Here we are on Sunday afternoon watching forecast guidance roll in to either confirm or deny our feelings on this upcoming storm. It has the potential to be quite the whopper of a storm it’s all gonna come down to track and how quickly the cold air can move in…period. It’s important to note that even on the daily we shouldn’t be practicing what we call “modelology”. Forecasts should be based on personal experience with HELP from forecast guidance. Unfortunately with Covid, our data coming in isn’t as reliable as we’d like it to be. Why? Less planes in the sky collecting it. But hey, we work with what we’ve got.
Let’s talk about why this one is so difficult to nail down to give you a better understanding of what I’m dealing with here. Storms have categories or or classifications just like everything else in life. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “clipper” right? Those are generally quick moving storms that move in from the northwest and bring light snowfall to the area. Well, you’ve also got what we call Miller A and Miller B storms. While the outcome can be very similar if not the same from both, the FORMATION is much different.
In a Miller A, the low forms in the Gulf or off the southeast and rides right up the coast. They are usually easier to forecast as there aren’t a bunch of pieces to put together. A Miller B however involves sometimes SEVERAL pieces of energy that need to consolidate in order for the main storm to get going. Look at the map below… in this situation we are looking at a weaker storm coming in from the Ohio Valley. That thing will transfer its energy to the main storm off shore.
WHEN will that happen exactly though? THAT is what concerns me. And THAT is the biggest unknown here. IF the transfer happens sooner, the storm will get more organized and strengthen quicker giving us a better chance of snow. IF the transfer happens later - or WORST CASE - OVER us… then our chances of snow deteriorate rapidly. When a transfer is over our region you can see a SEVERAL hour period of dry weather with the precipitation well north and west. I’ve seen it happen MANY times and that’s why I’m hesitant with this one.
So two track scenarios exist.
#1, I personally think is probably more likely at this moment in time. This would bring the low CLOSER to the coast and allow for warmer air to win out, especially on Wednesday morning and afternoon which would mean a lot of rain out there with a transition over to snow as the hard-falling precipitation cooled the atmosphere below to allow for the transition over to snow at night. The heaviest snow would be WELL west of Hammonton and on the other side of Philadelphia. Does that mean NO snow for South Jersey? Nope. Just means that the best chance of measurable or plowable snow would be from about 15 miles from Philly points north and west. Maybe some slushy minor stuff south and east.
#2 would be a win for all snow lovers. It would shift the center of the storm about 70-100 miles off shore and bring colder air sooner and equate to measurable snow for EVERYONE, even the coast. I think right now it’s less likely that happens but my tune could change by tomorrow when I look at the last bit of guidance before putting my first call snow map out.
It’s imperative that we have a favorable 5,000 foot temperature profile. You’re looking at degrees celcius on this map. Anything below 0 is good, but I like to see -4 to -7 for good snowfall rates. That looks like it’s POSSIBLE over the northeast corridor, at least on this forecast model.
Winds, tidal flooding and rain will be an issue at the coast regardless of track. Could see 1-2” of rain with whipping winds out of the East/Northeast gusting to over 50mph. Right now I think solid minor flooding but moderate is reachable. I’ll have those numbers out tomorrow.
Stay tuned I’ll continue to fine tune the forecast and by this time tomorrow we should be able to really get down into the details.
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