How to Follow This Week’s Monster Winter Storm

All the people and tools you need to prepare for and understand the latest big storm to hit the Eastern seaboard.

snowfall probability

This story was originally published in The Atlantic and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

A massive storm is barreling across the eastern half of the United States. Right now, it’s dropping ice and havoc over the southeast. Power outages in some areas of Georgia could last for weeks.

Soon, the same storm could drop more than a foot of snow over the Appalachian Mountains with smaller (but still large!) amounts all the way to the coast.

Storm models show that the storm might hit heaviest on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as the storm plows up the whole coast through Thursday and Friday.

storm gif

If you live east of Ohio, basically, you want to keep your eyes on this storm. But how should you do it? It seems that there’s more weather information available to an average citizen than military planners would have had during the Cold War.

Here are some ways to go beyond the weather headlines. (Recently, I created a guide to going deeper into weather news, from which I’ve drawn substantially here.)

First, if you want to go deep with your weather dashboard, head to Weatherspark.com. It lets you dive into all kinds of data in a clean interface.

Next, you’ll want to follow the right people and institutions:

Meteorologist Jeff Masters is talking about the ice that’s hitting Georgia as I write. “Today’s ice storm is likely to be more damaging than the January 2000 ice storm, which caused $48 million in losses in north Georgia,” he says. “However, it will not compare to the damage from the most expensive ice storm in US history, the great February 1994 Southeast US ice storm. That storm killed nine people and caused $4.7 billion (2013 dollars) of damage.”

So is Eric Holthaus, who has some sad possibilites in his post on the storm, including that Atlanta could lose one-quarter of its trees.

The Capital Weather Gang is liveblogging the storm. If you live in the mid-Atlantic, they’ll be indispensable. For example, here they show you the predictions for the storm’s start time (in military format, e.g. 20 is 8pm).

winter precip onset

If you’re a New Yorker—but anywhere really—make sure you’re following the National Weather Service Twitter account for your area.

If you’re not satisfied with the filtered information that you’re getting from these institutions and your local meteorologists, you can get your hands on the data yourself by going to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

There you can get satellite imagery, like this loop in the infrared part of the spectrum for the past 24 hours. Note the red in the southeast.

satellite imagery gif

You can also find national radar maps.

national radar map

Or zoom in on a specific region, like, say, Atlanta.

Atlanta weather

Finally, if you really want to go deep, you can look at the various model predictions. Here, you can watch the precipitation totals bloom over the next two days in the standard NOAA Global Forecasting System.

Global Forecasting gif

But you can also compare between the models, if you’re a nerd who is so inclined. So, here you could run the same 48 precipitation prediction with the North American Mesoscale Model. Or you can look at the Global Ensemble Forecast Model, which brings together 20 different ways of predicting the weather.

If you’re really interested in this stuff, the Weather Underground has a nice (relatively) simple tool that lets you compare the different forecasts. Here, for example, is the model output for the GFS and NAM models looking at whether it will be snowing, raining, or otherwise precipitating at 7 a.m. on Thursday.

Weather Underground

Predictions on type of precipitation Top: Global Forecasting System Bottom: North American Mesoscale Model

One can see how comparing these two charts might be useful if you live on the south side of Philadelphia. The GFS shows the area solidly in snow (blue) while the other model has freezing rain (red) encroaching on the region. Of course, they also show how difficult weather prediction is, and why there are always uncertainties about the particulars of any given weather event.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate