Jesse Ferrell

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Wow. Superstorm Next Week Vs, 1993, 2007

January 29, 2009; 8:59 AM ET

UPDATE (6 PM): As proof that this storm forecast is probably not going to abate, the DGEX has decreased its minimum pressure on this storm to 960 mb, the level of the Blizzard of 1993. increased its snowfall amounts from the map shown earlier below, for all areas except the coastal cities.


I don't want to forget the potential for severe weather either - I haven't had a chance to look at severe weather on the models for next week, but the 2007 storm spawned nineteen tornadoes; 1993 eleven.

There is more info on the Severe Weather, videos with Joe Bastardi and other personalities, as well as other 1993 comparisons and different possibilities, on our Headlines (shown at right) and

Breaking Weather News Page (PREMIUM | PRO). Make sure and check that page out for the latest information.

NOTICE: Due to time constraints, I cannot produce seasonal or point forecasts for every blog reader. Please access, especially AccuPOP, for a customized forecast from our team of mets, considering all options for your zipcode. Discuss all the upcoming storms on our Forums. Model images are from Pro.

UPDATE (5 PM): WINDS: As far as winds with this storm, those should also be impressive. Most models don't predict wind gusts, but the DGEX is printing out sustained winds of over 50 knots on the Outer Banks, which could easily be gusting over "hurricane force" if not to 100 mph. Remember the 1993 storm gusted to 110 mph in Florida and 144 mph at Mount Washington, NH - it will be equivalent to next week's storm if you believe the models' pressure readings - and pressure is closely related to wind speed.

UPDATE (3 PM): WAVE HEIGHTS: Update below on the possible maximum snow amounts. The next thing that I'll compare today, with what will probably be known as the Groundhog Day Storm of 2009, is wave heights. Here's what the Wavewatch model is predicting for Tuesday evening, which is waves over 30 feet off the Northeast coast:


I couldn't find info on waves from the 2007 V-Storm, but I assume that it had similar wave heights, and this storm will be even stronger, so I'm sure we'll see some incredible readings from the Buoys come Tuesday night.

UPDATE (1 PM): SNOWFALL COMPARISONS: Next up, a comparison of snowfall between next week's storms and the 2007 & 1993 behemoths. Below are snow maps from the historical storms:

The important thing to notice about the events above is that the 1997 storm wasn't a knockout storm for anyone south or east of D.C., and for 1993 coastal Virginia and the eastern Carolinas didn't get anything either. The point being that you can have TOO big of a storm, that brings up plentiful moisture but also too much warm air. I don't want people on the coast to get the idea that the Superstorm immediately equates to heavy snow for them. This is what the overnight DGEX is saying for snowfall by Wednesday night:


The coastal big cities don't get a lot of snow with this solution, but inland locations in the Appalachians get hammered, those south of New England probably receiving the biggest snow of the season. Boston gets no snow, for a change (but plenty of rain), and the snow extends down to Tennessee and the northern Deep South.

The morning GFS also has a snow cover forecast, but it assumes a 10:1 ratio, and it takes into account what's on the ground now, so it's harder to determine amounts (subtract the "this morning amounts" from the "next Wednesday" amounts). In the end though, the solution is very similar.

That said, the eventual track of the storm will be what determines where the heavy snow will be, and I'd be much less confident saying that the snow will play out like described above, compared to saying that there will be a strong storm over the East next week based on the pressure agreement seen below.

What about maximum snowfall amounts on the highest mountains? Both models insinuate more than 18 inches in the highest Appalachians? I have no problem with that, in fact the highest amounts we will hear will likely be much higher, given that the 2007 storm dropped 45 inches at Milford, PA and the Blizzard of 1993 (AKA "Storm of the Century" left 56 inches at Mount LeConte, TN.

UPDATE (10:30 AM) PRESSURE COMPARISONS: Based on the agreement of the models, I think there is little doubt this morning that a major storm will sweep the East Coast next week - the question (which we will not be able to solve today) will be where the major snow amounts end up.

But first let's quantify the strength of the storm, by looking at what the Forecast Models [JessePedia] are saying about Surface Pressure, which is the measure of the storm's strength. Here's what the latest models (as of 10 AM) are guessing the lowest pressure reading will be as the storm moves through New England (approximate, based on these maps):

DGEX: <966mb (Strong Cat 2 Hurricane Equivalent)

GFS: <968mb (Cat 2 Hurricane)

ECMWF: <978mb (Weak Cat 2 Hurricane)

NOGAPS: <982mb (Cat 1 Hurricane)

JMA: <990mb (Tropical Storm)


If the DGEX or GFS is correct, that means that the pressure strength of the storm will be a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson Scale [WikiPedia], with barometers reading near 28.50" Hg. That sounds pretty incredible, but let's compare that to the two storms I mentioned above:

BLIZZARD OF 1993: 960mb

V-STORM OF 2007 [PREMIUM | PRO]: 975mb

Not bad - the models are saying at this time that next week's storm will be more powerful than the Valentine's Day Storm of 2007, but slightly weaker than the Blizzard of 1993. The assertion by Henry (PREMIUM | PRO) in his blog this morning that next week's storm would be "75% of 1993" was well founded, based on that data.

Of course, models are models and they could be estimating the strength of the storm, although if you look back at the V-Storm, a week out the GFS predicted a 980 low, people called it hype, and it ended up being 975.

ORIGINAL POST (9 AM): "Wow." After reading some comments from our bloggers and looking at the models, that was my reaction this morning. A huge, perhaps historic storm could affect the East Coast next week. But we need to do a hype check and see how "historic" this storm could really be.

I've got a can of Pepsi and 4 Mini Donuts on my desk and folks, we are going to get through this storm together. Here's what I'll be covering on my blog today:

1. Notes from the morning Operations meeting at AccuWeather (posted to Forums, more here soon)

2. What are our mets saying? (posted to Forums, more here soon)

3. Comparisons to Blizzard of 1993

4. Comparisons to the Valentine's Day Storm of 2007 [PREMIUM | PRO] (the last major East Coast storm)

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Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.