Winter storm coverage in North Carolina begins today

I mentioned at the end of last hurricane season that I would like to begin reporting from and studying winter storms. Good timing. This season has featured numerous such storms for the eastern United States and this latest one looks to be quite potent.

My plan is similar to that of a hurricane field mission: get to an area, set up equipment, report from that area using live streaming video. As such, my plan is to head to the North Carolina piedmont/foothills area – specifically Statesville. In fact, I will be set up where I-40 and I-77 intersect, a major traffic corridor. I feel this is an important area to report from due to the interstate system there coming east-west via I-40 and north-south via I-77. I will report on snow depth, air temperature and wind speed using our fantastic new “everywhere cam” on our Ustream channel. In addition, I will set up a “SnowCam” somewhere in the area to monitor conditions via one of our remotely operated cameras normally used to monitor hurricane storm surge. I’ll determine the best place for that cam when I get there later today. Both of these live feeds will be available free for anyone to watch or share.

I will also push video updates to our iOS/Android app – Hurricane Impact. If you have it, now is a great time to check out the video section under field missions. I can post video clips anytime, anywhere and they show up in the app within a minute or two. This is a great way to test that feature of the app and I plan to post at least two dozen video reports throughout the event.

Tune in periodically to check on conditions as I travel from Wilmington, NC via I-40 to Statesville. I will have the cam running 24 hours a day and it will literally go everywhere I do. I think you will be very pleased with the results of this incredible technology and I hope to provide some useful information about this very serious winter storm. Any questions? Email me: or follow on Twitter: @hurricanetrack

Coverage of Southeast winter storm begins Tuesday

My route for covering the winter storm

My route for covering the winter storm

A rare and powerful, disruptive winter storm is about to affect portions of the Southeast with ice, snow and wind that could cause major travel issues and power outages. Sounds like the perfect time to test out some equipment that we normally use during hurricane events.

As such, I will be starting out in the Wilmington, NC area Tuesday morning. From there, I will head north to New Bern and then to points north and west from there (see the map). I feel as if interior areas away from the ocean will see the highest snow amounts. As long as I can travel safely, I will track the snow bands and stream the entire adventure live on our public Ustream channel.

Along the way, I will post frequent video blogs to our app – Hurricane Impact. This is a very cool feature that we use for hurricanes but have not had much use these past couple of years (good news, right?). So if you have the app, check it every so often, at least once per hour, for a new video post from the road. I think you’ll find the coverage to be very thorough and informative. I will have temperature and wind readings straight from the Tahoe’s weather station, adding more value to the video blogs. If you don’t have the app, now’s a great time to get it and follow along. Search Hurricane Impact in the App Store or on Google Play. You’ll be glad you did.

In addition to the video posts, I have a live weather station running from my home office in Wilmington complete with wind, pressure and a live web cam shot from my yard. How often will ever get to do this? Again, if you have the app, check out the weather data page – the info updates dynamically every minute or so.

Obviously this event will help us to be ready for the upcoming hurricane season but the reality is that this storm is going to have serious effects for the people it is going to impact. Cold temps, snow, sleet and ice, combined with strong winds, will make for a miserable couple of days. Please be careful if you need to be out and about. I will do the same driving around the eastern part of the state and if it gets too rough, I’ll duck in somewhere and get a hotel room. Common sense should prevail and all will be well.

To follow the live Tahoe cam (we actually call it our ‘everywhere cam’) click here

I’ll be up and running by sun up. Hope you can follow along and interact via social media or our subscription site’s live chat board. If you’re in the path of this storm, stay warm and above all else, stay safe! I’ll see you from somewhere out in the storm!

M. Sudduth 11:05 pm ET Jan 27

Big storm next week? Not so much and that is something to be quite thankful for

Both the GFS (shown here) and the ECMWF have next week's storm farther away from the U.S. coastline

Both the GFS (shown here) and the ECMWF have next week's storm farther away from the U.S. coastline

I hope I do not jinx the entire Eastern Seaboard with this post but here goes. As of today, the two major global models that I follow, the ECMWF and the GFS, have all but “given up” their idea of a big East Coast storm for next week. To say that this is good news is an understatement but nevertheless, the news is good, so far.

There will still be a storm, but it looks to be weaker and farther out to sea than the Euro was forecasting several days ago. I was really worried on Monday when it looked like a very bad situation was developing for the Mid-Atlantic and New England once again. What changed? As new data comes in and we get closer to the event in time, the models have a better handle on the upper air features and thus the forecast can change. We see this all the time when tracking hurricanes. I think that the fact the the Euro was so incredibly accurate with Sandy has perhaps jaded me a little, giving it a little too much credit in in the longer range forecasts. Still, I think we would rather know the potential is there and at least be in the mindset of dealing with something than having it pop up only 3 days ahead of time.

