Just want to make a quick post about this storm and want to continue to mention what will be coming in the longer ranges. A very dangerous situation currently ongoing in the northeast as they deal with an unbelievable snowstorm mainly from NYC and points to the north and east. Latest radar images from the NWS reveal the area of low pressure to be about 200 miles or so east of the New Jersey coast and the main area of low pressure that was inland of Cape Hatteras this morning has migrated northeastward over the course of the day and has dragged plenty of moisture into areas from NJ and points eastward into southern New England. Also, take note of the deep shades of orange and red on radar as very heavy snow with snowfall rates potentially approaching 4 inches and hour accompanied by frequent thunder and lightning along a band of snow on the north side of the low pressure area.
Another radar image with surface temperatures overlaying showing the extremely intense snow now beginning to move into southern New England and the northeast indicated by the deeper shades of pink where snowfall rates could be reaching up to 4 inches per hour with thunder and lightning.
It makes sense that thundersnow would be occurring in this type of situation as these two areas of low pressure merge and phase together helping to create a very dynamical atmosphere. Also, the difference in temperature and pressure from the waters off of the northeast coast in association with the Gulf Stream in comparison to the cold air at the surface over the areas creates instability favorable for strengthening of mid-latitude cyclones. Also, as the winds from the low pressure area begin to change to coming out of the northeast this forces the air mass source for at which these winds originate to change, with areas roughly near and to the north and west of the I-95 corridor receiving a cold NE wind as the wind originates from northern New England and southern Canada, dragging down cold air, while a wind out of the northeast in areas like Boston, or Providence means the wind is going over the warmer ocean off of the coast, thus the airmass is modified and warmed, so not only do you have an environment that is favorable with relation to the air over land to the air over the ocean, but now the winds only help to tighten this temperature gradient, thus providing even more instability to fuel the mid-latitude cyclone, and in areas that are near this boundary, there are likely to be very heavy bands of snow to develop, with some areas receiving thundersnow due to the overwhelming amount of instability, not to mention the hurricane force winds that will be occurring near the coast, while areas inland deal with winds of 35-50 MPH with higher gusts, and these high winds along with the thunder, lightning, and the heavy snow may result in widespread power outages later tonight and into early tomorrow.
Latest US lightning tracker reveals that the very heavy snow band moving onshore to long Island has significant amounts of thunder and lightning with it to go along with the very strong gale-force winds and the heavy snowfall rates in excess of 3-4 inches per hour.
Current North America Surface analysis also reveals these areas of low pressure, with the system a few hundred miles off of the northeast coast now sub 988 millibars.
Also, take note of the band of precipitation over central PA and NY that is moving eastward quickly towards the area of low pressure off of the coast. NAM 500 mb vorticity maps reveal this precipitation is in association with a weak area of low pressure currently centered near Buffalo, NY and this system is quickly moving eastward, and is providing a little bit of snow for areas into Maryland and eastern PA.
As we get towards later this evening, the main area of low pressure currently east of NJ continues to move northeastward, however, thanks to the fujiwhara effect where areas of low pressure in the northern hemisphere tend to rotate towards one another in a counter-clockwise motion, which forces the area of low pressure east of NJ closer to the southern New England coast, and the other region of low pressure near Buffalo farther to the south and east.
As the evening and overnight progresses, notice how this fujiwhara and merging of these two low pressure areas continue with both of the low pressure areas noticeably coming ill-defined as they begin to come towards a common center just off of the northeast coast, revealing that these low pressure areas are coming together to form one large and very powerful region of low pressure as opposed to 2, smaller, more independent low pressure areas.
As this process of these low pressure areas merging continues look how very ill-defined the low pressure area that was near Buffalo, NY earlier becomes as it merges with the low off of the northeast coast. It makes sense that this area of low pressure would be getting destroyed because the fujiwhara effect dictates that if there are two different areas of low pressure that are coming into close contact to each other, the larger and more dominant of the two areas of low pressure areas usually absorbs the other, and this is a perfect case of this. Also, look how that area of low pressure that was near Buffalo has moved towards southeastern Pennsylvania, thus a south-southeastward movement, and since this area of low pressure was west of the other, as the fujiwhara effect dictates for these areas of low pressure to rotate counter-clockwise around one another, it is very easy to understand why this area of low pressure and the vorticity left with it has moved south-southeastward, while the other area of low pressure off of the northeast coast has significantly slowed its northeastward forward progression, and even begun to take on a more northerly rather than northeasterly track by this time.
