Thursday, December 2, 2010

Contrails, Mares Tails, Snow at 30,000 Feet Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Thursday, December 2, 2010  7 p.m.

Great to check in with you. It was one of those days that began at 1 a.m. since I was filling in for Steve and now I just got back from taking the kids to gymnastics and it is already 7 p.m. The good news is everybody is fed and the homework situation under control. I got in my run and workout so I feel great. So what a day it was. I had a great time doing the morning show today and then rushed to the bus stop to help my kindergartner and you can see from the picture above that it looked more like the Midwest than Florida. The kids were all bundled up in hats, gloves, and winter coats. It was our coldest temperatures since late February or about 9 months. Temperatures dropped to 27 in Jacksonville to 38 in St. Augustine. But I have to point out the low of 23 that was reported out in the Osceola National Forest. Wow!

Tonight the same ingredients are in place for another cold one. Notice a forecast low of 28. Were we really at 67 for a low just a couple nights ago? That seems like a month ago....and they say Florida does not have much weather to talk about. Those folks that say that obviously do not live here. Folks that have moved here from Peoria and other busy Midwest weather hubs have told me that Florida should get the copyright for the saying, "if you don't like the weather just wait 5 minutes." We have at least 9 micro climates in the Jacksonville viewing area and I could fill an hour long weather show every morning by pointing out the differences. I love the challenge it presents. Okay since we have big differences from place to place, let's begin by going over tonight's lows. Chief Meteorologist Tim Deegan does a great job with our local micro climatology and his 20 plus years of experience comes in huge. If I have questions he is always there for me and these forecast lows are certainly a team effort or the way it should be! Here are the forecast lows from where you live under clear skies tonight:

25 Waycross
26 Lake City
26 Cecil Field
27 Baldwin
28 Keystone Heights
28 Starke
28 Jacksonville International
28 Macclenny
29 Westside
29 Brunswick
30 Folkston
31 Yulee
32 Hastings
32 St.Johns
32 World Golf Village
33 Julington Creek
34 Mandarin
34 Arlington
35 Orange Park
35 Fruit Cove
36 St. Augustine
36 Palatka
38 Jacksonville Beach

I could keep going but there is Thursday night football to did not even get to the boating weather and the huge differences from the Gulf Stream to near shore. Jacksonville has more boat owners per capita than any other place in the country. Throw in at least another 3 climates and another hour show.
This is intense just the way I like it.

Okay when you first look at this picture what do you see? Okay time is up. Yes, a palm tree with a few high clouds. This picture could pass as another fine Florida day with no worries. But today we had pilot reports of snow at 30,000 feet over Jacksonville. That is right these cirrus clouds were actually precipitating tiny snow crystals and the streaks in the sky known as mares tails were created by the stronger winds or polar jet stream blowing the snow sideways from northwest to southeast.

These mares tails are certainly a sign in the sky that winter has taken hold of our weather and we will see plenty of more of these special clouds over the next couple weeks. So yes I have another Christmas party item you can bring up. You can ask everybody if they saw it snowing in Jacksonville on Thursday and you can explain that we had special mares tails in the sky full of snow! We also had plenty of contrails or streaks of hot exhaust  in the sky created by planes and jets that are caused by water quickly freezing in temperatures of -40 degrees. These contrails can also cause falling snow crystals to take place at times when the ice crystals build up in the cloud and become heavy enough to fall to the ground. This moisture quickly evaporates in this type of atmospheric set up and never reaches the ground, but now you know if you miss snow or want to see it this time of year in Florida, all you have to do is look up! Just another reason to always keep your head up!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, we talked about the NAO yesterday here on the blog and the AO or Arctic Oscillation usually works hand in hand with it. Notice the forecast is for it to also stay negative the next couple weeks. Since it usually brings colder than average weather our way it does look like we will have to keep the hats and coats out. I am forecasting at least another 2 to 3 polar blasts before things improve dramatically. You haven't seen anything yet. Next week we may have wind chills in the teens! I will have more on this and for more information on the AO here is a link for some great reading!

Here is the latest forecast for December which does call for a January thaw in December not just for the second part of December for Florida but through much of the eastern third of the country. I think we could have a couple big snowstorms before December 21st for the Mid-Atlantic and even the Midwest. If you are in Lafayette get ready for plowable snow on Saturday!! Send me pictures. But if you are traveling over the holidays it does look like the AO and NAO will go positive and the polar air that has come down from the North Pole that has given parts of Scandinavia their coldest start to winter in 222 years will retreat back North where it belongs. But in this pattern we take it one day at a time. I will be back tomorrow and talk more about record-breaking cold on the way next week! You stay warm and thanks for reading.

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