So the bottom line is this: it appears that a low pressure area will develop off the Southeast coast early next week. Instead of it moving nearly parallel to the coast as it intensifies, it is more likely to move away from the coast. This will significantly lessen the impacts but there could still be some larger than normal breaking waves which may lead to a few problems here and there along the immediate beachfront.

This also means that the heavy travel days of next week will not be plagued by bad weather. In fact, Thanksgiving Day may very well shape up to be a rather nice day along most of the East Coast. Hopefully this forecast will NOT change. A lot of people could use the break from bad weather.

Tomorrow: some thoughts about Sandy as I see quite a bit of chatter about whether or not it was a hurricane, why the warnings were not put up etc. I think I can add something to this seeing as I was there when it all went down.

Global models in fairly good agreement that another ocean storm is coming for next week

ECMWF model showing the pressure gradient and fetch of wind

ECMWF model showing the pressure gradient and fetch of wind

We are a day closer now to the events leading up to what looks like another potent ocean storm for next week. All of the major global computer models show this happening to one degree or another. The run to run variability that we see in terms of strength and location is inevitable and it’s not time to focus on precise impacts for any one area. Instead, let’s look at what is likely to happen across a broad region of the U.S. coastline.

One key element of this storm, like the most recent Nor’easter, is that it is likely to remain offshore the entire time (at least as far as the U.S. is concerned). While it is possible that high latitude blocking via a large area of high pressure sliding in could send the storm back to the coast, it is not very likely. However, it does appear that quite a strong high will move in across the northern U.S. and across the Canadian Maritimes and this will combine with the low pressure of the ocean storm to create quite a strong pressure gradient.

It is this pressure gradient, the difference in the high and low pressure over distance, that I am most concerned about. The wind will not be particularly strong, nothing anywhere near what we saw with Sandy, but it will be around for several days, blowing across the Atlantic with increasing intensity. This will build the seas, creating large waves off shore. All of this energy will then be translated towards the vulnerable coastline from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to New England. You can clearly see this potential outlined in the graphic that I have posted in this blog. At first the wind will be easterly and directly onshore. Then, as the low tracks north, the wind will shift gradually to more northeast but the fetch will be significant. There will likely be several high tide cycles that will coincide with this event but fortunately, the Moon will not be much of a factor as it will be several days away from being full.

As far as inland snow or rain impact, it’s too soon to tell right now how much cold air will be in place but so far, the distance from the coast leads me to believe that the snow threat is going to be limited to the coast if at all. I do not see any indication right now that this storm will be a big snow maker for any one location. We’ll see as the picture gets clearer in the coming days but I am far more concerned about the coastal impacts of the increase in wind and wave action.

I’ll cover this topic at least once per day as I know many people in the region are concerned, rightfully so, about any coastal storm event that may hamper recovery efforts.


You have got to be kidding me? Another powerful storm possible for Northeast next week?

ECMWF Day 8 showing yet another large coastal storm off the Northeast

ECMWF Day 8 showing yet another large coastal storm off the Northeast

I thought that perhaps I stumbled across some old link and had to refresh my browser. That did not help. The map was the same. It showed something that nearly made me gasp. Once again the global computer models are aligning to bring a large storm in to the region that Sandy impacted followed by the strong Nor’easter just last week. It’s as if the recent warm up and nice weather was just a tease before the siege begins anew from the Atlantic.

Take a look at the latest run of the ECWMF model that I have posted here. Look at the size of that storm! The fetch of wind across so much of the Atlantic is unsettling to say the least. I don’t know how else to put this other than to say: this is horrible! How much more can these people endure? I hope a lot because if this comes to pass, it will surely test the will of the storm-weary people who live along the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast.

Sea surface temperatures in the NW Atlantic clearly running well above normal

Sea surface temperatures in the NW Atlantic clearly running well above normal

What is the reason behind so much storminess? It’s the pattern we’re in. We see these deep troughs of low pressure digging in across the East Coast with plenty of upper level energy diving in which in turn spawns these giant ocean storms just off shore. It is interesting to note that water temps across the northwest Atlantic are running several degrees above normal right now. Maybe this is helping to fuel these storms? What ever the background reason is, it is becoming a real problem. Hopefully this scenario is far enough out in time that the models will change enough and in our favor so as to not have to deal with this. I worry though that the ECMWF, which handled Sandy’s fate very well this far out in time, is on to something once again, especially since the pattern is so remarkably similar – minus the hurricane coming out of the Caribbean of course.

Needless to say we will want to watch the evolution of this potential storm very closely. I’ll stay on top of it and post another update this evening. At least the tropics are quiet with no areas what so ever to be concerned with.