Look how in the picture below the fujiwhara of these two regions of low pressure is nearly complete as what was left of the low pressure that was initially near Buffalo is now just a region of slightly higher vorticity, and this fujiwhara has definitely slowed down the region of low pressure off of the northeast coast to making it nearly stall just east-southeast of New England, which is why these areas are going to experience snowfall totals well in excess of 1-2 feet, with isolated areas of 3 feet possible as they have to deal with extremely heavy snow with pockets of thunder and lightning for several hours in a row.
By late morning on Saturday, the area of low pressure is finally pulling away, of course some areas in the northeast should consider themselves lucky because the low pressure by this time has become way more intense indicative of the more closely packed isobars and stronger areas of vorticity.
Here are a few other radar images showing the heavy snow across the northeast and southern New England, and notice how the band of snow in eastern PA is starting to fill in with the main area of snow to the east, this should continue to fill in over the next several hours
A broader radar image perspective showing the two bands of snow with this system, on lurking over PA and NY, with the main area of snow to the east, and as these two areas of low pressure phase, the dry slot over NJ should quickly fill in with light, moderate, and eventually some heavier snows with some thunder and lightning also possible
Beautiful water vapor satellite imagery loop of the evolution of the storm and the blizzard coming for the upper midwest with the next trough over the western US
The heavy snowfall should continue over the next several hours, with this statement from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK indicating that snowfall rates will be generally 1-4 inches an hour with strong gusty winds well into the Gale Force range, bringing blizzard conditions to much of the northeast and into New England well into the overnight hours.
“SUMMARY…A NOR’EASTER RESULTING IN A BLIZZARD WILL AFFECT MUCH OF
COASTAL NEW ENGLAND AND FEATURE SNOWFALL RATES 1-4 INCHES PER
HOUR…WIND GUSTS 35-65 MPH…AND VISIBILITIES LESS THAN 1/4 MI.
DISCUSSION…A RAPIDLY DEEPENING SURFACE LOW /ESTIMATED AROUND 983
MB/ 165 MI SSE BID WILL CONTINUE NNEWD THROUGH THE OVERNIGHT HOURS.
THIS IS OCCURRING DUE TO VERY STRONG LARGE SCALE ASCENT OVER THE
REGION IN CONJUNCTION WITH PHASING MID TROPOSPHERIC TROUGHS AND
COUPLING UPPER SPEED MAXIMA ALONG THE ERN SEABOARD. 01Z SURFACE
STATIONS OVER SRN NEW ENGLAND NEAR THE COAST HAVE BEEN OBSERVING
FREQUENT GUSTS 50-65 MPH AS THE LOW LEVEL PRESSURE GRADIENT
INTENSIFIES IN RESPONSE TO THE APPROACHING AREA OF LOW PRESSURE.
STRONG TO SEVERE WIND GUSTS ARE EXPECTED TO CONCURRENTLY EXPAND NWD
AND IN COVERAGE THROUGH THE LATE EVENING HOURS.
