Wednesday, December 24, 2008

12/24/08 Christmas Eve Dendritic Snow

The snow ends, but signs of those
large dendritic snowflakes still remain

Today (Christmas Eve), a burst of heavy snow moved in this morning with an accelerating surface low near Bloomington, IL tracking northeast toward Chicago, IL. This was the heaviest the snow fell in a two-day period of snowfall here in Kewanee, IL as expected. As temperatures hovered around 32 degrees this morning it allowed for very low liquid-snow ratios on the order of 10:1 and with good upward vertical motion present the snowflakes were "half-dollar" size for a time. This was due to the all important -15C isotherm allowing for dendritic growth to occur with very good omega in the optimum growth layer as supercooled water droplets collide with ice crystals thanks to aggregation. This allows for the snowflakes to become very large and accumulate rapidly. Here are a couple images from this mornings snow "event".

Wide-angle shot of a snow-packed road along this tree-line

So total snow/sleet from this storm was on track with myself picking up around 3" of snow with a good 1" of sleet on top of that. Now it's time to melt all of this. This weekend a powerful storm system will move in allowing for strong WAA over our snow pack. This will melt that snow pack in earnest over the next few days and we could be near 50 this weekend. Crazy right? What's even more crazy is we'll be dealing with flooding rains and even thunderstorms after weeks of brutal cold and snowstorms. After that the pattern finally switches to more of a zonal-flow finally. That's all for now, maybe I'll be chasing a thunderstorm this weekend eh? Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas whichever you prefer!

Monday, December 22, 2008

12/22/08 Ice Storm Part: III

Glistening row of trees still showing the effects of last weeks ice storm

After another frigid night in the Midwest's "ice-box" I found magnificent blue skies this afternoon to add some more pictures to my ice storm collection. Here's a few more images I was able to grab of today's "favorites".

Picturesque scene still left from the ice storm last week
Incredible what old man winter can really do
After effects from yesterdays "ground blizzard"
Effects of a deep freeze...
A rather mangled barbed-wire fence in the snow pack
A different perspective...
"Snow-blasted" evergreen tree
Snow-drifted pasture

More snow is on the way with a solid 3-7" of snow being expected depending on your location by Thursday morning. As if we haven't had enough sleet and ice down here we're expecting a wintry mix in Kewanee, IL. I expect most of the precipitation in the form of sleet and snow however. It will look even more like Antarctica across the Midwest. Chance of a white Christmas 100% folks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

12/21/08 Ice Storm Part: II

Ice accumulation from Thursday nights ice storm glistening under the sun

Here's Part: II of my Ice Storm post. I added some pictures from this morning as the sun finally broke really showcasing the ice storm from a couple days ago and today's "ground blizzard". We received 1" of snowfall yesterday allowing for white-out conditions this morning as the arctic front slammed west-central Illinois and the Midwest with howling winds 20-30mph. Last night, the power "flickered" for a brief moment, but I was surprised after all the banging outside that we didn't lose power and have any tree damage. Many outages did occur in surrounding areas however. This morning temperatures were well below zero with wind chills in warning criteria. That also gave me a reason to boil water and toss it into the air. Hey, what else can you do when it's below-zero outside...seriously?

Interesting effect with the early morning sun angle on these ice-covered trees
Lighthouse this morning with an icy glaze on our fence
Focus your attention to the upper left, simply amazing what nature can do...(Click to enlarge)
A picturesque lonesome ice-coated tree
Outdoor furniture with some large icicles (Click to enlarge)
Ice-coated bush in the "fresh powder"
Icicles everywhere...
Boiling water fun...
Boiling water turning into a cloud in below-zero temperatures
A row of trees along a country road crackling in the howling wind
The swing "snow-blasted"
One of the many different winter scenes you can find
This country road 650E snow & ice covered

White-out conditions and dangerous wind-chill values will keep me inside the rest of the day. I'm currently tracking another "snow maker" for Tues-Wed that could put down a good amount of snow across much of Illinois...just in time for the holidays.

Friday, December 19, 2008

12/19/08 Ice Storm Part: I

A heavily coated leaf encased in ice

Here's a few images from last nights ice storm. The ice storm that we were monitoring and fearing the last few days impacted west-central Illinois during the overnight hours. Macomb, IL was one of the worst hit areas last night with ice accumulation between .75-1.00". Most locations south of I-80 received accumulating sleet along with .25" of freezing rain or more. Here in Kewanee, IL we received between .25-.50" of ice accumulation with .75" of sleet on top of that. Around 40,000 people are without power in west-central Illinois due to this ice storm. We got lucky here since we never lost power at least currently...I was able to get out this morning in the winter wonderland to survey the storm. I also took a drive around town to judge the road conditions and grab a few photos here and there as well earlier this afternoon. The storm rapidly developed last evening spreading precipitation in my area around 7:00pm. Not many surprises with this storm which is rarely the case when forecasting winter storms. This event went how I expected it would with areas in southern Wisconsin receiving a foot of snow, DeKalb between 4-6" of snow due to sleet accumulations limiting the snow accumulation, and freezing rain > .25" here in Kewanee and points south with the ice storm.

