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BUCKLEY'S BLOG: Winter won't let up; Cold spell looming

Don't let those azaleas blooming around parts of town fool ya, winter is still here and it will make a rude appearance for the first few days of March this weekend. When does it end? That's a good question. Will it bring snow? That's a tough question! Lets chat...

The Pattern Shift

Azalea Blooms in Wilmington. (Taken by me - 2/16/13)
The temperatures out there today (Wednesday) will be as warm as they get for several weeks - at least according to most of the weather models. Our storm that just rolled through is pinwheeling in the Northeast and the Great Lakes right now; still blocking the real cold air in Canada. As this storm system shifts out to sea by the weekend, that will open up the floodgates for the Arctic Chill to blast its way south.

Here's how the change looks. The first image shows how the pattern is now, and the second image shows the huge cold plunge that sets up for the weekend as the jet stream dives S to the Gulf Coast. We call this dip a "trough" -- and this one is exceptionally strong.

This cold air plunge has been modeled very well -- I first mentioned it late LAST week. All of the major computer guidance we use to help us forecast is on board for this big cool down this weekend all the way south into northern Florida. We're not escaping it!

How cold does it get? Well it looks like we're in for 40°s for highs with 20°s for lows for a couple days stretching from Saturday into Monday. That's about 20 degrees below normal for early March, and about the worst you can expect around these parts. 

With this much cold, ANY chance we get snow?

This is always the first question that comes when we have a cold outbreak. This scenario actually reminds me a lot of the one we saw two weeks ago in NC when we get some flurries and a coating of snow in spots. 

With that being said, you need two main things to get snow here in Wilmington: Cold air already in place, and enough moisture to generate some precip. With this situation we definitely will have the cold air in place, but whether or not we have enough moisture in place remains to be seen.

GFS Computer Model snow this weekend (NOT a forecast)

So far there is only one of the major computer models (the US run GFS model) that is suggesting we'll have enough moisture for flakes to fly Saturday and Sunday. Other reliable models say, sorry - just not enough moisture for snow. The image above shows <1" of snow for parts of SE NC by Sunday morning; much like what we saw two weeks ago. It also has an absurd bullseye for snow in the Tampa Bay area in Florida! I do NOT think the Florida situation is possible, and even gives this model less chance of being believed. 

Right now, it's just too early to say whether or not snow (or even rain) for that matter will fly this weekend. The big question is can enough moisture materialize. I'd say there's about a 20% shot at best at seeing some flurries in eastern NC this weekend. Stay tuned as we get a bit closer!

When do we snap out of the cold spell?

This is the crazy part. It's not just getting cold, it looks like it's staying cold for a long time! Most long range computer guidance shows that we will see well below normal temperatures through the first two weeks of March.

Following suit, the Climate Prediction Center of NOAA is forecasting WELL below normal temperatures for the next 6-10 days.

So, March will come in like a lion - and go out like a lamb? If you're looking for a silver lining, this could mean we're in for some really great spring weather to round out the month and lead into the Azalea Festival. Let's hope for that.

Thanks for reading. As always, you can find me on Facebook / Twitter / and Google+.

- TB



By: Tim Buckley

Good grief

I will have to hold off the garden until well into late march?
Well if there's a silver lining it's this: the heavy work of tilling and fertilizing will be done in cooler weather.