Autoposy of A Raleigh Ice Storm January 2005 & Forecast for January 26, 2013
Current Satellite Loop... watch it and let's see how well this week's forecast plays out while looking back at another forecast from January of 2005 which did not pan out so well.
This afternoon's blog is a look back at an event here in Raleigh that everyone talks about as one of the worst Ice Events in recent history, mostly because of how unprepared the locals were for the severe driving conditions they encountered as the Ice Storm evolved. It's worth noting here as well that when I interview people about Hurricane Fran... I get the same response "they didn't expect to have such a bad storm."
There is something about this region that sits at the crossroads between cold, winter weather and the warmer winters often expected in more southern regions of Dixie. And, to be honest no two winters here are the same... some are rugged, cold and treacherous while others are mild and have only a few snow flurries to show for the label the "Winter of ____" Hurricanes also tend to hook left and go out to sea just after brushing Kill Devil Hills with a lot of wind and photo ops for the guys from TWC. And, then ...sometimes they slam into Wilmington being shoved inland by a strong offshore High Pressure area. Sometimes.... we get more snow or we get frozen rain falling on a frozen ground with winter temperatures well below freezing.
It's a complicated place weather wise... don't believe those Chamber of Commerce brochures on how we rarely get winter weather. If you want to go somewhere that you won't get Ice or Snow.. keep driving south on I-95 until you get to Jacksonville, Florida and don't look back.
The temps here today are cold... seemingly colder than the degrees shown on the website I check nonstop as I sit here listening to the hearings on Capitol Hill.
Apparently, I didn't realize it being a Miami girl...that the vase outside froze over night and stayed frozen ALL day even though the temperature was above freezing when this picture was taken. Let's say it the temperature outside was about 39 degrees in the sunshine. Note... the pretty little vase is broken... I guess I should have known that could happen ....however it never happened back home and rarely do I leave vases out overnight.. it's a long story. There was this lilly, that was pretty... but way too heavily scented so it's been out there for the last week or two... until last night... when it was really, really cold.
Weather for Raleigh, NC
|41°F | °C||Wed||Thu||Fri||Sat|
|Wind: SW at 13 mph|
Note...it's still frozen solid though the ice had melted a bit, but will soon refreeze as it is forecast to be 27 degrees tonight and not as warm tomorrow.
I want to preface this with the thought that I am only looking back to try and understand what happened back in January of 2005 when it took commuters over 8 hours to slid and slide their way home back to Raleigh from jobs in various places like "the Triangle" and job which in those days was considered to be about 20 minutes. Note..today as the whole Raleigh-Durham area has grown that commute is closer to 35 to 45 minutes for most.. unless there is an accident somewhere.
Why? Because we have all of this discussion on an upcoming possible...though not probable...Winter Weather Event in the area that could bring the Raleigh-Durham area a similar icy commute. And, as always two days out we aren't sure.
But the Ghost of 2005 haunts every old timer, and an old timer in Raleigh is someone who has lived here more than 10 years.. Everyone here is from somewhere else and I'm not sure where the locals have gone...though many go to Charlotte, Atlanta and places closer to the Ocean or closer to the mountains. There are so many people in Raleigh from Pittsburgh you'd think this is a suburb and we should get discounts on Steelers tickets. Same goes for Maryland & the DC... where many have moved away from the traffic and found other good government jobs in the Raleigh area. Of course, some people move up here from Florida hoping for "winter weather" and you can tell where someone is while out at Kroger buying milk and bread before a possible storm because the ones from up north are cursing and the ones from Florida are cheering..
It's hard to understand how so little precipitation of any kind crippled this city back in 2005, but it did. Hopefully, we have learned and this won't happen again. The quotes below are from an excellent, long discussion on the January 19, 2005 Raleigh Ice/Snow Storm. Please read the report in it's entirety as I picked out the salient paragraphs.
"A disturbance in the upper atmosphere moved southeastward across the Appalachians into North Carolina and Virginia on Wednesday, January 19, 2005. Typically, weather disturbances in a northwest flow aloft weaken and lose their limited moisture as they cross the mountains, resulting in little or no accumulating snow east of the mountains. Indeed in the Triad area, only a trace to a dusting of snow was reported. As the system neared the Triangle area, the area of snow briefly expanded in aerial coverage as well as intensified. Nearly an inch of snow accumulated in the city of Raleigh, while a few counties north and east of the city received two inches....
