Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why is the big storm missing us?

"If it's snowing in Dallas, and it's going to be far below freezing there, why isn't it coming to the Carolinas?"

I've gotten a version of that question several times over the past 24 hours, and it's understandable that people might wonder how the big storm moving across the country will miss us.

First of all, it won't miss us.

A steady and fairly heavy rain will move into the Charlotte area sometime this evening, and it probably will be accompanied by some thunder in the overnight hours. Temperatures, which will remain in the upper 30s and low 40s much of the day, will climb into the upper 40s and lower 50s late tonight and early Wednesday.

And winds will increase later tonight. Even on Wednesday, when the sun breaks out by midday, we could be experiencing wind gusts of 40 mph. Those gusts will be part of the circulation around the strong low pressure system.

So we will get some impact from the storm.

But why not the frozen part?

(To those of you who follow weather closely, allow me to get un-scientific for a moment.)

Imagine the jet stream as a letter "U." For much of the past two months, the left side of the "U" has stretched from the upper Midwest down across Tennessee and Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. The right side of the "U" came up the East Coast. Here in the Carolinas, we were stuck inside the "U," near the bottom of it.

That "U" was the track that carried arctic air into the eastern United States. Occasionally, storm systems followed all or part of that track. They would cross Florida and then go up the East Coast.

But the jet stream has changed, at least temporarily. Now the really cold air is coming down across Colorado and New Mexico, into Texas. And the right side of the jet stream juts northeast, at something resembling a 45-degree angle. It crosses Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, northern Maryland, and the New Jersey-Delaware area.

The center of the current strong storm system is following that track.

Areas several hundred miles north of the center are getting very heavy snow. Areas on the north side, but closer to the center, are getting sleet and freezing rain.

And places south of the center are escaping this time. That includes much of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, most of Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. We're sitting this one out. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible from Louisiana to Alabama today, but wintry precipitation will not be a factor.

However, anyone planning to travel into the storm area from Charlotte can forget about it. Cities in that zone include Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Boston. Washington will have a close call with icing problems.

Conditions will be at their worst today from Dallas to St. Louis and Kansas City; Wednesday from Chicago to Pittsburgh; and Thursday on the East Coast.


Anonymous said...

the storm is not missing you, let time run it,s course it going to hit you very soon and it will even be worst, now do you folks think that for all the evil and wicked deeds that you have caused that the the most high is going to miss the south not on your sweet a-- when it comes it,s ging to be triple,stay tune for the next episode,

Anonymous said...

This is typical winter NC pattern, with major storm "front-side" rain followed by cool (but not nearly as cold as areas to the west at nearly the same latitude)temps. Then southerly winds warm it enough for the next rain (generally several degrees toowarm for snow/ice, but cool enough to inflate heating bills. Last months' snows were a fluke pattern.

Welcome to our winter garbage.

Mark said...

Wow. Love the way it was broken down in common English! Great blog post!

mintradz said...

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