Dr. Call’s Winter Weather Blog

March 2017 Nor’easter

Posted by on 10:51 PM in Blizzards and Snow Storms, Winter Weather | 0 comments

I haven’t posted in a while because there hasn’t been much winter to discuss.  It was the warmest February on record for many U.S. states and only Washington state experienced below average temperatures last month. There wasn’t much in the way of snow (or any precipitation) for much of the eastern U.S., with major storms only on the periphery of the warm ridge (places like eastern New England and the northern Plains). But now a major snowstorm looks to paralyze the entire Northeastern Corridor.  Although New York and Boston...

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Kansas Ice Storm of 2017

Posted by on 10:12 AM in Other | 0 comments

There is a chance of freezing rain across the Midwest and central Great Plains this weekend.  It will primarily be a travel nuisance in places like Indiana and Ohio and a bit more disruptive in Missouri and Iowa.  But in central Kansas, residents are likely to face severe travel difficulties and widespread, long-lasting power outages. From my research, around 3/4″ to 1″ of accumulation is when ice storms turn catastrophic and the effects last for weeks as opposed to days, so this storm is a big deal.  While this part of Kansas...

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Winter Weather and Chain-Reaction Crashes

Posted by on 11:49 PM in Winter Weather | 0 comments

The recent blast of winter in the Eastern U.S. is receding and the snow is melting.  However, the many folks involved in accidents during the past few weeks will continue to feel the effects, whether literally or simply from having a wrecked car.  I’m actively conducting research in this area and have some thoughts and tips.  The first few hours of a winter storm are the most dangerous.  This isn’t my finding; it comes from others, most notably a study done in Iowa in the 1990s.  Drivers need time to adjust to winter conditions. ...

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Winter Outlook 2016-2017

Posted by on 11:49 PM in Winter Weather | 0 comments

November was a busy month for me and so ridiculously warm (as was all of fall) that I haven’t though much about the upcoming winter.  But with our first measurable snow forecasted for this weekend, I finally was inspired to take a look! Climate-Temperatures: Indiana Winters have become warmer over time, but the last few years have been highly variable with some extremely warm or cold winters occurring in the past 5 seasons (2013-2014 was the coldest winter in about 30 years!). Climate-Snow: Indianapolis averages 22.0″ of snow...

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Late Season High Plains Blizzard, Part 2

Posted by on 10:34 AM in Other | 0 comments

A follow up: this blizzard did come out like I expected for northeastern Colorado.  Blizzard conditions were observed in Burlington, Colorado, and probably some other places nearby (unfortunately some sites stopped working). Snow totals were generally what was expected across northeastern CO and western NE/KS (my focus area) and the forecast verified well across the Upper Mississippi Valley / Great Lakes. But there was one area where the forecast was a bit off.  Late Tuesday afternoon, the NWS upgraded the Denver metro area from a Winter...

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Late Season High Plains Blizzard

Posted by on 10:42 PM in Blizzards and Snow Storms, Other, Winter Weather | 0 comments

In many places that I’ve lived, people have saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait, it’ll change soon!” in reference to the inherent variability of weather.  In the United States, the northern and central High Plains — western parts the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and eastern Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado — embody this saying best.  With no nearby ocean to moderate conditions, and no east-west oriented mountains to block cold or warm air masses, temperatures can vary wildly on daily and...

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Late Season Nor’easter

Posted by on 10:37 AM in Blizzards and Snow Storms, Winter Weather | 0 comments

With the recent warm weather across the eastern United States, it’s easy to forget that astronomical winter is not over, and meteorological winter – the coldest 3 months of the year – just ended.  Plus, 2015-2016 was the warmest winter for the country, and many states too.  Snow totals were also lower than average in many places.  Boston’s snowfall this year has been 26″, approximately 83″ less than last year at this time! Nonetheless, Nor’easters can and still do occur this time of year.  One will...

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Lake-Effect Snow in February?

Posted by on 11:51 PM in Winter Weather | 0 comments

Places downwind of the Great Lakes experienced significant lake-effect snow this week.  Three feet of snow fell east of Lake Ontario, and more is forecast.  Lake-effect snow is common in this area, but in November and December, not February.  What’s the story? Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air moves over a relatively warm, unfrozen lake.  It’s most intense in December, on average.  In January the Lakes start freezing over, and they generally remain frozen in February.  That’s not the case this year.  Current ice coverage...

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An Impressive Plains Blizzard

Posted by on 12:31 AM in Blizzards and Snow Storms, Winter Weather | 0 comments

While the Iowa caucuses and other news have dominated headlines this week, the winter storm that affected the Great Plains (and Iowa) had a major impact on residents of Nebraska and nearby states.  Businesses, universities, and schools closed, and road conditions were so hazardous that long stretches of Interstate highway were closed. (Graphic from The Weather Channel) As best as I can tell, places in light violet had more than 6″-9″ of snow, those in light purple had 9-12″, and the dark purple areas exceeded 12″. ...

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Typical Iowa Blizzard May Have National Effects

Posted by on 11:45 AM in Blizzards and Snow Storms | 0 comments

Last week’s Nor’easter was a fairly typical “East Coast blizzard,” where incredible amounts of snow fell but few places actually experienced a true blizzard.  That’s because a blizzard is defined as a snow storm where blowing or falling snow reduces visibility to <1/4 mile and winds frequently exceed 30 kts (35 mph) for 3 hours or more.  Source.  Notice that snowfall accumulation is not part of the definition — in fact, no new snow needs to fall for a blizzard to occur. Blizzards are dangerous.  Due to...

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