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January 25, 2010 / Dave Gorham

When It Pours, It Snows

 

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours.” As in, it hasn’t happened for a long time, and now it won’t stop. Meteorologically, that’s literally the case across the United States right now.

The monster low pressure system that brought drenching rains and tremendous snowfall to the Southwest last week has only just today departed the East Coast for the North Atlantic, and already a snow and ice event is beginning to take shape that could bring as much as 13 inches of snow to Washington, D.C. and 10+ inches of snow in a band from Amarillo eastward to the Mid-Atlantic states. Not only that, but just south of the snow band a potentially paralyzing swath of ice is expected from Oklahoma to North Carolina. Ice amounts could be significant, leading to widespread power outages and snarled traffic due to downed limbs, trees and powerlines, as well as iced-over roadways.

More of a concern than “When?” or “How much?” is, at least today, “Where?” This event is based upon two air masses colliding: Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico pushing north and cold, dry air from Canada driving south. Exactly where these ingredients mix will determine the exact location of the band of snow and the band of ice. At this time, the ice line could move 100 miles north or the snow line could move 100 miles south.

El Niño? Yes, indeed. The active El Niño’s signature is enhanced precipitation and cooler temperatures across the southern states.



Snow and ice in a broad swath from the Southwest to the Mid-Atlantic. Image courtesy ImpactWeather’s StormWatch service.



By Thursday the snow is falling from New Mexico and Texas to near Memphis, while a narrow band of ice is developing just south of the snow. Image courtesy ImpactWeather’s StormWatch.

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