Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 21-25 Potentially Significant Winter Storm

It's looking as if a winter storm will impact the United States between January 21st and January 25th. As of now, this storm has potential to be a strong one.

Tropical Tidbits
The above image shows mean sea level pressure (MSLP) and precipitation values for the morning of January 15th over the West Pacific. In this graphic, we see a strong low pressure system moving up the eastern coast of Japan, delivering heavy precipitation to areas offshore of the island nation. A look at 500mb vorticity values (not shown) depicts this storm phasing with another piece of energy to strengthen and mature the energy into a substantial event.

If we recall that the Typhoon Rule states weather phenomenon occurring in East Asia is replicated here in the United States about 6-10 days later, we should expect a storm system, possibly strong, to hit the US in a January 21-25 timeframe. The orientation of this storm striking the east coast of Japan tells me it may come up from the South US and hug the East Coast here in the US.

Interestingly enough, model guidance is approving of this theory.

Tropical Tidbits
The new GFS (the old GFS model was retired with this morning's 12z / 6AM central time runs, and replaced by what was known as the GFS-Parallel model) is showing a storm system developing in the Southeastern US on January 23rd. Here, we see a large swath of heavy rain, likely containing thunderstorms draped across the Gulf Coast into the Mid-Atlantic, as well as a heavy snow swath spread across the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast. This is something like I would expect to see happen with the way our energy acts when it skirts around Japan in the earlier graphic we analyzed.

Tropical Tidbits
By the evening of January 23rd, we find our storm has moved offshore, dragging an impressive liquid precipitation shield behind it, which then drags behind it a very cold airmass to introduce the anticipated cold blast to close out January. A strong snow swath remains present, but the most intense snow appears to strike Long Island in New York, as well as other coastal spots. Lighter, but still impressive snows then impact more inland regions.

To summarize:

- A storm is expected to impact the United States between January 21 and January 25.
- This storm has the potential to be strong, per current guidance.