Baby, it’s going to be old outside - with snow, rain and ice
Photo courtesy of James Nelson/Monroe Historical Society
This photo from 1914 shows Monrovians gatherd for horse races across a frozen Walton Lake. It might be just that cold beginning the weekend.
First Due Weather from the Compound tells its followers to “Keep watching,” and so we are. On the heels of a minor snow event and school delays today, Jan. 17, FDW has been advising its now almost 7,800 followers of a massive storm coming this weekend. Will it happen? Weather forecasts are subject to change, and modifications as the “storm event” nears. In this case, it’s clear the greater Monroe area is getting hit with a big storm. What actually happens depends on the storm’s track, keeping in mind that a 50-mile shift can impact how much snow, rain or ice the area will get. Here’s what FDW was reminding followers on Thursday, as The Photo News went to press: “I just reviewed the data available this morning. My first comment is the Canadian GEM has joined the colder idea scenario with the EURO and NAM. The Canadian differs in that the Canadian GEM keeps Orange County all snow with a 9 to 13-inch snow accumulation. All show a track past our area off shore, Scenario 1, but west of that benchmark that I always mention. Canadian, European or North American models“I believe the Canadian may be setting the trend for more of an all snow event for Orange County. “Here is why ... after six to 12 hours of moderate to heavy snow for our area The NAM then projects heavy sleet for nearly 10 hours, while the EURO then projects moderate to heavy ice, freezing rain or potentially sleet for eight to 12 hours. The other models want rain. Looking at the temps in the mid-level atmosphere it doesn’t add up. Heavy precipitation causes a phenomenon identified as thermodynamic or radiational cooling to occur in the atmosphere. The lower level of the mid- level atmosphere and the surface, the ground, are both projected to be well below freezing for the entire event. “The mid-upper level of the mid-level atmosphere is projected to be about 36°F while the upper mid-level atmosphere is expected to be about 28°F per model guidance. At any rate when heavy precipitation falls through the atmosphere it tends to cool off the mid-level atmosphere even greater than projected because of the phenomenon of thermodynamic cooling. I believe the atmosphere may remain cold enough at all levels to keep the event all snow. It remains to be seen if the models agree but with the NAM projecting sleet over freezing rain, it hints that it will go to snow. It is easier to change sleet to snow than freezing rain to snow. “The latest EURO solution indicates snow begins between 6 and 7 p.m. on Saturday night. By 8 p.m., it becomes moderate to heavy snow. At 3 a.m. the EURO currently projects a transition to a mix and then another transition quickly to freezing rain. The surface temperature is 28°F at 3 a.m. The EURO projects six to 10 inch of snow accumulation before the transition. At 11 a.m. the EURO begins a transition back toward snow from NW to SE. It may take to 3 p.m. to get everyone snow. The EURO indicates 10 to 13 inch of snow and sleet accumulation at this transition point. Moderate to heavy snow tapers to light snow by 6 p.m. and the event exits the area by 7 p.m. Sunday night. The latest EURO projects total accumulation between 14 to 18 inches with temps already down to 12°-18°F upon the event conclusion. Snow, sleet, then more snow“The NAM projects a different scenario. The NAM projects that snow begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday. At midnight the NAM projects a transition to heavy sleet after six to 10 inches of snow has already accumulated. At the transition the temp is 28°F at the surface. The NAM believes the freezing rain stays south of Orange County. The NAM indicates this event is a much quicker event with a sharp cut-off of backside precipitation. The NAM projects the event is over for Orange County by 10 a.m. on Sunday. The NAM projects snow and sleet total accumulations of around 14 to 15 inches. That would roughly equate to about five to nine inches of sleet per model guidance. The NAM projects the surface temperature to be 18°F upon the event’s conclusion. Winds, freezing coldAdditionally, strong winds become a factor for about 24 to 36 hours starting around Sunday afternoon and surface temps fall below 0°F on Sunday night. Temperatures remain below freezing through Wednesday morning. With winds, potential ice accumulation, and heavy snow accumulation everyone should be prepared for power outage issues and hazardous or non-existent travel. Salt can’t melt roadways when it becomes this cold. Such an extreme temperature drop will cause a flash freeze. Gates, doors, and vehicles may become frozen and inaccessible.” Will this play out? For updates, visit FDW’s Facebook page, and as the site says, “Keep watching.” - Nancy Kriz