Complex Forecast This Weekend

Written by on January 19, 2016 in Winter Weather

We have a complicated forecast for this weekend as models try to come to a consensus on how to handle the low pressure system that will be heading for the east coast.

For the past few days it seemed the models and their ensembles were relatively close to each other and all saying the same thing: ‘all rain’ forecast for ENC and a huge snow storm in the northeast.

The European models have shown that the cut-off low at the center of all this will be positioned more south than previous runs and current GFS runs. If the European model were to verify, this could allow enough cold air into the region as it passes offshore leading to potential frozen precipitation.

gfs_mslp_pcpn_frzn_us_12

gfs_mslp_pcpn_frzn_us_16

 

Both images above are from the 18Z GFS run on 1-19-16. This would be a more northward track taking the surface low over the southern Appalachian Mountains then reforming it over the eastern coast of NC, then moving it northeast away from the Carolina coast.

During the lows first approach to North Carolina, a warm front will develop to the south of the area and begin moving northward. During that time, moisture from the south will try to work it’s way into the area. If the moisture arrives early enough to ride over the cold air to the north of the front, places in the east could see precipitation start as sleet or freezing rain for a short period before changing to all rain once the warm front has passed.

With the Euro’s track being further south, we will still see a similar start of the event with most areas in the northern half of ENC starting out as sleet or freezing rain which could last a little longer than the GFS’s run as long as the precipitation is able to arrive before frontal passage.

In both cases, once the warm front has passed rain will overspread the entire region as temperatures below 700mb will be above freezing.

This would last from late Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon/evening as the low begins to move away from the coast. Then it becomes interesting: both the GFS and Euro have enough moisture and cold air behind the low to support snow for most inland areas and far northeast coast of NC.

Right now, I will not be forecasting any totals as there is still many details that will need to be worked out between now and Friday (I would be skeptical of any forecast totals this early). So for now, I am just letting you know there is a potential for frozen precipitation.

I will update as more details become clear.

Note: This is NOT a forecast provided by the NWS or any local media. All statements and forecasts are of ‘MY OWN OPINION’ and may not be the same forecast from other sources. Always refer to the NWS or local media for any official news and updates.

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