ENSEMBLE MODEL GUIDANCE INCLUDING BOTH SREF AND SPC SSEO /CONVECTION
ALLOWING MODEL ENSEMBLE/ INDICATE THE AXIS OF HEAVIEST SNOW WILL
PIVOT ACROSS SRN NEW ENGLAND AND ALIGN FROM ERN MA NWD ALONG THE
MAINE COAST BY THE 08-09Z PERIOD. SPORADIC LIGHTNING HAS BEEN
DETECTED OVER LONG ISLAND DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS AND HAS
COINCIDED WITH HEAVY PRECIPITATION RATES. CONVECTIVE BURSTS IN THE
HEAVIEST BANDING OF SNOW WILL SUPPORT SNOWFALL RATES 2-4 INCHES PER
HOUR…WITH THE POSSIBILITY FOR OCCASIONAL ISOLD THUNDERSNOW INVOF
Some of the latest snowfall totals as of 7pm from some of the big cities of the northeast
NYC: 4.7 inches
Boston, MA:2.4 inches
Philadelphia, PA: 0 inches
Hartford, CT: 3.5 inches
Providence, RI: 4.1 inches
New Haven, CT: 6.7 inches
Montauk, NY: 2.1 inches
Springfield, MA: 2.4 inches
Taunton, MA: 4.0 inches
Paterson, NJ: 3.2 inches
The overall snowfall of course as Joe Bastardi has been saying for several days and he deserves a lot of credit for recognizing this similarity between this current storm and the February 8-10 1969 Lindsay storm. Even the snow accumulation map of that storm looks very similar to this storm with a gradient of snowfall totals from SW to NE across NJ and PA with a cut-off near Philadelphia, with the highest snows towards south-central New England
Now, looking ahead, as I said in my most previous post from a few days ago, and have continued to say since December, that the worst of winter was to come later towards late Jan-Feb, and that certainly looks to be verifying as we saw the cold come in late January, and was soon followed by a series of clipper systems which rotated around a gyre of low pressure near the Hudson Bay and eastern Canada, and these clipper systems were a clear indication of how active the jet stream was becoming, especially the northern branch, and all we needed was for the southern branch to get involved and then we would be in business, and with the -SOI crash with the latest SOI value at -23.73, there is a lot energy getting forced into the subtropical jet stream, and thus with the very active northern branch in place as well, this is a favorable environment for large systems to phase. This is clearly visible on the infrared water vapor satellite image over eastern North America and the Atlantic noted by the strong stream of cloudiness in shades of green and yellow cutting across Texas and northern Mexico through the Gulf of Mexico, through Florida, the Bahamas and out into the central Atlantic is all associated with the subtropical jet stream which is very active over our area of the world.
Of course a good reason why the subtropical jet stream is so active, just look at the MJO, currently over the Atlantic, thus the subtropical jet stream is being enhanced as shown in the picture above, and is heading for the “jackpot” octants 2 and 3, thus there could be plenty more where this cam from as far as major winter storms over the next few weeks.
Also, look at the 30 day sunspot cycles, in a very big lull at the moment, normally by now we would be seeing an uptick in the sunspot numbers and Solar Flux but this does not seem to be the case as the sun remains unusually dormant near the peak of this current solar cycle, and this is somewhat concerning and is potentially implying that the sun could be indeed entering an extended period of inactivity similar to what was observed in the Maunder and Dalton Minimums.
Of course look at the inverse relationship to the PNA and the 30 day sunspot cycles, as with the last lull period in late December and early January, notice how the PNA jumped positive, and now with another period of inactivity, the PNA has remained in an overall state of being slightly positive since late December, and even though some of the models try and turn the PNA back negative in the longer ranges, that is going to be hard to if the 30 day sunspot cycles do not begin to make a big comeback by mid February.
Look at what happened the last time the 30 day sunspot cycles were low with below normal temperatures widespread over the US, somewhat comparable to 2009-10 in late December.
At the same time during this extended period of low sunspot cycles, look at the US snow cover at New Year’s the highest since 1989.
With the upward MJO pulse, this helps to force lower than normal pressures in the deep tropical Atlantic, the lower pressures in the Atlantic help to weaken the naturally strong Azores High northeast of Africa, and it is the measure of the difference in pressure between the Azores High and the Icelandic low that determines the NAO, and with a naturally weaker Azores High, the Icelandic low should be weaker, which is a -NAO signature, and this is apparent in some of the models which show how the lower pressures in the tropics and subtropics force subsequent rises in pressures in the arctic north of that region of low pressures.
Thus, with a -NAO to go along with the upward MJO pulse, the extended period of low 30 day sunspot cycles linking to the observed cold and snow in late December and the inverse relationship to the PNA leading to it being positive, the blocking developing towards Greenland, to go along with the already active northern and southern branches of the jet stream, due to the upwards MJO and the negative SOI crash. All of this information taken into consideration would show that the pattern will continue to be favorable, if not get even more favorable over the next week or so as the conditions at hand favor significant winter storms and plenty of cold in the eastern and central US.
The GFS ensembles seem to be seeing this as they show significant and widespread cold from the central to the eastern US, of course not to mention the trough near the Bearing Sea forcing Alaska to shiver with extreme cold redeveloping there over the next week or so.
The CMC ensembles also seeing this cold as well with coast to coast cold across the US, although not as aggressive as the GFS ensembles, but still considerably cold.
