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Severe Threat Analysis for February 5, 2014

12:02 AM

Well, we are getting rid of one storm that has produced significant ice and snow throughout the northern Mid Atlantic.  Is another winter storm on the way for this weekend?

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 11.52.44 AMThe answer to that question can be found over the Pacific Ocean.  And the answer is looking more and more like no.

Earlier in the week I had suggested that the pattern thus far looked the best we’ve seen all winter for a winter storm.  Even now, the pattern almost looks perfect and there in lies the problem, almost.  You see, winter storms that are driven by phasing or combining of a Polar and Sub Tropical disturbance have to be aligned just right.  Think of this like two skaters coming together to do one of those arial moves.  Well, if one is too fast than the whole move falls apart.

In this case, we have one disturbance out of place.  Look at the coastal waters off of Washington State.  See that big circle off the West coast?  That is an upper level low.  In previous model runs this upper level low was further southwest.  As a result, the ridge in the West over the Rockies was more amplified.  This amplification would help slow down the pattern and allow the trough in the East to intensify.  The block over the Atlantic slows down the pattern further and helps lock in the cold air.  Bam! Major winter storm.

However, now this upper level low is drifting further east than previously forecasted and as such the whole pattern is impacted.  The ridge in the West is flatter thus the trough in the East is not as intense.  This means the Sub Tropical disturbance is moving too fast and thus the phase is too late on Sunday to create a major winter storm.

I do think the region will have light to moderate snow on Sunday but no where near the powerful storm that the models were showing earlier.

Now, if that upper level low over the Pacific Northwest coastal waters ends up further southwest over the next two days, game on!  Then the whole pattern comes into synch and you get a powerful winter storm.  However, almost every model and ensemble guidance points to this not happening and this is supported by current observations of the Water Vapor Satellite picture.

Don’t worry though, there are plenty more potential storms the rest of the month.  I mean, really, do we need 3 winter storms in seven days?  I think not.