressure features to develop somewhere in this region, usually near the Alaskan Gulf which would promote ridging in the western US with a troughing in the eastern US. The magnitude of the La Nina phase will determine how amplified such a pattern will become. This pattern is known as the positive phase of the PNA (Pacific-North American Oscillation).

Analyzing teleconnections and their trends give us critical insight into what we might be able to expect in the upcoming winter months. Teleconnections are large-scale, long-duration shifts in atmospheric circulation that can have impacts across the globe. Critical teleconnections for the United States during the winter months include the following: the PNA (Pacific-North American), PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) patterns.

If the warmer waters do prevail as modeled from the Alaskan Gulf to the California coastal waters, this would suggest the positive phase of the PNA pattern would evolve. With a +PNA, above normal geopotential heights would prevail across the western US with below normal geopotential heights the trend across the eastern US. This would lead to ridging in the west (milder air) and troughing in the east (colder air). With ENSO in forecast to be in the La Nina phase, though, contrary to an amplified ridge/trough setup, we could see a pattern more characteristic of a zonal ridge/trough setup, meaning the ridging and troughing throughout the Winter months may need become as deep or pronounced. Something we will have to monitor very closely in the coming months and throughout the Winter season.

If the waters immediately along the western coastline of the US become even slightly below normal, as models are hinting at in the early stages, this would promote above average temperatures and below average winter precipitation across the Southeast US characteristic of the cold phase of the PDO pattern. One thing to watch closely with the PDO and the La Nina phase is depending on how weak or strong La Nina will actually become will give us insight as to how deep troughs that form in the east will develop throughout the Winter. If the ridge/trough setup does remain more zonal (flattened) in nature, we could be looking at the jetstream pushing more into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, bringing a greater opportunity for a winter storm track for these regions. On the contrary, if the ridge/trough setup becomes even slightly more amplified, the jet stream could become more suppressed bringing more opportunities for a few winter events across the Southeast, though I don’t suspect terribly large amount.

Finally, the NAO phase is forecast to remain mostly positive through at least the of October. This would result in a wetter pattern with many storm (winter storm) threats due to the upswing in upper level winds. Also, with the NAO in the positive phase, above average temperatures are the trend associated with this pattern. In this case, “above average temperatures” does not infer spring-like temperatures, but temperatures above normal for that time of the year in that particular region, climatologically. It is important to note that a wetter pattern requires temperatures supportive of moisture in the atmosphere. Bitterly cold temperatures essentially shut down the moisture supply in the atmosphere.

All these considered, I suspect this will be a winter that brings a variety of weather to the entire country. I’ve broken down the map below into numbered sections. Each associated number will provide a preliminary concise, generalized winter outlook for that particular area.

Region #1: Mostly episodes of rain to through December with chances for colder temperatures and snow during the second half of Winter, especially through the interior regions.

Region #2: Frequent episodes of cold, Arctic air, especially during the second half of Winter. A number of chances for clipper systems to pass through.

Region #3: Frequent chance for cold and snow. Watch for the annual “winter battle zone” (ice, freezing rain) to be the trend along and south of the Ohio Valley and into the Tennessee Valleys.

Region #4: Mostly mild and drier with occasional rain chances throughout the Winter months.

Region #5: A fairly average winter with seasonable snow and cold chances. Colder across the southern Plains over the second half of Winter.

Region #6: Cooler temperatures and wet, more rain chances than snow chances, although, I suspect a few snow/cold chances might be the case over the second half of Winter

Region #7: Mild temperatures with occasional chances for rain. Might be hard to buy much snow for this region with best snow chances centered across the eastern Carolinas.

While seasonal and long-range outlooks give us some insights as to what we can expect over an extended period of time, they are by no means concrete. The atmosphere is constantly changing and is an extraordinarily fickle beast. As I say every year, the smallest change in a variable that is unseen can have a great impact on the overall outlook. Please keep in mind, the information presented in this outlook is not gospel truth and therefore should not be treated or shared as such. This outlook was developed as a preliminary outlook and will be updated or adjusted as need in the coming months.



