The extraordinary rash of snowstorms which have swept the U.S. in recent weeks, many generating record snowfall, have produced one of the country’s most expansive snow packs in recent memory. National Weather Service researchers charged with monitoring the country’s snow cover and its water content estimated Friday that more than 67% of the Lower 48 sat beneath a veil of snow. Hawaii, despite the presence of mountains which can and often do become snow-covered in winter, is the only state not to report at least some snow on the ground. The snow has been so widespread in recent weeks, even perennially snow-free Florida has failed to escape. De Funiak Springs, in the state’s panhandle near the Alabama border, reported a 1″ snow accumulation late Friday afternoon at the same time a thundery squall line in warmer air to the south was diving southward the length of the Florida peninsula unleashing driving rains and 70 mph gusts.
The meteorological mayhem in the Sunshine State was the product Friday of the same powerful winter storm, which only a day earlier walloped the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex with an all-time calendar day record of 12 to 14″ of snow.
The eastbound system spent Friday burying areas unaccustomed to snow beneath rare accumulations. Up to 8″ fell at De Kalb, Miss., while thousands were reported in the dark late Friday across Charleston, S.C., as wind and wet snow brought down power lines. Much of the city’s downtown area was without electricity Friday evening. Just west, snowfall reached 7″ as night closed in on Columbia, S.C. A motorist in nearby Chapin reported taking an hour to travel just 10 miles. All forms of travel were severely impacted across the Southeast. Heavy snow forced the cancellation of thousands of flights in Atlanta and across the region.
Rapid intensification of the sprawling storm was underway late Friday. A NOAA buoy off the northeast Florida coast 42 miles east/northeast of St. Augustine reported winds which gusted to 52 mph as barometric pressure readings, a gauge of storm intensity, plunged an eye-catching 11 millibars — from 29.71″ to 29.38″ in under two hours. The storm is predicted to move out to sea Saturday.
More snow for DC?
A new low pressure drops southeastward through the Plains Saturday and Saturday night, developing a swath of snow from North Dakota southeastward into Missouri and southern Illinois. While this system is likely to remain west of Chicago, it threatens to spin up into yet another snow-producer for the Nation’s Capital early next week.
Chicago’s next snow due Sunday and Monday
The Valentine’s Day weekend is to remain meteorologically quiet for Chicago with plenty of daytime sun Saturday and Sunday and moderately chilly mid-February temperatures. But an unusual southwestward push of moist Atlantic air into Chicago from Canada Sunday night and Monday is to deliver the area’s next snow.
While most of Chicago’s weather arrives from the west or south, the moisture behind the next snow system has origins over the North Atlantic and the Davis Strait — which sits between northeast Canada and Greenland. A rare jet stream configuration, which features upper steering winds that flow from the Atlantic westward into the Midwest, is driving the unusual pattern and is to be joined by by north to northeast low-level winds expected to blow into the city Monday off Lake Michigan, potentially enhancing snowfall.