Monday, February 10, 2014

5 things to know about this storm

A bit of snow is mixing with light rain showers Monday morning in the Carolinas Piedmont, and a weak low pressure system could bring 1 to 2 inches of snow to the Charlotte area Tuesday morning, but the main event will be Wednesday.

We're within the 48-hour time frame for the computer models, and that's a point when the models get fairly accurate. With all the models predicting a major winter storm, I think it's time to put to bed any doubts about what will happen at midweek.

That being said, here are five things to know about the winter storm that will affect the Carolinas on Wednesday:

1. Temperatures will not be as cold this time.

During the other snow event in Charlotte this year, about two weeks ago, meteorologists had no problem forecasting the precipitation type. The atmosphere was cold from top to bottom, so anything that fell was snow. It was an easy forecast to make, at least from the standpoint of precipitation type.

This time, temperatures will be in the low and middle 30s during the day Tuesday, and they creep up near freezing Wednesday during the bigger storm. That means the snow will be heavy and wet, not fluffy. And it increases the chance that a layer of above-freezing temperatures will become established mid levels of the atmosphere -- which means sleet or freezing rain.

It's a tough forecast.

2. The timing has changed.

Early Sunday, we were talking about snow arriving late Monday or early Tuesday, accumulating a few inches, and then returning early Wednesday and ending later in the day.

Now we have a better idea that Tuesday's system will have fairly light precipitation, and it won't start until later in the morning. The big part of the storm will come Wednesday, and the precipitation won't end until sometime fairly early Thursday morning.

On Sunday, I thought today (Monday) would be the last chance to get chores completed before the roads got bad. But now I think many of us will have at least the early part of Tuesday.

3. The second wave is the biggie.

On Sunday, there were some indications (early in the day) that the heavier snowfall totals might come Tuesday, with most of Wednesday's precipitation falling as sleet, freezing rain or rain. Now the consensus is pointing toward Wednesday's storm as the big one. It could carry more than 1 inch of precipitation, about three times that of Tuesday's system.

4. The path (track) of Wednesday's storm is very important.

Two basic facts: Areas near the center of the low pressure system will get the heaviest precipitation. And the colder air is west of the low pressure's center.

If you want heavy snow in Charlotte, you want the low pressure's center to track up the eastern third of North Carolina or even along the coast. If the low's path is closer to Charlotte (say, U.S. 1), that increases the likelihood of sleet and freezing rain in Charlotte. And if the low's path is west of Charlotte, then we get rain. Forget that third alternative -- it won't happen.

But the other alternatives are still viable options. That's why meteorologists are having a tough time deciding how much snow falls, and where.

5. It will be breezy.

This is really bad news for areas that get the freezing rain. The National Weather Service office in Wilmington mentioned the possibility Monday morning that between .5 and .75 of an inch of ice could form on trees and power lines. That would cause widespread, long-lasting power outages.

A lot of places will be closer to the .25-inch ice accumulation, which usually causes scattered outages. Add in the 15 mph northeast breeze, and a quarter-inch of ice could be big trouble.


Anonymous said...

If it snows more than an inch in Charlotte I'll dance naked in it and post photos on FaceBook.

Words to your Mothers!

Ted Martin said...

Hey, "Private Dancer"...don't do us any favors! haw haw

Besides I believe that Wednesday will end up with 4 inches of snow.

Anonymous said...

Dont you know it. Word

Anonymous said...

I triple dare ya and don't post in Facebook, use the this page instead.

I might even fill a tub of snow and do a pretned Polar Bear Plunge.


Anonymous said...

I see the mere mention of snow just continues to perplex weather people and send the public onto a store buying panic for no reason. My defintion for such forecasters is now SNOW FREAKCASTERS.


James Edgar said...

If you ask me, the last event barely qualifies as a snow event. And this one, if it plays out as you describe, is only "major" wherever the freezing rain falls (loss of power makes it "major"). But then again, that's just the Ohio native in me, where there has to be at least 6 inches before anything closes.

And of course I'm more heat-sensitive now and so I relish any possibility of snow here. But other than the huge snow in 02/2004 and the last fairly big snow in 01/2011, pretty much every snow forecast has started with big predictions, and the amounts kept falling as the snow moved closer, and we end with very little. I've become conditioned to expect that with every snow prediction now. The Weather Channel agrees - their latest calls for a slushy 1-inch snow tomorrow and 1-2 inches on Wednesday. I hope the storm does go along the coast and we get lots of snow. I want to build a snowman. Two inches ain't enough.

Anonymous said...

I stopped by the grocery store late this afternoon. Jeez. You'd have thought the Apocalypse was approaching. Ten and twelve people deep at the registers. Aisles were obstacle courses of carts, screaming kids, and at-the-end-of-their-rope parents. Senior citizens seemed just lost in the bedlam. One cashier told me she'd been there since 6:30 a.m. and it'd been like this all day.

Now...we may have a nice little snowstorm, but trust me folks, the world won't end on Wednesday. Matter of fact, it'll probably be beautiful! And I won't even turn on the TV to watch the weather report, either.

I just hope no one gets killed or seriously injured in the inevitable wrecks that will happen.