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Latest On Category 5 Hurricane Irma; Still Maintaining Strength

To say Hurricane Irma is resilient might be the biggest understatement of the year. Irma continues to devastate the eastern islands of the Caribbean with 185 mph winds and will continue to do so in the days to come. Here is the 5 PM advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Warnings in place for all of Puerto Rico, the northern coast of Hispaniola and the central and eastern Bahamas. It is incredible that Irma has maintained 185 mph strength for over 24 hours.

Here is a satellite representation of Irma as it tracks WNW to the north of Puerto Rico. Notice the “buzzsaw” look that Irma possesses… this is indicative of its strength and perfect (or near-perfect) structure. Irma is not expected to weaken much between now and the weekend. It may even strengthen some north of Hispaniola, a notorious hotbed for hurricane intensification.

Below is a snapshot of water temperatures. Note the region of very warm waters (upper 80s) beginning to the north of Hispaniola and becoming even warmer between the Bahamas and Cuba. This could further strengthen Irma as these waters are in its path. Surreal to think, but the possibility cannot be discounted.

WHERE IRMA WILL TRACK: If I would put my money on one particular track over another, I’d be a fool. Model tracks will continue their swaying back-and-forth act so I’ve essentially tossed those in the dumpster long ago. I like to go directly to the source… and that is the upper air pattern. This will always tell us a more comprehensive story of where Irma could go. The upper air pattern tells us we have to continue watching a number of things over the next 24-48 hours. Let’s recap…

  • Guess what tops this list? If you said the trough in the east, you’d be correct. Initial thoughts were that the Irma’s connection with the trough could kick it out to sea, but it will almost certainly miss that scenario. Now we look to how soon Irma begins its northward trough and this will be determined by the timing of that same trough.
  • Irma is continuing its track in a westerly heading as the ridge to its northeast keeps building to the west preventing a turn north, sooner. As soon as Irma distances itself far enough away from the ridge, it will begin its turn north. When that occurs depends on the timing of the trough and how soon it distances itself from the ridge.
  • Thursday into Friday is the timeframe we need to be concerned with as we will almost certainly know if Irma is far along enough from the ridge and whether it can establish a connection with the trough.
  • In the event that Irma misses the trough connection, I suspect we will have to increase the chances of Irma skirting across the west coast of Florida and perhaps the far eastern Gulf. This scenario will be talked more in-depth if it becomes a greater threat.

THOUGHTS: As far as landfall is concerned, regardless of where or IF it makes landfall in Florida, widespread impacts of a major hurricane will be felt. After scouring over the upper air pattern, I’m looking at these scenarios (in order of likeliness)… Yes, I could be wrong, but these are what I suspect for now.

  1. Irma goes into southern Florida
  2. Irma skirts up the East Coast of Florida, then hooks northwest
  3. Irma remains just offshore of eastern Florida and pushes toward the Carolinas.
  4. In the event Irma misses the trough connection, then we have to acknowledge additional Gulf scenarios.

Further, I do not buy the sharp north as models are indicating at this point. I am thinking that the turn will be more gradual, but that is another item to watch closely moving forward over the next day or two. My biggest concern is the potential for Irma to further intensify between Cuba, the Bahamas and Hispaniola.

CALL TO ACTION: We like simplicity, we do not like complicated messages during an extreme weather event. Simply put, those from Florida to the Southeast US Coast, continue to have serious interest and concern with Irma. Florida, I would even go a step farther and say be prepared for conditions characteristic of a major hurricane this weekend.

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The Latest On Category 5 Hurricane Irma

Category : Top Weather Stories

Hurricane Irma continues its westward journey this evening as a formidable beast in the Atlantic. As of the 5 PM National Hurricane Center advisory, Irma is packing sustained winds of 185 mph, a “buzzsaw” by meteorological standards. Here is the latest forecast track for Irma. Note the slight shift north between Saturday and Sunday evening.

