Friday, November 21, 2008

Terrific pattern shaping up for next 2-5 weeks

If you like cold weather with a chance at an early season snow, you'll love the rest of this month and quite possibly well into December.

Both the major long term computer models -- the European and the American GFS -- show a prolonged stretch of cold weather locking into the eastern U.S.

It won't be super cold every day, but overall, the pattern is for below normal temperatures (speaking of below normal, how 'bout today's weather -- high of 43 with a stiff wind. BRRRRR! -- if you are headed to a high school game tonight, bundle up!)

Here are a few maps:

From this morning's run of the GFS, check out the extent of the cold in the long range.

Monday -- this is the warmest day I could find depicted in the next 15 days -- and it's still probably highs in the 50s to low 60s.

Wednesday -- by Thanksgiving Eve were back in the chill -- nothing like today, but highs near 50 with lows below freezing, still well below normal for this time of year.

Friday -- then it starts getting interesting. You can see a low pressure system in the lower Miss. River Valley which has dropped down from the Plains.

Saturday -- that ends up being a near miss for us, but the cold is retrenched.

From then on, it's one cold shot after another.

Two pro forecasters who I follow are both pointing toward the Dec. 1-5 range as a time for a possible winter storm for the east.

Regardless, almost all forecasters agree that the long range will feature prolonged cold in the east.

The NWS puts out an 8-14 day outlook. Here is their most recent map.
As you can see, we are smack in the middle of the below normal on temps. While it also shows below normal on precip, I'd much rather be cold, looking for precip than vice versa.

So, there's a quick update -- hope everybody has a safe weekend and Go Mountaineers, Chargers and Golden Lions!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our first storm to track (sort of)

Well, as we barrel toward a late Thanksgiving and then December, with each day's passing our chances of seeing some winter weather increases dramatically.

One of the first milestones of the season is the first "fantasy storm" on one of the computer models.

What is a fantasy storm?

Basically, any storm that is depicted more than 7 days out.

Well, I've got a TRUE fantasy storm to show you today -- it's not 7 days out; it's not 10 days out; it's FOURTEEN days out!

Here is the 12z run of the computer model known as the GFS (a commenter on the last thread had a unique interpretation of what those letters stand for).

As you can see, it depicts a lovely looking low pressure system tracking off the Carolinas coast.

I show this to you for one and only one reason -- it's the first of many times the GFS or any other model shows a big storm more than 7 days out. The other 100 times this happens, you won't hear a peep from me about it.

One caveat -- a met who is knowledgeabel about N.C. winter weather issued an alert that this particular time frame (first couple days of December) would see a pattern conducive to a possible lower Middle Atlanta snow storm.

The catch? He issued that warning BEFORE this run of the GFS came out.


Let the fun (and torture) begin!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Outlook for 2008-09 winter

Well, the sounds of gas blowers, the approach of high school football playoffs and (mercifully) the end of an election means one thing for me: It's snow time!

Only one problem -- it apparently doesn't snow here any more.

At least that's been the case in recent winters.

But I'm here to sing a different tune, winter weather fans.

I'm getting my first report of the winter off to a bold start by saying this: We WILL have an accumulating snow of 2 inches or more this winter.

OK, now that I've made a fool out of myself, here is the prevailing view on this winter from people who actually know what they're talking about.

Mainly, the picture is this: most of the atmosphereic "signals" are weak or neutral.

Last year we were in a La Nina which ended up being a disaster for us.

An index called the NAO, was in its positive state for virtually the entire winter. What we want is a negative NAO -- which is loosely defined as high pressure over Greenland which "blocks" systems from progressing across the country and traps cold air over the lower 48 states.

There are some indications that we will see periods of -NAO this winter.

Another problem in the last few winters has been a strong "Pacific Jet" which sends systems crashing ashore in the Northwest. These systems cut across the northern tier, keeping cold air locked in Canada.

Again, there are indications that this pattern will not dominate the entire winter.

Using other even more complicated signals, a number of pro mets feel like late November and December might well be the coldest months of the winter. They forsee a January thaw, followed by perhaps one more shot of cold in February.

Looking at current model trends, some credence is lent to this idea. We will get quite cold this Saturday night and Sunday and into next week -- temperatures that feel more like mid-January than mid-November.

And there are indications from computer models that the cold air will be hanging around, perhaps until Thanksgiving and beyond.

While it is unusual to see snow here in November (remember the year it snowed during the Shelby parade not too long ago?) it's not impossible. And once the calendar turns to December, our chances of snow ramp up quickly with literally every day that passses.

So, I think we break our losing streak on snow this year and I wouldn't be surprised for us to see some snow threats as early as around Thanksgiving and certainly into December.

Keep an eye on this blog for updates all winter long and don't forget to signup for e-mail weather alerts if you want to know when my updates are posted.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Did Clary pull it out?

Clary lost Rutherford County by 1,299 votes.

She is ahead in Cleveland county by 2,193 votes for an 894-vote margin with only one precinct yet to report -- Kingstown.

