2 Year Anniversary Of January 5th, 2014 Heavy Snow And Bitter Cold

For Hoosiers in Central Indiana under the ages of 15-20 at the time this was a weather event they had never experienced.  For those old enough, this power house winter storm brought back memories of the good ole winters of the late 70s and early 80s.

SURFACE MAP

JANUARY 2014 SNOW STORM SNOWDEPTH MAP

On Sunday January 5th, 2014 a strengthening, moisture-laden low pressure system interacted with southward plunging Arctic cold front.  The combination delivered a swath of heavy snowfall in Central and Northern Indiana and Indianapolis’ second snowiest calendar day on record.  The 11.4″ snow that day is one of only six days on record with double-digit snowfall in the city and was the heaviest daily snow since the Blizzard of 1978.

HEADLINES

What made this event even more notable was the bitterly cold air that followed…. the coldest air Hoosiers had felt since 1994.  Temperatures got as low as -15 in Indianapolis and stayed below zero a whopping 34 straight hours.  Wind chills were legitimately dangerous and hovered in the -30 to -40 range for 30 straight hours.

This actually falls behind several other historical Arctic air outbreaks in Central Indiana according the graph below provided by National Weather Service Indianapolis.  (NWS Indy did a great post-storm analysis you should give a click to: http://www.weather.gov/ind/jan52014snowandcold)

HOURS BELOW ZERO

Nonetheless these extreme conditions forced then Indianapolis Mayor Ballard to declare a travel ban in the city for two straight days.

MERIDIAN STREET

My drive to work the morning after on January 6th was strikingly eerie and beautiful.  I remember there being no cars and hardly any people outside.  I literally stopped in the middle of Meridian Street to snap pictures for documentation of the barren city under the grips of a bitter cold punch.  It truly was dumbfounding.

JANUARY 2014 SNOW STORM SUNDOG

JANUARY 2014 SNOW STORM PLOW STUCK JANUARY 2014 SNOW STORM SNOCEAN

The Arctic air and deep snow pack created several sightings of sun dogs, stuck snow plows, and one picture a viewer titled “sn-ocean” due the rolling drifts.  Another vivid memory of mine was seeing just one runway open at the Indianapolis International Airport two days after the first flake.  My family were lucky enough to be on one of the handful of flights to make it out on January 7th.  Seeing the plow’s daunting task and sea of white from above are images that remain fresh.

JANUARY 2014 SNOW STORM AIRPORT JANUARY 2014 SNOW STORM

A storm for the ages no doubt and who knows when we’ll see another like it.

Slick Roads For Some Tonight And Monday Morning

So it begins.  The lake effect snow machine is on essentially for the first time this winter and impacts are likely for travel.  In fact we’re already getting reports of only light snow causing untreated roads to become slick.  This picture is near Lawrence northeast of Indianapolis.  We’re advising everyone to plan on a longer commute in areas that see lake effect.

lawrence RADAR

 

 

A north-northwesterly wind off Lake Michigan delivers lake effect flurries, snow showers and squalls to favored downwind regions.  Though heavier banding is more likely north and northeast of downtown Indianapolis… even light snow impacts roadways due to overnight timing and sub-freezing temperatures.  Plan on a slow commute Monday morning and check in with Chuck Lofton beginning at 4am on WTHR Sunrise.

SNOW ACCUM

Some areas along the I-69 and US-31 corridors could pick up an 1″ or more of accumulation by Monday mid-morning.  It appears a heavier squall may develop toward sunrise with highest impact between Fort Wayne and Indy.

Keep in mind snow accumulation will be localized but will impact the Monday morning commute.  Within a short distance you could go from clear roads to near white-out conditions and dangerous travel.  Please use caution in the morning especially if your commute takes you between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne or South Bend.

HEADLINES PLANNER MONDAY

Clouds clear Monday night as the lake snow machine gets shut down by an easterly wind.  This allows temperatures to drop into the teens area wide Tuesday morning and areas of snow pack in the single digits.  Expect a bright mid-week before clouds and rain return by next weekend.