One thing to note is the environment the Irma ia heading into. Sea surface temperatures continue to sore into the 29-30 C range (mid 80s on the Fahrenheit scale) across the Caribbean and Bahamas with minimal wind shear. Incredibly, further intensification of Irma might not be out of the question. Heat potential is beyond ample for Irma to at least maintain its current intensity.


Where is Irma headed? This is the trillion-dollar question. While there has been tremendous speculation based on ensemble and operational model outputs, the real answer is that no one knows for certain. A number of scenarios are on the table, but not one scenario has significant weight over the other. One of the most critical variables of Irma’s ultimate track is… you guessed it, the trough. If you got a dollar for every time I’ve mentioned the trough in the east over the last week, you could retire off that money, well… not really, but you get the just of the message being conveyed here. One thing I can say with pretty solid confidence is that we can almost certainly foil an out to sea track out of the picture. This being said, some type of US-impact is almost imminent, and I say almost because there is a very small window for the US to escape a direct impact, but it is possible.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR WITH IRMA: A number of things are on the playing field for where Irma is ultimately headed. Keep in mind, we are several days away from a potential US-impact. Here is what we are looking for:

  • We note that the westerly movement of Irma continues this evening. This is due to the ridge building to the northeast of Irma. Model output is suggesting this ridge will continue building to the west which would force Irma to continue its westward track until Irma has distanced itself far enough from this ridge that it can be its turn north. When that happens will depend when Irma is far enough away from this ridge and how it interacts with the trough in the eastern US. This point is critical and will be the difference between a direct hit to southern Florida or a “just miss”.
  • Thursday is a crucial day in the life and track of Irma. We need to keep close watch on Hispaniola’s interaction with Irma, or if there is any interaction. Hispaniola is a mountainous island nation, one that is notorious for shredding hurricanes to oblivion. However, if Irma remains far enough north of Hispaniola, hurricanes have been known to intensify in this region. This interaction will be critical for the life and track of Irma. Given how massive a system Irma is, I suspect that Hispaniola would have some impact on Irma pending interaction, but not certain how much of a demise Hispaniola would be for the system.
  • Days ago, we were hoping that Irma would move north of the 20N latitude mark. This evening, Irma remains south of this benchmark. Historically, hurricanes that remain south of this mark impact Florida in some manner.
  • Thursday will be the day that the nature and timing of the trough in the eastern US will be much more clear. This will determine whether the trough pulls Irma north sooner. In the event Irma misses the trough connection, we must acknowledge a greater chance for a Gulf storm. What part of the Gulf remains uncertain, in the event the trough connection is missed.

GUT FEELING: After scouring over the upper air pattern (500 mb), I’m suspecting that Irma might be a Florida storm. Not certain if Irma is a south Florida storm, Florida west coast storm or Florida east coast storm. It is tough making that type of call this early, but history and upper air patterns suggest that Florida is too close to for comfort with Irma. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to change my tone.

CALL TO ACTION: I’m still not comfortable giving the all clear for the Gulf of Mexico based on the missed trough connection potential. That said, folks from the Gulf to Florida and the Southeast US coast, please continue to take serious interest in this storm and have your hurricane ready plan set to go. It is much easier to not have to execute such a safety plan than having to scurry in hysteria at the last-minute preparing you and your family in the event Irma does make US impact.

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2017 Solar Eclipse Outlook: Part 1

By now, everyone has their places ready and arrangements made for the solar eclipse that is to occur Monday, August 21st, 2017. As a note of extreme caution, when viewing the eclipse, make certain that you have the proper, certified visual gear to watch the eclipse in safety. For more info on viewing safety, visit:

Two of the biggest questions that have been asked to this point, and naturally so is “will it rain and how will clouds impact my viewing chances of the eclipse?” Both really good questions, yet tough to answer with great certainty beyond a handful of days. The main time window we are looking at for the “start to finish” of the event is from around 9:00 AM (Noon ET) to around 4:00 PM ET. Those in the path of totality will have a much shorter window to view the eclipse in totality, along the order of a few minutes. Here are a few cities that fall in the path of totality. Note that the beginning and end of the eclipse are a much broader widow than the window of totality (a little over two minutes, on average).

