Alberta Clipper

Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick is talking about Alberta Clipper Snow Systems.

We meteorologists love to give special names to different weather systems.  One name you'll be hearing a lot is an Alberta Clipper.  What exactly is that you ask?

An Alberta Clipper storm system is a fast moving low pressure area which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the U.S.  Most clippers occur between December and February, the winter months, of course.  But they also can occur in the month of November.  Alberta clippers take their name from Alberta, Canada, the province from which they appear to descend and from clipper ships of the 19th century one of the fastest ships of that time.

Since clippers come from Canada, a cold and dry place this time of year, they don't bring much moisture with them.  They do pick up some extra moisture from the Great Lakes as they clip along to the east or southeast. 

Most of our snowfalls here in our local area comes from these fast moving storm systems.  Generally they produce a 1" to 3" inch snow for the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Valleys.

Our big snow storms like the one in 1993 and 1996 do not come from the northwest, they come from the south where there's ample moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.  It's the southern storms and not the northern storms like the clippers that bring us deep snows.

So over the next several weeks snow fans, watch the northern jet stream and southern jet stream closely, (jet stream is the fast moving air currents that steer our storm systems) if they meet up, a snowstorm is likely.

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