Monthly Archives: January 2014

What’s next?

9:30am radar showing precipitation ending in the Charleston area.

9:30am radar showing precipitation ending in the Charleston area.

Precipitation is coming to an end in the Charleston area after depositing up to 1/4″ of ice in many locations with a dusting of snow and sleet on top. Roads are treacherous with many bridges closed (including the Ravenel) due to icing. Travel is strongly discouraged today!

Now we turn our attention to bitter cold: We won’t get above freezing until later Thursday morning. Tonight is a drip-the-pipes night with temperatures expected to approach 20. Anything that melts today — which won’t be much — will almost certainly refreeze, potentially causing issues with black ice and more especially on secondary roads through Thursday morning. It’s not inconceivable that we could be dealing with residual ice through Friday as temperatures Thursday night are once again expected to drop below freezing.

Take cold weather precautions tonight — drip faucets, have pets indoors. Use extreme caution if heading out today or tomorrow (and try not to head out today if you can help it!)

Winter storm updates

A significant winter storm is affecting the Charleston area tonight with ice the current concern. Sleet will mix back in later before all precipitation turns to snow early Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service has a Winter Storm Warning up for the entire Charleston area. This warning continues until 5PM Wednesday.

Bottom line: Icing will make travel extremely unsafe tonight. Unless you absolutely must head out, stay indoors until the storm passes.

Ice Storm Warning for Charleston County; Winter Storm Warning for Berkeley & Dorchester

An Ice Storm Warning has been issued for Charleston County, and a Winter Storm Warning has been issued for Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Warnings start at noon Tuesday and run until Wednesday at 5PM.

Ice accumulations everywhere will range from 1/4 – 3/4″ in spots. This will almost certainly cause issues with trees and power lines (not to mention the roads). Charleston County will see much more of a freezing rain event than anything else; we get into the wintry mix further inland, hence the Winter Storm Warning for Berkeley & Dorchester.

Timing per latest NWS forecast: Rain will change to freezing rain over the area after noon tomorrow; freezing rain will continue, heavy at times, overnight into early Wednesday morning. At that point, rain will change over to snow for all areas as the system departs. Snow is to taper off Wednesday, however we could deal with the after-effects for a couple days as ice melts and then refreezes at night.

Refer to local media for updates on closures. Will keep you advised here as more information from the NWS becomes available.

Winter Storm Watch: Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday

A Winter Storm Watch is up for the Charleston metro area (as well as the rest of the Lowcountry) for a potentially dangerous winter weather mix starting Tuesday afternoon. Direct from the NWS:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHARLESTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

* LOCATIONS...ALL OF SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA AND SOUTHEAST
  GEORGIA...INCLUDING THE SAVANNAH AND CHARLESTON METRO AREAS.

* HAZARD TYPES...SNOW...FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET.

* ACCUMULATIONS...SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS OF SNOW AND SLEET IN
  EXCESS OF 2 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE. ICE ACCUMULATIONS IN EXCESS OF
  1/4 INCH ARE POSSIBLE.

* IMPACTS...SIGNIFICANT SNOW...SLEET AND ICE ACCUMULATION WILL
  CREATE DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE DRIVING CONDITIONS FOR EVERYONE
  INCLUDING FIRST RESPONDERS. DAMAGE TO TREES...POWER LINES AND
  EVEN STRUCTURES IS POSSIBLE. WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES COULD
  PRODUCE LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS.

* TIMING...FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET COULD OCCUR AS EARLY AS TUESDAY
  AFTERNOON...THEN TRANSITION TO SNOW OVERNIGHT TUESDAY BEFORE
  ENDING WEDNESDAY.

* WIND CHILL READINGS...10 TO 15 DEGREES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THIS WINTER STORM. ONCE THE STORM
BEGINS...CONDITIONS WILL DETERIORATE RAPIDLY AND TRAVEL WILL
BECOME DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE. PREPARE TO REMAIN IN A SAFE
SHELTER WITHOUT ELECTRICITY FOR SEVERAL DAYS. OBTAIN VITAL
SUPPLIES SUCH AS POTABLE WATER...NON-PERISHABLE FOOD...MEDICINE...
BATTERIES...FLASHLIGHTS...A BATTERY POWERED RADIO AND AN ALTERNATE
HEAT SOURCE SUCH AS A GENERATOR...NON- ELECTRIC SPACE HEATER OR
WOOD FOR YOUR FIREPLACE.

This is the first time a Winter Storm Watch has been issued for the entire Charleston metro area since the Valentine’s weekend snow of 2010. (Berkeley and Dorchester counties were last under a watch in 2011.)

Stay tuned to reliable weather sources over the next few days as this situation develops…

Gusty winds tonight

9:15 PM update: Winds are continuing to subside over land areas. The National Weather Service has canceled the Wind Advisory a little early as a result. However, a Lake Wind Advisory has been hoisted for Lake Moultrie where windy conditions are expected to continue; Gale Warnings also continue for Charleston Harbor and the adjacent Atlantic waters until 1AM.