Here is a look at rain precipitation chances by the two premier global models, the GFS (American) and the ECMWF (European) outputs.

This GFS output is valid at high noon ET, the commencement of the eclipse for the Pacific Northwest. We can note that as of now (and this will likely change), folks across the Pacific Northwest may run into some hard times viewing the eclipse. We also still have continued showers across parts of the eastern US by noon.

This ECMWF output is valid at high noon ET. We note on this rendering that scattered showers may develop across southern Appalachia but an a clear viewing for the solar eclipse across the Pacific Northwest as the event commences.

And finally, a quick peek at the cloud cover as modeled by both the GFS and ECMWF suggests that cloud cover may play a role in viewing the eclipse for parts of the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Midwest and Appalachia. I suspect that as new data comes out, we will be able to assess locations of high pressure features, lending to a cloud-free environment.

Overall, two regions to watch for are the Pacific Northwest and Appalachia as precipitation and cloud cover chances are heightened at this stage. As noted, these parameters are likely to adjust over the coming week. This discussion was to give you an idea of what we are looking at in the short-term for the solar eclipse. I will have a follow-up forecast discussion a week from this evening (Sunday, August 20th). That discussion will have more detail as we will be within a 24-hour window of the event.

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Latest & Thoughts On Invest 90L In The Caribbean And Invest 99L In The Atlantic

To start the month, we are seeing an upswing in Atlantic tropical activity. Climatologically, this upswing is falling into perfect alignment with the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season which spans, historically, across August and September. Looking at the latest NHC discussions, we note two areas of interest: (1) a wave in the southern Caribbean (Invest 90L) and (2) a wave in the Atlantic Basin (Invest 99L). Both waves have a decent chance at development through the week ahead.

WHAT WE KNOW: As noted, both areas of interest have a decent chance of development, in the short-term. There is greater confidence in Invest 90L having some type of impact on the Yucatan Peninsula and then into the Bay of Campeche over the next several days. Below are model plots for Invest 90L.

WHAT WE ARE STILL LEARNING: With Invest 99L in the Atlantic Basin, as noted, development is likely for at the least the near term. Up until the Lesser Antilles (set of islands that begin the Caribbean Islands), model plots are in fairly solid agreement on taking Invest 99L toward the Caribbean Islands. After this, things become uncertain, and for a number of reasons. For a few days, model output has taken Invest 99L north of the islands, and while a few still do, recent trends have suggested a slight shift south with the plots, overall. Below are model plots for Invest 99L.

UNCERTAINTIES: The first item that would lead to uncertainty, at the moment, with the future of Invest 99L is wind shear. An increased and elongated corridor of shear is situated directly in the forecast path of Invest 99L. Such conditions are unfavorable for long-term development as wind shear would tear the system apart. The second item is the topography of the Caribbean Islands. The islands feature rough terrain as mountains dominate the chain of islands. If the system manages to survive the shear, the terrain of the islands would almost certainly be its ultimate demise. The third item is the magnitude and extent of the SAL (Saharan Air Layer). This is dry air coming off the west coast of Africa that inhibits storm development across the Atlantic Basin. The SAL can extend as far west as the Caribbean Islands and a reason we saw minimal activity up until now. Shown below is a representation of shear tendency over the last 24 hours. Reds and Yellows indicate current shear. Note the elongated pocket of shear in the path of Invest 99L, some 40 to 50 knots.

Shown below is the current SAL coming off the west coast of Africa. When at its greatest, SAL produces dry air that inhibits tropical development in the Main Development Region.


