Of Southern Storms and Winter Hopes


Active Late Winter Pattern Gives Snow Lovers Hope
The calendar says it is mid-February so there are 5 more weeks of winter to go. In fact, since the opening days of the baseball season have been known to be cold and snowy this far north (what year in the mid 1980s was it that games from Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium to Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park in Boston were snowed out in April?), one could argue the snow season still has another eight weeks to run.
Snowstorms like the Blizzard of 1993 and the Great Wet Snowstorm of April 1987 are among the wildest and most memorable of an entire generation. I worked the former staying at the old Radisson Hotel for 3 nights during the so-called Superstorm of March 13-15 1993. Two feet of snow fell and drifts topped 4 feet through the deserted streets of downtown Huntington that incredible weekend. I recall walking to the hotel each night with bulldozers working to collect the snow so it could be dumped into the Ohio River.
I have researched the April 1987 storm where a tremendous amount of wet snow knocked out power to tens of thousands. Snow fell heavily for 3 days melting on paved surfaces by day but accumulating at night, all the while piling up on cars and grass to the astounding depth of 20”+.
It is the climatology of such events that keeps the weatherman weary until we file our income tax returns. You see, as a snow lover, I am often chastised for my exuberance in talking about storms. Hey, I would not be a weatherman if I didn’t like storms.
Admittedly,  much of this winter, I have talked up a good game with rain and high water but only an occasional wet snowfall. In fact I do not believe I have mentioned snow accumulations greater than 1”-3” in Huntington and 2”-4” in Charleston all season long. Even those benign forecasts have been overstated, last weekend being an example when we eked out a 1”-2” snowfall.
So it is with tepid enthusiasm that I am brushing out the SOUTHERN STORM moniker for the weekend. Mind you, the storm is just a figment of our supercomputers and my imaginations, a kind of gleam in our eyes. But there is growing evidence that a juicy storm will be coming out of the Gulf of Mexico this weekend with its eyes on the Southern and perhaps Central Appalachians.
Since this would-be storm will have plenty of water with it, the first ingredient for a snowstorm will be present. In addition, there will be a funnel of cold air that will be able to spill in the “backdoor” by way of New York and Pennsylvania. But the key as always will be meshing those two air masses.
The early call would have snow only falling as far north as Beckley and Pikeville. In fact if the storm is a late bloomer or takes a southern track, only a few snow showers would make it that far north. But as they say in the lottery game, you can’t win if you don’t play. Translated to winter weather lingo, if there are no southern storms, there will be no deep snows here.
Food for thought as we watch the weekend setup unfold or fall apart.
Here’s a neat link that you can use to watch the storm form this weekend.
Step 1 Go to GFS at top
Step 2 On left, scroll down to Surface
Step 3 Select SLP and 6 Hr Precip
Step 4 Go the gray time bar at the top…it will start at 0 then increase in 6 hr increments 6,12,18…all the way through 240 hours
Step 5 Find your state
Step 6 Scroll back and forth along the 0 to 240 hour time bar.
Your eye will find the developing storm as the bright red and yellows (heavy precipitation) blow up.
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