Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picking Up Some Rain While Avoiding the Severe Weather

The storm system which brought us rain and a few rumbles in the sky earlier today, managed to spare us from the severe weather.

That was not the case, however, for our neighbors in northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and Mississippi.

This is a plot of every severe weather report across the Deep South on Thursday. You can see that we were not that far off from experiencing some of those severe weather reports.

An overwhelming majority of the storm reports were from wind damage. The line of storms that blew through here ended up producing some gusty winds at times. However, further to the north and east, where the atmosphere was a little more unstable, these areas saw winds gust up to 70 to 80 mph. That caused widespread damage to trees and power lines. It also led to several accidents on major highways.

We, however, were more fortunate, and just picked up a few downpours.

As you can see from the weather watchers that reported in, many areas picked up anywhere from a tenth of an inch to a half inch. Overall, the average looked to be around one quarter of an inch.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week

Severe Weather Awareness Week runs through this Friday. It is during this time you should think about your safety plans and actions in case a severe thunderstorm or possible tornado heads for your neighborhood.

When we mention the word "severe", what does that mean? Well, it means a storm that contains any of the following.

1.) A tornado.
2.) Hail of 1" in diameter (size of quarters) or larger.
3.) Damaging wind gusts in excess of 50 knots or 58 mph.

If a thunderstorm produces any one of those three items listed above, a storm is classified is severe. While you only need one of those to occur, sometimes storms can contain multiple entities.

There are a couple of things to take note of this week.

  • All schools should do a tornado drill on Wednesday, February 23rd, between 9:00 and 9:30am. It is during this time all school districts in East Texas should do a mock tornado drill as if it were the real deal. By practicing this drill, all faculty and students will be prepared in case a tornado warning is issued where you school is located come this spring.
  • If you are interested in becoming a storm spotter and relaying information to KTRE and the National Weather Service, there will be a SKYWARN Storm Spotter Training session this Thursday, February 24th at 6pm at the Commisioner's Court in Downtown Lufkin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Budget Cuts Could Hit Weather Hard

We have heard of the recent budget cuts proposed by Congress on some of the government funded jobs.

Weather could be one area that gets hard in the near future. As you might imagine, there are concerns on what this may mean for meteorologist staffing and the ability to inform the public.

Here is a statement that was released by the National Weather Service Union earlier today.

Prevailing Conditions
NWSEO News Releases
House Fiscal 11 Budget Proposal Could Devastate
The National Weather Service’s Life-saving Warnings and Forecasts
(February 15, 2011) As hurricane and tornado seasons approach, funding for the NWS will be nearly 30 percent less than the first half of 2011, if the Continuing Resolution proposed by the House majority is enacted. Congress’s move will necessitate work furloughs and force rolling closures of Weather Warning Offices across the country. The effects will be felt in every aspect of daily life, including emergency management, television weather, and information used by our nation’s citizens for transportation, commerce and agriculture.
The National Hurricane Center, the Storm Prediction Center, the Aviation Weather Center, the Tsunami Warning Centers, River Forecast Centers and local Weather Forecast Offices located in communities across the nation are all victims of Congress’s budget cut.
“When the budget blade drops on the NWS, it will be felt around the country,” said NWSEO President Dan Sobien. “In the next hurricane, flood, tornado or wildfire, lives will be lost and people will ask what went wrong. Congress’s cuts and the devastation to the wellbeing of our nation’s citizens are dangerously wrong.”
Reduced funding will mean upper air observations currently made twice a day might be reduced to every other day. Buoy and surface weather observations, the backbone of most of the weather and warning systems, may be temporarily or permanently discontinued. Delays in replacement satellites run the risk of losing key weather data that can be obtained no other way. “This information is vital for weather modeling and essential for accurate tornado watches and warnings,” said Sobien, “
The National Hurricane Center is not immune to these cuts as furloughs and staffing cuts will add strain to the program. The Hurricane Hunter Jet, which provides lifesaving data and helps determine a hurricane’s path, could also be eliminated.
Recent advances in aviation weather forecasting have resulted in as much as a 50 percent reduction in weather related flight delays. Unfortunately, these improvements are also on the chopping block as the money to fund the programs will be discontinued.
“Decreased accuracy of forecasts is going to devastate every aspect of our daily lives. There will be a large scale economic impact on aviation, agriculture, and the cost shipping food and other products,” warns Sobien. “Most importantly, Congress is going set back our ability to save lives by decades.”
Media contact: National Weather Service Employees Organization
Dan Sobien, President NWSEO, 202-420-1043

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Outlook for the Rest of February: Drier and Warmer Than Normal

Now that the weather pattern has shifted well off to our north, we have been able to bask in some February sunshine and warmer than normal temperatures.

It has also been much drier around these parts lately, now that the storm track has shifted to the northern third of the country.

This is the weather pattern we had for most of the fall, which led to the severe to extreme drought across the Piney Woods.

