There is so much to talk about in the world of weather that I could do 4 videos and 5 blog posts about this pattern if I wanted! So let’s get right to it. We’ll take things 1 “event” at a time.
1) Monday night/Tuesday Morning’s Snow
What Went Right?
-Timing was pretty good. The snow started and ended pretty much when it was supposed to.
-Accumulations were, for the most part, within our forecasted range. There were, as always, some exceptions…Newton Falls picked up over 8″.
What Went Wrong?
-I didn’t anticipate the intense band of snow that rolled through between 4-5:30am; it had lightning and thunder with it! Here’s what the radar looked like as it went through:
-I didn’t play up the WIND enough. Blowing and drifting snow was a big issue!
This map shows some of the snow reports received by the NWS:
2) Severe Weather Threat? Thursday Night
A strong cold front will march through the East late Thursday and Thursday night. With a foot of snow on the ground, it’s hard to believe nasty thunderstorms are possible here, but it certainly cannot be ruled out. The higher threat is indeed to our west, as outlined by the Storm Prediction Center:
Between 10pm-2am, a line of thunderstorms with strong winds is likely to push east through eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The 1:00am Friday weather map shows strong low pressure over the northern lakes with showers and storms along a cold front in our region:
Here is a closer look at the “simulated” radar at 1:00am:
It certainly will not be warm and humid like during Spring/Summer thunderstorms, but there are reasons to think this line could be nasty. The 500 millibar chart, showing conditions in the atmosphere at around 18,000 feet, shows a strong low pressure center with lots of “vorticity”, or spin:
The tilt of the system puts Ohio and Pennsylvania in a zone that is very favorable for rapidly rising air. Rising air is one of the ingredients needed for thunderstorms, and especially severe thunderstorms.
The main threat will be WIND. The wind at around 5,000 feet above our heads will likely we screaming at 60-80 knots (about 70-90 mph) late Thursday evening. If some of that wind energy can get pulled down to the surface, wind can be a problem (again, especially in western Ohio). Here’s the forecast wind speeds at 1am Friday morning at 5,000 feet:
3) Potential For Flooding
All the snow recently has left us with a very healthy snow pack. It’s as deep as a foot in spots. That snow is “holding” a lot of water. This map shows the “snow water equivalent”, or about how much liquid is stored in the snow pack:
Melt a chunk of that down and add a healthy dose of rain, and you have a recipe for potential flooding. Even if no thunderstorms survive this far east, up to an inch or so of rain is possible Thursday and Thursday night. Here’s the NWS rain forecast. which I think is reasonable:
Also of concern with some f the thawing: ice jams on the rivers.
The NWS outlook for the Mahoning River at Leavittsburg, Warren and Youngstown shows the possibility of the river reaching or exceeding flood stage Friday:
I doubt a MAJOR flooding event is on our hands, but there may be some minor problems.
4) Return of the Cold!
Colder-than-average air will dominate the pattern at the end of February and early March. Here’s the NWS 8-14 day temperature outlook, showing a high chance of cold weather in much of the East:
Does that mean we will get a lot more snow? We can’t say yet. Let’s hope not. My back is tired from shoveling.
5) Some Optimism
Finally, the days ARE getting longer and eventually Spring will win the battle. Tuesday’s sunset was at 6:00 and it feels good to think about the lighter, warmer evenings that are coming.
Thanks for reading!