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HOME> Expert Assessments>Hazards Outlook

U.S. Hazards Outlook - Made January 21, 2019

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Categorical Outlooks
Experimental Probabilistic Outlooks (Information)

Valid Thursday January 24, 2019 to Monday February 04, 2019

US Hazards Outlook
NWS Climate Prediction Center College Park MD
300 PM EST January 21 2019

Synopsis: A strong area of upper-level low pressure is forecast to persist across the eastern half of North America through at least the end of January. Multiple outbreaks of Arctic air are likely to overspread the central and eastern U.S. during the next ten days. A low pressure system is forecast to exit the Northeast on Thursday. A surface low may develop across the northeast Gulf of Mexico this weekend and strengthen as it tracks northeast near the mid-Atlantic coast. Upper-level high pressure is likely to strengthen over Alaska and shift slightly westward towards the Bering Sea during Week-2.

Hazards Detailed Summary

For Thursday January 24 - Monday January 28: The major hazard during the final week of January is likely to be much below normal temperatures as Arctic high pressure continues to shift south from Canada. On Thursday and Friday, Arctic high pressure (1038 to 1042-hpa) is forecast to shift southeast from the northern Great Plains to the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. This Arctic surface high is then expected to overspread the eastern U.S. by Saturday. The much below normal temperatures hazards are depicted for areas where daily temperatures are most likely to average 10 to 20 degrees F below normal. Dangerously low wind chills are likely to accompany this Arctic outbreak later this week. The coldest temperatures (-25 to -10 degrees F) are forecast across the northern Great Plains, Midwest, and upper Mississippi Valley on Friday morning. Frost and/or a light freeze may extend as far south as the northern Florida peninsula on Saturday morning.

On Thursday, the deterministic 6Z GFS and 0Z ECMWF models are in good agreement that a surface low strengthens as it tracks north from the mid-Atlantic to New England. Warm air advection during the next few days is expected to result in much of the precipitation falling in the form of rain across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Although accumulating snow is expected from the central Appalachians and interior Northeast on the backside of the surface low, total snowfall amounts are not anticipated to be hazardous at this time.

The next potential for winter weather hazards begins this weekend across the Southeast as a shortwave trough in the northern stream possibly amplifies near the Gulf Coast. The deterministic 0Z ECMWF is the sharpest with this shortwave trough and depicts a rapidly strengthening surface low tracking from the northeast Gulf of Mexico to the Outer Banks. This model solution poses a risk for heavy snow across interiors areas of the eastern U.S., as far south as Alabama and Georgia. However, the deterministic GFS model runs are weaker with the 500-hpa shortwave trough and its associated surface low. Spread among the 6Z GFS ensemble members is large, but a few members support the deterministic 0Z ECMWF with a high impact winter storm for the eastern U.S. Due to low confidence with such large ensemble spread, no heavy snow hazard is depicted at this time but this will be closely monitored in the hazards outlooks during the next few days.

Another Arctic high is expected to shift south from Canada into the Great Plains by Monday. Therefore, much below normal temperatures are forecast to return to parts of the Great Plains, upper Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes on Jan 28.

The latest GFS model runs feature a 968-hpa surface low near Kodiak Island on Friday. Enhanced onshore flow with a subtropical connection is likely to result in heavy precipitation (coastal rain and high-elevation snow) on Jan 25 and 26 across the Kenai Peninsula, southeast mainland Alaska, and Alaska Panhandle. A strengthening upper-level ridge is likely to result in a much drier pattern for Alaska by the Week-2 period.

For Tuesday January 29 - Monday February 04: The ensemble means maintain a highly amplified longwave pattern over North America into the beginning of February. A notable trend in the model solutions during the past few days is for a slight retrogression of the upper-level pattern with the amplified ridge shifting from the West Coast of North America west to the north Pacific and Bering Sea. This slight retrogression would result in lower 500-hpa heights across the interior West with time and an increase in 500-hpa heights across the Southeast. Given the good model agreement and continuity supporting a moderating trend later in Week-2, the slight risk for much below normal temperatures along the Gulf Coast and across the Southeast is discontinued after February 1.

A high risk (60 percent chance or higher) of much below normal temperatures (lowest 15th percentile of the climatological minimum temperature distribution) is forecast across the north-central U.S. early in Week-2. The GEFS probabilistic temperature tools indicates that there is a 20 to 40 percent chance of record cold temperatures across the Midwest and Ohio Valley from January 29 to 31. A slightly broader area is covered by a moderate risk of much below-normal temperatures during the entirety of Week-2 due to the expectation for a gradual westward transition of anomalous cold with time.

Although there are no precipitation hazards posted during Week-2, there is an increased risk of freezing rain with any overrunning precipitation that develops given the well established Arctic air over the central and eastern U.S. at the beginning of Week-2. The most likely area for freezing rain would be from the south-central Great Plains east to the Tennessee Valley and southern mid-Atlantic. As the upper-level ridge shifts northwest to Alaska, the southern stream may become more active late in Week-2. At this time, no specific precipitation hazards can be identified.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, valid January 15th, shows slight improvement of severe drought (D2-D4) conditions in the U.S, down from 10.50% to 10.02%. These improvements occurred across southern Colorado and southern California.

Forecaster: Brad Pugh

$$ Please consult local NWS Forecast Offices for short range forecasts and region-specific information.

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