The Climate Prediction Center's outlook through the end of February calls for warmer than normal conditions for most of the Southeast United States, including us here in East Texas.

This will be due in large part to a ridge of high pressure situated over the area, which will prevent any major Arctic outbreaks from making it this far south.

At the same time, the Climate Prediciton Center's outlook keeps us drier than normal for the rest of the month.

In the meantime, wetter than normal conditions will be seen in the northern half of the country, stretching from Washington to the Great Lakes and to the Atlantic seaboard.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sunny and Warmer Days Ahead

A shift in the weather pattern will allow us to warm-up and start thawing out over the weekend. Even though we will still have to endure the morning chill, the afternoons will be very nice, thanks to wall to wall sunshine.

The reason for our sunny and warmer weather is largely due to the fact that the Jetstream will be retreating well off to the north.

As you well know by now, the Jetstream is something I like to show on air from time to time, because it really helps tell the story of not only where the storms are located, but also where the warm and cold regions are as well.

With the Jetstream shifting to the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest regions, we will see a ridge of high pressure develop and move overhead. This high pressure ridge will steer the storm systems well away from us, while at the same time, allow for warmer temperatures to re-emerge across the Piney Woods. In fact, we may be about 10 degrees above normal by the middle of next week, as highs climb into the middle 70's.

The good news is that this pattern may hold for most of next week. So now is the time to partake in outdoor activities and soak up some of the sun's rays. After all, you just never know what storm might be looming down the road.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Cold Rain, Sleet, and Snow all Possible

As we get one day closer to the arrival of our approaching winter storm, there have been some tweaks to our current thinking regarding precipitation type and amount.

I have color coded the map so that it is very easy for you to see what you can expect where you live on Wednesday.
Our southern counties and communities (green shading) can mainly expect just a cold rain with temperatures in the middle to upper 30's. A brief change over to sleet is possible in these areas, but not probable.
Our central counties and communities (blue shading) can expect the precipitation to start out as a cold rain in the morning. As we head towards lunch time and the afternoon hours, that rain could mix with sleet at times. A complete transition to snow is possible by the afternoon, but accumulations will generally be less than an inch. It should also be noted that the ground temperatures will be fairly warm, so any snow that does fall will not stick to the grassy and road surfaces.
Finally, our far northern counties and communities (pink shading) can expect early morning rain to quickly change over to sleet and then eventually snow. With the temperature profile aloft becoming very cold, the snowfall amounts will be higher with general totals ranging from 2-4". With temperatures at the surface expected to dip below freezing in these areas on Wednesday afternoon, the snow that does fall will have a chance to accumulate and stick to roads and other vegetation.
Needless to say, if you are traveling north towards Tyler, Longview, and/or Shreveport, get ready for a wintry mess in these locations.
The farther south you travel, the less likely you will be impacted by winter weather (outside of the cold of course).
You can stay up-to-date with any changes in our weather, including updates on the storm by following me on Twitter. Just go to to follow all my updates. If you receive sleet or snow where you live, please re-tweet (RT) me so that I can pass on the information to everyone.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Winter Storm: This Time, A Different Twist

Another surge of Arctic air will invade East Texas on Wednesday, keeping temperatures well below normal and putting wind chill values back in the teens.

While the noticeable dip in our temperatures will be comparable to last week's winter storm, this one will be different for us in one sense: no ice or snow accumulations will be likely this time around.

This is the snow forecast for the state of Texas when the storm moves through on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

For our friends and family in North Texas, Northeast Texas, and Oklahoma, it looks like they will be enduring another 3-8" of snow, with the highest amounts in Oklahoma and extreme North Texas.

We do believe areas as far south as Tyler and Longview will see 2-4" of snow once again, with overall totals tapering off significantly as you head into Lufkin and Nacogdoches.

While most of us may not see snow, we won't avoid the precipitation all together. In fact, we are looking at a cold rain to develop on Wednesday morning over Deep East Texas. This cold rain may mix with sleet, but most of it will be in liquid form as the front moves through.

Our high temperatures on Wednesday will be early in the day, before the cold front blasts through. We will start off near 40°, and then fall throughout the course of the afternoon.

This frigid airmass will then lead to a couple of nights of hard freezes as we head towards the end of the week.

If anything should change with our winter storm, you will get it here first. As always, you can get a detailed forecast and view your webcast by going to our weather page.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why the Ice and Not the Snow?

The winter storm that moved through East Texas over the past 24 hours, produced snow, sleet, and freezing rain. This mixed bag gave us a wide variety of snow and sleet totals across the area.

Unfortunately, those of us that wanted snow, received some freezing drizzle and ice instead.

The graphic above shows that the heaviest snowfall occured in northern portions of East Texas, ranging from Palestine to Jacksonville and over to Longview.

For most of us in Deep East Texas, it was a mix of sleet and freezing rain that fell throughout the night and early this morning.

Some people have asked me why we did not see more snow as was forecasted over the past few days.

