The day has arrived -- Our solar eclipse will begin within the hour, and millions across the country are getting ready to (safely) view the event. Watch it with us live over satellite imagery by keeping this page open and refreshing every few minutes.. You'll be able to see the shadow of the moon enter from stage left (Oregon) and then exit stage right (South Carolina) -- Don't miss it!
It's been a dreary and unseasonably cool last few days across much of the Northeast and New England as a new pattern has established itself, bringing cooler temperatures and more precipitation from New York City to Boston and back to Albany. If we look back over the last week at the climate across the Northeast region, it's clear that there has been a dramatic shift..
At this time last week much of the region was unseasonably warm, and the Mid-Atlantic was dealing with a heat wave due to vast ridging over the eastern third of the country. Think of ridging as a dome of air that promotes warmer temperatures and drier weather. That ridging is what allowed for warm air to flood well north, leaving the I-95 cities from Richmond to New York sweating for several days. So what changed?
Well, rather than having a big ridge with high pressure dominating the majority of the country.. The pattern flipped. The ridge out east flattened and a piece of energy swooped down from Canada, promoting cooler temperature, an increase in precipitation, and "troughiness" across the northeastern United States. Think of troughs as the exact opposite of a ridge. A dome of air that allows for much stormier and cooler conditions from the north. The stubborn low pressure over Canada that the WeatherOptics team has been discussing was placed there precisely because this new pattern with the trough allowed for it.
The good news is that we're entering a period of very transient weather -- Meaning we're not consistently seeing a trough parked over the Northeast with cooler and rainier weather. Instead we're flipping back and fourth between warmth and dry conditions, and cool and wet conditions. Yesterday our trough was sitting over the Northeast, while today we're seeing it begin to lift out. In fact by tomorrow heights will begin to rise across the region again as ridging tries to re-establish itself, allowing for temperatures to bounce back and the sun to come out. The curse and the blessing with transient patterns though is that of course the weather will change pretty rapidly once again.
By the end of the week we see an even more aggressive trough establish itself across the Northeast, leading to more concern about unseasonably chilly temperatures and rain. Storms are a possibility as well. This trough will actually introduce the possibility for a very out of season coastal storm system that could bring a good amount of rain and stormy weather to the major I-95 Mid-Atlantic cities all the way up to New York and Boston.
Posted above is the 500 mb weather pattern (think the big weather players in the upper atmosphere that dictate what happens down at the surface) showing what we're looking at through the weekend. As explained above, our trough is exiting today, our ridge re-establishes itself tomorrow through the end of the week.. Meaning warmer and drier weather briefly.. And then as we move into the weekend, a trough pattern once again.
Compared to our first trough that's currently exiting, this new one we're watching for the weekend is a lot deeper and stronger. This will allow for a lot of unsettled weather with showers and thunderstorms to develop across the center of the country Thursday into early Friday. This unsettled weather will become more organized and develop an area of low pressure as everything heads east into the weekend. This is something much more typical for very early Spring and well into the Fall.. Not the middle of the summer.
For those in hope of a sunny, warm and relaxing weekend.. I don't have a lot of good news for you. Rain and unsettled weather will establish itself across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia early Thursday and on into the afternoon hours, before spreading east into the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast overnight. Much of this unsettled weather will be scattered and unorganized during this time period, but as we head into Friday morning and afternoon, a more well defined low should establish itself over Kentucky, spreading a more steady and soaking rain (with some storms) from Lexington to Pittsburgh to Washington DC.
By Friday night and early Saturday our developing low pressure will have strengthened and tightened up more, allowing for breezy conditions to become a possibility, along with the rain, across most Mid-Atlantic states and up into southern PA, NJ, NY and CT. At this point steady rain and storms will have spread all the way from Washington DC to Philadelphia to New York City as our low exits just off the coastline. This rain that will begin late Friday should continue into the first half of Saturday before beginning to leave the region. Guidance is in fair agreement with everything up until this point. Heading into Saturday midday, some models suggest rain and wind continue up the coast and spread into parts of eastern NY, MA, and New England, while others suggest things cut off and the storm scoots offshore leaving a good majority of the Northeast cool but dry. With troughing so deep, it's possible that things are cutoff more to the south. Something we'll have to continue monitoring.