Due to the proximity of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, it is more common for plentiful moisture to be found in snowfall events in central North Carolina. The higher moisture content results in a more compact, dense snow and hence lower ratios of snow to liquid equivalent. This is not typically the case for some other regions of the country (e.g., northern plains states) where moisture content is typically more limited and hence snow ratios are higher due to less compaction...
High ratios of snow to liquid equivalent in Central North Carolina are typically associated with disturbances moving into Central North Carolina from the northwest as was the case on January 19th. The snow ratios measured during the January 19, 2005 event are shown in the table below. The liquid equivalents ranged from 0.04" to 0.09" with snow accumulations of 0.7 to 2.0 inches. The resulting snow ratios ranged from around 16:1 to 22:1. Note that the measured snow ratio is inherently higher in lighter snow events, since compaction and settling of the accumulated snow is minimal. ....
In a “tongue and cheek” fashion, it has been reported in the local media that “it is the duty of southerners at the first mention of snow to rush to the grocery stores for bread and milk and to test their driving skills once the snow begins to fall.” While an exaggeration, there is never the less a "knee jerk" response to snow that is indeed engrained in southern culture. This response may well be founded upon the relatively infrequency of snow in the South. Relative to the “snow belt” locations in the north, there is certainly less experience in dealing with snow, and less equipment and resources for coping with snow. In the South, snow certainly draws more attention and that in itself results in more of a disruption of daily routines. There are also relatively infrequent heavy snows in the South (e.g., 22.5 inches in Raleigh on January 24-25, 2000) that are etched into the memories of those who experienced them and the anticipation of their reoccurrence. ....
.....Perhaps then, it should come with no surprise that there were so many early releases of schools and businesses during the early afternoon of Wednesday on January 19th. What was a surprise is how quickly and efficiently a light coating of snow on roads became so icy and slick. The mass exodus of many vehicles at nearly the same time clogged the primary roads. Road surface temperatures were too cold to promote melting. Instead, the snail paced traffic compressed the light snow while the heat from vehicular exhausts produce a slight melting effect. The combination of compression and slight melting changed the snow to an icy composition which the cold air temperatures maintained. Numerous accidents on the now slick roads prevented highway crews from spreading salt and sand on the gridlock primary roads. Many school buses were unable to make their rounds, while parents stuck in traffic were unable to get to the schools. What is normally a commuting trip consisting of just tens of minutes turned into an eight hour ordeal. "
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RALEIGH NC 554 AM EST MON JAN 17 2005 NCZ007>011-021>028-038>043-073>078-083>086-088-089-181053- ALAMANCE NC-ANSON NC-CHATHAM NC-CUMBERLAND NC-DAVIDSON NC-DURHAM NC- EDGECOMBE NC-FORSYTH NC-FRANKLIN NC-GRANVILLE NC-GUILFORD NC- HALIFAX NC-HARNETT NC-HOKE NC-JOHNSTON NC-LEE NC-MONTGOMERY NC- MOORE NC-NASH NC-ORANGE NC-PERSON NC-RANDOLPH NC-RICHMOND NC- SAMPSON NC-SCOTLAND NC-STANLY NC-VANCE NC-WAKE NC-WARREN NC-WAYNE NC- WILSON NC- INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...ALBEMARLE...ASHEBORO...BELEWS CREEK... BURLINGTON...CHAPEL HILL...CLINTON...DURHAM...FAYETTEVILLE... GOLDSBORO...GREENSBORO...HENDERSON...LAURINBURG...LEXINGTON... LILLINGTON...LOUISBURG...MOUNT OLIVE...NASHVILLE...OXFORD... PITTSBORO...RAEFORD...RALEIGH...ROANOKE RAPIDS...ROCKINGHAM... ROCKY MOUNT...ROXBORO...SANFORD...SMITHFIELD...SOUTHERN PINES... TARBORO...TROY...WADESBORO...WARRENTON...WILSON AND WINSTON-SALEM 554 AM EST MON JAN 17 2005 THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA. .DAY ONE... NO HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS EXPECTED AT THIS TIME. .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...
