Update - Getting real close to a major storm

Tracking the development of a strong winter-like storm as it moves up the east coast that will change up our local weather dramatically through the week ahead. If you live in the eastern mountains especially, give this a read.

Updated Below...

Welcome to your Saturday :-)

There are a ton of events going on this weekend locally, and unfortunately showers are making their approach. We certainly have needed the rain around here as well, so there's a bit of irony going on. Today's rain should move in from west to east during the morning, and bring showery weather through the day. You can follow the arrival by examining the tracking maps below. Here's what the current projections are regarding total rainfall locally:

HAS Precipitation Forecast HPC Precipitation Forecast

 If you're headed to the Hillbilly Days parade, at least some rain gear is recommended. Same goes for folks headed to the spring football game (for example in Morgantown, Athens, or Columbus). Ponchos a-plenty. It's not a serious soaking, but if you're caught without at least something for the rain, you won't be comfortable. Temperatures will not be like yesterday either, that's for sure. Highs will struggle to make it back to 60 degrees after just touching 80° in parts of our area. In truth though, even 60 would be a welcome sight once we get into our more serious storm in the coming days.

Strong Storm Set To Hit The East Coast ... And Clip Us As Well...

We've been following this one for more than a week, and as we get closer to game-time it appears to have been able to make the jump into reality. Even though we're still a few days away from it occurring, it's important to take a look at things because of the implications this storm has for a very large area.

Here's my impression of what we've got on our hands as things stand today:

Sunday AM

 

 

The storm initially develops along the stalled out boundary that brings today's showers. Note how this boundary is oriented along the east coast. This is going to set up quite a convergence zone for precipitation. I bet a lot of folks see several INCHES of rain by the time this is done from DC straight up to Boston. This storm can intensify rapidly because it's tapping into both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean (great sources of energy). In addition, notice the developing push of cold air approaching the tri-state area. This will eventually be completely drawn into our storm system as it chugs along. For our area, there will be a battle between the showers that will linger in the mountain counties because of the influence of this zone of instability that extends up the east coast...and the drier air that arrives with that cold push from the west. We could go from scattered clouds in the west, to a shower cool day in the east.

Overnight Sunday/Monday

 

Our storm is much more developed by Sunday night, and moving up by the Carolinas. The colder air is now working more fully through our area, dropping overnight temperatures quite noticeably in our area. Highs will be well below normal. This will be a time where we'll see a lull in the precipitation for all but perhaps the eastern-facing slopes of the mountains. The cold air will have a drying influence on our skies, though may not completely be able to scour out the clouds. Meanwhile, our storm system goes from a pedestrian 1000mb of central pressure, to somewhere in the 980s (again, something you see in the winter much more than late April).

 

 

Monday PM

 

We will see a lot of key things happen during the day Monday that will make the difference between just being grazed by this storm, to having some larger issues in the mountain counties. Similarly to what we were seeing depicting on the European model earlier in the week, the storm looks like it will bend inland up by the Jersey Shore and the Hudson River. I have adjusted my own assessment on this map (which is a WRF model base if you were interested), so you can see my anticipated center of circulation being a little farther east than the low there in central Pennsylvania. However, it should be pointed out that if the farther west track verifies, things turn up a notch around our area, as we'll be closer to all the precipitation. One of the things I want you to see on this storm is how it is able to channel the colder air all the way around itself such that it is cooling the air from the south in places like NYC and Long Island, and warming things up from the north along I-90 toward Buffalo, NY. This is a characteristic of the big storms. The cold air has a wide-ranging reach. The all important "540-line" (the red-dashed line on the map) has plunged down into the Tennessee Valley and through the Carolinas. The moisture won't be there, but flags should go up for a frost or freeze. For sections of West Virginia, we'll start seeing the moisture work its way back into the picture, but this time with cold air. There will be a sharp cut-off between heavy amounts and lighter amounts, but take a look at the possibilities:

 NAM - Modeled Snowfall - Through Early Tuesday
 

 I suspect we'll start to see "Winter Storm Watches" being posted for Preston and Tucker counties in West Virginia, and perhaps more advisories depending on how close this storm makes its approach. It may be a rather anti-climatic experience farther west, as much of the tri-state won't be seeing any snow, and the bulk of the rain itself will be on the other side of the mountains. But, while we're experiencing the cold breezes Sunday through Tuesday, just keep an eye here as we update the headlines, because this storm is going to be quite something for general afficionados of weather. If the Canaan Valley area stumbles upon a half-foot or more of wet snow from this storm, considering that they've been back into the growing season for a while now this will threaten numerous trees that have their leaves back (allowing for a lot more weight to accumulate on them-- much more stress). Power outages could also be a problem out toward the US-219 corridor if enough snow accumulates. It's amazing to even be talking like this considering we just had the warmest March in US History and highs yesterday were near 80... but that's how the weather works sometimes :-)

Here's an idea of the kind of moisture that this system is going to be channeling over the next couple of days:

HPC - Projected Precipitation - Through Tuesday AM

Some areas in New England look to be getting an entire month worth of rain during this period, but notice how it drops off noticeably by the time you cross the Appalachians to the west. Trust me, it's a good thing to not be directly hit by this beast of a storm.

If you have any questions or concerns about this event as it relates to your area, don't hesitate to post about it in the comments section. I'd be glad to clarify anything that's confusing, or otherwise get some updates where necessary. When we actually get into this storm, I can also benefit from any weather reports you might have to give-- Nicholas and Webster counties can certainly see flakes from this thing in the currently expected scenario, and I'd love to hear about it.

This won't be the end of our unsettled weather either. Indications are next week that we could be entering a prolonged period of periodic rainfall. That's something we'll have to tackle later on.

Update 3:30pm - Some of the latest computer models are trying to push the low pressure system inland farther west into parts of Pennsylvania and central New York. The main ones are the GFS and WRF models. The European model however is shading a bit closer to the New York City area at least initially. Regardless, the ramifications of this would put more rain closer to the River Cities area, but also amplify the snowfall amounts in the higher elevations toward the eastern mountains. For many to the east, the heavy wet flakes will melt quickly when they land, but the ski resorts will wish this thing happened in early March instead of the warmth. I would have to say the clock is ticking on when to issue Winter Storm Watches for the mountain counties.

Update 4:30pm - The National Weather Service has now issued a Winter Storm Watch for the mountain counties. Well, Preston, Tucker, Randolph, and Pocahontas counties in West Virginia (technically all out of our broadcast area). This list could expand as we go along. It appears thate has been a fair amount of coordination across National Weather Service offices with this storm. Here's what the look is right now nationally:

National Weather Service Warnings (4:30pm)

The Winter Storm Watches are in the blue, and extend up the WV mountans all the way to the Rochester-Buffalo, NY area. On the eastern side of the storm naturally are your flood watches for southern New England, in keeping with a strong (non-April-like) storm. And, for those of you that follow me on Twitter (or are about to), check out one crazy rendition of what one model indicates for snowfall in Elkins, WV from this storm. I actually use these models when examining snowfall possibilities in my forecasts, so it kind of caught me by surprise. Twitter: @WSAZBrandon

Here are your storm tracking maps :-)

Regional Radar/Satellite with Warnings Tracking

Accuweather Radar

Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active Warnings
Current Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active NWS Warnings
Click For Larger Click For Interactive Radar Click For Larger Click For Larger

Have a great day everyone!

-B

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