Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nearly a White Christmas! Recap of last night's snow event

Snow officially began at Memphis International Airport at 11:53pm Christmas night, thus officially Memphis recorded a trace of snow on Christmas Day.  While this doesn't technically count as a "White Christmas" (which occurs when an inch of snow occurs on Christmas Day), we'll take what we got! Snow continued overnight, then flurries and a few light snow "squalls" passed through until the mid-morning hours this morning.  UPDATE: Memphis International received 0.9" of snow - the "official" Memphis total.  Cirrus Weather Solutions/ (MWN) in north Bartlett picked up 1.3".

Snow amounts

As predicted the heaviest snow totals of 8-12" and highest wind gusts occurred over northeast AR (and points northeast from there).  Thus, not only was a Blizzard Warning issued for the first time in recent memory (and perhaps ever) in the Mid-South, but it verified. Final snow totals in the metro ended up near 1" for west Tennessee portions of the metro, with slightly lower amounts over north MS. A preliminary graphic of snow totals is shown below.

Preliminary snow totals for Dec 25-26, 2012, courtesy NWS-Memphis

Forecast vs. Actual

So how well did reality compare to our predictions?  Actually not too bad!  Though our projections increased slightly as the event drew closer, we still called for 1-4" yesterday afternoon. 3" readings were found just north and west of Crittenden County.  In fact, our first mention of forecast snow amounts (on Sunday) was for "about an inch in Shelby County."  Looking back on the computer model data, the snowfall map that most closely resembled actual was the one below, the GFS from Sunday morning (which was the one we used for our Sunday forecast).  Notice how similar it is to the map above. Later models actually overdid the expected totals, which is why our snow forecast range increased to 1-4" by Tuesday afternoon.

We also have to give kudos to the National Weather Service in Memphis for an outstanding job leading up to the event! Blizzard Warnings, Winter Weather Advisories, and Wind Advisories were all appropriate and timely and their forecasts were also exceptional.  Their guidance was very useful to us "private meteorologists."

Looking back at the Sunday morning GFS computer model forecast of expected snow amounts. This forecast verified well with reality.

Snow from above

For an interesting perspective, consider the picture below - a satellite image taken from 22,500 miles up at 10:30 this morning. Though clouds blanketed much of the local area, snow cover is visible from teh Red River Valley in TX and OK across much of the state of AR.  Once clouds move out, we'll also see that this snow extends northeast just north of the Ohio River into southern IL, IN and OH, where it's still snowing thanks to the upper level low moving east just north of Nashville.

Snow cover is visible on this satellite image

Thank yous!

Many thanks to all of you who followed or used our products or services before and during the event.  Also, WELCOME to all of our new followers and visitors!  I am also eternally grateful to MWN intern Patrick and former intern Kevin (who reunited with us for this event) for assisting in providing continuous coverage throughout the day and into the early hours this morning on our social media channels, allowing me to spend some time with my family on Christmas Day.

Our Facebook and Twitter feeds (linked below) are where you can find the latest information on local weather patterns, as well as nowcasting (or snowcasting) during inclement conditions. In addition, the MWN app allows you to keep up with the latest conditions, our forecasts, radar, and more, no matter where you are.  Plus, if you like to see SNOW on your radar display, and not have to guess what is rain vs. snow, you need to download the MWN app with StormView Radar (see below)!

Screenshot of full-screen MWN StormView Radar on Android taken during the winter weather event.
--MWN Meteorologist Erik Proseus

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