Meteorologist Mark’s Wx Blog for Sunday, Feb. 7

Headlines 

A winter wonderland today!

Mild start to week, cold finish

An unsettled week ahead

Meteorologist Mark’s Wx Vlog 

Unavailable today.

48-Hour WX

Five-Day Forecast

Daily Forecast Summary

Today: Skies should gradually clear.

Monday: Mostly sunny and pleasant.

Tuesday: Mostly cloudy, with a very slight chance for a shower.

Wednesday: Chance showers.

Thursday: Showers likely.

48-Hour Precip Forecast

Meteorologist Mark’s Wx Concerns

No concerns through Thursday. Stay tuned, as concerns may arise by Thursday night in future outlooks.

Meteorologist Mark’s Snow Day Forecast

Refreezing on area roadways will make backroads hazardous Monday morning. Be safe.

Meteorologist Mark’s Wx Discussion

Guidance continues to trend milder for the first half of the week and even into the middle of the week. By Thursday night, changes begin, as very cold air filters into the region.

There may be snow in the forecast for Thursday night in future outlooks. Stay tuned.

On This Day in Wx History

1861 – The temperature at Gouverneur, New York, bottomed out at -40 degrees, a drop of 70 degrees in one day. Two days later the mercury hit 55 degrees.

Almanac

Yesterday’s National Temperature Extremes

High: 88° at North Palm Beach, Florida 

Low: -33° at Bottineau, North Dakota

Today’s National Wx Hazards

Snowflakes are flying from the southern Appalachians to New England. More snow can be found from Idaho to Indiana.

Tomorrow’s National Wx Hazards

A mixed bag of sleet and freezing rain can be found across southern Missouri, with a large swath of snow farther north. More snow falls on the northern Rockies, as well.

 Sunday Story

Surprise Blizzard

Few weather events haunt a meteorologist like a missed snow forecast. It’s one thing to forecast snow flurries, but it’s a completely different story when the forecast calls for rain and you end up with nearly two feet of snow.  

Wait a minute. Did I say the forecast called for rain but it snowed nearly two feet? 

That’s exactly what happened on the Cumberland Plateau on the evening of February 3, 1998. An area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico strengthened as it moved east. That threw cold rain northward into Tennessee. That part was expected. 

Then, the low moved into the waters of the Gulf Stream Current off the coast of South Carolina and very rapidly strengthened. The storm strengthened so much that it caused cold air in the atmosphere to reach down to the surface, a process referred to in meteorology as “dynamic cooling.” This process turned the rain to snow. That part was not expected. 

Since the cold air was pulled down from the atmosphere, there was no cold air invading from the north to look out for. Locations to our north were warmer than we were! Odd, indeed. 

The heavy wet snow accumulated to a depth of 20 inches in Jamestown! Livingston recorded nine inches of snow, while Crossville had 10 inches. 

The snow caught travelers on Interstate 40 by surprise. Near Monterey, traffic came to a screeching halt for 18 hours! Stranded travelers had to be rescued. 

Damage to timber was extensive across the plateau. Winds gusts to 50 mph combined with the wet snow to create blizzard conditions, coming just five years after the “Blizzard of the Century” in March of 1993.

Even today, this rare event would be a big challenge to forecast. Let’s hope that if we get a surprise snow it’s not a blizzard!  

You all have a great day and keep lookin’ up!

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