By Judson Jones and Jennifer Gray, CNN
Like my five-year-old, you might still feel like you need to #BlameJudson for the lack of snow. He put the spoon under his pillow, threw ice cubes in the toilet, ran around the table singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” AND wore his pajamas inside out the night before. Even though we saw white flakes, there still wasn’t enough snow on the ground to use the sled I bought him when he was two.
I am as disappointed as anyone that our snowless streak in Atlanta continues. But there is a chance — if we get measurable snow later this week — we will keep from breaking the record of going 1,477 days without snow. (We are currently sitting at 1,460 days Monday.)
Some computer forecast models are hinting at another winter system to hit parts of the South and make its way up the coast this weekend. This storm system, if you believe one model, will bring real snow to Atlanta, but also an icy mess to coastal towns like Savannah in Georgia and Charleston in South Carolina.
Not to mention, it could actually bring good accumulating snow to cities in the Northeast, like New York.
The problem is, there is less uncertainty in this storm system than this past weekend.
Last week, both global weather models showed the same overall weather pattern but disagreed on the details.
This week we can’t even say we are sure something WILL happen.
“Ample forecast spread and continuity issues limits predictability of particular system threats days 4-7,” the Weather Prediction Center said Monday morning in its forecast discussion.
What is certain is that a cold front will push through the Central US Wednesday and across the East through Thursday, leaving an Arctic blast of frigid air behind it.
Temperatures from the Plains to the East Coast could drop 20 to 30 degrees below normal.
Texas, for instance, will have many areas go from the 70s and 80s Tuesday to mid-30s and lower 40s on Thursday.
As frigid temperatures established across the East Thursday into Friday, a low pressure system is expected to form along the cold front and just off the Georgia coast. If it forms near the coast, it could filter in moisture from the Atlantic into the cold air, allowing for that winter precipitation to form in areas that you might not associate with ice or snow. Take Charleston, South Carolina, for instance.
“The thermal profiles of all of the medium range models indicate the potential for wintry precipitation across all or part of the forecast area at some point from late Thursday night through Saturday morning,” the National Weather Service in Charleston said Monday morning.
It also adds a similar disclaimer: “There has been drastic run-to-run inconsistency between the global models which has resulted in a low confidence forecast.”
There it is, the “maybe.” Sound familiar? Here’s why.
The one model that shows the system close to the coast takes it up the coastline, bringing more winter precip for a longer period for Georgia, the Carolinas, and then into the mid-Atlantic and coastal New England.
The American weather model still shows some precip in the South but not the widespread European model. It forms a low, but the storm system quickly moves East away from the coast. This means there still is likely to be some winter precip in some areas, but less. Thus my son’s dreams to sled are likely to be dashed again. But this outcome will probably be better for those of you chipping away at ice today or digging out of the snow.
Another complex wrinkle is the latest American model shows another shot at snow in the South on Sunday.
But it is worth keeping an eye on this week.
“This has the potential to be a big event, but without a convergence in model solutions and better run-to-run consistency, messaging timing, amounts, and impacts will be challenging,” the Atlanta National Weather Service said.
An unexpected cloud that the meteorological community did not expect to see Saturday
Just when you think you have it all figured out, Mother Nature loves to throw a curveball. Of course, while millions in the Southeast were gearing up for a huge winter storm — deciding if it was worth it to get a sled — a volcano eruption was the last thing we saw coming.
We were all so focused with a one-track mind on the winter weekend that lies ahead. Then suddenly — BOOM! It was an explosion that was felt and heard around the world, and one we never saw coming. A volcano erupted off the island of Tonga in the South Pacific, and it created literal shockwaves — and tsunami waves — around the world.
Saturday morning’s eruption was likely the largest volcano eruption the planet has seen in more than 30 years. Gas, ash and steam shot up into the sky nearly 19 miles high, and a tsunami was triggered by the incredible water displacement from the blast. Waves began to travel across the Pacific in all directions, even impacting the US west coast and Hawaii.
If this is all news to you, catch up on all the details of what happened here.
If you want to geek out with me a little on what continues to blow my meteorological mind, let’s keep going. First, the fact the eruption was actually heard as far away as Alaska — nearly 6,000 miles away — is absolutely wild!
The first images of the eruption and shock wave could be seen from space.
There was a pressure drop that was felt around the world as well. Meteorologists took to Twitter to show the slow rise and then rapid pressure drop at stations across the world, including the US.
As far as impacting our weather around the world, experts say it’s a little too early to tell. Erik Klemetti, an associate professor of geosciences at Denison University in Ohio, tells CNN the Tonga eruption might have a regional impact on temperature, though scientists are still unsure of its significance. Klemetti noted it ultimately depends on how much sulfur dioxide made it into the atmosphere.
Interesting note: most people think it’s the ash that affects global temperatures and weather after a volcanic eruption. It’s actually the sulfur dioxide, which reacts with water to form aerosols that reflect the sunlight back to space to absorb heat in the upper atmosphere.
You can read more about the volcano’s impacts to global temperature here.
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