LOCAL VIEW —To Snow or No (with “santabomb” update)

A slug of rain moved up over us this morning, with just a bit of freezing on cold pavements, though the temperatures were above freezing at 36. I suppose the stones remembered the cold. The rain swiftly swept north and is gone, and now we are seeing a gray sun, with temperatures pushing 40. I suppose this is the long-awaited “warm-up.”

20141217A rad_ne_640x480_01 20141217B rad_ne_640x480_12

The rain-snow line has been pushed well to the north, but I am going to call this “Winter Storm #10” all the same. (We had some icy pavement, after all.) (I’ll never match the 26 winter storms of the 1600’s if I don’t cheat a little.)  Also a little snow may be swept around the backside, and give us a backlash tomorrow.

The map shows the warm front never made it here. It zipped up into an occlusion, and a weak coastal low has formed where the zipper is zipping, and the cold front separates from the warm front.  It seems that nearly the entire mild air-mass, full of Chinook kindness, was lifted before it got east. We got gypped. It all passed over head, as down on the ground we got a case of the shivers. (Click maps to clarify and enlarge)

20141217 satsfc 20141217B satsfc

That coastal low will likely blow up into a gale up over the Canadian Maritimes, and we will get north winds and some moderated arctic air. Somehow the cold always seems to manage to sneak down our way. Here’s the latest temperature map: (Click and then click again to fully enlarge.)

20141217B gfs_t2m_noram_1

Besides the chill hanging tough over New Hampshire, the map shows some grey coloring south of Hudson Bay, indicative of temperatures dipping below zero Fahrenheit ( -18 Celsius). That is some home-brewed Canadian cold that was prepared for us during the long nights the air sat over the snow-covered Canadian prairies.  When nights are at their shortest Canadians don’t need to import air from Siberia to freeze our socks off.  The irony is that where the subzero air now sits is the exact location where the friendly Chinook air lay, last week. It seemed so sure to sweep east and warm us.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what happens to the warm air when it is occluded upwards. What happens to the heat it holds? There is a surprising amount of argument about whether it is radiated to outer space or not.

Another thing that kept the warm air from reaching us was all the snow-cover it had to melt away, as it came east.  It takes a lot of heat top melt snow, as the available heat turns into latent heat as water goes through the phase changes from solid to liquid, and from liquid to gas. (The opposite occurs when the phase changes reverse. A storm actually releases a lot of heat as vapor turns to liquid and liquid to snow.)

The snow-cover was at record levels at the end of November, and had advanced down to Texas, but the “warm-up” chased it north to Canada by December 13:

Snowcover20141213  ims2014347_usa

It has made a comeback behind Storm #10:

Snowcover 20141216 ims2014350_usa

You can see the snow is hanging stubborn, in New Hampshire, but it is not the pretty snow you see in Christmas cards. It is inferior, dingy stuff, with patches of bare ground showing on the south slopes. We could do with a touch-up, though preferably not until Christmas Eve.

I am going to add to this post later, as there is a lot of gossip about a storm this weekend, but I have chores to do before I can delve into that.

UPDATE  —“Santabomb” storm?—

As usual Weatherbell and “Whats Up With That” have beaten me to the punch, as Ryan Maue has tweeted the news about various Christmas blizzards the models are seeing.   The news can be read at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/12/17/santabomb-winter-storm-predicted-for-northeastern-u-s-at-christmas/#comment-1816610

The GFS computer was cranking out a 956 mb low over the Great Lakes: (Click to clarify and enlarge.)

Santabomb 958mb_low-xmas-day

First, this is a modeled storm, and models change their so-called “minds”, especially about events a week away.

Second, some sort of big storm is likely, as the very cold air returns and runs into the “warm-up” air in place over the USA.  The question is, where they will form and where they will move. In the winter of 1978 there were three big storms, two of which gave blizzards to New England, and which sandwiched a warm storm that sank my shack on the coast of Maine.

Here are some comments from the post over at WUWT:

  • Right. For New England there were actually three storms:

    1) In January a storm brought a record 24 hour snowfall to Boston and the east coast. I parked my VW Rabbit in a snow bank while I cleared the driveway and got snow on the external timing belt making it slip and the engine have zero compression. I figured out how to fix it the next day. This storm was poorly forecast by models.

    2) At the end of January, the midwest storm brought a record low air pressure to Cleveland, and quite a bit of rain to New York, Boston, etc. This is called the Blizzard of ’78 or the “Great White Hurricane” in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio and well deserves both titles.

    3) Feb 6th brought another record 24 hour snowfall, winds that nearly blew my VW Rabbit off I 495, massive storm surges that destroyed hundreds of homes and killed dozens of people. It is known as the Blizzard of ’78 in New England states and well deserves that title. This storm was extremely well forecasted by the models, but between the poor job for the first storm and big problem of snow starting around 1100, everyone was at school and work, leading to massive mayhem trying to get home. While several of its records have been broken, it remains the benchmark that all other storms are compared against.

    I had the most awesome, impossible to duplicate drive home that night. Seehttp://wermenh.com/blizz78.html and its companion.

    Storm started Monday, this was Wednesday:http://wermenh.com/images/bliz78_int.jpg

    As Vic Werme states, the Cleaveland 1978 Superbomb was a warm storm in New England, between two far worse New England blizzards. It had the effect of turning the street-side snowbanks, leftover from the first blizzard, to slush, which then froze as hard as rock, and became a problem when the second blizzard arrived, as the snowbanks wouldn’t budge and the snow plowed by plows went up the rock-like banks and then tumbled back down into the streets behind the plows.

    Another effect of the warm storm was surprise flooding on the coast of Maine. The bays and inlets and harbors opened to the southeast, and the warm southeast wind was so strong it sort of dented your eyeballs. The tide kept right on rising after high tide.

    I was living on a shack on a dock on the Harraseeket River in South Freeport, and my idyllic little home was washed off the dock onto the mudflats. It is an amazing thing to watch your house go blub-blub-blub. I had a extensive collection of Jimi Hendrix albums which was ruined, for it turned out it was impossible to remove mudflat mud from the grooves of those old fashioned records. It seemed tragic at the time, however it was probably healthy to stop listening to that stuff all day. Every storm has a silver lining.

    In any case, as very cold air charges south into the USA we have our best chance for the sort of storms one talks about thirty or forty years later. This looks to be like one of those winters.

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