Wednesday, 11:35 a.m.
Picture Snoopy sitting in front of the typewriter, clanking out the beginning of a story: 'It was a dark and stormy night.' That must have been the type of night in southern Alaska last night as a ferocious storm, especially for early September, rolled into the southwestern part of the state and caused all kinds of havoc. I've seen reported gusts over 50 miles an hour around the Anchorage Bowl, but I'm sure they had to be considerably higher than that around Turnagain Arm and along the Hillside, not to mention in some of the mountain passes where there were no observations. Some of the communication lines were down for some time overnight and this morning, so getting the full scoop on what has happened is still a bit sketchy.
This type of storm is usually reserved for the true winter season. Every now and then, though, a powerful beast such as this will show up well ahead of schedule. It's probably a good thing it brought a lot of warm air in from the Pacific with it, too! Otherwise, we'd be talking about a considerable amount of snow somewhere in the state, but that doesn't appear to be the case right now, at least outside of the mountains.
There are storms, then there are rumors of storms. Or, perhaps in the next case, a ghost of a storm past, or a fragment thereof. Isaac, the storm that keeps on giving, for all practical purposes ceased to exist yesterday. You could make an argument that the low-level center that once represented that large storm rolled into the St. Lawrence Seaway overnight, but that might be a stretch for some, especially when you're talking about a 1011mb low! That's barely below the average mean sea level pressure, so it's hard to really call that a 'low'!
You could make a better case for the mid-level circulation to have split away from the low-level center. If you do, that system may very well be the same thing tied to the thunderstorms that have marched off the central and eastern Gulf Coast overnight and this morning. If you look really closely at time-lapse radar loops, you can see some of the eastern tendrils of the thunderstorms actually drifting northward, a hint of the mid-level circulation that is sitting over the area. You can see that on the 700mb forecast from the latest NAM for this afternoon:
The interesting thing is that this whole area will slip southward in the next couple of days. It is not often that a feature like this, one containing a lot of thunderstorms associated with it, keeps generating those thunderstorms over time, especially once it moves out over the Gulf. On rare occasions, it does happen. This could be one of them. There are a number of computer forecasts that suggest over the mid-level circulation slowly but surely works its way to the surface. That's probably going to take at least two and probably three days or more, if it happens at all. But it may.
Now, if it does, this would NOT be named Isaac again. That storm is dead and gone. History. Putting that issue aside, the weekend will be the time for some nervous hand wringing. Not just over the eastern Gulf, either, though that's where this system is targeting. Because of the slow development curve, and the likelihood that a full-latitude trough will come along to steer whatever may be down there to the east and northeast Sunday into Monday, the most likely impact will be a lot of rain for the eastern Florida panhandle and into northern Florida.
The other area with some form of nervous handwringing will be New England later this weekend and early Monday. Leslie is still lurking in the Atlantic. The computer forecasts, while not all on the same page, generally agree that it will move by the outer Cape and only graze the region with some of its wind and rain at best. And guess who will be in southeastern New England on Sunday riding in The Flattest Century in the East? You guessed it. This could be interesting. It would mark the second sponsored ride ridden in some sort of tropical system. The Ride To Montauk in late August a few years ago was impacted by a dying tropical storm with gusty winds and some rain and drizzle. We did the ride, but it wasn't exactly a dry ride. I may need to invest in some fenders between now and Sunday!
Unfortunately, this system appears destined to plow into eastern Canada later Monday or Monday. The destruction there could be every bit as bad as as it has been in Alaska overnight with last nights' storm.
Yes, it could be another 'dark and stormy night.'
Temperature battles will be fought from the Mississippi Valley to the mid-Atlantic this weekend. At the same time, a storm coming into California Saturday will eventually become a much larger and slow-moving system that suggests a lousy week of weather next week for a large part of the country.
Two cold fronts will travel from the northern Plains to the New England and mid-Atlantic states late this week and this weekend. The first front will bring a mild, Pacific air mass into the Ohio Valley, then the East, while the second front will eventually bring much cooler air through the northern Plains and Midwest into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, then the Northeast.
The various computer models are at odds this weekend to the strength of the cool press coming down from Canada into the Midwest, the Ohio Valley and the East. Much of it may be related to the strength of any downstream blocking that tries to form later this week in the vicinity of Greenland.
Aside from the flooding rain impacting parts of Florida, Alabama and Georgia into Saturday, most of the country will experience rather mellow weather for Easter Weekend. Warmer air will expand across the country next week.
Snow is ending in the Upper Midwest, and outside of the high ground of the Rockies and maybe the Sierra and the Cascades, snow chance are about over for most of the nation.
Record cold prevails in the East today. While the cold will quickly fade west of the Appalachians, it will be slower to modify east of the mountains, and in no place will it be warm east of the Mississippi through the Easter Weekend. However, much warmer air will start building on the Plains by early next week, and it should spread eastward later in the week.