Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cold? Absolutely! Record-breaking? No!

A lot is being made by weather watchers -- including me -- of the cold wave arriving in the Carolinas later Wednesday.

For several nights, we've watched national newscasts showing heavy snow and bitter cold in the Rockies and Midwest. Even Texas has gotten into the act, with temperatures taking a 40-degree nose dive.

Terms like "polar vortex" and "arctic blast" are being thrown around, and you'd almost think we were in the thick of winter.  That's not the case.

First, here are a couple things that the cold wave will do:

1. Last a while.  This pattern change will last at least two weeks, until around Thanksgiving. A couple reinforcing surges of cold air will push into the United States and reach the Southeast next week and early the following week.

2. Drop temperatures considerably.  We've been in the 70s for several days, and that will end after today.  Thursday will be a cross-over day, with highs in the 50s as colder air filters in. A secondary cold front will arrive later Thursday, dropping Friday's highs to the 40s.  That's a lot colder than anything we've had for a while, and it's well below the seasonal average high in Charlotte for this time of year -- 63 degrees.

3. Bring snow -- to parts of the North.  The traditional "lake-effect" snow areas around the Great Lakes will get a lot of snow from these various surges of cold air. We're talking about upstate New York (from Lake Ontario); the area from Cleveland's eastern suburbs to Buffalo (Lake Erie); Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Lake Superior); and the corridor from South Bend, Ind., up along western Michigan's shore (Lake Michigan).

But here are some things the cold wave is not:

1. A record-breaker.  A few records might be broken, but here's something to think about. The coldest morning low temperature in the first surge of cold air this weekend in Charlotte will be 24 or 25 degrees Saturday. The record low for Saturday is 20, set in 1969.

2. Unusual.  "The upcoming pattern will feature a trough in the eastern United States, and that's typical in winter," said John Tomko, of the Weather Service's Greer, S.C., office. "It's just a few weeks earlier than usual. But it's the kind of pattern we always see."

3. Aiming at the Southeast.  Tomko said the trough will be strong but broad, rather than deep. What does that mean?  Instead of the coldest of the air surging all the way into the Deep South, it will run out of steam to our north -- over Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. "Certainly, colder air will reach our area," Tomko said. "But the coldest air will be held to our north."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just be sure to add a couple days to the prediction of when the trough will breakup.

James Edgar said...

Now I want to watch all the local news editions tonight. This level-headed, even-keeled logic is bound to get back to Panic-ovich, Useless-son and Shriek Thomas, and it will be interesting to see what ridiculous hyperbole they respond with.

Anonymous said...

Give the TV people a break. It's November Sweeps rating period. Hype and fear sell.

tad Wickleding said...

75-80 degrees will return in time for Thanksgiving Day!

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