The ECMWF ensembles also show this cold, although one has to consider that the ECMWF has a bias to keep energy too long in the southwestern US, thus it may be too warm in the central and eastern US with trying to pump a non-existant southeastern US ridge.
The sub-monthly CFSv2 ensembles also see this cold as well, and force the snowpack over the US to continue to grow through the next 2 weeks or so, and are hinting at there may be some snow for some areas of the southern US in the longer ranges, thus these models are consistent with the others and the conditions at hand.
Looking at the models now as we go into next week as this pattern remains favorable we go through mid-February. Latest water vapor imagery reveals the major winter storm currently effecting the northeast with ridging building into the storm from the west, and as the pressures from this building area of high pressure, this forces low pressures and air to rush into the storm currently developing just off of the northeast coast. This encourages upward motion, and along with the large amounts of available instability and a strong temperature and pressure gradient over this area, its no wonder this area of low pressure is dramatically intensifying. Also visible is the very active subtropical jet stream over the southern US, being enhanced by the sudden SOI crash with an active jet stream belt evident generally from the coast of southern California to the Carolinas. This stronger subtropical jet stream is a big reason as to why this storm system off of the northeast coast is so powerful as even more energy is forced to be added into the system, and with the orientation of the southern branch system to the disturbance in the northern branch of the jet over the Great Lakes, the southern system us forcing the system in the northern branch towards the Great Lakes to catch up, thus giving the trough a negative tilt, and along with the other factors mentioned above, this is a good reason as to why this area of low pressure has become so powerful in such a short span of time. Also take note of the dip in the jet stream over the Rockies and into the southwestern US in association with the next trough that will come eastward in the US and will result in a blizzard in the upper midwest and as energy splits from this trough, the leftover energy in the subtropical jet stream may result in the formation of a major storm system near Valentine’s Day for the eastern US.
Here is the ECMWF’s depiction of the pattern helping you to decipher what is going on in the water vapor satellite image above.
As we get towards the 48 hour mark on the ECMWF, you can see our system that was off of the east coast moving out to the northeast and effecting Atlantic Canada as it begins to get absorbed into the retreating gyre of low pressure now near the Baffin Bay, and of course the same gyre of low pressure that resulted in the series of clipper systems that effected the US last week with the last clipper occurring several days ago, and the associated low pressure from the clipper now near Greenland. Ridging and much more tranquil weather will take over in the eastern US, but this will not last long as the next trough off low pressure that is currently over the south-central Rockies moves eastward and produces a blizzard from NE Colorado to northern North Dakota and Minnesota. The energy within this trough, as mentioned in the earlier post splits from the other energy laying farther back to the south and west due to a shortwave system that is notable over central Alberta which helps to draw the energy in the northern side of the trough northward. However, as the subtropical jetstream remains active the energy near the base of the trough remains strong as noted in the picture below with low pressure hanging back into the eastern Pacific. Also, as mentioned above, with the low 30 day sunspot cycle, a ridge of high pressure will be in place towards northwestern North America, thus a +PNA, which is just one reason among many others as to why troughiness and cold will remain well entrenched over the eastern and central US for at least the next few weeks. Also, take note of the new trough centered towards the Gulf of Alaska.
Here are what some of the local forecast offices are saying with this blizzard over the midwest
NWS Duluth, MN
NWS Aberdeen, SD
NWS Sioux Falls, SD
The general picture here is there will be a band of over a foot of snow, with blizzard conditions widespread across a large area of the upper midwest including cities like North Platte, NE, Sioux Falls, SD, Pierre, SD, Fargo, ND, Grand Forks, ND, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, and Duluth, MN
By 96 hours the trough of low pressure associated with the blizzard currently effecting the northeast has moved to just south of Greenland is absorbed into the polar vortex over northern North America. The trough of low pressure that was over the midwest and resulted in a blizzard from the northern plains to the Great Lakes is now over New England and into eastern Ontario and Quebec. The subtropical energy that was over the eastern Pacific associated with the current trough over the western US begins to come out and is entering into the southern Plains, and with cold air being left behind by the trough of low pressure over eastern Canada, there could be some wintry precipitation with light-moderate snow possible from northern Texas and into Oklahoma, and this system will move eastward with time and spread snow for areas farther to the east, especially near the I-40 corridor eastward into the Appalachians. Also noted is the trough of low pressure that was centered near the Gulf of Alaska has now backed off because of the formidable ridge over the NE Pacific that is there due to the positive PNA which is influenced by the unusually low 30 day sunspot cycles, and any remaining energy from this trough appears to head into northwest Canada and continue to feed the northern branch of the jet, which will make a difference in the pattern down the road in the eastern and central US, especially with trough phasing situations similar to what is occurring now over the northeast.