Some guidance suggest a potential wintry weather maker late next weekend or early next week in the Ohio Valley.  Much too early to get excited but something we’ll keep tabs on as the week progresses.  Have a safe evening – Sean Ash

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Lake Effect Snow Squalls Monday Morning

Thus far clouds have more bark than bite but a north-northwest off Lake Michigan eventually delivers lake effect snow showers and squalls to favored downwind regions.  This includes mainly areas north and northeast of downtown Indianapolis… where some areas along the I-69 and US-31 corridors pick up an 1″ or more of accumulation by Monday mid-morning.

HEADLINES PLANNER MONDAY RPM 4AM MONDAY

Keep in mind snow accumulation will be localized but will impact the Monday morning commute.  Within a short distance you could go from clear roads to near white-out conditions and dangerous travel.  Please use caution in the morning especially if your commute takes you between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne or South Bend.

RPM 8AM MONDAY SNOW ACCUM SNOW ACCUM2

Clouds clear Monday night as the lake snow machine gets shut down by an easterly wind.  This allows temperatures to drop into the teens area wide Tuesday morning and areas of snow pack in the single digits.  Expect a bright mid-week before clouds and rain return by next weekend.

RPM MONDAY 5PM TUESDAY MORNING LOWS 7DAY

Some guidance suggest a potential wintry weather maker late next weekend or early next week in the Ohio Valley.  Much too early to get excited but something we’ll keep tabs on as the week progresses.  Have a safe evening – Sean Ash

Rain Exits And Colder Air Coming

Good riddance!  Rainfall departs the state but unfortunately the damage is done to area creeks, streams and rivers… many of which are over their banks.  Please use caution traveling tonight with some roads covered by flowing water.

RAIN ESTIMATES MONTHLY RAIN

The three day rain barrage delivered widespread 2.5″ to locally 4″ rain amounts across the I-70/74 corridors.  Indianapolis had a month’s worth of December rain in about 2.5 days to push December 2015 into the Top 10 wettest Decembers on record.  At 5.58″, this month ties 2008 for 9th wettest Decembers for the city.

Temperatures continue creep into the upper 40s and lower 50s as warm front lifts north of I-70.  It appears Indianapolis will hit 50 degrees for the 18th time this month… the second most 50 degree days in December behind the record 22 in 1889.

MORNING PLANNER TUESDAY MORNING TUESDAY AFTERNOON

This will be the warmest air over Central Indiana for awhile.  Temperatures drop to near or slightly below normal levels beginning tomorrow and lasting into the weekend.  Extensive cloud cover the next 48 hours keeps temperatures steady in the low to mid 30s.  Several upper air disturbances keep the possibility of flurries and snow showers in play heading into New Year’s Eve.

AFTERNOON PLANNER 7DAY

It appears we bring in 2016 on a chilly note Friday with highs in the 20s and lows in the teens.  Flurries are possible Friday before a brightening sky returns this weekend.  Be safe this evening – Sean Ash

Wet, Windy, Stormy Monday Ahead

Areas of flooding continue in Central Indiana after 2-3″ rainfall amounts along the I-70/74 corridors.  Please use caution traveling tonight with some roads flooded and water continuing to rise despite lighter precipitation rates.

BUG BUG 2 RADAR ESTIMATES

Areal flood warnings continue for the heart of Central Indiana that’s been drilled the past 24 hours.  A Flash Flood Watch continues until 7pm Monday with the expectation of additional heavy rainfall the next 24 hours.  There’s general computer model agreement of another 1-2″ with areas of locally heavier amounts certainly a possibility.

FLOOD WARNING FLASH FLOOD WATCH RAIN POTENTIAL MODEL RAIN PLANNER TONIGHT

A north-northeasterly wind of change delivers chillier air and cold enough farther north to support some frozen precipitation late tonight into midday Monday.  Areas along and north of I-74 stand the best chance of seeing sleet and freezing rain with a light ice accumulation possible.  A Freezing Rain Advisory is in effect tomorrow until 1pm in northern Indiana.  Disclaimer… sometimes the models don’t handle shallow cold air well so it’s completely possible we could see sleet in the Indy metro too.