FUTURE OF INVEST 99L: It’s honestly hard to say with great certainty right now. Some of the biggest questions that are naturally surfacing are whether this will survive future conditions and whether it can make it into the Gulf or up the US Eastern seaboard. That’s a tough call, and one that should not be made right now. Any Invest 99L forecasts out there right now that are calling for a Gulf or East Coast storm are just purely irresponsible. There are a lot of questions with this area of interest that need time and more data in order to be answered:

  • Can Invest 99L survive the shear in place?
  • Will shear dissipate ahead of the system dissipate?
  • If shear dissipates and Invest 99L strengthens, will it strengthen to fast and recurve out to sea or head up the East coast?
  • Will the SAL impact the development of Invest 99L

These are all questions that are surfacing, and ones we just don’t have the answer to at the moment, but in the days ahead, we should begin getting a better understanding of Invest 99L as the system becomes more organized.

PREPAREDNESS IS CRITICAL: No matter what the case, if you live anywhere from the southeast Texas coast to coastal Maine, be prepared during hurricane season. Pay close attention to the forecasts and have a safety plan in place.




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A Botched Forecast: What Went Wrong and How We Get Better

The hate mail rolled in today, mostly stemming from folks not getting the forecast amount of snow in their backyards or that the snowfall amounts were underdone. We “try” to predict the behavior of a science that is far from perfect, and more times than not, we come up short.


Since the start of the week, we had forecast a significant winter storm that would take shape across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, while threatening the coastal Northeast regions. Forecast models are your friend, but they can be your enemy at the same time. I always point out that computer models are ONLY a tool for the forecast and NOT a forecast themselves. Looking at model parameters illustrating surface precipitation type, QPF and projected snowfall amounts will do you NO good. We have to look beyond the surface to understand why what is projected at the surface is being projected there. With a number of items that need to be taken into account into a forecast, sometimes something gets overlooked, and the parameter that was overlooked was a critical one.

As the event transpired, it was becoming noticeable that warm air aloft was beginning to build just above the surface, which led to one of two things:

  1. No snow at all for areas that were forecast to receive snow
  2. A limited amount of snow giving way to more freezing rain

Because of these two things, the forecast was missed in several locations. Warm air aloft is not something models are great at picking up days in advance. It causes a forecast to shift into a “nowcast” event.


While computer models lead to a great deal of error at times, it’s the job of the forecaster to be able to weed out the fallacies of a forecast model and produce the best possible forecast they can and make adjustments as needed. The issue is, at times, we develop a one-track mind and overlook tools that can be critical. In this case, I overlooked sounding data near the surface and while I anticipated the chance that warm air aloft could build, I didn’t anticipate the magnitude/strength of the warm air layer above the ground which would, and in fact did, limit snowfall amounts in several locations.

Across the Northeast, many coastal areas got a good blast of snow today, and many areas got much more than forecast as the precipitation shield became far more expansive than anticipated as the low was within closer proximity to the coast than expected. All told though, it was noted many times throughout the week of the threat that back edge snow could make its way into coastal Northeast regions.

Overall, we can learn a lot from this winter storm: where we went wrong and where we MUST improve, especially on the communication front. Am I apologetic for the Southeast getting as much snow as it was forecast to receive, not at all. I’m ecstatic they did not receive as much as the last time they saw a significant winter storm, a city gridlock, lockdown and overall humanitarian crisis followed.

Onward and upward…

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Weekend Winter Storm Threat For The Southeast, Mid-Atlantic.

Confidence continues to increase seemingly by the hour on the threat for a potentially significant winter storm for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States this weekend. And sadly, that first sentence is about the only thing that we know with any certainty at this point, but that we study all of the data we have at our finger tips, the easier (haha, easier…) it will be to put the pieces together to form a solid forecast for such an event.

