Thursday, January 6, 2011

Update On Next Week's Storm

Over the last several days, computer forecasts have been showing the potential for a winter storm on January 10-11th. At this point I think there are two possible outcomes with this storm. As always, track means everything!

I've named the first scenario "Southern Miss", which represents one computer forecast (00Z ECMWF). In this case, an upper-level storm system will race through the Deep South and into the Carolinas (a storm in the Pacific Northwest lags behind). This track will bring the highest accumulations to Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. In addition, this type of storm will bring snow into our area earlier...possibly all on Monday. Lastly, accumulations will be minimal in Central VA with higher amounts in southern VA.

I want to point out that the ECMWF ensemble (an average of several different runs of the same computer forecast), shows this storm pulling up the coast instead of shooting into the Atlantic. For this reason, I've put the chances of "Southern Miss" at 40%.

The next scenario I've named "Coastal Carolina" (yes, there is a college theme), which is based on another computer (GFS). This paints a much different picture, which I think is slightly more plausible than "Southern Miss". Notice how the energy in Pacific Northwest moves quicker and merges with the energy in the Deep South. This will allow the storm to deepen and move slower and up the coast of the Carolinas. This would bring a wide swath of heavy snow across Central VA and Western VA. If the track pulls farther off the coast, then the heaviest snow will shift east.

Right now, nothing is etched in stone. This is something we will be watching very carefully over the next few days and will bring you more updates.