Saturday, December 25, 2010
A Meteorological Christmas Snow Story and A Warm Merry Christmas from the Prangleys!
Christmas 2010 (4 a.m.)
I know there are no morning shows but I am up early. I am making sure everything is just right for my 3 girls you see above when they wake up. They were bouncing off the walls last night and it will only get better today! I am also doing some dishes which includes Santa's cookie plate and glass of milk. There must have been a lot of good boys and girls in Florida because Santa worked up quite the appetite last night with all the presents he dropped off. He left only a few crumbs that my dog was not even interested in. Another reason I am awake is of course the weather!
I was texting friends and relatives all across the country yesterday, especially Maryland where I grew up. I called for a big Christmas weekend snowstorm all week long and I told them how the models kept flipping back and forth but before all is said and done the pattern still favors a big snowstorm. They thought I was telling a Christmas Story since they know how every year growing up I always asked for not a bike or Space Invader video games but snow on Christmas and it NEVER happened. They told me Santa could not control weather which is true but he had Rudolph and there has got to be something he could do for me. But year after year went by with no snow. Santa did try to make it up to me by bringing me lots of weather books and thermometers! This helped me to eventually become a meteorologist and feel very fortunate to do something I have always loved since I was 4 years old and that is to forecast weather. So now that I am an adult and a meteorologist I have always kept that dream of snow alive. All I ever asked for was snow right around Christmas. It did not even have to come on Christmas Day or Eve.
As a meteorologist you can say I am a lot like a quarterback. I read the weather pattern more than the mind-boggling numbers I digest and dissect every day. The model guidance I use every day which is weather data based on the laws of physics is only just a guide. When every single model yesterday morning came in with only flurries and some came in with no snow at all I felt like I was sacked with by an all-out blitz by nature. I was dazed and distressed. This never-ending nightmare I have dealt with since birth just will not go away. After all Washington, D.C. has not had a real Christmas snowstorm since 1966 which is 3 years before I was born. But I am not one to give up, I run marathons. On the water vapor imagery you see above from this morning notice there are two strong jet streams (darker striped areas) we were dealing with and our models do not read those fast-moving streams of air very well. They are moving at over a 100 miles per hour. If they phase just a little sooner than the storm track would in fact support me and go farther west.
I did tell my relatives there was one lone model that agreed with me out of the 50 models I normally look at. So I told them they could bench me since the models were telling me this quarterback was just not reading the weather very well, but there was still that hope for a Christmas weekend snow miracle. The Jaguars threw a Hail Mary miracle pass to win a game this year and I am not giving up. I reminded them of a snowstorm that hit their area in January of 2000 after all the models wrote the storm off. Many folks went to bed at 11 p.m. thinking there would only be a mix of sun and a few flurries. They then woke up to a half-foot of partly sunny in the forecast. So my family believed in me and kept me in the game yesterday.
What happened? I made like David Gerrard and started throwing touchdowns. By 7 p.m. last night I told them to prepare for 4 to 8 inches of snow beginning Sunday afternoon. A second model came in with a big snow potential and then as the evening went on several models followed in line. By 11 p.m. last night I knew a big snowstorm was on the way. This morning I hopped out of bed as sure enough a Winter Storm Watch text message came my way from Washington, D.C. with chimes and all. This is the best present a meteorologist could ask besides being with my family and kids on Christmas Day. The moral of the story is to never, ever give up on your childhood dreams. Santa did finally make my Christmas wish come true. I knew he could do it! That is my Christmas Story.
Okay you can put away the tissues....lol...here is a good map showing where most of the snow will fall. What is amazing is that snow flurries could fly as far south as the Florida Panhandle tonight! That is right! I am not expecting it to stick but that is still amazing! The light blue line is where you can expect a dusting of snow...the darker blue line shows my 1-2 inch swath of snow and then by time you head to Atlanta they could see 2-4 inches! The deep blues along I-95 up in North Carolina will easily see 4-6 inches of snow and the purple areas include the areas that could have 6 inches plus of snow. It will have a local impact as well. This storm could bring us rain here on the First Coast by late tonight. The good news is that it will hold off making this a nice warm Christmas with highs near 70 degrees. It will be our third Christmas in the last 4 years with temperatures at 70 or above. What a difference 21 years makes. We had our only White Christmas in Jacksonville back in 1989. I have thoroughly enjoyed your stories and showing the snow video on First Coast News this week. I did not realize folks actually parked their cars on the Interstates and that I-10 was closed for 2 days. I knew our bridges were shut down, but the Interstates? That was a one in a hundred year storm. This is what I have been telling kids when I have done my school talks. Many have never seen snow before and like me have been asking for snow for Christmas. Now here is my solution. Take your kids outside today and have them look up at the wispy cirrus clouds like we saw yesterday in the picture below.
The picture shows falling ice crystals at 25,000 feet. So yes there is snow falling from the sky here at home and even if it is evaporating before it reaches the ground at least you can tell your kids they saw snow on Christmas! Our chance of a real White Christmas here in Jacksonville is only 1% so you may have to remember this and it could come in handy.
Speaking of snow I am concerned about the travelers that have hit the roads in the highest numbers in years. Yes, I love snow as you can tell but I want everybody to stay safe. If you have friends traveling from Atlanta or the Carolinas make sure they know the worst part of the storm will be late today through Sunday. Temperatures tomorrow in Atlanta will stay near freezing which means slick roads will be a problem throughout the day. By time you head into Washington and Philadelphia it looks like things will go downhill Sunday afternoon and night. New York and Boston will have problems Sunday night and Monday. Travel delays will be likely. Tonight at 11 p.m. I will come in and we will look at First Coast News Live Doppler Radar and track the rain coming our way and have an update on that all-important travel weather. God bless! Merry Christmas! I think I hear my daughters rustling. I better get ready!