This buzzsaw of a typhoon — named Haiyan by the western Pacific convention that is used, though called Yolanda by many Filipinos — slammed into the central Philippines (including some areas that suffered major earthquake damage recently) with estimated 195 mph winds on Friday morning local time. Official measurements will determine where this mighty storm ranks, but it is likely among the five or so strongest tropical cyclones ever to make landfall on our planet since reliable records have been kept in the mid 1800s or so. I’m sure we will see some heartbreaking images and stories out of the Philippines in the aftermath of this monster.
Our weather is settling in for a nice weekend, with fairly seasonable temperatures (50s-60s for highs, 20s-30s for lows) and no rain. And then next week, there is the shot of Arctic air and associated disturbance in the Tuesday-Thursday timeframe that has been the subject of lots of model-driven speculation. The European model kicked out one run depositing HUGE amounts of snow in Southwest Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the GFS backed off the big-storm scenario in favor of a quick-zipping clipper dropping a little mixed precipitation or light snow. A BIG key to whether or not next week’s system will be more than a fast-moving Alberta-clipper type storm is shown in the circle on the European model chart linked here. What is circled is blocking high pressure in southeast Canada. On the European model run with the large amounts, that blocking high keeps the disturbance from racing past, forcing it to dig farther south and west, spinning up a deeper, slower low-pressure system that draws lots of moisture into cold air. If that block isn’t there or isn’t as strong or isn’t in just the right place, there won’t be a big storm here. At this point, I’m still favoring more of a quick-hitting clipper rather than a big storm, simply because most ways this could pan out would lead to that. The window is very narrow — the overall pattern is not that conducive for a major storm — and needs lots of things to go just so for it a big mid-November snowstorm to happen. Even at that, there is a decent chance of more snow than just flurries for a little while come about Wednesday, especially in the higher elevations.