The Kingston precinct voted heavily for Walter Dalton the last time this seat was contested, but with only 941 registered voters in that precinct, it seems impossible that it will be enough to send Melton to Raleigh.

From this vantage point, it appears Clary has survived.

Debbie Clary in trouble

Clary lost Rutherford County to Keith Melton by more than 1,000 votes and has lost the early/absentee vote to Melton by another 1,000-plus votes. That's a lot of ground to make up. We'll see.

President Obama

Fox News has called Ohio for Obama which means there is no realistic path to victory for McCain -- it's just a matter of "how much" not "if."

Barrack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

On track

The feeling going in was that this would be a big night for Democrats and nothing has happened thus far to change that. Pennsylvania has gone to Obama. While a number of states that McCain should have won easily -- Indiana and Georgia -- are still too close to call.

It looks like the GOP is hanging on to a few Senate seats it might have lost -- McConnel in Ky. will apparently survive and perhaps Saxby Chambliss as well. That means it is highly unlikely Democrats will get a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Too early to know much statewide, but Patrick McHenry appears to have held his own in Catawba County vs. Daniel Johnson which bodes well for his chances.

Surprised we haven't seen any local results yet -- could be some technical problems.

Swain Co., N.C.

So far, it has the most precincts reporting percentage-wise -- 71%.

In 2004, Bush won the county by a whisker 52-48 (a total of 175 votes).

With almost 3/4 of the votes counted in 2008, Obama appears that he will carry this mountain county. He leads by 8 points.

Florida case study

Lake County is an excellent example of the apparent trend in this election.

In 2004, George Bush won Lake County, in central Florida, with 74,382 votes.

In 2008, with 89 percent of precincts reporting, John McCain has just over 78,000 votes.

Good news for the Republicans, right?


While Kerry only pulled 48,216 in 2004 for just 39 percent of the vote, Obama already has tallied 59,864 votes which means he's only down 13 points instead of 22.

In a state won by Bush by just 5 points, I don't see anyway McCain can hold on if those types of swings are manifested throughout the state.

Bottom line: It looks like the Republicans turned out -- but not nearly at the level of Democrats, if Lake County is any indication.

Similar trending in Virginia

Bush won Culpeper County 65-35. With 85 percent of precincts reporting, McCain leads 55-44.

Polls close in N.C. -- exit polls show tight race

N.C. will be close and is tilting toward an Obama win.

Exit polls show McCain winning the male vote 53-46, but losing females 56-43.

More from Indiana

Remember, these are REAL numbers, not exit poll numbers.

Bush carried Clinton County 72-28 in 2004, a 5,000-vote margin.

With all precincts reporting in 2008, McCain wins the county 56-43, a margin of only 1,600 votes.

If exit polls are to be believed ...

.... is going to be a huge night for Obama. The details are out in Indiana -- exit polls show Obama won females by 11 POINTS!!!! He tied with males, which obviously means he carried the state by about 5-6 points.

If that's the case, he will win a huge electoral college victory.

Could the exit polls be wrong? Of course --we know that from 2004. But they would have to be WAY WAY WAY off because this was a state McCain had to win easily Bush won Indiana by 20 points in 2004.

Polls getting ready to close ...

.. in ALL of Indiana, Ky. and also Georgia.

The networks will free up the full exit poll data from those states which will tell us alot.

Actual vote count -- good news for Obama

Looking at two counties in Indiana. Again go here for our interactive national map.

In Indiana, the county in the far northeast corner is Steuben. Using this USA Today stats package from the 2004 election, we see that Bush beat Kerry 66-34 in 2004. But in 2008, with 68 percent of the vote counted, McCain leads only 58-42.

Simiarly in Vigo county in the southwest, with 54 percent of the vote counted, Obama leads 56-44. What did that county do in 2004? It went for Bush 53-47.

McCain loses Indiana and we can all go to bed early.

Two exit poll stories

There are apparently two batches of exit polls floating around the Internet. One shows a very tight race. The other shows an Obama blowout (he would win all the tossup states like Missouri, Florida, N.C. Virginia, etc.).

Looks like we'll actually have to count the votes!

Trouble for GOP Senator in Ky.

If you check out The Star's interactive national elections results page here, you can zoom in on Kentucky, were returns are already coming in. One thing you can see is that McCain is outperforming incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell. Look at Floyd county in the far eastern part of the state -- it is almost dead even between McCain and Obama, but McConnel is getting trounced in early returns.

I bet he loses that seat -- maybe handily.

On the other hand.....

Drudge now saying exit polls show Obama by 15 points in Pennsylvania, surely an indicator of a blowout win.

Still standing by ....

First exit poll hint -- hmmmmm

Not sure of the reliability of (although it is considered to be, I believe, a liberal site) but here is its leaked Exit poll info -- MUCH closer than expected.

