Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deep Chill in the Deep South

The most recent surge of Arctic not only brought the coldest air of the season but also was the most expansive. After bringing subzero readings to much of the central U.S. the cold air mass knifed into the deep south. The cold front slowed to a crawl as it reached the Gulf Coast states, and warm mosit air riding up over the cold air produced a band of precipitation from Louisianna to Virginia.

Last night the leading edge of the cold air stretched from the middle of the Gulf of Mexico to across northern Florida, and precipitation had beren occurring all day along and behind the front. Wintry precipitation, from freezng rain to sleet to snow, fell from Louisianna into Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

Surface map for 7:00 p.m. EST January 28, 2014

The cold front has advanced into southern Florida, and a band of precipitation continues to affect areas on the cold side of the boundary.

Surface map at 7:00 a.m. EST and radar image at 10:38 a.m. EST January 29, 2014
This morning Winter Storm Warnings extended from the Florida Panhandle through Georgia and into southern South Carolina.

Watches, warnings, and advisories as of 10:06 a.m. EST

 Here's a forecast for Tallahassee, Florida you won't see very often.

Snowfall amounts as of 7:00 a.m. EST this morning were as high as 4 to 6 inches in eastern North Carolina to southeast Virginia and from 1 to 3 inches from east-central Alabama across northern Georgia.  Many CoCoRaHS observers in the south got their first experience measuring snow this morning. In North Carolina 5.3 inches of snow was reported by station NC-DR-10 Kill Devil Hills 0.9 WNW on the Outer Banks! Six inches of snow was reported by the observer at NC-NS-18, Elm City 6.3 NW in Nash County.

Traffic cam from Atlanta on the morning of January 29, 2014
Snow wasn't the only problem. Freezing rain and sleet were also mixed in, and in a part of the country where the need for snow removal and ice treatment is rare the wintry precipitation was disastrous. In the Atlanta area snow and ice brought traffic on area roads and Interstates to a paralyzing gridlock. Vehicles moved only a mile in 6 to 10 hours. Many people abandoned their cars to find shelter from the weather, only to make matters worse.  Traffic in the Atlanta area is still a mess this morning and it is likely to be days before things return to normal. Temperatures will climb above freezing tomorrow and the rest of the week, but sunshine won't clear the vehicles from the roads.

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