Not What I expected
by Ruth Smith
Charlotte before the snowstorm.
The first time I went to Charlotte, NC in January it was 70 degrees!
Now, they have snow and ice just like we do in New England!Barry's Response
- Yes, Ruth, the March 2009 snowstorm surprised a lot of people. There was a lot of snow this week in parts of the USA that don't get much! As far south as Alabama and Georgia.
NYC was another interesting target. The video shown at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYZtVzSlKAE makes the city look like Edmonton or Saskatoon. With a 16 mph wind, it dropped to 12°F one night (-11°C) when most nights dip down to 30°F.
Atlanta hit 22°F too. At this time of year, it's usually about 40° at night. At that point, the wind had dropped from over 20 mph to about 8. It was 38° in New Orleans one night with 30 mph wind, when most nights are in the 50's.
What about Charlotte, North Carolina? The average low in early March is 40 degrees, but during this storm, it got down to 16 early on March 3. Several inches of snow came with it.No match for Canada,
though. Newfoundland once took a beating in 2003.Search
this site for more information now.
Perhaps I can explain the atmospheric dynamics involved in the relationship between winter storms and temperature extremes.
- During winter, polar air masses
often invade regions with colder climates, causing winter storms. They bring frigid temperatures from the Arctic and can cause significant temperature drops.
- Low-pressure systems and frontal boundaries often accompany winter storms. Interactions with warmer air masses or encountering different air masses can cause rapid temperature changes. A cold front, for example, can bring colder air and drop the temperature abruptly.
- Winter storms often bring strong winds,
which can make you feel colder. Temperature and wind speed combine to make the air feel colder on exposed skin than it really is.
- Winter storms can cause temperature inversions,
where a layer of warm air is trapped above a layer of colder air near the ground. Temperature extremes can result from this inversion since the cold air stays trapped beneath the warmer layer.
Temperature extremes during winter storms are caused by a complex interplay
of atmospheric conditions, air masses, frontal systems, and wind patterns. Also, we might talk about monitoring weather forecasts, preparing for extreme cold, and taking precautions to stay safe.