Earlier, wind gusts over 40 MPH were common with reports of trees down in Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Some selected gusts as transmitted in NWS storm reports:

  • 5:44 PM: Gust to 41 MPH at Charleston Int’l Airport
  • 6:35 PM: Gust to 41 MPH at Charleston Executive Airport (Johns Island)
  • 6:47 PM: Gust to 43 MPH at Charleston Int’l Airport
  • 6:50 PM: Gust to 41 MPH at Isle of Palms
  • 7:00 PM: Gust to 44 MPH with 35 MPH sustained winds at Fort Johnson (James Island)
  • 7:10 PM: Gust to 47 MPH at Fort Sumter
  • 7:30 PM: Gust to 48 MPH at Fort Johnson

Arctic air will continue to move into the area tonight. Tomorrow morning, expect low temperatures in the mid-to-upper 20s with wind chills in the upper teens to low 20s.

Next cold blast arrives this afternoon

Temperatures in the lower 48 as of 4:15 AM January 21, 2013.

Temperatures in the lower 48 as of 4:15 AM January 21, 2013. Image: GREarth

Another cold blast is on its way into the Lowcountry, with the cold front arriving this afternoon. Temperatures will make it back to about 60 before brisk west winds kick in and start bringing colder Arctic air into the area once more. Precipitation will be light at worst with the smart money saying we’ll stay dry. The incoming dry air along with gusty winds will elevate our fire danger this afternoon; please don’t burn outside if you don’t have to. Gusty winds may also cause some travel issues on the bridges with gusts to 40 MPH possible; NWS has a wind advisory for us for said strong gusts from 1 to 7 PM.

Here’s the temperature trend over the next few days:

Temperature forecast and model guidance plot for Charleston Int'l Airport. NWS forecast in the dark green line.

Temperature forecast and model guidance plot for Charleston Int’l Airport. NWS forecast in the dark green line. Via The BUFKIT Warehouse.

Expect lows in the 20s starting Wednesday morning; Wednesday and Friday, we’ll be lucky to break 45. Things start to rebound on Saturday.

The forecast does not necessarily show the degree of dangerous cold we had on January 7-8; however, strongly consider taking similar cold weather precautions each night starting tonight: drip a faucet, bring in pets, and check on loved ones (especially the elderly).

Wind chills in the teens will also be a factor Wednesday and Friday mornings, so bundle up at the bus stop appropriately:

Apparent temperature (wind chill) forecast and computer model plot. NWS forecast depicted by dark green lines.

Apparent temperature (wind chill) forecast and computer model plot. NWS forecast depicted by dark green lines. Via The BUFKIT Warehouse.

If you’re further inland or in a more rural area, things may be a little cooler than advertised here; alternatively, the closer to the coast you are, the warmer you’ll be (albeit not by much; NWS is still advertising upper 20s for lows in downtown Charleston).

As far as sensible weather goes, don’t expect much in the way of precipitation for the next several days with a very dry airmass in place.

Stay warm!

Jared Smith

January 12, 2014

Weather for Second Sunday on King Street and any other outdoor activities on this Sunday will be outstanding by mid-January standards — mid-60s under clear skies anticipated in the afternoon.

Active severe weather day spares the Charleston area

Radar-estimated storm total rainfall from around the area. Image: GRLevel3

Radar-estimated storm total rainfall from around the area. Image: GRLevel3

The strongest storms are done over the area (though we may yet see some additional rainfall ahead of the front this evening); we got some decent rainfall in some spots with radar estimating (perhaps over-estimating) isolated spots over 1.5″.

Today’s storm reports were pretty sparse in the Tri-County area, with the only damage report thus far coming out of Dorchester County where a tree came down on I-95 northbound near Reevesville. A couple 40+ MPH wind gusts were recorded as storms rolled through, but all in all, we made out OK. (There were more reports in GA, including a couple damage reports associated with a tornado-warned storm.)

As we often see during the summer, cooler, more stable air near the coast helped sap the storms of some of their punch as they reached the Charleston area, ultimately limiting our severe weather threat (and bringing out the jeers on Twitter…)

Other locations weren’t so lucky — overall, there were 178 wind damage reports across the southeast. Raleigh recorded an 85 MPH wind gust, in fact — a very busy day especially toward NC and VA where wind fields were even stronger. Closer to home, the NWS office in Charleston issued its first two tornado warnings of the year in southeast GA. No tornadoes have been confirmed from those warnings yet.

We’ve got a gorgeous day on tap for tomorrow. More on that soon…

More cold air for Wednesday

Today’s gotten much of the attention due to the abnormally low wind chills expected, but Wednesday’s air temperatures will be just as cold as today’s (in the morning, anyway) as Arctic high pressure will have settled into the area. Clear skies and nearly calm winds will set up good radiational cooling conditions, allowing temperatures to drop right back into the upper teens Wednesday morning:

Wednesday morning minimum temperatures. Image by NWS Charleston, SC

Wednesday morning minimum temperatures. Image by NWS Charleston, SC

Temperatures may run a couple degrees cooler near Lake Moultrie Wednesday morning than they will this morning because winds will have diminished dramatically, minimizing the lake’s effect on temperatures downwind.

Wednesday afternoon, we’ll break 40 for the first time in almost 48 hours as temperatures begin to rally back to something resembling normal for January in Charleston. By the weekend, we’ll be back at least in the mid-60s (some forecasts are shooting for 70!).