The answer lies in the temperature profile of the atmosphere. You heard me talk about the difference between freezing rain, sleet, or snow all has to do with how the temperature changes as you go up to 15,000-20,000 feet in the atmosphere.

Anytime the temperature profile is all below freezing (32°), we will get an all snow event.

However, when we see temperatures aloft above freezing, that is when it gets tricky. The diagram illustrates what happened to our temperature profile over East Texas last night.

At about 10,000 feet or so, there was a warm nose that existed. That pocket of warm air melts snowflakes as they fall through the atmosphere. If it is deep enough, the snowflake will melt into a liquid water droplet, also known as rain. If the warm is in not very deep, then sometimes the snowflake will just change to a graupel or sleet pellet.

In our case, that warm layer was present, leading to a mixture of sleet and freezing rain, with very little snow.

Our friends and neighbors to our north had sub-freezing temperatures throughout the entire depth of the atmosphere, and ultimately, another 5-7" of snow.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Small Changes to our Forecast

After looking over model data all day and discussing the winter storm with other meteorologists, here is the lowdown on what you can expect where you live.

In my last post, we talked about how most of us would see snow, with our southeastern quadrant the most likely areas to receive ice accumulations.

Overall, that same line of thinking is still there, with just some subtle changes in the forecast.

This is an updated image that will be shown tonight at 10pm.

This map shows not only precipitation type, but the wintry precipitation amount as well.

If you live along and north of a Crockett to Nacogdoches to Center line, we are expecting all snow to fall from the sky overnight. The farther north you go, the lower the snowfall. Once you get south of that line, the potential for snow accumulations goes up by a couple more inches.

Meanwhile, we think communities in and near Hemphill, Pineland, Zavalla, Colemesneil, Jasper, and Newton have the potential to see a snow, sleet, and freezing rain mix. With that mixture could come the threat for significant ice accumulations of 0.25-0.50". If that pans out, then roads become icy, power outages become more frequent, and tree limbs are going to snap and fall.

Here's the tricky part. What kind of wintry mix will take place around Corrigan, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Chireno, Etoile, Huntington, and San Augustine areas? After all, these areas are kind of in between the areas of all snow and the wintry mix of ice, and sleet.

Our line of thinking is that many areas in Angelina and Nacogdoches counties will see mainly snow. However, there could be some sleet and freezing rain mixed in from time to time. How much of the freezing rain that mixes in with the snow will determine how much ice, and ultimately, how treacherous driving conditions will be in these general areas.

As always, make sure to visit our Winter Weather Center on our homepage at We will have all the latest on the warnings and advisories around East Texas. You can also view our live streaming radar and so much more.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adding to the Cold with a Winter Storm

Now that our frigid temperatures in place, all we need is a storm system to move overhead to give us winter precipitation. As it turns out, it looks like it will become reality tomorrow night and into the first half of the day on Friday.

An upper level disturbance, or trough of low pressure, will move into the state on Thursday. As it gets closer, we will start to see some snow showers develop.
Our Futurecast computer model shows snow falling overhead on Friday morning at 3am, when many of you will be sound asleep.

It appears the winter precipitation will start Thursday evening, then pick up in coverage and intenstiy after midnight, lasting into the early morning hours on Friday.
If you noticed, I said wintry precipitation. That's because it may not just be snow that falls from the clouds, but some sleet and freezing rain are a possibility as well.

Whereas earlier in the week we thought it might be all snow, it appears now that we could be looking at a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain.
This diagram shows that most areas along and north of a Groveton to Lufkin to San Augustine line will probably receive just all snow.
However, that shade of pink represents where the snow could mix with sleet and freezing rain. If that happens, we would be looking at more significant impacts when it comes to power outages and icing of roadways.
That shade of pink includes areas in our southeastern counties, mainly areas around Zavalla, Colmesneil, Woodville, Jasper, and Pineland.
It should be noted that this area in pink could shift northward with future model runs and changes in the forecast.
If this area of mixed precipitation were to shift further to the north, then it could have a bigger impact on areas in Lufkin and Nacogdoches. These impacts would be icy roads, which would hamper travel, and possible power outages.
Please stay tuned to KTRE-TV and for the latest developments on our approaching winter storm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Cold it Really Feels!

In the summer, we say it is not the temperature, but the humidity, that makes it feel so hot and steamy. We measure both by using the heat index as a parameter of how it actually feels to your exposed skin when you step outside.

When a big winter storm roars in like the one today, it is the wind chill which makes it feel so bitterly cold to venture outdoors.

This chart is courtesy of: The National Weather Service

I've attached the wind chill chart, so you can see just how cold it actually feels when you factor both the temperature and wind speeds.

As of this afternoon, our wind chill values are in the teens. This results from temperatures near 30 and winds sustained at 20 mph.

Overnight, winds may be reduced to 10 to 15 mph. However, with lows dropping into the upper teens and low 20's, that will give us wind chill values in the single digits.

Please bundle up and make sure you cover any exposed skin if you are going to be outside for any length of time the next few days.