Thursday, March 23, 2023
March 23, 2023

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Weather Eye: With feisty system behind us, a dry week awaits


That was quite a small but feisty weather system that rolled by Saturday. It was stronger than forecast charts predicted, and with clear skies overnight cooling the lower atmosphere, snow flurries were seen by many in Clark County.

One reader sent me a picture of a skiff of the white stuff on their deck and lawn. We had no cold arctic air and no cold east winds to produce the snowflakes, but we had what I call “fake cold.”

So, what is that? Absent a freezing air mass, we dropped overnight to 32 degrees, and it turned colder when the clouds moved in after sunrise. Normally, with a storm to our west moving inland, we do not receive snow unless east winds are howling. However, with subfreezing overnight temperatures, when the precipitation began to fall to the ground, the snowflakes aloft stayed frozen.

We also had graupel, which are soft, frozen snow pellets that crumple upon impact. There was also some sleet mixed in. It was brief, and it was what we call “conversational” snow.

I did not see this happening until late Friday evening as temperatures fell and the advancing cloud shield moved quickly toward us.

Precipitation amounts were on the light side even at the coast, with less than half an inch there. The coast had no snow but strong winds in the 50-to-55-mph range, which caused scattered power outages along the Long Beach Peninsula. As it approached the ocean beaches, the weak low strengthened, causing a sudden change in barometric pressure from south to north.

That’s why I say weather forecasting isn’t an exact science at times. Computer models try but occasionally miss the mark, and local forecasters are committed to doing some “now casting.”

Now that the system has passed, we will return as planned to a short dry spell this coming week. It may turn damp by next weekend, but we won’t see much until then. Our highs will be seasonal, in the 40s, and our lows in the 30s. We may turn cooler and see a hint of lowland snow as the month ends and February rolls in, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, keep warm and take good care. We’ll chat again on Tuesday.