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Snow to our south? An odd weather day!



As you can see, there is plenty of snow to our south.  It is all moving northeast.  And you may notice that radar shows some snow moving our way from the southwest. Most of those flakes are evaporating before they reach the ground, but we could still see a flurry or two. Places in central Mississippi and Alabama are seeing 1-3 inches of snow, which is a major winter storm for those folks. It looks like the snow is mainly sticking to grassy areas and not to roads, so there haven’t been many travel problems. Isn’t that the best snow? When it makes everything but the roads white.

Our official forecast high temp for today is 37, but I’m not sure we’ll get there with all these clouds. We’re just 24 degrees right now, so we’ve got quite the climb to just get above freezing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t make it to freezing.

Another disturbance moves in Saturday night with more snow flurries. We may even get some snow showers out of this system and if we do we may get a dusting of snow. Models have been trending more in that direction. I’ll update this on the blog tomorrow morning.  Also remember that Saturday night will be the coldest night so far this season, with lows dipping to near 15. Also, don’t forget that the winds will be picking up tomorrow, making it feel much colder.

Yet another disturbance and cold front come through on Tuesday. Models have been very inconsistent on how much precip we  will get from this. Any precip we get would be wintry. I’m leaning more toward flurries at this point, but I’ll keep an eye on it. Yet another chance of wintry precip arrives Thursday night.

So, with all this talk of cold and snow you may be wondering, “Just how do we get a good snow around here?” Well, I have the answer! My article on this very subject was published in the Fentress Courier this week and I’ll share it with you here.

How do we get snow on the Cumberland Plateau?

The Cumberland Plateau averages about 10 inches of snow a year. This snow total often comes in several small snows, until we have added up about a foot of total snow.

Many of our snows are light snows associated with winds that are from the northwest, known as “northwest flow” events. After a cold front passes, the winds turn northerly. When those winds blow straight out of the northwest, they hit the plateau at a 90-degree angle, which forces the air to rise when it hits the side of the plateau. Rising air cools and condenses and can form clouds, leading to snow. Sometimes moisture from disturbances within that flow enhance the snowfall. Still, most of these snowfall events are rather light, producing less than a couple inches of snow.

The big snows come from storms that develop in the Gulf of Mexico, where there is abundant moisture available. The track of the storm is critical in determining snowfall amounts. The storm must track to our south in order for us to get snow. This allows the storm to pull in cold air from the north. If the storm tracks too far to the north, we get too much warm air and it just rains. If the storm goes too far south, we find ourselves too far away from the moisture. A low that tracks from Birmingham to Atlanta typically brings us our deepest snows. The tricky part is figuring out the track of the storm’s center. Sometimes the difference between rain, snow or nothing at all comes down to just tens of miles!

No one said forecasting winter weather for the plateau was easy, but some of us are up to the challenge! Remember that you can always follow my latest thoughts and forecasts at!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and that you stay nice and warm! Bundle up for the Christmas parade tomorrow!





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