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A Stormy Start to December --- but here comes the cold!

Tracking tornadoes isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think about December, but that was exactly what happened as we kicked off the month this morning. In fact, there were a lot of wacky things about the first day of meteorological winter. We saw tropical-like temperatures on our side of the state, with howling winds, and by the end of the day we'll be near the freezing mark. Welcome to Decemeber!

Let's talk a little bit about the morning's storms first. When I first got in after midnight this AM the line of storms was pretty fierce and headed toward our area. There were two lines -- one small but potent line over the inland counties of our area, Columbus/Bladen/Sampson/Duplin. This line actually caused a Tornado Warning to be issued for Columbus/Bladen counties early this morning around 2:30AM. As of right now, there is no indication that any tornado touched down - but there was strong rotation in the cells, and the warning was certainly warrented. The rest of the action was closer to the coast.

A strong line of storms formed over the Atlantic and was headed due north towards the area around 4AM or so. At times, the cells that formed over the water were downright nasty. In fact, looking at the image above - you can clearly see what we refer to often times as a "bow echo" structure to these storms. As one part of the line of storms moves faster than the others, it accelerates outward creating a bow-like shape. In these setups it is very common to see tornadoes spun up on the edges, especially the north side of bow - as they are given a touch more rotation from the accelerating storms.

We also had a major cell from this ocean line of storms that really just exploded over the Cape Fear River as you can see above. The rainfall in this cell was the heaviest we saw all morning, and was at times aboe 1"/hour. Not only that, but this cell produced some heavy duty wind gusts too. Even the airport, which did not bear the brunt of this storm, gusted to 31 mph while the cell moved through.

Here are some other wind gusts we saw across the area this morning:

Outside of all the storms and wind gusts that stole the thunder (pun intended) this morning, one of the most impressive parts of this strong storm to me was the temperature contrast across the state. Check out the temperature snapshot of the Carolinas early this morning taken around 4-5AM. It is really quite rare to see one part of the state with temperatures near 70 while the other is in the 30's, but that's exactly what we found this morning.

 In fact, by the time the day is through we should have a temperature range of close to 40 degrees for the day. That's right, unfortunately the air pouring into the area is so cold that we will be near the freezing mark overnight. And it doesn't stop there -- the winter like temperatures will continue for the forseeable future, all the way through next week! Brrr I say.

Speaking of brrr, this is my first entry since my trip home to New York for Thanksgiving. I figured I would at least have to report on the snow that I was eluding to before I left.


Long story short, we did end up getting some snow - but it certainly wasn't legendary. The Lake Effect Snow machine started to crank up during the day Friday as cold air in the 20's poured over Lake Ontario's 45 degree waters. In the picture above you can see ominously dark clouds looking north from my backyard. This is the first lake effect "band" of snow setting up off of the lake. At the time, it was maybe 10-15 miles away, and the sun was shining in my backyard while heavy snow was falling underneath the clouds.


The setup stayed that way for a while, and areas underneath that area of snow did get upwards of 10" of powder for their Thanksgiving. It did eventually shift it's way south over my house, and we got a fluffy 2-3 inches of snow. Nothing spectacular to be sure. But, that's enough for me - I was happy to return to the Carolinas where "cold" has quite a different meaning than it does up there.

Now as we look ahead in our forecast, we see low temperatures in the 20's! Such is life here as we head into December.

Until we blog again...

- TB


By: Tim Buckley