Friday, December 12, 2014

Stormy period ahead for Christmas week

Much of the long-range computer guidance is painting a stormy picture over the United States during Christmas week.

It is entirely possible, in fact, that the coming week will mark the end of our recent run of relatively calm weather. The Christmas holiday might mark the changeover to colder and stormier conditions that have been predicted by a number of forecasters for January and February.

There's no doubt that the coming week will be very pleasant. Temperatures will be at or above 60 degrees through Monday, and then a weak cold front will drop daytime readings only a few degrees for the rest of the week.

For several days, computer guidance has been predicting a pair of storm systems -- the first arriving next Saturday or Sunday (Dec. 20 or 21) and then another around Christmas Day or Dec. 26.

By all appearances, the first storm will bring a cold rain to the Carolinas. All of this probably will change many times between now and next weekend, but the latest forecast track takes the storm across Texas and Oklahoma, and then up through Tennessee and into the eastern Great Lakes.

There might be enough cold air in place across North Carolina for some icing problems, but it really looks as if rain will be the most likely scenario.

It could be a different story with the second storm, especially if the first system is able to drag colder air into the Southeast in its wake.

It will be interesting to watch all this unfold in the coming week.

The real long-range guidance is hinting at a return of arctic air into the eastern United States after Christmas. But this is well off in the distance.

Christmas Trivia ... In earlier blog entries, I wrote about the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the most successful holiday movies.

Today, we'll focus on Christmas snowstorms.

Anyone who has been in Charlotte for more than a few years knows that it's snowed fewer than a half-dozen times on Christmas Day. The most recent was 2010, when a storm system crossed the northern Gulf of Mexico and brought 1 to 3 inches of snow from northeast Georgia to the Charlotte area. Totals of 4 to 8 inches were reported in some of the foothills.

The most amazing Christmas storm, however, took place in 1989 and affected the coast.

Very cold air was in place that year, a few days before Christmas. A low pressure system moved up the East Coast and dumped heavy snow from northern Florida to North Carolina before veering out to sea. Charlotte had hazy sunshine and very cold temperatures. It was a different story along the coast.

Jacksonville, Fla., had its first white Christmas, with 2.5 inches falling Dec. 22 at Jacksonville Beach and 0.8 inches at the city's airport. On the Georgia coast, Brunswick had 4 inches and Savannah 3.6.

The snow fell Dec. 23 and early Dec. 24 on the Carolinas coast, with South Carolina totals of 14 inches in Myrtle Beach, 8 inches in Charleston, and 4.3 inches in Florence. North Carolina totals were 19.5 inches in Longwood, 15.3 inches at the Wilmington airport, 15 inches in Southport, 13.3 inches in Cape Hatteras, and 2.7 inches in Fayetteville.

Columbia and Raleigh each got a trace.

Zero-degree weather accompanied the snow.

The Wilmington office of the National Weather Service has a write-up on this storm. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime event.


Anonymous said...

I do remember that storm. That was even before we had ANY equipment or private contractors for snow removal. Everything was shutdown.

Anonymous said...

Even with equipment and private contractors for snow removal things are still shut down!