Dec 252010
 

Christmas Day, 2010

While it may sound like a cliche, a Christmas miracle is about to happen for all the weather enthusiasts across the Northeast. On Christmas Eve, all the computer models suddenly shifted their track of the intense low pressure system off the East coast for tomorrow further west — closer to the Northeast coast. This is of course after a week of hit and miss amongst the various models (except the European for quite a few days), much like the storm system from last weekend that looked like a potentially big system until just a couple days before the storm was expected to hit. But the big difference with this upcoming system is models are now converging on a solution as we hit the 36 hour forecast window. That solution calls for blizzard conditions tomorrow night across the Northeast coast, with winds sustained in the 25 to 35 mph range and higher gusts. And if you don’t believe me, check out your local NWS forecasts. These meteorologists are seeing a big storm and forecasting one. The data finally supports it. It’s happening.

 

12z 25 Dec GFS Operational sea level pressure and precipitation valid 00z Mon Dec 27

12z 25 Dec GFS Operational sea level pressure and precipitation valid 00z Mon Dec 27

 

Depending on the exact track of the system itself, many areas along the I-95 corridor from NYC to BOS should receive up to a foot of snow, with some locations receiving up to 16 inches. This heavy band of snow will also extend well into central New England, reaching southern VT, NH and much of coastal Maine. But what’s really interesting is some locally higher snow amounts are possible. It will really come down to exactly how close to the coast the low pressure system actually tracks and how much it deepens Sunday night as it lifts north-northeast into the Gulf of Maine. Tonight’s computer models will help to iron out those details.

It’s been an interesting learning experience to say the least. The normally very reliable European Operational model had been forecasting this blizzard many days in advance. And it showed amazing consistency until the 12z Thursday (Dec 23) run, when it finally shifted the track of the low pressure system well to the east, showing another big miss for the Northeast coast. At that time it really looked like it wasn’t going to happen. Many meteorologists were throwing in the towel, finally surrendering to yet another big forecast bust. Then the tables turned on Christmas Eve, and we have ourselves a blizzard coming to the Northeast tomorrow night.

 

12z Dec 25 GFS accumulated snowfall forecast

12z Dec 25 GFS accumulated snowfall forecast

 

But this turn of events has been a bit of a surprise for most meteorologists for good reasons. The battle between La Nina and high latitude blocking has created chaos between the computer models as early as three days out in the forecast period. This has been the case for the last few weeks, causing big forecast surprises both in the short and long term across many portions of the U.S.

But I can’t be mad about this forecast shift. It’s working in my favor. I love the snow, and especially love getting hammered with as big of a snowstorm as possible! Growing up in Nashville, TN, I never really saw that much snow. Then attending college in Norman, Oklahoma, I remember we received 9 inches of snow during a January snowstorm. But that was pretty much the best I ever experienced in an area in which I lived. Even living up here in CT, I still haven’t seen more than six or seven inches of snow in my backyard during any one event.

So, it certainly looks like this will be one for the books, at least for me. Others in CT and all over the Northeast will remember this as another one of those Christmas time blizzards that dampened their travel plans or activities before the new year.

- Jim

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