Saturday, February 13, 2010

Texas Snow that could have been

This past week, we experienced a long cold day that dumped more than 1.5 inches of rain. The temperature was a little above freezing but not much.  Almost a week earlier, the weather bureau predicted we could see ice or sleet on Thursday. Upon arrival of the western-originated storm, a frigid arctic mass of air was to arrive. We weren't the only ones watching the event. This was a large Texas event and some snow was predicted for the northeast parts of Texas. We've seen these situations over and again. Two things have to be occurring simultaneously.  (1) A cold winter in the deep south, and (2) El NiƱo in the West. The southern jet stream carries the storms aloft, and the arctic air mass at the surface is pushed by the northern jet stream.

Indeed in this "winter of winters", Texas got a surprise. All snowfall records known to modern day weather forecasters were broken. In Tyler Texas, several inches of snow accumulated when they thought they may see some ice and flurries. In Dallas, more than 12 inches of snow fell, bringing the city to a standstill for a while. An interesting phenomena occurred there. The snow caused the roads to be safer. What might have been an ice storm turned into a a melting snow scene on the streets. Weather forecasters were off the mark on this one - significantly off the mark! For a more detailed view investigation for the reason why, I suggest you read the Dallas Morning article:  Forecasters tell how they miscalled Snowstorm of the Century

This could have been us. All the ingredients have the potential to collide here instead of Dallas. I wonder what we would do with twelve inches of snow. It could even be worse. The speed of the storm was slow but from our past experiences, we know a storm can just squat here and dump and dump. This winter could be the first of a series like this.  My trees are budding, but winter is not over. Migratory birds are passing through, but it remains winter.  Berries are ripening and falling off of the Yaupon, but it is near freezing.  Two more weeks of winter is still predicted.

And if you wonder how cold this winter really is, Lake Eerie is frozen over for the first time in 14 years. A full article on that subject can be found on the Go Eerie website. Also see:   Map of the Great Lakes and frozen status as of Feb 9th. 

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Thank for for comments on your Woodlands Commentary webpage. Come back soon! ... Randy