First winter weather advisory of the season

I think I told you last night that if we get three inches of snow tonight here on the northern Cumberland Plateau, I’ll eat my hiking boots.

Well, now the National Weather Service has jumped on-board with that possibility. The NWS in Morristown has issued a winter weather advisory for the northern plateau, starting at midnight tonight and continuing through early Saturday afternoon. 

Here’s a forecast graphic the National Weather Service published on its website this morning: 

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You all know me — I will be the first to tell you that I’m not a weather expert, don’t pretend to be and don’t want to be. Interesting weather is a hobby of mine and I try to be well-read on the subject but when it comes time to get serious about the weather, stick to the forecasts from the National Weather Service or your favorite TV weatherman. 

But I have to say this: if Scott County receives 2-3 inches of snow tonight, I will be shocked.

There will be fairly decent moisture associated with this system. Forecast soundings from the 0z run of the GFS show about 0.35 inches of precipitable water in the atmosphere through tomorrow morning. So this isn’t necessarily going to be like many winter systems that bring a light snow threat to this region, where moisture is becoming scarce as cold air grips the region. There will be a window of at least 7-8 hours where snow showers will have plenty of moisture to work with, and the snow could fall at a pretty good clip at times. The same forecast soundings show atmospheric freezing levels below 2,500 ft. by 7 p.m. this evening, with surface temperatures in the mid 30s. Theoretically, the rain-snow changeover could be close by that point, several hours earlier than the midnight time frame highlighted in many official forecasts. (Again: that’s data from just one model. Soundings from the NAM model have more of the lower level of the atmosphere above freezing at 7 p.m., with surface temperatures in the low 40s.)

But here’s why snowfall amounts will be skimpy along the northern plateau: ground temperatures. Remember, we’re still early in the season. We were well into the 70s on Monday and we were in the low 60s as recently as yesterday. Ground temperatures are warm. The temperature should fall below freezing late tonight, but not far; temperatures are expected to bottom out around 30 degrees or so. It would take some very high rates of snowfall to cause road conditions to deteriorate. It wouldn’t take as much snow to start creating some measurable accumulation on grassy and elevated surfaces, but snow will have a tough time accumulating under the lighter bands or showers of snow. 

I think the forecast of the NWS in Nashville, which calls for a dusting of snow in Jamestown, is probably more reasonable. We could see up to an inch or so on the grass or on someone’s roof, but this is very unlikely to be anything major for areas outside the mountains, from where I’m standing.

Aside from the snow, the NWS has also lowered temperatures in its forecast to 37 for the high tomorrow and 29 for the low Sunday morning. That’s not surprising, given the numbers the models have been spitting out fairly consistently, and the forecast may go even lower as we head into tomorrow. The GFS model just continues to get colder on every run. The 0z run this morning showed a high of 36 on Saturday and a low of 23 Sunday morning. The 6z run a few hours later showed a high of 35 on Saturday and a low of 22 on Sunday morning. Remember, those are raw numbers from one (well, in this case, two) run of one model, and they’re likely a bit too cold. But even if you tack on a couple or three degrees, it looks like a hard freeze is in store for Sunday morning. 

Given that, and the gusty winds (to 25 mph) that are expected for Saturday, the last of the fall foliage should disappear rapidly here on the northern plateau.

If it happens, I’ll eat my hat

The first wintry threat of the season after a long, hot summer apparently has some meteorologists jumping the gun a little bit.

First, a Channel 8 posts this forecast to Facebook:

Then the Knoxville News Sentinel one-ups it with this Facebook post:

Sorry, y’all…I’m planning a hike for Saturday and I’d like nothing better than a little snow for the trip. But if either of these forecasts come to fruition, I’ll eat my hiking boots.

Some very minor accumulations are possible, but primarily on grassy and raised surfaces. As the National Weather Service has indicated in its forecasts, this really isn’t going to be much of a big deal outside the mountains.

Um, no

Someone at the National Weather Service’s Morristown Field Office got a little carried away yesterday with snow predictions for tomorrow night: 


Suffice it to say, that isn’t going to happen and never was going to happen. That’s a puzzling graphic, considering that the Morristown office is generally the NWS’s most conservative weather field office in Tennessee, we were still more than 48 hours away from this “event” and there wasn’t any real model support for such a synopsis to begin with. 

That graphic has since been removed and replaced with one that’s much more reasonable:


Any snow accumulations we see here on the northern plateau tomorrow night will be light and limited to grassy and elevated surfaces.

Jones: Michigan not worth discussing

Tennessee’s Butch Jones on rumors that he might be interested in an opening at Michigan:

“It’s not even worth discussing,” Jones said. “There’s no validity to it. I’m not even gonna waste your time or my time by even commenting on that. I think y’all know how I feel.”

