2009 ends wet, 2010 starts cold

Questions or comments? Post them below or Email Meteorologist Robb Ellis : rellis@wect.com .

Since the new year has begun, and we counted down the top 10 weather stories of 2009, I thought it would be a great time to start talking about 2010.

Wrapping up 2009
The big story for December was how much rain we saw! In fact, it was the wettest December ever recorded for Wilmington. That includes 139 years of rainfall data! So just how much rain fell? 8.86" which breaks the old record of 7.13".

The National Weather Service has a complete write-up about the series of lows that contributed to the record rainfall here :

Changes in 2010
Only a few days into 2010, and already things are looking exciting for this year. We have an El Nino pattern continuing, and cold and wet conditions look to persist. Ironically though, before we talk about Winter, let's jump ahead to Spring, to talk about severe weather. Why? Well, because some changes were decided last year, that may affect the number of T-storm warnings we see this year.

The idea has been tossed around for a while now to change the requirements for issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. For years, the criteria has been 1) Winds of 55+ mph or 2) Hail of 3/4" or larger. These criteria (in certain parts of the country) can lead to a large number of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings (also referred to as SVRs) each year. Here in southeastern NC, we know that during the Spring and Summer, SVRs are fairly common. With such a common issuance is certain parts of the country, people could become complacent when reacting to these warnings.

So, this year, the National Weather Service will be changing the criteria for SVRs from 3/4" to 1". Some research has shown that significant damage doesn't occur until hail reaches the size of about 1 inch. This should lead to many fewer SVRs issued each year. Details of the change and links to some research can be found here :

Of course, now the forecasters will have their hands full adapting their current techniques and threshold parameters for the new criteria. Overall, I am for this change.

Cold Start to 2010
It's no secret that I do not like cold weather. I'm a southerner through and through. So, you can imagine that I am not enjoying the first week(s) of 2010. Of course, the true joy of living in the south is that our winter encounters are special by nature of their rare occurrence. I've gotten several email saying "Do you think it will snow this year?" and "Is this pattern going to continue?"

Well, here's a look at some of the latest information from the CPC. We are well into an El Nino episode in all the SST regions. Typically this means cooler and wetter conditions for the Carolinas.

Long-term forecasts (around 2 weeks to as much as 3 months) are issued by the Climate Prediction Center. Those forecasts general show a higher percent chance of a cooler-than-normal long term and a higher percent chance of wetter-than-normal long term.

While this doesn't guarantee snow...it certainly helps your chances if its both colder and wetter...It's just getting the two together that's the hard part!

Until next time...

Stay Warm!
Robb Ellis

Questions or comments? Post them below or Email Meteorologist Robb Ellis : rellis@wect.com .