Drive safe, folks. Use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

Even if it does snow, there won't be enough snow to shut people in for weeks to consume the gallons of milk and tons of bread bought in today's mindless panic. This is not Canada or Alaska. These same folks who horde like its Doomsday will be the first out on the road as soon as they dress for the day.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised by the mocking, condescending tone of these comments. Many people in this area are not used to the snow and icy conditions that this storm could present. There are many elderly and other individuals who are not accustomed to driving in these conditions, and there will most certainly be accidents and fatalities on the roads within the next 2 days. Let us show some respect and genuine concern for out fellow friends, family and neighbors.

Anonymous said...

What is it about Yankees that they always feel compelled to belittle Southerners' reaction to getting a possible 6-8 inches of snow? I talked to someone from Cleveland this weekend. She reminded me why everybody moves down here from Ohio. Because the weather in Cleveland SUCKS. Have fun building your snowman. It will be near 70 again here soon while people in Ohio will be crying for their one month of summer.

Anonymous said...

Not every Southerner reacts in such a bizarre manner (hording bread and milk) over a possible few inches of snow, so speak for yourself.

The "mocking" here is of the fools emptying out the stores like a mindless mob, as if a few inches of snow means Doomsday.

Anonymous said...

10:10...Good Bingo!

There are sooooooooo many people here from Ohio you'd think that state must be something akin to Syria. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands pack up and move out. Guess what people? snows here once every 10 years or so...therefore we don't spend millions and millions of dollars on trucks, salt, plows, overtime for rednecks....etc. THAT is why you moved here! Charlotte has sun, fun, golf, jobs and cash. ALL things that Ohio doesn't have. When we get snow, the city shuts down. Whether it is one inch, or 10. Ridicule all you like. This is our town!

Anonymous said...

11:36 PM - you forgot to tell all those folks 'not from around here' to go home.

Anonymous said...

Driving safely is a necessity. What does hording food have to do with a few inches of snow? Do those panic buyers actually believe the snow will be so deep that they will be completely unable to access food for weeks?

"We cannot get out of the house for weeks due to unimaginable piles of snow...but this bread and milk sure is delicious!"

Anonymous said...

"Now the consensus is pointing toward Wednesday's storm as the big one. It could carry more than 1 inch of precipitation, about three times that of Tuesday's system."

Really? A whole inch? This isn't a snow storm, it's a weather nuisance.

Anonymous said...

OK, i'm going to weigh in here. I'm from NJ and am used to the snow, however I was at the store yesterday buying some things.My worry isn't the snow, its the potential loss of power. With two little kids (1 and 4)- I need to be sure that i'm able to feed them *something* that I won't need power (or that needs to be refridgerated) to cook. Hence the bread and peanut butter in my cart. And non-refridgerated milk boxes so that the baby can have a bottle and go to bed! So don't judge!!

Anonymous said...

"Now the consensus is pointing toward Wednesday's storm as the big one. It could carry more than 1 inch of precipitation, about three times that of Tuesday's system."


Anonymous said...

"There are snowflakes in the air. I am compelled to drink milk and eat bread for the next 72 hours. I cannot overcome this urge. And I pushed and shoved others to get this milk and bread. It's every man for himself in a crisis like this."

Anonymous said...

Question for the Waether Guy; what is the purpose of brining the highway? Is it supposed to prevent the accumulation of snow and ice on the road surface? Last storm brining was done did NOT stop the snow from accumulating on I-85 to Concord.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


Anonymous said...

The brine is sprayed to help prevent build up, but after a short while the snow washes it away, or it splashes all over your auto. After the snow melts you see huge white patches where the pools of brine collected. The brine works well in some cases, but cannot stop build-up during a heavy snow.

Just make sure you have a couple gallons of milk and four loaves of bread.

Axton Carter, III said...


You see those giant rock-like structures rising from the ground in the West? Those are called "mountains," including the highest peak east of the Rockies. And since prevailing winds (and therefore weather) come from the West, these "mountains" have a significant, and unpredictable, effect on the path of winds and moisture. So it gets a little more complicated than "warm moist air from the South collides with cold air from the North." The forecasters do just fine by me.

And another thing. I'm actually glad to live in a place where snow is rare, beautiful, and creates awe and spectacle! It's the South! We'll have our fun, and in two days when the sun comes back out, it'll all be gone. So laugh at me all you want. I'll be laughing all the way down the hill on my trash can lid sled! Woo-hooo!

And thirdly, you know what? Yankees behave the exact same way when snow is forecast, at least for the first few of the season. I travel a great bit for my job and see it everywhere I go. So hush up! Y'all's secret is out!


Carl Farbman said...

Brining also keeps the layer of snow and ice on the pavement a little slushy which helps with subsequent plowing.

Anonymous said...

Folks act like Yankees don't have a problem with snow, but let me tell you, when I was in CT and had a storm come through Hartford, they bought all the bread and milk too!

Anonymous said...

Snow is better than freezing rain. While both are pretty, one can cause awful driving conditions; the other awful driving conditions AND power outages.

Instead of milk and bread, how about Single Malt Scotch, German lager, and French bread?

Mellonrod Postimus said...

I think Florida State should easily handle the Auburn Tiggers in the Orange Bowl.