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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 12/22/2010

California storm may bring South Christmas snow

By Jason Samenow

pineapple.jpg
Satellite image of eastern Pacific showing extended cloud mass or "Pineapple Express" extending from near Hawaii to the southern California on December 20. Source: NASA

For the past week, the precipitation has just kept coming and coming into central and southern California. We've discussed the snow in the Sierra Nevada, reaching peak depths of 16 feet near Mammoth Mountain - after another 10 to 18 inches today.

In the southern California, the onslaught of storms has produced record rains, flooding, and mudslides. The LA Times reports one spot in the San Gabriel mountains - Tanbark Flats above La Verne -- has received 21 inches of rain in the past week. In Los Angeles itself, about seven inches of rain has fallen in the last week according to the Weather Channel, almost half the output of an average year. AccuWeather reports more than 200 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles county due to mudslides. Heavy rains and flooding have also impacted San Diego and Laguna Beach.

The copious rains and mountain snows come courtesy the Pineapple Express - an elongated plume of moisture in the eastern Pacific Ocean that originated near Hawaii last week. Displaced south of its usual position in the Pacific Northwest during La Nina, it's very clearly seen in the satellite image above. Fortunately for Californians weary of all the rain and snow, the caboose of the Express (see latest and earlier satellite images) is coming through now and skies clear tomorrow.

But what happens when some of the energy from the Express emerges in the south central U.S. and Southeast Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and runs into unusually cold air?

Although a lot of the energy will dissipate as it crosses the dry desert and high mountains of the Southwest, snow may well break out in areas of the South and Southeast on Christmas and Christmas night. These areas seldom get snow any time of the winter, much less the holiday season. Locations that could see snow include central to northern Alabama and Georgia, and western areas of the Carolinas.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the National Weather Service has posted a special multimedia briefing about the Christmas potential.

The National Weather Service Office in Atlanta writes:

N GA CAN EXPECT SNOW WITH SOUTH GA GETTING MOSTLY RAIN AND A MIXTURE IN BETWEEN. THIS EVENT IS STILL THREE DAYS AWAY SO WE DONT HAVE A GOOD HANDLE ON THE SITUATION JUST YET BUT FOR NOW IT LOOKS LIKE NORTH GEORGIA WILL SEE 2 TO 3 INCHES WITH ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS IN THE NORTH GA MOUNTAINS...WITH AROUND AN INCH OF ACCUMULATION ACROSS CENTRAL GA (NORTH OF A COLUMBUS TO MACON LINE).

In Greenville, South Carolina, the National Weather Service is saying:

AS OF 225 PM WEDNESDAY...THE GUIDANCE IS STILL SUGGESTING A WHITE CHRISTMAS. HOWEVER...THE GUIDANCE IS TRENDING SLOWER WITH ONSET. . . . THE MODELS STILL SUGGEST A SNOWFALL OF SEVERAL INCHES FROM CHRISTMAS DAY INTO THE EVENING. HOWEVER...THE BULK OF THE ACCUMULATION COULD BE FROM LATE AFTERNOON INTO SUNDAY IF THE SLOWING TREND CONTINUES.

And, of course, the big question for the mid-Atlantic region and Northeast is: what happens on the day after Christmas when this storm reaches the Southeast coast? Does it turn the corner and plow up the East Coast with heavy snow and wind, or does it track far enough offshore to spare the big cities from Richmond to Boston from the brunt of the storm?

For the D.C. metro region, see the Capital Weather Gang analysis of the different scenarios in the Snow Lover's Crystal Ball we posted earlier this afternoon....

By Jason Samenow  | December 22, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather  
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Next: Late night storm thoughts

Comments

I'm sure the snow lovers in the south will be counting the flakes amongst their blessings. AS a snow lover myself I can only hope the Herndon area in Virginia will do even better. Having read the "Forecast Discussion" from the NWS, they also pointed out 2 possibilities and ONLY 2. Either an inch or less or a snow lovers dream. Having followed this website the most, as I do everyday, I know you broke it down to those same 2 possibilities quite a while ago. The NWS did say as of 2:25 est that they were leaning toward the snow lovers dream. I encourage anyone who cares to take a look for themselves. It's nice to know that someone else besides myself is leaning (I'm actually praying) in that direction so early out. Merry Christmas!

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 22, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

CWG occasional contributor Bob Henson has a great piece on the Pineapple Express: Atmospheric River Runs Wild

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 22, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

The GFS is leaning toward the Euro, but don't bet the bank.

The 50/50 hybrid huge storm in the North Atlantic is still troublesome.

The final solution probably lies between the GFS and ECMWF.

Perhaps consensus by tomorrow, but any other speculation tonight is wishcasting..

Posted by: AugustaJim | December 22, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Blue Ridge Mtns Report east of Front Royal...

I compiled that stats and we're running 30 inches behind last year for snow. Currently 27.5F.

Posted by: spgass1 | December 22, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Bastardi just updated and says the GFS is now trending towards the Euro (ECMWF). He really likes the Euro given that it has now had 3+ consistent runs. I really hope this materializes and reaches its full potential. Given the warmer forecast in January, this could be the last real chance for a big storm for a while!

Posted by: DLO1975 | December 22, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating. The west coast is quite literally getting hosed.
I wonder what's going to happen around here on Boxing Day?

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | December 22, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

It's a plot by those liberal scientists to try to scare exceptional Americans into believing that extreme weather patterns are predicted by the Global Warming models. They claim that CO2 levels in the atmosphere above 350ppm will result in record "extreme weather" events.

Bah, this is just normal.

Posted by: thebobbob | December 22, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

VTB's new snow 4cast.
0 snow 10% down
1-3" 50% ->
4+ 40%.+ up, (20% chance of 8+.)

Posted by: VaTechBob | December 22, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

@VaTechBob is that Blacksburg or Metro DC?

Posted by: awshux | December 22, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

New NAM appears to show light snow on Christmas afternoon for Nova/DC...

Posted by: spgass1 | December 22, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I live in NW Spotsy. 71 Tech grad. Predictions 4 DC area.

Posted by: VaTechBob | December 22, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I know it's kind of "their thing," but can't the NWS give non-caps lock forecasts a try?

IT DOESNT SEEM NECESSARY TO WRITE THEIR FORECASTS...WITH TONS OF ELIPSES AND NO LOWERCASE LETTERS.

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 22, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I like the elipses because...

Posted by: spgass1 | December 23, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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