In order to gain a solid understanding of this winter storm, as it is the case with every winter storm threat, we need to look at what is occurring at mid-levels of the atmosphere and the energy that is coming down the pike as well as the overall pattern we are working with. Looking at precipitation forecasts at the surface do not paint the whole picture. We need to dig deeper…

A look at the surface according to the latest GFS rendering shows a formidable winter storm across the Southeast early Saturday morning… 

The driver behind the winter storm threat will be a piece of energy that is currently out in the Pacific Ocean. This is a BIG reason why model guidance is all over the charts with this storm threat going from a significant winter storm to the very next run showing next to nothing. Once this piece of energy comes on shore of the western US, we will have a much better understanding of the nature, timing and placement of this threat.

As noted, the piece of energy that will form this winter storm has not reached land yet. As of this evening, model output has it located off the Pacific NW coast (illustrated by the reds and yellows).

Once this piece of energy comes on land, it will dive south and east along the southern branch of a split flow setup. Split flow jet streams are the ideal setup for winter storms as the northern branch of the jetstream carries your dose of cold air while the southern branch carries the energy needed for the storm. If you can get the perfect setup where the cold air and the energy work in tandem, then you have a winter storm on your hands. I suspect this will be exactly the case with this threat.

By Friday afternoon then evening, notice where that piece of energy is located… over the Rockies and then over the Panhandle of Texas.

By Saturday morning, the piece of energy is now over the Southeast US as a developing winter storm. 

The European model illustrates a similar solution but is much more robust on the magnitude of the energy coming across southern jet stream. Essentially, the European model is calling for a much more vigorous winter event across the Southeast.

Let me break down the keys to the pattern setup for this winter storm threat.

  • The GFS and European models (at the 500 mb level) are showing winter mischief this weekend across the Southeast
  • The GFS is weaker with its rendering of energy, while the European model is more robust with its solution
  • A piece of energy in the northern branch of the jet stream (located in the Canadian Prairies) will determine the placement of the system as well as the timing. The stronger and slower the northern piece of energy is, the stronger a storm we are looking at across the Southeast. In addition, the stronger and slower the northern piece of energy in the Canadian Prairies is, the more time and room this storm threat will have to come up the East Coast. Something we NEED to watch closely.
  • On the contrary, the weaker and faster the northern piece of energy becomes, the weaker of a Southeast winter weather threat we are looking at and a lesser chance the storm skirts up the East Coast.

Which solution am I leaning toward? With complete certainty, I honestly am not sure yet. If I had to choose, I’d lean towards the European solution. I can see the piece of energy in the southern branch outrace the northern piece of energy and developing into a winter storm threat for the Southeast and up a good extend of the East Coast. Obviously, things can and likely will change between now and the weekend.

LOCATIONS: Given what we know and what continues to be watched, I will say that folks across northeast Texas, southeast Oklahoma, southern Arkansas, far northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, northern Georgia, interior South Carolina, parts of North Carolina and parts of Tennessee and Virginia should be monitoring this situation closely and be prepared for a winter storm threat. Now if the low tracks even a bit further north, then we’ll have to add locations like southeast Pennsylvania, the Delmarva, NYC and parts of southern New England to the mix as well. For now though, all these areas I’ve mentioned should keep this threat in mind moving forward.

Note that I did not talk about snowfall amounts. As the piece of energy needed for this winter storm is just now coming on land, models have been all over the boards with anticipated snowfall amounts, so quite frankly, they are useless. Also, please be mindful that the locations that could be impacted by this winter storm threat or some degree of winter mischief could change and locations can contract or expand. Those in the threat area, there is no reason to panic… just be prepared.

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Winter Storm Threat This Weekend; Ice Storm Possible in Some Areas

Category : Top Weather Stories

As I noted in my winter forecast and across many posts on social media, December would be a transitional month as we shift into a more volatile weather pattern favoring a more active storm path and increase bouts of colder air. Nearly two weeks into December, and that idea has come to fruition. As we head into this upcoming weekend, a new winter storm threat is appearing more likely to develop. Early on, it appears that this storm threat could impact the Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast US.

Now, unfortunately, for snow lovers, this will not be an “all-snow” event, as those across the warmer sector of the storm system could see rain or even a good dose of ice, depending on where boundary between air masses sets up. We note that, although there are still many questions regarding the timing, magnitude and the exact nature of the setup, overall, we could also be looking at an ice threat anywhere from the Ohio Valley to the Southeast.

