Record-Breaking, Rare Snow Blankets Gulf Coast
UPDATED 10 PM CST, December 4, 2009
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill
Winter had a few early-season tricks up its sleeve with a rare early December record-breaking snowfall brushing Texas and Louisiana today. The snow will be shifting away from the Gulf Coast into the Appalachians by Saturday.
Several snowfall records were set on Friday, including Houston Intercontinental and Houston Hobby Airports reporting one inch of snow, while both Galveston and College Station had a record trace of snow. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Lake Charles had the earliest snowfall on record with 0.20 inches.
The white stuff is spreading eastward tonight into eastern Louisiana and Mississippi. Temperatures were near freezing when the snow began, so the snowflakes are large and wet. A quick 2 to 4 inches will accumulate, especially on grassy areas by early Saturday morning as temperatures drop to near 30 degrees. Slushy roads will affect travel in an area not accustomed to snow.
A Winter Storm Warning
continues for eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi with Winter Weather Advisories
stretching from Louisiana and Mississippi coast to northwestern Georgia.
This rare December snow is due to a combination of arctic air settling south across the central U.S. and making its way deep into Texas. The Texas panhandle saw teens early this morning, breaking low temperature records. A new storm system developing in the Gulf of Mexico will skirt just to the south of the Southeast Texas and southern Louisiana coast. This will be just close enough to interact with the cold temperatures in place, producing the quick jolt of snow.
The snow will end early Saturday as the Gulf system moves east into slightly warmer temperatures over the South and Southeast. Even so, Mississippi and Alabama could see a few snowflakes early Saturday. The snow will spread into the central Appalachians and eventually the Northeast Saturday into Sunday.
Snow is extremely rare in this part of the Lone Star State. San Antonio last saw snow in 2004, but before that, the books have to be turned back to 1987 to find more than one-tenth of an inch of the white stuff. In Houston, the white stuff falls once every 2 to 3 winters. The last measurable snow fell on December 10 of last year, when 1.4 inches fell at Houston Intercontinental, with less than a half-inch downtown. Interestingly, the city has never received measurable snow in consecutive years.
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