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Christmas Day Storm Rocks The South

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Christmas has come and gone, and like most years; we were graced with a white Christmas. As usual for this time of year, we have now been below freezing since December 15. Of course, we weren't above freezing for long, even then; so any melting of rivers and lakes was insignificant. Thanks to several inches of snow pack along with these frozen bodies of water, there are plenty of pretty wintry sights to be seen here at home. 

Here, you will find a picture of Sioux Falls at Falls Park completely frozen over as well as Split Rock Creek at Palisades State Park near Garretson.

These pictures are nothing unusual for this time of year, but there are parts of the country that have been seeing some rather unusual weather for their regions.

For some, it couldn’t have come at a better time. For others, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. This year’s Christmas was a rough one, either way, for many across the Deep South. As you can see in the image below, an intense area of low pressure tracked across the south through the day on Christmas, and as of Wednesday morning; the low was centered over Tennessee and Kentucky.

The storm had two sides: snow and ice to the north, severe weather to the south. Early in the day on Christmas, ice changed to snow in Oklahoma and Texas before tracking northeast dumping several inches of snow in places that don’t typically see it.

For the first time in the history of the National Weather Service office in Little Rock, Arkansas; they issued a Blizzard Warning for their northeastern counties. It wasn’t long before more of these warnings were issued through the Ohio Valley in anticipation of its movement through the day on Wednesday.

Blizzard Warnings: White
Winter Storm Warnings: Pink
Winter Weather Advisories: Purple
Wind Advisories: Tan

In the middle of the two-sided storm, places like Sardis, Mississippi saw torrential downpours throughout the day on Christmas, eventually ending in a light dusting of snow on Wednesday morning. In this part of the country where snow is rare, people found themselves scraping snow and ice off their windshields--something we seem to do every day here in South Dakota. 

Wednesday morning, snow was being observed as far south as El Dorado, AR and Greenwood, MS. Locations observing snow are circled in red in the image above. 

On the south side of the low, severe weather was the issue. Early Tuesday morning, Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Tornado Watches were issued in SE Texas and Louisiana. That afternoon, the storm quickly tracked to the east where it quickly strengthened. 

As you can see in the image above, the Storm Predicition Center did a great job at pinpointing which specific regions would be hit hard with Christmas Day's severe weather. 

Just shortly after sunset, a large wedge-shaped tornado touched down in Mobile doing extensive damage, which has yet to be completely surveyed. 

The radar image on the left shows the supercell thunderstorm with the infamous "hook echo" as the tornado wraps the thunderstorm's rain and hail core around the parent rotation in the thunderstorm. 

On the right, you find that the brightest colors of red and green coupled together in a tight spot show strong winds going in opposite directions, indicating strong rotation. These radar images were captured as the storm was passing over Downtown Mobile. 

As the storm continues to the north and east, it will eventually impact most of the Northeastern U.S. There, it will dump several additional inches of snow to the areas that have already seen enough from the last storm that passed through Nebraska, Iowa, and moved through that region.

Here in South Dakota, we are watching a much weaker system that will pass through here Thursday through Friday. It will be a large system in area, but weak when it comes to snowfall. Light snow will be seen throughout a large portion of the area as a very broad area of low pressure passes through.

Both of our major forecast models, the NAM and GFS, predict higher snowfall totals in the southeast while our Futurecast Snowfall is predicting a fair share for almost everyone. Of course, we will be monitoring the system, no matter how large or how small, to bring you the most up-to-date information.




Locations along the Missouri River like Winner, Pierre, and Mobridge, should see light snow begin to fall sometime shortly before sunrise on Thursday. Then, by Thursday evening, we should all be seeing some scattered light snowfall throughout the region. By Friday afternoon, it should begin to exit the region leaving the east with only a few lingering snow showers by Friday evening.

Just for a little perspective, compare the above images to the storm passing to our south and it is easy to see that there is no comparison. We are not expecting anything of the like to pass through here over the next few days, but of course; we will keep you updated.  


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