The ECMWF above depicts our overall setup pretty nicely. You can see the overwhelming high heights out west showing our ridge, and the lower heights in the east showing our trough and storm system. Saturday morning the ECMWF has our storm actually flirting with sub 1000 mb, making it quite a potent little system. Along the coastline don't be surprised for gusts to go past 40 late Friday night through the first half of Saturday.
By time Sunday rolls around things should improve dramatically, although temperatures are likely to remain cool as the trough lingers. The good news is that while next week still looks a bit iffy as the pattern slowly rebounds, by the end of the week and into next weekend conditions look much better for warmer and drier weather. Still too far out to tell, but good signs so far as we transition into August.
As we mentioned last night, there was a chance we would have to revise snowfall totals EVEN HIGHER than what we already had them at.. And that is exactly the case this morning. The heaviest snow bands have come NORTH of where guidance was suggesting for the last few days, and while we saw this coming, there was still an overwhelming consensus that it wouldn't quite get THIS far north. But here we are. Be sure to watch the video below explaining all the latest and analyzing what is yet to come. Stay safe.
With just a day before the impending blizzard, here at WeatherOptics we're beginning to monitor and analyze the latest trends and details on both guidance and surface observation. It's important to remember that guidance verbatim is just that; guidance. In the video below, I break down some of our computer models and show why we must watch areas north of I-80 along with the rest of the mid-atlantic, and why things may not be close to set in stone. Enjoy!
We first began to discuss the possibility of a major snowstorm three days ago, but highlighted the fact that so far this winter, models have taken away most big storms shown outside of 120 hours. But this one was clearly different. The consistency and agreement of guidance nearly a week out was unbelievable, and seeing as the ensemble runs were in the same boat, there was a strong reason to believe this particular monster would come to fruition. And now we know that it will.
With just a day or two left now before the pending blizzard, we are now able to forecast with a much higher accuracy, and give you our first snowfall forecast for the blizzard of 2016. Not only will this storm bring a widespread 1 to 2 feet of snowfall, it will also be accompanied by tropical storm forced winds at the coast, frigid temperatures, and storm surge that will likely cause major flooding in low lying areas near the shore. Beyond that, looking back a few decades, this storm will likely rank among the most powerful and widespread in history, right up there with the blizzard of 1983, the blizzard of 1996, and the blizzard(s) of February 2010. While confidence is "medium" at this point, there is a lot that can still change. We saw this with all of the blizzards listed above as well, where things shifted (within 36 hours in some cases) shortly before the storm hit, and it often caught many off guard. But without further ado, here is our first stab at the blizzard of 2016.
We encourage you to keep checking back to WeatherOptics, as things are likely to wobble around on both guidance and real-time. This is not a storm that is set in stone just yet, but the overall idea of a powerhouse system will likely remain unchanged. The best places to find our updates are on Facebook, Twitter (@WeatherOptics), our website (here) or our new consulting/premium site. We will be working around the clock over the next few days to keep everyone in the loop, so take advantage of all we have to offer! Video coming from here later!
There's no denying the consistency and agreement among the latest model guidance showing a blizzard-type storm system set to hit the majority of the region next weekend. For the first time this season, every single global computer model has a nearly identical solution at the surface, making it hard to believe that this is just another one of 2015-2016's fantasy snowstorms. With that said, here at WeatherOptics we're still urging caution, but highlighting the potential that is clearly there. The pattern is favorable, and the pieces to the puzzle are all within reach, but the question still remains, does everything come together perfectly? Not an easy answer, but here's our breakdown.
There are many pieces of all different shapes and sizes that are actively trying to come together for this system to come to fruition, and if they don't come into place just right, the implications can be huge. What we've been seeing consistently from the latest guidance though, is that they do indeed all fit into place.. And quite perfectly at that. There is a northern piece of energy as seen above, that with a potent ridge out west, is able to dive and meet-up with the main piece of energy associated with our southern jet stream. When these two come together, we weather people call it a "phase," and the storm is able to rapidly deepen, and in many cases, slow down. This is the first important thing that needs to happen, but will heavily depend on what is going on out west. A more progressive, or less potent ridge, could delay the timing of the phase, and shove things further south. An earlier phase, could make for a much more aggressive system, and furthermore, bring the storm much closer to the coast. This could mean mixing problems along I-95 and the immediate coast. However, a perfect phase over the southern mid-atlantic region could make for a full blown blizzard from Washington DC to Boston. You can see, it's a delicate situation.
