Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tough Forecast Challenges Next 48-Hours

A surface cyclone is intensifying along the Gulf Coast (see surface plot top for 13 UTC from CoD weather page), currently centered near New Orleans. I don't seem to recall many Gulf of Mexico cyclogenesis events in recent winters, but this seems to be a classic situation. The low will intensify and race up the East coast, posing a variety of forecasting challenges.
Situations like this pose a severe weather threat, especially if unstable, mT air is pulled onshore ahead of the cyclone as it moves east-northeastward. Florida is clearly at threat later today, but satellite imagery at 1345 UTC (middle vis and bottom IR) indicates fairly strong thunderstorms offshore - so the first forecast issue with this cyclone is whether or not the air feeding these storms will stay mostly over Florida or be pulled further inland this afternoon.
Last night's model runs indicate a significant winter storm for the Tennessee Valley, as colder air is pulled southward into the system. The models also indicate a rain/snow line that lies close to the major metropolitan areas, especially in the middle Atlantic Region. This will lead to a sloppy storm with the forecast challenge being how much rain vs how much ice and snow.
So, a couple of interesting days on tap, but at other side of country.

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