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Macrh 1, 2009 Snowfall Totals

March in like a Lion… I’d say so!

Picture from Air Star 36 over Gaston County, NC

What a  wild Sunday and start to the turbulent month of March. March is often a crazy month and this storm should leave no doubt. I working on compiling all the totals and data and hope to post something later today or tonight. Depends on how busy I get back in the Storm Center.

Here are some amazing facts about the storm, in the first time I have seen this Charlotte set both a record rainfall for the day and a record snowfall for March 1st.

Rainfall 2.18”    (old record 2.17 2007)

Snowfall 4.0”    (old record 3.0” 1969)

All this happened in a 24 hour period on March 1, 2009!

Here’s a quick satellite showing the swath of

snow from space.


Hey you can follow me now on Twitter as well!   Twitter

Guest Blogger

“Watts up with that” is probably one of my favorite blogs around and enjoy reading Anthony’s writings daily, so I’m linking to a great primer on the green house effect explained. Enjoy!

Home Snowmaking with these arctic temperatures

About 3 years ago I decided to make a homemade snowmaker similar to those that are used at the ski resorts in the North Carolina mountains. My wife thought I was a nut but she already knew I was a little off when it came to science and weather. Part of me did it because I love snow and skiing, the other part was because the science of snowmaking fascinated me. It isn’t like taking out your hose on a cold day and just spraying it in the air that just makes ice, to make snow you need just the right combination of compressed air and water. Which is where the science comes in.  When you compress a gas it warms this happens in the atmosphere under high pressure aloft or downsloping winds. Another example is when you pump up tires on your car or bike if you use a hand pump feel the valve after a few pumps it will be warm. Or on an air compressor it get warms as it compresses the air. Well the opposite happens when you decompress a gas like hair spray or compress air to clean your computer. Press the nozzle for a while and the can get cold. Well if you compress air and water together then decompress it you get super cooled water vapor that will turn to snow under the right temperatures and dewpoint conditions. The best are when temperatures are below 28 degrees and the dewpoint is in the teens.  The colder and drier the easier it is to make snow.

Okay building the tee gun is pretty simple and cheap, but you need a good air compressor that is built for continuous running. Which means it usually has oil in the motor to lubricate it. The rest of the parts are available at most hardware stores. I found great plans and information on snowmaking at this site is awesome for amateur snowmakers.


Hers the parts list from


Here is how to assemble the gun



Once you have a goo compressor test out the nozzles and here is what mine looks like.


It’s the real deal check it out!


Here’s a video from a few years ago the very first time I tried it.

So if you have the time and effort to be the most popular Dad in the neighborhood give it a try, it fun and the kids will love it! One word of warning once you start you’ll get a addicted to trying to make more and more snow, just check out the forums under the website. You’ll see how people take snowmaking in the back yard to a whole new levels! Have fun!


Coldest Air in 4 years for the Charlotte area

Arctic air is invading the country this week and most areas will see the coldest air in over 4 years. The Charlotte region hasn’t seen an arctic outbreak like this since 2005. That was the last time we had a high temperatures below the freezing mark. In January 29, 2005 we only had a high of 30 degrees with 1″ of snowfall on that date. This Friday we won’t get the snow but we won’t make it to freezing either. I’m forecasting a high of only 29 degree as the heart of the Arctic air mass will be settling right on top of the Carolinas. Saturday morning we will see a low near 9 above zero a number we haven’t seen either since January 2005. The reason for the arctic outbreak is record snow cover for the northern hemisphere as almost 1.37 million square kilometers more snow cover than the 4th week of January last year, the previous record.

This massive amount of snow cover has allowed huge areas of arctic air to build up over the Alaska, Canada and Siberia which then moves south as the jet stream buckles. Temperatures in Alaska have been brutally cold with Fairbanks being in the -30 to -60 range for the past 4 weeks. One reading in Siberia was as cold as -90 and that air mass is on the move. The snow cover over the mid-west and great lakes helps to keep the air mass cold as it moves south. Normally this air would modify or warm-up a little on the way south but as it travels over snow pack it stays cold.