NO HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.
So in retrospect.......................
Seems like these events cannot really be predicted as they evolve in real time and sometimes the evolution itself changes the forecast.
There are some commonalities.... a cold ground, cold temperatures for days before the event and an abundance of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico far to the SW which can sometimes over come the dryness in the various levels of the atmosphere and stray squalls of snow that are hard to predict where they will fall exactly.
Today we have better radar forecasts further out.
I note that this report doesn't show the wind speed or how if at all the wind affected the forecast. I do note they mention "blowing snow" so I imagine the wind was a factor.
AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE WILL CROSS CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON...AND TEMPERATURES WILL BE IN THE LOWER TO MIDDLE 30S. SOME SNOW WILL BE POSSIBLE...MAINLY BETWEEN NOON AND 5 PM. ANY SNOW THAT FALLS WILL BE LIGHT AND A DUSTING WILL BE POSSIBLE ON GRASSY OR ELEVATED SURFACES. ON SATURDAY THROUGH SUNDAY... THE COMBINATION OF COLD AIR AND AN APPROACHING STRONG UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE COULD LEAD TO WINTERY WEATHER ACROSS CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA. THE BEST CHANCES OF SNOW AT THIS TIME APPEAR TO BE ON SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING. RESIDENTS AND OFFICIALS ARE ENCOURAGED TO KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST FORECASTS AS THE WEEKEND APPROACHES.
But, looking back it seems they really had no clue that this could *evolve* in the way that it did and I like to believe they have learned much from if nothing else an over abundance of caution.
That was then this is now...
Personally want to say here that... the ground is not as cold, the temperatures while cold are not as cold as 2005 and we have better models and data to see into the future to see how severe an event might become...as it evolves...
Today 3 PM two days away from the possible Precipitation Event:
And.. so we look forward to the coming event which is still two days away...
This will be updated and played with and tweaked and everyone here remembers those other busted forecasts so the local meteorologists have the burden of old busted forecasts on their back... Not an easy job to have in an area which often is the demarcation line between cold and warm, snow and rain and at the exact spot where the fronts and the Jet Stream take their "dip" before moving East out to sea or NE up the Atlantic Coast.
Current link to the NWS Raleigh:
Below discussion is from their "forecast discussion"
"HOWEVER...THERE COULD BE ENOUGH LIFT THIS FAR SOUTH TO GENERATE SOME PRECIP ALONG THE BACKDOOR FRONT...ESPECIALLY AS THE LOW LEVEL FORCING INCREASES (IN THE FORM OF FRONTOGENESIS) DURING THE 09-15Z TIME FRAME. THIS IS SUPPORTED BY MANY OF THE HI RES SIMULATED REFLECTIVITY MODELS...WHICH SHOWS SOME PRECIP MOVING ACROSS THE AREA (MAINLY THE NORTH) EARLY THURSDAY MORNING. HOWEVER...MOISTURE WILL BE LIMITED AND FORECAST SOUNDINGS SHOW A RATHER DRY SUB CLOUD LAYER THAT ANY PRECIP THAT DOES DEVELOP WILL HAVE TO OVERCOME. NEVERTHELESS...A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SNOW FLURRIES STILL LOOKS TO BE POSSIBLE...PRIMARILY NORTH OF HWY 64. THURSDAY/THURSDAY NIGHT...BEHIND THE DEPARTING FRONT...STRONG COLD AIR ADVECTION WILL DEVELOP AS ANOTHER SURGE OF STRONG ARCTIC HIGH PRESSURE BEGINS TO BUILD INTO THE AREA FROM THE NORTH. WINDS WILL BECOME NORTHERLY AND INCREASE TO 15-20 MPH...