As we all know, a snow event impacted the region on Thursday afternoon and into the evening hours, causing major traffic issues across the region. This was associated with the system before the main event to our south. A shortwave trough had been forecast for several days to propagate southeastward out of the northwestern US and into the southeast.
This began to advect moisture into much of the southeast as an Arctic airmass moved southward to overspread much of the southeast. As the jet streak energy and positioning propagated with the trough, it fostered heavy precipitation across much of the southeast.
This led to expansive winter storm warning, winter weather advisories, and high expectations for snow, sleet and freezing rain across much of the southeast. The models had a good handle on this, even a few days out, so good consistency led to a confident forecast across the southeast.
However, details got cloudier as the event approached. More warm air looked to be present in the lower levels of the atmosphere, and this complicated a lot of the forecasts. Additionally, the track of the low shifted more northwest than expected, substantially cutting into snowfall in areas like Atlanta, Raleigh, and other parts of the Carolinas.
— NWS Raleigh (@NWSRaleigh) January 8, 2017
Even so, the storm was fairly impactful across areas of the southeast, still dropping heavy amounts in different areas than were initially expected. Some pictures out of the southeast are at least nice to look at!
— Cody Nickel (@cnickelWRBL) January 7, 2017
— Georgia DOT – NE (@GDOTNE) January 7, 2017
— Nathan Young (@nvyoung) January 7, 2017
— SCEMD (@SCEMD) January 7, 2017
Atlanta prepared for and expected 3-5″ of snowfall by the morning of the precipitation, and ended up with little to no snow accumulation. Raleigh was forecast to receive upwards of 6″ of snowfall, but received only 2″. This is largely attributed to a much larger area of warm air in the lower levels of the atmosphere. It was difficult to erode this, and led to much higher sleet and freezing rain totals than initially expected in these regions.
The northwestward shift of the low track also resulted in much higher snowfall totals in the northeast from this storm. The upper level dynamics continued to foster heavy precipitation as it traversed the east coast. Snowfall well over-performed in that region, with some areas seeing greater than 15″ of snow in southeastern New Jersey and Massachusetts.
The winter storm was fascinating in many facets, from the stronger warm nose in the southeast to the heavier snowfall in the northeast. The storm caused major travel issues, but overall, it wasn’t as crippling in the southeast as it could have been. I am thankful for that.