This storm system, like any storm system, is guided by our jet stream.. As the jet stream continues to move, so do the storms. However, if the ECMWF (European Computer Model) and the GFS (American Computer Model) verify with their solutions, then we see our storm system cutoff from the jet stream. In other words, there is essentially very little guiding the storm. When this happens, we often see very slow and long duration events until A) something kicks the storm out or B) the storm literally snows itself out, and slowly dissipates.. That's why we've been seeing such extreme snowfall solutions, because in the case that it does cutoff, we're dealing an event lasting from Friday into Sunday.
The final thing we need to be weary of, is the vast amount of energy floating around. It's clear from looking at the 500 mb maps (upper atmosphere), that there is a lot of energy just bouncing around during the main developement of our storm. Should a piece of energy slow down the phasing process or speed up the phasing process (or even prevent it all together), we're once again looking at dramatic implications down at the surface. The individuals pieces of energy bear watching.
As always, here at WeatherOptics we'll be working around the clock to give you the latest and most accurate updates possible. Don't be shocked if things change. As we know, this is the year of fantasy storms, and thus far, no real storm threats have worked out. But, its obvious that so far, this threat is unlike the others. There is an incredible amount of potential, and if things can piece together right and build a puzzle, then we are at risk of a major snowstorm, or even a blizzard. Keep it here, and be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WeatherOptics), and Facebook (WeatherOptics) for more updates.. Long week ahead!
With a quiet start to the 2015/2016 winter season, one has to wonder, when will it truly get cold and snowy? If you take a look back at our WeatherOptics winter outlook for this season, you'll see that a slow start was anticipated. However, even our forecasters didn't think it would be THIS slow.
Today places across Pennsylvania and New Jersey saw temperatures spike into the mid 60's with thunder, lightning, and hail. That is not normal. However, it's not unheard of either.
In fact, in late January of 2013 we saw a similar event that took down trees and power lines throughout the region, and shot temperatures close to 70 degrees overnight. It was part of a major storm system that cut through the midwest, similar to how the current storm evolved. A week later? Parts of Connecticut picked up 40 inches of snow in a single event known to many as Nemo.
Now in no way am I suggesting that these two years have any strong correlations to one another, although some may argue that they do, nor am I suggesting that in a weeks time we will be seeing a major snowstorm. However, I bring this up to show that unusual warmth and unseasonable weather does not necessarily mean a snowless winter.
With that in mind, we are watching several systems lining up in both the short term and long term that bring promising chances for cold and snow. This first, which at this moment appears to be the weakest, will make its way down from Canada late Monday night. This system is known as a clipper system, and typically brings light snow and colder weather.
This particular clipper system is actually associated with an arctic front, so not only will we be seeing widespread light snow showers on Tuesday and Wednesday, but we will also see a transition to much colder weather.
On Wednesday high temperatures in most locations across the Northeast likely won't break 30 degrees. Wednesday night teens and single digit numbers will also be a common theme for the region, as our clipper system gains some strength offshore of Maine. This is where we have to watch for additional developement.
Originally models were amped with the upcoming clipper system, showing developement right when the low hit the Atlantic Ocean. However, most of our global models have backed off of this solution, and we're still too far out to see what our short term, mesoscale models show. Although, the right conditions are there for some of those original solutions to have been onto something.
After this afternoons model runs, it appears that the ECMWF (The European Model) isn't so sold on a simple event either. While the snow is light and a nuisance for the majority of the region, once it reaches the gulf of Maine and feels the strong blocking to the north, snow turns heavier. This is what we must be on watch for, especially across eastern New England and interior sections. It's very plausible at this point that additional developement and strengthening throws back heavier snowfall to coastal sections, that would even warrant some winter storm warnings. The areas most likely to see this include Hartford, Boston, Portland, Bangor and Caribou.
Regardless of what happens, we will be releasing a snowfall forecast and overall graphic of the storm sometime early tomorrow. More likely than not, models will begin to hone in on a solution that aligns more with the ECMWF, especially as we get into mesoscale range. Don't be surprised to see other outlets catch onto this solution tomorrow as well. Even without the additional strengthening, we can expect to see widespread snow showers and light accumulations (generally under 3 inches) across much of the Northeast, followed by some hefty lake effect snow. More updates on all of this tomorrow!
That's all for now,