Here is what the GFS (American) and CMC (Canadian) models are painting for this scenario, and while the GFS remains modest with ice implications, the CMC is very robust in its ice output. Still, plenty of time to sort things out… but just keep this in the back of your mind moving forward… more updates to come on this.

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Hurricane Matthew: A Concerning, Heightened Threat For East Florida, Southeast Coast.

Hurricane Matthew already has a very lengthy resume and track record as it barrels into the Bahamas, having torn through parts of Haiti and Cuba. Matthew continues to remain a high-end Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph sustained winds. Now that is entering the Bahamas, there is increased water real-estate, water that is very warm will serve as jet fuel for Matthew. Already once a Category 5 storm, Matthew could easily strength back into a Category 4 and could very well impact the east coast of Florida as a Category 4 storm as well.

Here is a look at the latest NHC Advisory as of 5 PM.



Looking at this track, they say “never say never”, and that is something always to keep in mind, especially in meteorology. Does that apply to Matthew’s track concerning the Northeast Coast? Yes. While the threat is significantly less, something tells me not to wave the “all clear flag” just yet, but I would say we’re getting much closer to being able to do so.

What is most concern is the track Matthew is likely to take concerning Florida. Usually a landfall forecast, while it naturally takes time to determine, it can be done and is done often. With Matthew, it will be exponentially more difficult as Matthew is looking like it will slide up much of the length of Florida’s East Coast as a potential Category 4 storm, making it harder to point out one concrete location for landfall, since it will be gliding the coastline or remain just slightly offshore as it tracks up the Southeast US coastline.

Based on what model guidance was showing last night, it seems as though the NHC has adjusted their forecast cone of uncertainty, accordingly. Last night’s runs of the GFS (American) model and ECMWF (European) model had illustrated Matthew sliding up the East Coast of Florida curving out, looping and coming back up to hit Florida for a second time. Insane, right? Well, according to analogs (historical storms with similar location, environmental conditions to Matthew), there have been a number of storms to do this. Such a track is not out of question, unfortunately.

Here is a look at what the GFS is suggesting for Matthew. Keep in mind, this solution has been evident for several runs. Even the historically accurate ECMWF has had a similar solution.gfs_mslp_wind_seus_fh24-138

TIMING: As we head into Thursday, Matthew will continue tracking its way through the Bahamas. By early Friday morning, it should be nearing the East Florida coastline. By Saturday, Mathew should be just off the coast of South Carolina and by Sunday/Monday, Matthew should be beginning its recurve back into the Atlantic. Where it goes from there is still a mystery… whether it does a loop around and come back towards Florida or just continue out to sea remains in questions. I do suspect, though, that Nicole could have some effects on Matthew’s track as it meanders off the Southeast US coast. Keep in mind, that with such an intricate forecast, adjustments in the overall forecast may be and will likely be needed, to some degree.

IMPACTS: It doesn’t take a meteorologist to have to say that impacts along Florida’s east coast, and even points inland, will be significant, devastating and life-threatening with a Category 3/4 system in the forecast, that’s just common sense with such a high-impact storm as Matthew is. A major concern I have is how, while Matthew is expected to restrengthen as it heads from the Bahamas to the east coast of Florida, how much time/real-estate will have to restrengthen. Either way, we can expect hurricane force winds, significant surge, significant and widespread flooding, blinding rains, extreme beach inundation possible and more than likely from a storm the caliber of Matthew. If Matthew continues on its projected course and with its strength (or strengthens back into a Category 4 storm which is likely), expect devastating conditions with threats to life and property. This is a storm you want to take with the utmost seriousness as impacts are very likely to become grave.

With the forecast track taking up Matthew up along the east coast of Florida, wave heights just offshore could get in the range of 30-40+ ft, depending on the strength and location of Matthew, relative to the east Florida coastline.


