California storm may bring South Christmas snow
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....
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