The result is a cold outbreak that will last into early next week. High temperatures will only be in the 30s and lows in the teens and single digits. The other thing to watch is for the possibility of low pressure developing along the end of the arctic air in the Gulf of Mexico or along the east coast. These storms often form when arctic air hits the warmer water of the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Stream and often can bring snow to the mid-south. Something we’ll be watching carefully in the first Warn Storm Center.

Interesting mid week storm

Been watching this storm for the better part of a week and the details of this storms are still not entirely clear. The GFS has been all over the place and while it was the first to pick the storm up it has also has been the most inconsistent. It looks like we will see the potential of wintry weather at the beginning and at the end of this storm. The question is how long each phase lasts.


The event starts of with a weak cold air wedge but not ideal, and one that is going to weaken rapidly by Tuesday afternoon. Which means maybe  wintry mix in the mountains and north of I-40 early Tuesday, but amount will be light and temperatures will warm pretty quickly Tuesday changing everything to rain. The middle of this event will be a cold rain with a small wrinkle Wednesday when a severe threat is possible. 

The middle rain storm then gets very interesting Thursday as another low pressure system forms in the gulf of medico with cold air aloft and some deep south snows are very possible as this low tracks northeast. There could be a brief, but heavy swath of heavy wet snow along I-85 late Thursday along a deformation zone to the northwest of the 700mb low.


Watch he forecast very carefully the next few days and make sure to check for the latest on this potential winter storm.

What a difference a year makes

One of those things I like to check to see wether things are going to get colder or not is the amount of cold air in Canada, the Arctic and Siberia. The amount of cold air is highly depended on the amount of snow cover and ice cover over the polar regions of the northern hemisphere. The reason we have had such an early cold snap including one of the coldest Novembers in about 10-15 years is the record growth of ice in the arctic compared to last year. I check the cryosphere every couple of days and check out the comparison from today to last year at this time.


Notice the amount of snow and ice cover but also the depth of the sea ice this year compared to last year. Large area that were open water last year are now covered in ice and at a much deeper level than last December.

Weekly Winter Updates

With some recent computer troubles I haven’t been able to update nearly as much as I’d like that will be changing next week. Check back for weekly winter forecast for the north Carolina and Virginia mountains as we continue this epic start to the winter/ski season in the southeast! As always you get my daily forecast for Charlotte/Hickory/Boone regions on my stations website at

Cold November could mean December snow!

The cold air of November is now leading to a cold December. November was the coldest November in Charlotte in 32 years and the 5th coolest on record. It’s early this month but we are already 9 degrees below average just 5 days into the month. Now we turn our eyes towards our first chances at some wintery precipitation for areas outside of the mountains. The models have been consistent in developing a major storm system for Tuesday into Wednesday next week, but that have been flip flopping from a rain storm to a winter storm the past few runs. The track will be the key, because based on the pattern we have seen and the amount of snow cover being laid down to our northwest. The cold would appear to be there if the storms tracks just to our south or right over us.

Today’s GFS model shows a rain storms will some back side snow. Notice the 540 line all the way down to the Gulf coast on the back side of the storms

Notice the amount of cold air coming down from Canada over the snow-covered grounds of the upper mid-west. Those temperatures are -34 below zero Celsius and the models maybe underestimate the amount of cold! You can see why next week will be very interesting to say the least. Check out the early season snow cover already on Dec 4th!

Cold air is here to stay!

This early Arctic blast is just a taste of what is yet to come to the Carolinas. A series of impulses kind like mini cold fronts will come down this week each one bringing colder air for everyone and snow showers to the mountains. Even though there isn’t as much moisture to work with in these impulses the colder air will create some fluffier snow this week. Some Carolina powder will be laid down in the mountains Tuesday and again Friday. I received some lone range forecasting tools from a fried of mine this morning which helps to back up my winter forecast. It confirms the forecast for a much colder winter for all the eastern U.S. Especially the rest of this month all of December into January! Something to keep an eye on, I’ll post more information about this forecast later, but you can check the Winter Forecast again here..

Brad’s Winter Forecast