Although models should never be taken literally here is the animated version of the NAM helping to give you a better idea of the pattern at hand and what is going on as we move forward into the 2nd week of February
WRF model and future radar show the pattern evolution of this storm and the blizzard for the upper midwest quite nicely
By 120 hours, the trough of low pressure that was over eastern Canada continues to move eastward and is now east of Atlantic Canada. The next trough associated with the next piece of energy sitting over the southwestern US now moves eastward into the southern US, and with cold air laid down in place behind the system that will effect the upper midwest and Great Lakes this gives a favorable environment for a decent opportunity for wintry weather over the southern US, and as outlined in earlier posts, the overall pattern looks favorable with a trough of low pressure near eastern Canada and troughiness extending down into the southwestern US with an overall region of ridging over NW Canada and the NE Pacific with a trough of low pressure centered near or just west of the Gulf of Alaska. Also noted is the trough of low pressure that was over the central Pacific now moving southeastward into the northwestern US and the northern Rockies on the backside of a dominant region of high pressure over the NE Pacific and in northwestern North America, this is the trough now being indicated by some of the models in the longer ranges to potentially threaten the eastern US with a major winter storm. Also to be considered is that the ECMWF has a bias to withold energy too long over the southwestern US, thus the trough of low pressure being indicated over the eastern US near Valentine’s Day may be lagging behind too much and may be depicted to have a stronger positive tilt than what may actually occur.
In the longer ranges, the ECMWF is picking up on a potentially major storm system as it takes that trough of low pressure over the northwestern US and the northern Rockies and merges it with energy within the very active subtropical jet and develops a very intense mid-latitude cyclone over the southeastern US with very intense snow on the northwestern sides of the system, but for now this is just something to watch in the longer ranges for the eastern US.
The GFS model also picking up on the same trough of low pressure as it develops a major blizzard in the eastern US about the same time as the ECMWF
The CMC as well is picking up on this storm system although is much farther to the west with the trough, of course considering the CMC’s performance with this most recent trough, in not picking up on this major blizzard system in the northeast until 2 days out, it seems to be having trouble with the overall pattern at hand.
Even the less reliable NOGAPS is seeing this system to a certain extent in its own way because it is usually an consistently too progressive and too flat with troughs of low pressure, a similar bias to the GFS, although it is much more prevalent in the NOGAPS, thus a major deepening trough over the central US with a large temperature and pressure gradient ahead of the trough is an indication the model is seeing the same trough as the other models above in the longer range.
The GFS ensembles as well are picking up on this trough, showing a major, negatively tilted trough in the eastern US around 8-9 days from now with an active subtropical jet cutting underneath and blocking developing over the top.
Even though its not in my nature to just stare at models, how can I ignore them when one model after the other, even the NOGAPS to a certain extent is picking up on something significant in the pattern with a major trough in the eastern US days 8-9, and if they verify it would be yet another major winter storm into the eastern US. Of course, these just aren’t crazy model solutions, especially when the conditions at hand are very favorable including the MJO, 30 day sunspot cycles, NAO, AO, PNA, SOI, and lingering effects from the major stratospheric warming event, and the northern hemisphere snowfall anomaly in October also supported the worst of winter occurring at this time, thus its no wonder that we saw a few shots of arctic air in late January and this historic blizzard over the northeast, this just shows what this pattern is capable of, and even though the models vary in precise solutions for a major winter storm in the eastern US, the fact that all of them are showing it is significant enough, and should tell you that the pattern is unusually favorable, its just that the models may be having difficulty in predicting exactly when, not if, major systems will develop. Thus for the next few weeks as the conditions at hand remain favorable we need to keep a close eye on the pattern and keep an eye out for major winter storms as the worst of winter is certainly upon us.
Also, do want to add now a preliminary snowfall map from this event, many areas in southern New England seeing 2-3 feet, Milford, CT the big winner with 38 inches of snow.