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.'
A different look to the upcoming weather pattern means less cold in the pattern overall, and a different timing for a bigger storm coming up from the southern Plains toward the eastern Ohio Valley this weekend.
One storm this weekend, then a period of quiet weather around the country. A much bigger storm is in the works for late next week and next weekend. It will be followed by a bitterly cold air mass in the days leading up to Christmas.
The storm that will bring snow across the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes to parts of the mid-Atlantic and much of New England will have several pieces to it, each one having an impact on who gets rain versus a mix of rain and snow, versus all snow, and how much snow is likely to fall.
Cold and dry weather is the rule across the country right now, but the respite from stormy weather will be brief. A new storm taking shape Friday in the Mississippi Valley will spread more rain, ice and snow over the eastern half of the country going into the weekend.
In the wake of the feature bringing snow through the mid-Atlantic and southern New England today, there will be a nice little period of cold and quiet weather for most of the country until the next storm begins to take shape over the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley late Friday into Friday night.