Monday, 9:30 a.m.
One of the most famous songs of all times, 'White Christmas", has been playing for weeks, now. Whether you like the version made so popular by arguably the best crooner of all time, Bing Crosby, or some of the modern renditions by artists too numerous to count, we're all familiar with the line: "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas/Just like the ones I used to know." The older we get, the more we wax nostalgic of what it was like when we were a kid to wake up to snow on Christmas morning, and spend half the day trying out the new sled, making snowmen, and having snowball fights with the other kids in the neighborhood!
I can only recall a couple of Christmases that were truly white. One was in the latter part of the '70s, when I was in high school and had a morning paper route. Rain changed to freezing rain early in the morning and I was home before the roads got icy. Then it changed to sleet and then snow, making the whole landscape frosted with ice and snow. The other was about 10 years ago, 2002, I believe, when a well-advertised storm from a week beforehand came to pass and dumped over 6 inches of snow in my backyard. I was up long before the kids, chatting online with some of my weather weenie friends and providing updates on the storm as it unfolded.
There will be some that get to have the same experiences this year, and it will be in two different areas. One storm will develop out of the Rockies and produce not just snow, but violent weather. The other will be a much weaker storm that will come out of the Ohio Valley through the mid-Atlantic, spreading snow across parts of Pennsylvania to southern New England.
Let's quickly look at the lead feature first. Here's what the morning pressure analysis shows us:
Snowfall of 1 to 3 inches will be fairly common in central and north-central Pennsylvania into the southern tier of New York, then eastward through the southern half of New England. A few hillier spots may get more than 3 inches, but they will be the exception to the rule. For southwestern Connecticut through New York City to Philadelphia and coastal areas, it will end up being more rain than snow, and mostly all rain farther south and southwest. Still, it will be enough to be considered a white Christmas (at least an inch of snow on the ground by sundown, in my books) in parts of the Northeast.
The second storm doesn't look like much now, but will get much stronger by the end of Christmas Day. Here's the GFS surface map for tomorrow evening:
With such a deepening system, it will draw warm, humid air into its circulation from the Gulf later tonight and tomorrow morning. At the same time, the air aloft will be getting colder. So after a quiet evening in most of Texas, thunderstorms will blossom late tonight over East Texas, and then expand northeastward and eastward into Louisiana and southern and eastern Arkansas. Because of the turning of the wind with height, there's a real concern, not just for violent weather with damaging winds and hail, but also tornadoes. You don't often see a moderate risk for severe weather on day 2, but that's what the SPC folks have come up with given the volatile nature of this system:
Even on Wednesday, severe weather is likely across the Southeast as the storm moves up the Appalachians and drags a cold front into Georgia and the Carolinas as well as Florida.
That brings us back to the other side of this same storm, the cold side, the one with snow. And there will be plenty of it, not just tonight and Christmas Day, but through Wednesday and into Thursday. It will begin in the Rockies this afternoon, and then spread out of eastern Colorado into southern and western Kansas tonight, and then really go to town tomorrow along and north of the Red River Valley into Oklahoma.
By Christmas evening, the snow will be falling in the Ozarks, and it will spread from there into southern and eastern Missouri and southern Illinois. There will be some places that easily pick up more than a foot of snow when all is said and done, and not just in the Northeast. I can easily see how parts of the Ozarks wind up with that much, and there will be some places through tomorrow night and Wednesday across Indiana and Ohio that get that much as well.
The I-95 corridor with this storm will have mostly rain, all the way to Boston. But where it is all or mainly snow across northern New England back to New York and northern Pennsylvania, it could be a wild snowstorm when all is said and done.
And don't look now, but a third one is over the horizon for Friday and Saturday, one that is likely to track farther south and east than the Christmas storm, and that means snow is possible along the I-95 corridor. We'll deal with that one later. One storm at a time, please!
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