Monday, December 24, 2012

Big storm looms for Christmas night, Dec. 26

A major storm system appears likely to bring a wide variety of bad weather to the central and eastern United States on Christmas night and Wednesday.

The Carolinas might escape the worst of the system, instead getting what we need most -- lots of rain.

But strong winds behind the storm system could be a problem, and we're still not clear from the threat of severe weather Wednesday.

The storm is expected to bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions to parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes, and an outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is possible in the Deep South.

This is not what holiday travelers need, and it might be best for anyone planning to hit the road to consider waiting a day -- or leaving a day earlier.

In an effort to make some sense from this storm, I'll break this into three categories -- winter weather, severe weather, and the Carolinas.

WINTER WEATHER -- Areas north and northwest of the low pressure's center will get the heavy snow and blizzard conditions.

As of now, meteorologists expect the storm to cross the Rockies, move over the Midwest (somewhere near St. Louis), then push eastward along the Ohio River before making a rather northeast turn over Indiana and central Ohio.

Snow likely will hit the Rockies late Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day, and it will reach the Mississippi River area later Christmas Day. Snowfall will come Wednesday over southern Illinois, central Indiana and Ohio.

As of now (and this is subject to change), cities that stand a chance of getting heavy snow include St. Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit and Cleveland.  People in places on the edge of the heavy snow band -- Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Louisville and Pittsburgh -- show pay close attention to forecasts over the next 36 hours.

SEVERE WEATHER -- We could be looking at a tornado outbreak on Christmas Day. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has issued a "moderate" risk of severe storms and tornadoes on Christmas from central and northern Louisiana eastward across central Mississippi and Alabama.

On Wednesday, the threat moves eastward into the Carolinas and northern Florida. The area from Charlotte eastward is included in the risk of severe thunderstorms.

CAROLINAS WEATHER -- Rain likely will spread into the Charlotte region by Christmas evening or night. Then forecasters expect milder air to blow into the area overnight. That will make the atmosphere unstable, and when a cold front being dragged by the big storm system moves across the Carolinas during the day Wednesday, severe weather is possible.

Rainfall could total 1 to 2 inches across the region.

The other threat will be post-frontal wind. A strong circulation around the low pressure system will bring gusty northwest winds into the Charlotte region Wednesday night and early Thursday. That, combined with all the rain, could topple trees and cause power outages.

After weeks, even months, of calm weather, we're about to get a stormy 36-hour period across the region.


Iceman said...

So much for the "it will be cold on Christmas Day" forecast last week! Looks like mild garbage now.

Anonymous said...

We did need the rain, but we didn't need it all at one time.

Buzzy Goes the Bee said...

Forecast from now until March 2013: Highs in 50's, lows in upper 30's. No snow this decade.

Anonymous said...

"Major" storm?? What "major" storm? That was nothing.