95L fizzles; Sierras brace for 5-10 feet of snow
A non-tropical low pressure system dubbed Invest 95L, near 27N 38W, way out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, has gotten less organized since yesterday. The storm cut off from the jet stream and acquired some subtropical characteristics yesterday, as it sat nearly stationary over waters of 22-23° C. However, satellite imagery shows fewer heavy thunderstorms than yesterday, and the storm has a more extratropical appearance as it interacts with a cold front to its north.
This evening's QuikSCAT pass showed winds up to 50 mph on the west side of 95L. Wind shear is about 30 knots over 95L, and this shear is expected to be 20-40 knots for the next two days. This is probably too high to allow 95L to develop into a subtropical storm, and wind shear is forecast to grow stronger as the storm begins moving west-southwest on Tuesday. By Thursday, a trough of low pressure is expected to recurve 95L northeastward, and the storm is not expected to affect any land areas.
Huge blizzard expected in the California Sierras
One of the most severe blizzards of the past 50 years is expected to affect California's Sierra Mountains beginning Thursday night, January 3. A powerful low pressure system will establish itself off the coast of Oregon, and bring a series of heavy snow events with blizzard conditions to the Sierras through Monday. Five to ten feet of snow are possible in the high mountains. Travel will be nearly impossible in the high country next weekend, with white-out conditions and wind gusts near hurricane strength. This is going to be a great storm for filling the reservoirs that supply the northern half of the state with its water. Reservoirs should be at full capacity next summer, easing fears of a significant water shortage. Last winter's snows failed to fill the reservoirs to even 50% of capacity.
Figure 1. Estimated rainfall for December 30 for Georgia. Atlanta got one of its heaviest rains of the year today.
Happy New Year! I'll be back January 2 to talk about the Georgia drought. Heavy rains that fell today may have been just enough to keep Atlanta from setting a record for its driest year since record keeping began in 1930.