Friday, January 7, 2011

8 inches, or 2 inches plus ice?

The computer models and meteorologists are in rare agreement that a storm system will turn the start of the work week Monday into a first-class mess in the Carolinas.

If you're of the belief that a 100 percent lock-sure forecast of snow or ice means it won't happen, suit yourself.

The rest of you might want to plan ahead for a messy Monday.

All of the computer models -- the GFS, European, and so on -- predict a low pressure system developing this weekend in the western Gulf of Mexico. That system is expected to track across the northern Gulf and then either head off the Carolinas coast and curve up the coast.

Either way, the Carolinas, especially the Piedmont, figure to be in the crosshair of the frozen precipitation. And once it falls, the frozen stuff might not disappear for a while (we'll deal with that issue later).

First, the customary caution ... the storm system responsible for this mess hasn't actually formed yet. So forecasts can change dramatically over the next few days. But the current thinking is that precipitation will move into the Charlotte area sometime shortly after midnight Sunday, probably in the form of snow.

And it will be around Monday evening or maybe early Tuesday before it ends.

Anthony Sturey, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., has produced a graphic that shows the heaviest snow and sleet accumulations in a band from Gaffney, S.C., over to western Union County. It includes the Charlotte area, and we're talking about 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 inches.

Relax! Sturey says that Armageddon-like forecast is preliminary. "these are very preliminary snow estimates," he says.

I've seen other forecasts from private meteorologists of 2 to 4 inches, with quite a bit of sleet and freezing rain on top. They think the precipitation will start as snow, then change to sleet and freezing rain by Monday afternoon.

It probably will be Sunday morning before we have a really good idea on the timing and the totals. But it's also important to mention that this storm will precede another blast of very cold air later next week.

We could be looking at single-digit morning temperatures next Friday and Saturday in the Charlotte region, with daytime highs not climbing above the mid 30s. The cold air next week will delay the melting of whatever falls Monday and will present black ice and re-freezing problems Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

More to come ...

14 comments:

Guessology said...

Ha. These are always hilarious. The last system that came in went from projections of 4-6 inches, to 1 inch, to a trace, to none within 3 days of time. That was when "all 3 computers agree."

I think this is hardly a good method of meterology to follow. We will end up on "How I Survived" shortly.

Anita said...

Yay! Glad to finally have your take on what you think is coming up next week!

Anonymous said...

The Boy who cried Wolf comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Global Warming.......

Anonymous said...

Steve, where is this snow graphic you referred too? The only graphic I saw at NWS Greenville was the Charlotte area will get only an inch or less. NONE of the 8 inches you claim.

Here's the link what I saw - http://www.erh.noaa.gov/gsp/stormtotal/StormTotalSnowFcst.png.

Again, provide the graphic what you saw.

Mark

Kate said...

Meteorologists make life more interesting! Imagine if they were ALWAYS right - how boring! I like the speculation and uncertainty!

Anonymous said...

"So forecasts can change dramatically over the next few days."

That should be a disclaimer accompanying every article written about the weather forecasts.

Anonymous said...

On weather.com it said next Wednesday would be 6 degrees in the morning, only going up to 29. Then on the noon news Larry Sprinkle showed it being 23-39. That's quite the spread, there.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark... I think the graphic you're looking at is for the storm coming through tonight, not the one for next week...

Anonymous said...

Steve, I look forward to your predictions! So far you have been on target.......Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You guys are a bunch of douches. Weather forecasting is a best guess science. Nothing is certain is the world for the most part, I'd like to see you dip$hits do better

Anonymous said...

Mark,

I have a copy of NWS GSP map that has 8". I didn't agree with it and they have changed it to 3". It's not a map they released to the public.

Post your email and I will send it.

Clark said...

Christmas they were pretty dead on for me. Concord wound up with what started out as rain and ended in about 4"s of snow, which is what was predicted here. Your grumpy haters should just know that weather changes but its nice to have an exciting idea. Tell you what start posting your schedules for the week and we'll see if you follow through on everything. Or how about this, don't read the blog or the weather. Just get up everyday, walk outside in your kerchief and hat and decide for yourself whats going on.

Anonymous said...

love the title from charlotteobserver.com.

Weather Guy: 8 inches, or 2 inches?