The next few days are going to be quite fascinating around the nation, as we have summer, fall and winter seasons in full display. Karen formed this morning off the northern end of the Yucatan Peninsula, and it has eyes on the central Gulf coast this weekend. A storm forming over the western Plains will dump heavy snow on parts of the northern Rockies into parts of the western Plains. There will be severe weather ahead of the storm and its attendant cold front. And the eastern half of the country is basking in extended summer warmth. Let's break it down, story by story.
1) Karen will be heading for central Gulf coast this weekend. I do find it a little odd that we had no storm overnight, then with the arrival of the Air Force reconnaissance this morning, not only do we have a tropical storm, but a strong one at that with sustained winds of 60 mph with the first special advisory at the late-morning update. Regardless, the storm is not as well organized as you might think given the posted wind speeds.
If you examine the picture above, the low-level center is actually displaced to the west of the main band of convection, thanks to about 20 knots of shear over the top of the storm. That may not seem like a lot of wind, but it's plenty enough to keep the thunderstorms from wrapping around the low-level center. Furthermore, west of the storm, the air is relatively dry, and as the storm tries to strengthen, it will ingest some of this dry air, which will limit the high end potential of Karen. Then, as the storm crosses the central Gulf and approaches the Gulf coast, the winds aloft are likely to be stronger, which should induce some weakening with time.
With the storm now out over the Gulf, it will churn up the waters and create 10- to 15-foot seas with time, and as the storm moves toward the coast, it will pile that water up against the Florida coastline and perhaps over to southeastern Mississippi. This means a storm surge that will be worsened by the fact we'll be very close to the new moon this weekend.
Heavy rains will soak areas near and east of the storm track, starting Friday night and continuing into Saturday night and Sunday before the storm moves more northeastward Sunday and Sunday night into Monday. Heavy rain could impact areas up into the mid-Atlantic states Monday into Monday night before the front finally passes.
2) A winter storm will develop over the High Plains and will dump heavy snow behind it. Elevation plays a key role in who gets what at this time of the year. The wind direction is crucial as well. As the storm forms then deepens over eastern Colorado and western Kansas late this afternoon and early tonight, the wind will freshen out of the north behind it and draw in the cold air from the north. That will mean snow, and potentially a lot of it, continuing into tomorrow night before winding down on Saturday in parts of the Dakotas. Some areas may pick up more than a foot of snow over Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota:
Accompanying the rain and snow will be a fierce wind that will howl more than 40 and 50 miles an hour, a harsh reminder that the easy days of summer are long gone. Now, that said, it will recover pretty quickly over the weekend and early next week, and much of the snow outside of the ski areas will melt away.
3) Severe weather and heavy rain will also be tied to this storm. Here's the area where we think the greatest storm threat exists tomorrow into tomorrow night:
Hail, damaging winds and perhaps some tornadoes are all on the table with the storm tomorrow and tomorrow night, as will be the case on Saturday farther east from parts of the Midwest into the western Ohio Valley and the middle Mississippi Valley. Meanwhile, in the vicinity of the track of the storm and to the north and immediate northwest of it, there will be a lot of rain, with some places picking up 3-4 inches of rain before the storm finally moves away on Sunday.
4) Extended summer in the East. Temperatures are in the 80s again today in parts of the mid-Atlantic states, and where it isn't that warm, it will almost assuredly reach the 70s, which is a solid 10 to 15 degrees above normal. and that continues and expands tomorrow and Saturday and lingers into Sunday! Even on Monday, it will still be summerlike along the Eastern Seaboard ahead of the front, although some of that may be with the approach of the remains of Karen that will clearly add tropical moisture and warmth to the atmosphere as it moves in from the southeast.
I will enjoy this summer warmth this weekend as I head down to Salisbury, Md., to ride in the SeaGull Century ride for the fourth year in a row. I can't wait to get out and ride the flat lands of the Eastern Shore, the last big ride I'll do for a long, long while! Over the coming weeks, I will begin the process of core strengthening and building the basic blocks for running and swimming as I attempt to 1) run a half marathon and a full marathon next spring and early summer; and 2) compete and complete at least a half ironman, maybe a full ironman, late in August of 2014. I have retained the services of a coach with the proviso that I enter the event she's attending again next year, which means a trip across three time zones and a passport. It's a daunting undertaking for me, but I'm very excited about it! There will be more details in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
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