RPM 7AM RPM 3AM FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY

Either way I don’t envision any major problems on the roadways, but it’s definitely a sign of colder times ahead.  Unfortunately more heavy rain, storms and strong wind are on the table Monday.  Wind speeds of 25-30mph, gust over 40-45mph at times and additional rain amounts of 1-2″ make for another active day.  The unwelcome rain keeps our flood threat high and a Flash Flood Watch continues until 7pm Monday evening.  River flood warnings extend well into the week and some locations likely will be 3-6 feet above flood stage.

GUSTS OVER 40MPH RPM 3PM RPM 7PM PLANNER TOMORROW

Those wanting more typical winter conditions should feel good about the end of the week.  Seasonably cold air invades just in time to begin 2016.  Expect highs in the upper 20s and lower 30s Thursday into Sunday with a chance of flurries/snow showers New Year’s Eve and Day.  Have a safe evening – Sean Ash

jet stream

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Rare December Indiana Tornado

One of the biggest severe weather events across the country this year happen to occur today… December 23rd.  There have been over 200 storm reports across the eastern US and many of those coming from Central Indiana.

STORM REPORTS NATIONAL STORM REPORTS DMA

A fast-moving line of storms delivered many 60-70mph gusts today and at least one tornado spin-up embedded along the line in Johnson County.

 

 
Radar data a little before 4pm today shows a weak velocity couplet that ultimately spun up an EF-1 tornado with winds in the 90-100mph range.  The tornado was only on the ground for a quarter-mile from near Restin Road to just north of Smith Valley Road.

VELOCITY TRACK DECEMBER TORNADOES

This is only the 17th December tornado on record (from 1950) for all of Indiana… and first since 2004.  Thankfully no one was injured and compared to the destruction taking place much farther south in Dixie Valley we dodged a big bullet.

Wild Wednesday: Record Highs And Rare December Severe Weather Potential

After analyzing early overnight data here are my latest thoughts regarding biggest impacts for specific times of day and timing.  On our 1 to 4 storm risk scale below we the tornado and damaging wind threat in the upper 1 to near 2 category.  There will be about a 5% probability of a tornado within 25 miles of a point within the SPC’s risk map for Wednesday… and a 15-30% probability of damaging wind.

RISKS

I expect the level 2 threat (termed moderate risk on our map) to be expanded northward to included more of southern Indiana… which has the greatest potential locally in my opinion of tornadoes.

SPC

10AM

Morning Impacts:  low visibility due to heavy mist/fog but isolated storms possible by 7am.  Focus more on potential for what’s to come and what’s already happening farther south to impact holiday travelers.

Midday:  Watch Box possibly issued by then but storms likely not crossing Illinois/Indiana state line until after 12pm… close call at this point.

Early Afternoon:  Storms ramp up quickly from the west by 2pm with the potential of multiple warnings of either severe storm or tornado variety.

Wednesday Evening:  storms most likely out of the state by 11pm and the threat for severe weather quickly pushes eastward as the cold front accelerates.

WEDNESDAY MIDDAY 2PM 4PM 7PM

Interestingly enough it’s been nearly three months since NWS Indianapolis has issued a severe thunderstorm warning and almost 160 days since the last tornado warning.  Both streaks could be broken… on December 23rd!

storm warning tornado warning

If a tornado hits Indiana it would only be the 17th December on record for the entire state in the last 65 years and first during this month since 2004.

DECEMBER TORNADOES

Best Case Scenario:  early afternoon storms are gusty but non-severe and help push the main instability axis farther south along Ohio River and we dodge a bullet.

Worse Case:  we see a few discrete supercells that produce a couple of tornadoes… I’m leaning on southern half of viewing area for greatest chance of this happening (Martinsville, Franklin, Shelbyville southward included).  Stay tuned and Chuck Lofton updates the forecast early this morning.

