Thursday, January 31, 2013

Storms gone ... so what's next?

The meteorologically bizarre turn of events in the Charlotte region over the last 48 hours is history, and we're back in a more typical late-January pattern.

So that begs the question ... what happens next for our weather?

First, let's look at a few of the highlights from our wild Wednesday weather:

-- Our morning low of 62 degrees broke a record for the warmest low temperature in Charlotte for the date. The old mark was 59 degrees, set in 1914.

-- Our afternoon high of 77 degrees barely missed tying the record for the date. The mark is 78, set in 2002.

-- While most of us in the immediate Charlotte area received about 3/4 of an inch of rain, there were some staggering totals in the mountains. The line of thunderstorms chugged to a near-halt for several hours in the high country. The result was flooding. Boone recorded 5.9 inches of rain. Asheville's total of 2.76 inches set a record for the date.

-- As the cold front pushed across North Carolina, we briefly had a situation in which winter had returned in the west, but it was still spring in the east. At 3 a.m., the range of temperatures in the state was 53 degrees. It was 19 in Franklin, in the western mountains, but 72 on the Outer Banks.

For the next few days, we're back in what meteorologists call an amplified pattern. That means there's a big dip in the jet stream, with Alberta clipper low pressure systems diving into the Southeast, bringing quick shots of snow and reinforcing blasts of cold air.

One of those systems will cross the mountains tonight, bringing 1-3 inches of snow to the ski resort areas. And behind it, temperatures will be colder Friday.  We'll be lucky to get above 40 degrees Friday in Charlotte.

Another clipper will zoom through the region Saturday night.  This time, precipitation could start as rain in the mountains but will change to snow, with another accumulation.  And this system could slide far enough south to bring light snow into Hickory and Statesville -- and possibly even some flurries to Charlotte.  Of course, you might have to get up at (or stay awake to) 3 a.m. Sunday to see it.

After that, it'll be chilly and windy again Sunday, before turning milder for most of next week.

The longer-range patterns continue to advertise generally mild weather for at least the first half of February. There are no signs of really warm weather, but temperatures seem to be headed for seasonal to slightly above-average readings.

At this time of year, the average highs and lows are 52 and 31. That's 2 degrees warmer than at the coldest point, in mid-January.  We're on the way back up.

So the first half of February looks like mostly 50s and low 60s for highs, if the computer models have it right.

Beyond that is anyone's guess.  Will we return to cold weather for the last few weeks of winter, or will we stay seasonal into March?  The longer-range models don't agree.


Anonymous said...

What's next? Can't say. Leaning towards frogs, since locusts are out of season.

Obama/Biden..Again in 2016! said...

Better stick with the next two days only. It is pure guesswork or crystal ball gazing beyond that.