Now that's some heavy ice accumulation eh...
Thick ice-coating on this tree this morning
Christmas lights coated in a layer of ice
Images like this all over west-central Illinois
Our outdoor swing...(Click to enlarge)
These trees barring their added "weight"
Our outdoor deck showcasing the ice and sleet
Icicles galore...
Even the evergreen trees didn't escape this storm as this one is "weighted" to the ground
Barbed wire completely coated in ice along this farm field
Ironic...the lighthouse appears sea-sprayed
A holiday decoration in one of many ice-coated trees
What a mess...

An amazing storm to forecast! Stay tuned for a Part: II to this post if we get some "sunlight" tomorrow morning. The next wave moves in late tomorrow afternoon with maybe 1" of snow here, but attention will turn to early next week with the next system in the parade off the west-coast of the U.S. If this one phases with the northern branch of the jet stream...well we'll have another big winter storm on our hands in the Midwest. This pattern shows no end in site for the rest of December. The good news, we should get a white Christmas though...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

12/17/08 The Calm Before the Storm

An icicle this afternoon, a preview to tomorrows ice storm...

Here's a few images I grabbed this morning and afternoon from last nights fluffy 2" of new snow accumulation here just outside of Kewanee, IL. Yesterday's system produced a good swath of 3-6" from an Aledo, IL-to-Sterling, IL line here in west-central Illinois and also areas near Chicago didn't get left out with some lake-enhanced banding that put down a few inches of snow as well. This last system will prove to have major implications on tomorrow nights major winter storm and ice storm that takes shape currently in the south-western U.S. This morning I was kind of annoyed with the clouds hanging around, but finally by afternoon things cleared out enough to get some photo opportunities as the sun beamed down on the fresh snow cover which is what I was hoping for. The calm before the storm?

Our outdoor lighthouse this morning...
I suppose Midwest winters can seem like New England and it does in this case

Another typical view this morning
An afternoon shot as the sun sets on some powdery snow drifts
Same picture just in the afternoon with the changed sun-angle
Sunrise this morning over the fresh "blanket"
The previously mentioned "blanket"
Luckily, we have a generator or we might be using
these indefinitely in the projected ice storm to stay warm

That's all for the time-being. Keep checking my blog for updates after the ice storm if I'm able to venture out to see the after effects. Also, don't forget to keep checking my forecast discussion page every once and awhile for updates especially with approaching winter storms and ice storms that affect west-central and Northern Illinois.

Monday, December 15, 2008

12/15/08 Arctic Front Blast & Ice Event

The sun rises on these ice-coated trees this morning

Yesterday evening, an arctic cold front blew through my hometown and much of the Midwest allowing for a 40 degree 24hr temperature drop in some areas. Temperatures began in the 50's during the day, but by midnight crashed into the single digits. Rain began to change over to freezing rain, heavy sleet, and a period of light snow last night from west to east across west-central Illinois. This was due to frontogenetic forcing behind the arctic front. This morning, I was able to venture out and take a peek of some nice "icing" that occurred last night. We received a few tenths-of-an-inch of ice from last nights freezing rain which allowed for a good coating on trees and many outdoor surfaces. This morning was not the funnest of times to photograph however with wind chills near -20 this morning. In fact, maybe one of the worst of times to photograph...It was just brutally cold!!!

Our driveway coated with a thin-layer of ice and notice the odd reflection off the window thanks to the early morning low sun angle
Thin layer of ice even on this dried-out tall grass prairie (Click to enlarge)
Ice-coated deck
Ice-coated branch and leaves
A weird site in coated green grass

As I type this a Winter Storm Watch is in effect for tomorrow night and early Wednesday morning for a fairly "healthy" snowfall that is expected. Nice isentrophic lift will be the cause of this shoveling snow from a shortwave moving into the Midwest. Looks like either side of I-80 should pick up between 3-6 inches maybe locally higher in the favored banding areas (50 miles south or north of Ottumwa, IA-to-Moline, IL-to-Rockford, IL line). After that another storm is on the horizon late in the week that has some potential as well which is also being watched rather closely. That system could put down 1 inch of QPF which ought to be interesting depending on precip-type. I'll probably be posting again rather soon...The active December pattern just will not let up...