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It's winter, and has been for 2 weeks...
...meteorologically speaking. Looking at the long-range models, I see no end in sight to the cold pattern and intermittent chances for snow here in West Virginia and surrounding areas. We are in a full winter pattern, and have been for almost 2 weeks - with our highs, lows and snowfall rates on par with what they normally are during December-February. This is no late fall cold spell - this is real winter, arriving several weeks early and here to stay. By the time this pattern changes (if it ever does), we'll be into December, a time when we'd expect these type of conditions on a regular basis anyway. So say goodbye to any hope of the typical late-fall 'Indian summer' this year - it's just not going to happen.
In fact, snow events have been happening with such regularity here - and look to be continuing in the next 2 weeks - that they are becoming more routine things than newsworthy events. So, I doubt I'll be spending much time writing in-depth about snow forecasts on here any more, unless a big event looks likely (significant snow or ice).
That said, some signals for a big snowstorm are showing up on the models for Sunday. Agreement/consistency between different models and runs has not been great, so there is no reason to try to pinpoint fine details right now. The possible situation is a strong low pressure system developing and rapidly strenghthening across Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, which could bring 8 to 12 inch snow totals on the north and west sides of its track. Again, I won't say much more than that, as the whole system could be either gone or shown offshore in the Atlantic in a couple of days on the models.
No rest for the weary
It looks like I'm going to really welcome the arrival of spring next year. Winter already being here means I now have to stay on my toes for suprise icy road events (like we had here Monday). Those minor 'sneaky' snow and ice situations cause more road problems than the bigger, well-advertised storms do, since no one is ready for them.
What makes my job challenging sometimes is that I can't use ready-made forecasts by the National Weather Service, TV stations, the Weather Channel, etc. As with other storm observing/news coverage subjects, I can't depend on any existing forecasts - I have to make my own. That's the only reason I caught the event on Monday. NWS and TV forecasts aren't made for what I do, and they aren't updated frequently enough to catch the suprise changes in conditions. The downside to that is that it requires a several-times daily 20-minute forecasting routine to stay on top of things. And when the potential for something does come up, I can't turn my back on it until it's over with. That means all-nighters and marathon 'watches' during prolonged events. Weather will burn you every time if you give it a chance, it's uncanny how many times I've missed things by caving in and taking a short break.
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