This week’s winter storm has finally exited the U.S. East Coast (Fig. 01), but not before it broke lots of weather records, including establishing a record U.S. snow pack on the morning of January 30 (Fig. 02). An even greater snowpack is likely to be reported later this morning thanks to the snowfall across the mid-Atlantic region.
But before climate change fanatics on either side jump to conclusions, note that such records have only been kept since early 2003, according to Chris Bovitz, a scientist at NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) in Minneapolis, MN. Still, more than 70% of the U.S. (including a small part of southwestern Canada’s Columbia River Basin) is now under snow and ice. This topped the record set last month (December 2009) of 65.7% after a significant end-of-month snowstorm event. The snow pack goes hand in hand with the below average temperatures that occurred at the beginning of the month and are occurring now. The snowpack decreased dramatically during mid-January, linked to a “January thaw.”
Even with a cool down here in southwest Florida, we have escaped the wrath of this storm system. Other than a southward push in Texas, snow did not get further south than about the Arkansas-Louisiana border. And temperatures, while chilly in much of the Deep South, are not even close to the record-shattering values of earlier in the month.
This storm started its record-shattering mischief back in Arizona and New Mexico on Thursday, January 28. That’s when Roswell, NM reported 0.41 inches of precipitation, breaking the old daily record of 0.21 inches set back in 1949. Douglas, AZ received 0,18 inches, breaking its old record of 0.16 inches (set in 1983).
In Texas, rainfall records fell on the 28th, as well. Austin’s Bergstrom Air Force Base logged 1.05 inches (old daily record was 0.98 inches set in 1972) and Del Rio received 0.80 inches (old daily record was 0.36 inches set in 2001). Dallas-Fort Worth recorded 1.73 inches of rainfall, breaking its previous daily record of 1.59 inches set in 2006. Wichita Falls received 1.42 inches of rain, breaking its old daily record of 0.45 inches set in 2001.
San Angelo, TX received 1.40 inches of rain (old record was 0.69 inches set in 2001). Abilene, however, easily eclipsed its old daily record of 0.48 inches (set in 2001) with a rainfall of 2.64 inches.
But, Waco was the big winner in the Texas rainfall sweepstakes, with a record rainfall of 3.41 inches. This not only set a record for the 28th of January but also broke the daily record rainfall for any day of the month (previous monthly record was 3.21 inches set on January 16, 2004).
Dalhart, in the Texas Panhandle followed suit in the snow department with a record 12 inches. This easily eclipsed the daily record snowfall set only a decade ago (1999) of 2.1 inches.
Dodge City, KS tied its daily snowfall record with 5.8 inches of white stuff (last set in 1999) on the 28th, while on the 29th, Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City, OK received 5 inches (old record was 1.8 inches set in 1979; records date back to 1890). Prior to the onset of the snow, Oklahoma City received an extended period of mixed frozen precipitation. When all of the snow, sleet and freezing was melted down, its liquid water equivalent reached 1.06 inches, breaking the previous record for the day of 0.44 inches (set in 1989).
Little Rock’s Adams Field measured 1.1 inches of snow on the 29th (breaking the record of 1.0 inches set in 1966) and Jonesboro, AR received 7 inches of snow, easily eclipsing its old record of 3 inches set in 1966. And Springfield, MO frolicked with 5.2 inches of white stuff (old record of 1.6 inches set in 1985).
Jackson, KY set back-to-back, daily snowfall records. On the 29th, 3.5 inches fell, while on the 30th, 5.1 inches fell. These broke 1981 records of 1.1 inches and 1.6 inches, respectively. (NOTE: Jackson, KY’s records only date back to 1981.)
Jackson, TN, on the other hand, logged 6 inches of snow (breaking the old record of 5.2 inches set in 1966).
Mississippi joined the record-breaking crowd on the 29th, too. Greenwood received 1.31 inches of rainfall, breaking the old record of 0.88 inches set in 1960. Vicksburg tied its daily rainfall for the date with 1.17 inches (established in 1990). And, Fayetteville, AR logged 0.45 inches (breaking the previous old rainfall for the date of a trace, set in 2004). However, record keeping for Fayetteville only began in 1999.
Figure 03 shows rainfall for the 24-hour period ending at 7:00 am EST on January 30.
As the storm headed east on the 29th, Asheville, NC received 11 inches of snow. Although snow is no stranger to this mountain community in the western part of the state, it still set a daily record (old record was 6 inches set in 1930). It also marked the 5th (update) snowiest January day and the 16th snowiest in Asheville’s 108 year recorded weather history. It also contributed to a very wet January. Seven inches of liquid precipitation (or equivalent) had fallen as of early this morning. The fifth snowiest January on record (1995) received 7.03 inches of liquid precipitation.
Greensboro, NC recorded its snowiest January 30th on record with 4.2 inches of snow (old record was 3.7 inches set in 1930). Roanoke, VA received 9.5 inches of snow (old record was 5.0 inches set in 2000). Norfolk, VA set a new snowfall record of 6.1 inches (old daily record was 5.0 inches set in 1965). Wallops Island, VA received a record-breaking 10 inches of snow (exceeding its old daily record of 3.0 inches, also et in 1965).
Although it never recorded a record snowfall, Raleigh, NC experienced sleet (ice pellets) for more than 12 consecutive hours on January 30.
Atlantic City, NJ broke its daily snowfall record on the 30th, as well, with a snowfall of 7.6 inches (previous record was 3.6 inches set in 1966).
On the warmer side of the storm, also on the 30th, Cape Hatteras, NC broke its old daily rainfall record of 1.15 inches (set in 1994) with a rainfall of 1.27 inches. Newport-Morehead City set a new daily record rainfall with 0.81 inches (old record was 0.78 set in 1960).
And just for good measure, on the 30th, with a deep lake effect snowpack in place, Watertown, NY shivered at minus 24 degrees (old daily record was minus 15 set in 1985).
Thus, January came in with record-breaking cold, but it’s leaving with record-breaking rainfall and snowfall.
South Florida Weathercast for the week
Here in south Florida, the trailing cold front has stalled. As a result, and linked to a strong southwesterly upper level jet stream, cloudiness and periods of showers, thunderstorms and just heavy rainfall are in the offing for the next 5 to 7 days (Fig. 04). Temperatures should remain near average by day and a bit above average at night. But, it will remain quite humid.
One storm system will pass by Monday night and Tuesday (Fig. 01), just in time for Nora, the Fort Myers groundhog, to have her “day in the sun.” Alas, with heavy rainfall expected Monday night, Nora may awake, instead, to a flooded burrow on Tuesday morning. Not to worry, however, since the folks at the Shell Factory in Fort Myers take good care of the marmot.
Still, Nora and her counterparts across the U.S. will be looking ahead as they look to the skies on Groundhog Day, this coming Tuesday.
By the end of the week, a second stronger Gulf of Mexico low will head across the so-called “Sunshine State” (Fig. 05). This storm will bring a risk of heavy rainfall and possibly severe thunderstorms to our area, with more wintry weather for the Carolinas.
As always, it’s a good idea to check the NWS Forecast Office links to the lower right and also the main NWS forecast page for the latest forecasts.
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