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. WITH DECREASING LOW LEVEL THICKNESS VALUES AND STRONG CAA PERSISTING THROUGH MOST OF THE DAY...TEMPS WILL STRUGGLE TO CLIMB MUCH DURING THE DAY. THEREFORE...HIGHS ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM THE LOW/MID 30S ACROSS THE NORTH TO UPPER 30S/LOWER 40S FURTHER SOUTH. DESPITE VERY DRY AIR ACROSS THE REGION THURSDAY NIGHT (DEWPOINTS IN THE LOW TEENS TO SINGLE DIGITS)...INCREASING CLOUDS AND A STEADY BREEZE AHEAD OF OUR NEXT SYSTEM WILL KEEP OVERNIGHT LOWS FROM FALLING TOO MUCH. THEREFORE...AM EXPECTING LOWS GENERALLY IN THE LOW/MID 20S... ALTHOUGH SOME UPPER TEENS WILL BE POSSIBLE...ESPECIALLY ACROSS THE EASTERN HALF OF THE FORECAST AREA WHERE CLOUD COVER WILL BE LAST TO MOVE IN. .SHORT TERM /FRIDAY THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT/... AS OF 250 PM WEDNESDAY... ...WINTRY MIX FRIDAY AND FRIDAY EVENING... OVERVIEW: A VERY COMPLEX SYNOPTIC PATTERN IS FORECAST BY THE MODELS WITH WEAK SECONDARY SFC CYCLOGENESIS INVOF THE LOWER MS VALLEY THURSDAY NIGHT/EARLY FRIDAY MORNING...IN RESPONSE TO DIGGING PACIFIC NW ENERGY INTO THE CENTRAL US. THIS SECONDARY LOW WILL LIE ON THE SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE PRIMARY NORTHERN STREAM LOW AND COLD FRONT OVER THE UPPER MIDWEST/GREAT LAKES REGION. THE WAVY FRONTAL ZONE IS THEN FORECAST TO PROGRESS EAST THROUGH THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION DURING THE DAY ON FRIDAY...CONSOLIDATING/MERGING ALONG THE WAY BEFORE A CENTRALIZED LOW EMERGES OFF THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST FRIDAY NIGHT. MODEL TRENDS: MODELS HAVE TRENDED WEAKER WITH THE WAVE(S)OF LOW PRESSURE ALONG THE FRONT AS IT TRACKS EAST ACROSS THE AREA...AND HAVE ACCORDINGLY BACKED OFF WITH LIQUID PRECIP AMOUNTS OVER THE AREA...WITH A MODEL AVERAGE OF A TENTH TO ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH. MORE IMPORTANTLY...AN INCREASING NUMBER OF BOTH DETERMINISTIC MODELS AND INDIVIDUAL ENSEMBLE MEMBERS ARE SHOWING FAIRLY SHALLOW SATURATION...DOMINATED BY LOW-LEVEL WARM ADVECTION PROCESSES FEED BY A H8 40 TO 50KT SWLY LLJ. THIS WOULD SUPPORT MORE IN THE WAY OF SHOWERY/CONVECTIVE LIKE PRECIP PRECIP AS OPPOSED TO A WIDESPREAD STRATIFORM RAIN. FURTHERMORE...THE LIKELIHOOD OF CLOUDS BEING ENTIRELY COMPOSED OF ICE CRYSTALS IS LOW AND/OR VERY BRIEF(2 TO 3 HOUR WINDOW)...WITH FORECAST SOUNDINGS... PARTICULARLY THE GFS AND EC...QUICKLY DRYING OUT THE ICE NUCLEATION LAYER...STRONGLY SUGGESTING THAT CLOUDS WOULD BE COMPOSED OF MOSTLY SUPERCOOLED DROPLETS THROUGH MUCH OF THE EVENT. THIS WOULD LIMIT THE AMOUNTS AND DURATION IN WHICH WE WOULD SEE ACCUMULATING SNOW/SLEET ...WITH PERHAPS MORE IN THE WAY OF ICE ACCRUAL AS PRECIP TYPE QUICKLY CHANGES OVER TO FREEZING RAIN...AND THEN FREEZING DRIZZLE BEFORE TAPERING BETWEEN 00 TO 06Z FRIDAY EVENING. PRECIP TYPE AND TEMPERATURES: ONSET OF PRECIP REMAINS IN QUESTION...WITH A PREFERENCE TOWARDS THE SLOWER TIMING OF THE EC AND GFS AS IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME TO OVERCOME THE ANTECEDENT DRY ARCTIC BOUNDARY LAYER CONDITIONS(SFC DEWPOINTS IN THE SINGLE DIGITS TO TEENS). WHILE EARLIER ARRIVAL OF PRECIP WILL KEEP THE FAVOR WESTERN PIEDMONT DAMMING REGION BELOW FREEZING...THE SLOWER TIMING COULD POSSIBLY ALLOW TEMPERATURES TO RISE ABOVE FREEZING INTO THE 34 TO 39 BY NOON TIME ALONG AND EAST OF THE TRIANGLE...BEFORE TEMPERATURES WETBULBING BACK DOWN INTO THE LOWER TO MID 30S(32 TO 35)AS PRECIPITATION BEGINS TO REACH THE SURFACE. MODELS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT WITH RETREATING THE FREEZING SFC WET-BULB ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM WADESBORO TO FAYETTEVILLE TO GOLDSBORO FROM AFOREMENTIONED WARMING PRIOR TO THE ONSET OF PRECIP. AS SUCH THERE IS FAIRLY DECENT CONFIDENCE THAT AREAS MOST LIKELY TO SEE ANY ACCUMULATING SNOW WILL BE NORTH OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED LINE...OR ROUGHLY ALONG AND TO THE NORTH OF THE US HIGHWAY 64. DESPITE THE LOW LIQUID AMOUNTS OF A TENTH TO ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH...THE ARCTIC AIRMASS WILL RESULT IN HIGH...20:1 SNOW TO LIQUID RATIO....WHICH COULD SUPPORT A QUICK 1 TO 2 INCH OF SNOW ACCUMULATION WITH HIGHEST AMOUNTS ALONG THE ADJACENT VIRGINA BORDER COUNTIES. IT ALSO SERVES TO MENTION THAT WHILE PRECIP COULD BEGIN AS SNOW EVEN ACROSS THE SANDHILLS AND SOUTHERN COASTAL PLAIN...ABOVE FREEZING TEMPERATURES WILL PROHIBIT ACCUMULATIONS. ALONG AND SOUTH OF THIS SNOW ACCUMULATION LINE...THERE WILL BE A POTENTIAL FOR A CORRIDOR OF ICE ACCRUAL FROM FREEZING RAIN/DRIZZLE ...WITH AS MUCH AS A TENTH TO TWO-TENTHS OF AN INCH OF POSSIBLE. THIS WILL LIKELY PROVE TO BE THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF THIS EVENT AND THUS WILL NEED TO BE GENEROUS IN THE ATTEMPT TO PREDICT THIS EXACT SWATH. ADDITIONALLY...AREAS OVER THE WESTERN/NORTHERN PIEDMONT AND COASTAL PLAIN COUNTIES TO THE NORTH THAT COULD ALSO SEE A LIGHT ICE GLAZE ON TOP OF THE 1 TO 2 INCH SNOWFALL. WHILE PRECIP SHOULD BE OVER AT OR SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT... ROAD CONDITIONS WILL LIKELY REMAIN TREACHEROUS THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT/SATURDAY MORNING WITH OVERNIGHT LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S NW TO MID/UPPER 20S SOUTHEAST. DO NOT PLAN ANY TO GO WITH ANY WINTER STORM ADVISORIES AT THIS TIME...WITH PREFERENCE TO WAIT AND SEE ANOTHER MODEL ITERATION TO INTERROGATE CRITICAL LIQUID PRECIP AMOUNTS."Current graphic which changes in real time:http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/map/link to ground temperatures, thanks tofor finding me the link while I was writing, so detailed... really love it.Check it out for yourself:http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/map/Thanks! https://www.facebook.com/severeweather.easternncIt's easier to predict if it will snow for Maine than it is for North Carolina it seems.............
Be aware that this current "event" might affect the whole swath of the area from Atlanta to Charlotte to Raleigh and below depending on the timing and actual path of the precipitation event.
Current 7 day loop:
Link to the OLD news story from 2005:
Another famous Ice Storm that affected a larger region is listed below.....
Besos Bobbi... happy reading...