BOTTOM LINE: Preparations should be underway in advance of Matthew across the Southeast US, especially Florida. Statewide evacuations have been ordered for several states in preparation for Matthew. Unless something changes to drastically alter the forecast, or strength of Matthew, this storm will be a very serious threat to the east Florida coast and areas inland, and for coastal Southeast regions through potions of the coastal Carolinas. There is no need to panic, just think with a clear, concise mindset, make needed preparations and you will be fine.

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Tropical Storm Hermine: News, Notes and Concerns

As of earlier today, Tropical Storm Hermine had formed in the Gulf of Mexico as expected. Right off the bat, what concerned me was that it was stationary in the Gulf as convection was really flaring up. What does that mean? It was beginning to really develop as it has been in an environment most favorable for intensification that it had been in, yet. As of the NHC’s 4pm Advisory update, Hermine has now begun its northerly heading, but moving very slowly… at 7 mph. While not stationary any longer, this speed is still slow enough for continued development in the Gulf.

Here is a look at the latest satellite loop of Tropical Storm Hermine. Notice the continued firing of thunderstorms with this storm system, and the feeder bands.


The NHC has continued their gradual shift west in their track, something I was suspecting would happen for some time now. I suspect that the track will continue a gradual trend west over the next 12 hours or so. Here us a look at the current forecast track and cone from the National Hurricane Center.


MODEL TROUBLES: I’m not going to show the models plots for Hermine because I don’t feel the models are getting a good grasp on the storm as, for a good amount of time, it had trouble gauging Hermine because of its stationary position. Now that it is moving in a northerly heading, I still think the models are not fully grasping this system as it not where the models expected Hermine to be at this point. By tomorrow, I suspect the models will begin picking up the ball a bit better. A good example of why relying strictly on forecast models can do more harm than good.

LANDFALL: This is the million-dollar question. As noted, I suspect that Hermine will have more of a northerly heading before it makes a northeasterly turn. I could be wrong on this, but because the models are still getting a grip on this system, I feel that there is room for Hermine to continue north before heading northeast, more so than models are currently indicating. That said, I could see a landfalling system anywhere from Apalachicola to Pensacola (perhaps leaning more towards Apalachicola). Again, this could change, but based Hermine’s current environment and the environment it is expected to move into, I see this being a realistic possibility at this point.

INTENSITY: The consensus of intensity models keep Hermine anywhere from a moderate to a high-end tropical storm. I think this is a realistic possibility at this point. However, as I am not a fan discounting any possibility, a few members ramp up the intensity of Hermine to a low-end hurricane. This is likely attributed to the slow-moving nature of Hermine in warm waters, meaning it can pick up more strength the longer it is churning in these exceptionally warm waters. As I noted yesterday, a low-end hurricane is an outside chance, but a chance that cannot be tossed out.09L_intensity_latest

We do note that in the northeast part of the Gulf, a cold eddy has developed. A cold eddy is a cooler current of water moving in a counter direction to the main water circulation. This could inhibit the intensification of Hermine as it moves closer to Florida. Something to keep in mind.

IMPACTS TO THE NORTHEAST: Once Hermine makes landfall, there are two scenarios that we need to monitor closely… Hermine being kicked back out into the Atlantic or the prospect that the system recurves back into the Northeast. A third scenario would be that post-landfall, Hermine would hug the East Coast before exiting for the Atlantic. The prospect of Hermine recurving back into the Northeast is dependent on the interaction with it and a trough in the northeast, something to keep a close eye on.

PSA: If this does recurve into the Northeast, this WILL NOT be another Sandy, not even close. Sad that I even have to touch on this, but the social media world has gone wild with this idea in the past day. Sandy was a completely different storm in a completely different environment. It was a generational storm to say the least. If Hermine recurves back into the Northeast, it will be a much weaker storm that will deliver much-needed rainfall and some stronger, gusty winds.

Here are the GFS and European model solutions that curve Hermine back into the Northeast over the weekend.



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