Monday, January 31, 2011

Big storm coming, but we're mostly spectators

Temperatures tumbled Monday morning across the Charlotte region, ushering in a week of wild weather for the area.

It means an end to the beautiful conditions we enjoyed over the weekend, but don't complain. We're getting off easy.

Another in a seemingly endless series of powerful winter storms is predicted to form over the Southwest, then move east-northeast across the country and pummel most of the nation's major cities with some type of nasty winter weather.

Believe it or not, 28 states have winter storm watches or warnings in advance of the storm. If that's not bad enough, the storm system could trigger severe thunderstorms over the Deep South.

And following the storm is a surge of very cold air, producing the coldest temperatures in decades for some areas.

First, let's look at our upcoming week of strange weather.

A cold front slipped southward overnight, dropping temperatures from 51 degrees at midnight (that will be our high for the day) to 39 at 7 a.m. It might not get much warmer today, as cold air flows off the Atlantic from a high pressure system over New England.

That means temperatures today will be about 30 degrees colder than Sunday's high of 71 in Charlotte -- which was the warmest reading since Nov. 23, when it reached 73.

We'll be locked in a cold air damming situation, with damp and chilly air coming off the Atlantic and dammed against the mountains. By midday Tuesday, the big storm system will have formed to our west and will be moving eastward. It will erode the cold air damming later in the day, and rain will arrive by nightfall.

Wednesday could be a strange day. Rain will end in the morning, followed by sunshine, much warmer temperatures, and the possibility of very windy conditions. Highs will shoot back up into the middle 60s Wednesday afternoon, and we'll have to watch for the chance of strong wind gusts.

Then cold air will pour back into the area Wednesday night, and our highs Thursday will plummet back into the upper 40s.

If all that isn't enough, a low pressure system is predicted to track along the Gulf Coast late Thursday or early Friday. National Weather Service forecasters say some light sleet, snow or freezing rain could spread into northern South Carolina and possibly as far north as the Charlotte area -- but no accumulations are expected.

The big storm this week, however, will be elsewhere in the nation. If you're traveling this week or have family elsewhere in the country, here's a look at what is predicted for some of the major metropolitan areas:

Dallas: Not a good situation for people gathering in advance of the Super Bowl. Cold air pours into the region late Tuesday, and temperatures are not expected to get above freezing -- above freezing!! -- from late Tuesday until sometime Friday. To make matters worse, there's a chance of sleet and freezing rain Wednesday. This week's temperatures will be the coldest in about 20 years for Dallas.

St. Louis: Heavy snow and enough ice to cause problems.

Chicago and Milwaukee: A blizzard watch has been posted, with up to 2 feet of snow in the downtown area from late Tuesday through Wednesday.

Detroit: About a foot of snow from late Tuesday into Wednesday.

Cleveland: Several inches of snow tonight, caused by a warm front forming ahead of the storm. Then several more inches late Tuesday and Wednesday, with damaging ice accumulations, too.

Cincinnati: On the edge of an ice storm. The city might be far enough south to miss the worst of it.

Pittsburgh: An ice storm looms for Wednesday.

Buffalo: About 1 1/2 feet of snow Wednesday.

Philadelphia: Some ice accumulations, but it's too early to tell if it will be enough to cause power outages.

New York City: Heavy snow and ice Wednesday.

Boston: From 6 to 12 inches of snow late Wednesday, and possible ice problems.

Baltimore and Washington: A major ice storm is possible for Baltimore, but Washington might escape with non-damaging amounts of ice. Farther inland in Maryland, near Frederick, there could be very heavy ice accumulations.

Escaping the worst of it: Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte and points south. Also, cities farther to the north, such as Minneapolis, will not be affected.


Anonymous said...

It's 72 degrees in Northern Florida.................

Anonymous said...

It's 37 degrees in cold.

Jesse Ventura said...

It's -2 in International Falls. Starting to warm up!

Lori said...

Let's hope that Groundhog does NOT see his shadow on 2/2! Spring come early, please!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's mostly sunny and a balmy -37 at the North Pole. Santa Claus is laughing hysterically.

Anonymous said...

The way the squirrels' tails in my back yard have been twitching, we're going to have two more measurable snow events between now and March.

Anonymous said...

Darn, I wish the storm could have waited a little longer to come on Saturday for Maryland's Annual Polar Bear Plunge - this would have been PERFECT weather for a swim in the Chesapeake Bay.

Native Terrapin

Anonymous said...

It's 75 and sunny in San Diego...just like it is all the time. Eat your heart out!

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