Shelby turnout update

The Star's Alan Ford reports that the "counter" at Shelby No. 2 precinct was at 529 at 2:30 p.m.. Combined with the 1,542 from that precinct who voted early and you have 2,071 votes cast.

According to the Board of Elections, there are 3,045 registered voters in that precinct meaning that turnout in Shelby No. 2 is already 68 percent with 5 hours left to vote, including the traditionally heavy late afternoon/early evening period.

Shelby No. 2 went 62-38 for Bush in 2004.

Exit poll data? Not so fast

According to this L.A. Times story, an effort is being made to make sure exit poll data doesn't leak until at least 5 p.m. EST. After the 2004 debacle (when exit poll data showed a huge night for John Kerry that obviously never materialized) more caution is being used.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election night viewing guide

I've been recruited by the newsroom to bring you an election blog. This will start Tuesday when the first exit polls are released in the afternoon. These usually leak out to various sites -- I'll track them down and let you know what they say. These will be the first polls of actual votes and should tell us a lot.

I know some folks have a problem with these exit polls saying that they are a disincentive for people to vote, but I believe in getting out information ASAP so I'll pass them along.

Now, here's what to look for Tuesday night in terms of the race for president and Congress.

Mid-afternoon: Early exit poll data released. First of all, if you aren't hearing the words "shocking" and "upset" then it probably means McCain is going down to defeat. If you average all the polls out, Obama has a 5-8 point lead. Now, Clinton led Dole by as many as 14 points on the weekend before the 1996 election and only won by 6 and Obama polled about 3-6 points too high during the primaries, so it's certainly within the real of possibility that those numbers are off, but it's highly unlikely. If you are hearing from those exit poll numbers that McCain is "doing slightly better" or has "narrowed the gap" it is probably still code for "he's going to lose."

6 p.m. Polls in PARTS of Indiana and Kentucky close. There will probably not be a network call in either of these states until all polls close.

7 p.m. Polls close in ALL of Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, S.C., Vermont, and Georgia as well as MOST of Florida and N.H. At this point, we will learn a lot. Indiana has been moved by many into the "too close to call" TCTC margin. The longer in the night we go without a call being made in Indiana, the worse it is for McCain. But if Indiana is called early for McCain, that's a sign the election could be tight. Same with Virginia --it's actual an Obama lean right now. If it gets called early for Obama, Dems might as well go ahead and pop the bubbly. Florida is obviously a must win for McCain.
Still, it's likely that all of these states will be TCTC right away, which brings us to Georgia. If it is ALSO TCTC, it's bad news for McCain. Kentucky should go for McCain early. If not, it's going to be a HUGE night for Obama. Also, keep an eye on New Hampshire. Those folks like underdogs and have always gravitated toward McCain -- could be an upset possibility.

Skip says: McCain gets Indiana, Kentucky, S.C. and Georgia; Obama wins Florida, Virginia, Vermont and N.H.

7:30: Polls close in N.C., W.V. and Ohio. McCain has to have these Bush states and the Dole-Hagan Senate race will also be very telling as to the final makeup of the Senate.

Skip says: McCain wins N.C. in a squeaker and W.V.; Obama wins Ohio. Also, Hagan over Dole

8 p.m.: Polls close in Pa., Missouri, Maine, Connecticut, Mass., New Jersey, Delaware, Md., D.C., Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, Tenn., Oklahoma. By now, we should have an excellent idea what is going to happen. If states like Indiana and Georgia have still not been called, it's a big night for Obama. Or, if states like Virginia and Florida have already been called for Obama, the same will be true.

Skip says: McCain wins Missouri;, Miss., Alabama, Tenn., Oklahoma; Obama wins Pa., Connecticut, Maine, Mass., N.J., Delaware, Md., D.C., Illinois.

8:30 p.m. Polls close in Arkansas.
Skip says: McCain wins Arkansas.

9 pm.: Arizona, Colorado, N. Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, N.D., S.D., NY. Wyoming, Wisconsin and Rhode Island. If the race is still in the air, Colorado will be crucial. New Mexico has been decided by a handful of votes in the last 2 elections and there is no reason to think otherwise this year.

Skip says: McCain wins Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, N.D., S.D., Wyoming; Obama wins Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, N.Y., Wisconsin, R.I.

10 p.m.: Polls close in Nevada, Iowa, Montana and Utah. Iowa is solid Obama. Nevada is a tossup. Montana is usually solid GOP, but some polling indicates it might be close. If Obama wins states like this, the rout is on.

Skip says: McCain wins Nevada, Montana, Utah; Obama wins Iowa

11 p.m.: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii (later, Alaska)
Obama should be giving his acceptance speech by now -- if not, the night is a total shocker

McCain wins Idaho, Alaska; Obama wins California, Oregon,Washington, Hawaii.

Skip's final electoral tally: Obama 328, McCain 210.

Understand, however, that this is still much closer than it looks.

Flip Florida, Virginia and Ohio and McCain wins.

Free free to leave your own projections. If you don't want to go over every state, just tell me on which states you disagree with me.