For what it’s worth, that’s what anyone would expect him to say if asked about it. There’s no other answer that would be acceptable for him at this point. 

I stand by what I opined yesterday — Butch Jones probably won’t be Michigan’s first call. But if he is, he’ll listen.

Did they say the ‘S’ word? Oh yes they did!

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For the first time this season, the dreaded 4-letter “S” word (or the beloved “S” word, depending on your outlook) is in the forecast.

The National Weather Service’s Morristown Field Office has introduced a 40% chance of rain showers changing to snow showers late Friday night, and a 30% chance of snow showers early Saturday morning.

Snowflakes in the air on Halloween isn’t a terribly uncommon occurrence; most of us can recall scurrying about on our trick-or-treat missions as a kid while snowflakes fell. But what a change this is from just about 10 days ago when it appeared that Halloween might greet us with temperatures in the 70s (it’s also an example of why long-range forecasting is largely a waste of time — remember that the next time you look at The Weather Channel’s 15-day forecast when you’re trying to plan your two-weeks-away outdoors activity).

We’ve been talking about the upcoming cold snap on this blog since last week. This morning’s cold front obliterated the heat ridge that had gripped the region and will set the stage to allow a shortwave trough to drop southwest this weekend, delivering both the much colder temperatures and maybe enough residual moisture for a few snowflakes. As a refresher, here’s the latest raw data from the GFS model regarding this weekend’s temperatures. Remember, these are model-derived numbers, not an actual forecast. But it helps show what could happen, because the model has been fairly consistent with these temperature projections, which are colder than the official forecast from the NWS:

Saturday morning: Low of 30
Saturday afternoon: High of 38
Sunday morning: Low of 26
Saturday afternoon: High of 51

If you’ve been reading these posts for the past several days, you’ve no doubt noticed that the model just continues to trend colder with Saturday’s temperatures. This isn’t too surprising. The ECMWF model from our friends in Europe has been colder with this arctic shot of cold air all along.

So, if it were to snow, how much? Well, not much, obviously. The available moisture will be skimpy. And it should be pointed out that, technically, any rain-to-snow changeover isn’t likely to happen until after midnight, meaning that Halloween will be over. 

But here’s what the NWS has to say in its area forecast discussion this morning for East Tennessee: 


“Higher elevations” refers to the mountains of East Tennessee, but it’s interesting to see the NWS mention the possibility of light accumulations for the valley areas. 

If all this bums you out, don’t despair. As we’ve also discussed in previous posts here, this cold blast will be briefed and just a temporary disruption to the overall pattern. Temps will rebound into the 60s pretty quickly next week and there’s still the potential for much warmer temperatures as we headed towards the middle of November. As I pointed out in those previous posts, the GFS is being a little schizophrenic from run to run, sometimes showing another indian summer setting up about two weeks before Thanksgiving and at other times just keeping a zonal flow in place with mild but not overly warm temps. This morning’s 0z run of the GFS is back to its old tricks. It tops temps out at 75 degrees on Nov. 10, with highs hitting at least 70 degrees from Saturday, Nov. 8, into Nov. 11. The usual disclaimer applies: Those are raw numbers from a single run of a single model, not a forecast. But the overlying theme is that it looks like the mild fall will continue through at least the first half of November.

If you’ve rooted for temps in the 60s and 70s through October, I can get onboard with that. But if you’re rooting for 70-degree temps on Thanksgiving and while I’m trying to deer hunt, you and I can’t be friends anymore.

(I’m not a meteorologist, I have never studied meteorology and I’m not on a first-name basis with any meteorologists. In other words – I’m no expert and don’t claim to be! Be sure to stick with the National Weather Service or your favorite TV weatherman for your official forecasts.) 

This is outrageous

Federal law enforcement run amok:

“We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,” said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best.

“Not only does that cross a line, it erases it,” she said.

“Our reputation and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog are based on trust. Nothing is more fundamental to that trust than our independence — from law enforcement, from government, from corporations and from all other special interests,” Best said. “The FBI’s actions, taken without our knowledge, traded on our reputation and put it at peril.”


Another temperature update

The 12z run of the GFS came in (surprisingly) quite a bit warmer for Saturday morning, keeping even the northern Cumberland Plateau above freezing at 33 degrees. (That’s raw data taken verbatim; hardly a forecast.) But it’s also much colder for Saturday afternoon. If the GFS were to be correct, the high on Saturday here on the northern plateau would be a bone-chilling 40 degrees — and struggling to get there. The low on Sunday morning, as depicted by the model, is 27 degrees, rising through the 40s Sunday afternoon. 