Severe Weather Risk Wednesday

Stay weather aware on Wednesday friends with the potential of multiple rounds of strong to severe storms in play for Central Indiana.  Nearly all of the viewing area is highlighted in low end (15% or less probability of severe weather within 25 miles of a point) risk of severe storms… beginning as early as sunrise and the threat doesn’t end until near 12am Thursday.  Record warm highs in the mid-60s and an strengthening low pressure system aid in the development in rare December severe weather setup for Central Indiana tomorrow.

HEADLINES SPC 2 SPC DMA

Nearly all of the viewing area is highlighted in low end (15% or less probability of severe weather within 25 miles of a point) risk of severe storms… beginning as early as sunrise and the threat doesn’t end until near 12am Thursday.  A greater severe threat exists near and especially south of the Ohio River where significant tornadoes are possible.  Areas of western Kentucky into northern Mississippi/Alabama and Tennessee could see an upgrade in risk potential.

WEDNESDAY 6AM WEDNESDAY MIDDAY WEDNESDAY 2PM

Record warm highs in the mid-60s and an strengthening low pressure system aid in the development in rare December severe weather setup for Central Indiana tomorrow.  It should be noted there’s a good deal of uncertainty on how much early to midday clouds, rain and storms will limit potential for later in the day.  But due to extreme wind shear overriding an unseasonably moist air mass the atmosphere won’t require much instability to produce wet downburst winds or a few tornadoes.

WEDNESDAY 6PM WEDNESDAY 9PM THURSDAY 1AM

Latest hi-res modeling, that’s very subject to change, indicates multiple rounds of rain and storms.  We’re bracketing the hours between noon and 11pm  for any storms that develop to possibly reach severe criteria.  Please have a way to get watches, warnings, the latest forecast and radar.

For what it’s worth there have only been 16 December tornadoes in Indiana on record from 1950 to 2014.  The last occurrence was an EF-0 in Decatur County during December of 2004.  11 of the 16 December tornadoes for the state occurred on just two dates… the 1th and 21st of December 1967.

DECEMBER TORNADOES

 

Winter Solstice Tonight

The winter solstice occurs tonight at 11:48pm as the sun’s most direct rays fall over the Tropic of Capricorn… or 23.5 degrees south latitude.  This marks an end to our shortest daylight and what will be our longest night.

SOLSTICE SOLSTICE 2 HEADLINES

Due to the Earth’s tilted axis, and its’ orbit around the sun, daylight increases each and everyday to the summer solstice June 20th.  We’ll see nearly an additional two hours of daylight over the next two months, and nearly 15 hours of daylight on the summer solstice.

Record Warmth And Thunderstorms Arrive Before Christmas

A cloudy, misty afternoon and evening is not keeping temperatures from reaching the 50s for the 11th time this month… the most in December since 2006.  Drizzle and some showers dot Central Indiana into early Tuesday.

11PM 4AM MORNING PLANNER AFTERNOON PLANNER

The gray start tomorrow gradually gives way to increasing sunshine during the afternoon.  The brighter finish should be enough to help highs return to near 50 degrees once again.  We continue to bracket Wednesday for record warmth and highs in the mid-60s.  The unseasonably warm air teams up with an approaching front and upper energy to put strong/severe storms in play during the afternoon and evening.  This system definitely impacts roadways for holiday travelers mid-week.

TUESDAY 4PM WEDNESDAY MORNING WEDNESDAY EVENING WEDNESDAY PLANNER

Morning rain departs to allow for a mostly dry Christmas Eve day with highs near 50 degrees.  At this time we’re calling for seasonably cool lows in the 30s Christmas morning with cloudy, dry conditions.  However, rain may increase during the afternoon from the south.

THURSDAY MORNING THURSDAY AFTERNOON TRAVEL WEATHER

The upcoming weekend looks rather unsettled and wet.  Rain is likely and possibly heavy Saturday with some thunderstorms.  Highs again return to the 60s to start the weekend before a front brings in cooler air Sunday.  Definitely check back for updates only several heavy rain-makers the next 7 days – Sean Ash

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