Polar Vortex Charleston

October 30th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

A cold airmass plunging out of Canada and a coastal low developing off the Carolinas by Saturday is the kind of weather event you expect in January — not November 1.

Snow is expected to fall over portions of 18 eastern states over the next 3 days, with the potential for earliest-ever snowfall in portions of the Carolinas by noon on Sunday (all forecast graphics courtesy of WeatherBell.com):

Total snowfall forecast by noon, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014.

Total snowfall forecast by noon, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014.

The surface air temperature departures from normal show this cold event pushing unusually far south for this time of year, with 20 deg. F below normal over much of the southeast, including all of Florida by Sunday morning:

Surface temperature departures from normal forecast at sunrise, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014.

Surface temperature departures from normal forecast at sunrise, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014.

The deep, cold airmass is what causes the “polar vortex”, which is the swirling of upper-air winds around the airmass. By noon on Saturday, the rapidly moving vortex will be centered near Charleston, SC:

"Polar vortex" pattern at 18,000 ft altitude forecast to be centered near Charleston at noon, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

“Polar vortex” pattern at 18,000 ft altitude forecast to be centered near Charleston at noon, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

Luckily, the deepening low pressure off the coast is expected to stay offshore, with northerly winds at Cape Hatteras around 50 mph Saturday night:

Surface pressure and wind patterns forecast for Saturday night.

Surface pressure and wind patterns forecast for Saturday night.


By Sunday evening, the low is forecast to be centered over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and by Tuesday morning total snow accumulations of 1 to 2 feet or more are expected over portions of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.

UPDATE (11:30 a.m. EDT Oct. 30):
Here’s the latest high-resolution model forecast of snowfall ending Saturday evening, showing flurries reaching scattered coastal areas of the Carolinas, and 6″-12″ snowfalls in the Smokey Mountains and to the lee of Lake Michigan in NW Indiana:
hires_snow_acc_ky_20


10 Responses to “Polar Vortex Charleston”

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  1. lance says:

    Canada, biggest exporter of cold air to the USA…. 🙂

  2. One of the items I have been saying is the more meridional atmospheric circulation pattern(tied into mostly low solar activity ) for the N.H., would promote more snow cover/clouds and higher albedo.

    This part of my scenario is proving correct thus far.

    For negative AO/NAO(more meridional atm. circulation pattern) here are my factors waited from most significant to least significant.

    Prolonged minimum solar activity

    AMO in warm phase

    High Latitude Volcanic Activity

    QBO in negative phase

    Low Arctic Sea Ice

    All of these don’t guarantee a negative AO/NAO but they sure favor it.

  3. https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/global-temperature-vs-cloud-cover.png

    This is a chart of cloud cover anomalies and temperature since 1984-2010.

    Dr. Spencer you may be interested in this.

  4. jimc says:

    I don’t know about polar vortexes (and am happy to stay in Arizona), but lots of things to see in the maps.

    The 2nd and 4th maps demonstrate how effectively water (fresh and salt) regulates temperature, and land dampens wind speed.

    The southern low 3.5 mi up (3rd) is far removed from the surface low (4th). (Only a half day separates the maps.) And they are traveling in opposite directions. I knew there isn’t a lot of vertical air circulation, but thought lows and highs would “circulate” vertically, as in a hurricane.

    The southern low 3.5 mi up (3rd) appears separating (or joining) a much larger low to the north. Being dragged south (is it air or just a condition of the air that moves?) by something – maybe a normally winding jet stream, or SDP’s meridional (that a word?) pattern.

  5. ren says:

    Dr. Spencer will be even more interesting. The location of the polar vortex is that the cold air will be flowed over the Bering Strait. As we know, the polar vortex jet streams restrict the flow of cold air. When the vortex is shifted arctic air has free movement.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat_a_f/gif_files/gfs_t30_nh_f00.gif
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat_a_f/gif_files/gfs_t10_nh_f00.gif
    Will be now decline in solar activity and the rapid growth of the GCR. This increase in ozone anomalies. Location of the vortex does not change.
    Arctic air will be guided to the southeast. When a solar activity decreases, jetstream will wave further to the south.

  6. ren says:

    Kamchatka volcano Shiveluch generated on Wednesday, two powerful explosions – TASS informs, citing information from MES.
    According to information received from the satellites and seismic stations, the height of a column of ash from the volcano Shiveluch reached 9.5 thousand meters above sea level. Moves with the wind in the north-east.

  7. Thanks, Dr. Spencer.
    We shall see if it gets that cold, NOAA-NWS don’t think that much.

  8. Mark Luhman says:

    How can this be after all 2014 is going to the warmest year ever!!