No Sleigh Ride
For days Bob James, of station KHAK, had warned that a big storm was coming with the likelihood of dropping serious amounts of snow on Washington County residents’ Thanksgiving travel plans. The snow was expected to arrive the Sunday following Thanksgiving when everyone who had enjoyed a Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends would be heading back home. The National Weather Service had been predicting for days, even when the exact track and strength of the storm system were still uncertain, that “downed tree limbs and power lines were possible.”
By Saturday, November 24, 2018, James could say with greater certainty that the storm would begin at 3 a.m. on Sunday and continue for the next twenty-one hours. It would start with rain but this would change to snow. As much as 10 inches were expected in Washington County (16 inches in some central counties of Iowa). Winds would blow from 30 to 35 miles per hour. And it was indeed coming to Washington County. “If you have travel plans during that time period,” wrote James, “please move them up….This is nothing to mess with….Share the information with friends and loved ones with travel plans for the end of the holiday weekend.” Holiday travel and severe weather don’t mix well.
A round of cold temperatures were predicted to follow the storm, making November 2018 one of the coldest Novembers on record.
The map James shares from the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) puts Washington County’s cold weather in a larger context. The ECMWF is an independent, intergovernmental organization that, twice daily, provides a global model of weather conditions. In the image Bob James shares, the topic is “temperature anomaly,” that is, temperatures that differ from what has been normally expected. The map shows that some late November 2018 temperatures were different in that they were lower than normal. Washington County is in this territory. But some temperatures were different in that they were higher than normal. This is most all of the Arctic.
Thanksgiving Holiday plans are local, but the weather conditions that can change them are part of a big picture.
Sources: on-line: Bob James, “Large part of Iowa now under winter storm warning for Sunday,” KHAK 98.1, November 24, 2018; European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.