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Coastal Storm Possible on Monday?

By Lee Carlaw On Thursday, January 10, 2008 At 4:06 PM
Where's the Storm Now?
The feature we expect to develop into a coastal storm is currently a highly disorganized area of cloudiness associated with impulses of upper air energy over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean (see image at right). These little "packets" of energy are expected to slide southeastward, following the jet stream, and then combine--or phase--to produce a surface low pressure system in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico sometime Saturday night.

This much of the forecast is pretty much a 100% certainty at this point.

What happens next, however, is difficult to assess with great confidence right now, as there are too many different things that have to click just right to produce a significant winter storm for our region.

What the models are saying:
Global Forecast System (GFS): We use this model the most to diagnose weather patterns over the United States. It has a decent track record (over the past several years), but has not been performing too well this winter. The past two runs of this model reveal a pretty much ideal situation for a significant snowstorm in the major I-95 Cities, from Washington, D.C. to Boston, MA.

North American Mesoscale (NAM): One of the worst performing numerical weather models beyond 48 hours this year. Nevertheless, it has begun to move towards a solutions that mirrors that of the aforementioned GFS. Surface temperatures will likely be an issue (mid to upper 30s).

Canadian Model: I feel this model has performed very well so far this winter. While it develops a significant surface low, it's roughly 200-300 miles off the coast--too far away to dump any appreciable precipitation on the region. (See image at right: bottom right panel is surface precipitation valid late Sunday night).

The European Model: By far, one of the best out there for medium-range forecasting, but is rather poor inside of 84 hours. Previous runs have developed a very nice storm for us, but this morning's run develops the low even farther east than the Canadian.

Current Thinking:
We are confident there will be a storm of some kind Sunday night into Monday. Whether it remains cold enough for snow, however, is still up in the air. Our airmass is not particularly cold, and any coastal low that develops will have to move within a swath 100 to 150 miles offshore to give us any hope of receiving snowfall.

At this point, temperatures look to remain in the upper 30s to near 40 for most of us, which would lead me towards a rain, or rain/snow mix solution for Sunday night/Monday. If the GFS does verify, however, much of the precip would be snow. Stay tuned.

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