The latest GFS is also a bit more stubborn with the warm-up on Monday, keeping the northern plateau only in the mid 50s, finally making it to 60 by Tuesday.

Make of that what you will, but it’s interesting that the ECMWF model from our friends across the pond in Europe has been colder than our own GFS model all along, and now the GFS is trending colder. Either way, this will be the coldest weekend of the autumn season thus far.

For comparison’s sake, here’s what the 0z run of the GFS showed this morning: A low of 26 on Saturday morning, a high of 45 Saturday afternoon, a low of 28 Sunday morning, a high of 52 Sunday afternoon and a high of 58 Monday afternoon.

The 0z run of the GFS was back to showing 70-degree temps by the start of the second week of November, while the 12z run once again backed off ever-so-slightly. The GFS continues to play its back-and-forth games from run to run. The 12z run tops out at 63 degrees through Nov. 13. However, it has highs in the 60s each day from Nov. 4 through Nov. 13. So, bottom line: Mild weather will reign supreme for at least the first half of November despite the cold start to the month this weekend.

If that bums you out, check out what Andrew has to say at The Weather Centre on the possibility of a frigid winter ahead. (But also read some of his other posts on the blog about the possibility of a mild winter, too.)

Jones to Michigan? It could happen

You may have seen this on blog previously, but Michigan is almost certain to have a coaching vacancy at the end of the season and Tennessee’s Butch Jones is one of the natural candidates for the position.

To that end, weighed in yesterday with its early candidates for the potential Michigan opening. Not surprisingly, Butch Jones made the cut:

Jones is a native of Saugatuck, Mich., and prior to coming to Tennessee, he spent the majority of his career in the B1G footprint. Jones can recruit, is a dynamic offensive coach and his ties to the state mean that he understands what being the head football coach at Michigan is all about. Jones has UT on the upswing and just like Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly before him, enjoyed a great run at Cincinnati prior to heading to a Power 5 conference. Two different college coaching sources said in their opinion, Jones would have strong interest in the position.

Those of you who claim Butch Jones isn’t a big-time football coach and won’t succeed at Tennessee would certainly be singing a different tune if Jones-to-Michigan talk were to heat up. Another coaching vacancy at Tennessee right now, just as the program is on the cusp of a return to SEC viability, would be devastating. Just absolutely devastating.

So why might Jones be interested in Michigan? Simple. He has roots there. He grew up in Ann Arbor’s back yard and he knows Big Ten football. It’s easy to say, “Yeah, but it isn’t always a given that someone would want to return home.” No, it isn’t a given. But it’s a possibility. Butch Jones is as Midwestern as Dolly Parton is Smoky Mountain. My buddy Stuart Jones tweeted me as I was typing this to point out that Jones “has his dream job” at Tennessee. That’s true enough. It’s also true, as you might’ve seen floating around the Twitterverse today, that Jones has said, “I may have been born in Michigan but I’m from Tennessee.” (The only caveat is that quote was from early 2014, not today, as the person who put it back into circulation is leading us to believe.)

However, Michigan is Michigan. There are few college football jobs in America that rival the Tennessee job. Michigan is one of them. And, let’s face it: it’s much easier to win in Michigan than in Tennessee. 

Think about it this way: In 20 games at Tennessee, 10 of the opponents Butch Jones has faced have been ranked in the Top 10. Ten! That’s half his opponents, ranked in the Top 10. At Michigan, Jones might face a couple of Top 10 teams per season, at most…three in an unlucky year, maybe.

If Michigan calls, Butch Jones is listening. I’d bet a dollar on that.

The real question is whether Michigan would call. While Jones has turned some heads with his recruiting prowess in Knoxville, he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire on the field. He has yet to prove that he can win at a big-time level. His lone attempt to prove that so far this year failed miserably, as a truly terrible Florida team walked away from Neyland Stadium with a 10-9 victory.

Chances are, Michigan first looks at guys like Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, is a Michigan alumnus. Like Jones, he’s from the Midwest (Toledo, Ohio). And he’s been very successful at the NFL level. Would Harbaugh entertain an offer from Michigan? He just might. There has been much speculation this season that his tenure at San Francisco is just about over. Then of course there are guys like Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss and Dan Mullen at Mississippi State who are going to be mentioned in connection with any Power 5 conference coaching vacancy that comes up. Neither of them will stay in Mississippi forever, and Mullen especially would be well served to get out while he’s ripe. Before this season, Mullen’s coaching seat was getting a little warm in Starkville, and he’s unlikely to be able to sustain this year’s level of success once the talent drops off again next season.

If the unthinkable happens and Butch Jones were to wind up at Michigan, guess what that means? You got it: GRUMORS! All day, every day. Fun times would be in store.