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Tracking the potential for a major storm in southern Ontario next week

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By Chris Scott
Chief Meteorologist
@ChrisScottWx
Friday, January 31, 2014, 7:08 AM

I kicked the hornet’s nest Tuesday evening when I tweeted about a potential "storm to watch" in southern Ontario next Tuesday and Wednesday.

It was meant to be a heads-up to keep the public's eye on next week's forecast across southern Ontario. It wasn't meant to be a guarantee of a storm, but rather, one to watch.

Well, mission accomplished. A lot of you are already talking about this, so let’s dive into the latest on this threat. 

THE THREAT

There is a very high likelihood that a major winter storm will affect eastern North America in the Tuesday through Thursday timeframe next week. 

What is not yet clear, and likely won’t be completely for a couple days, is exactly who will be impacted and how bad it will be in a given location. 

Why can’t we nail it down yet? 


A SOCIAL MEDIA FRENZY: Read more about the tweet that started it all


Well, the seed of this storm is a strong jet stream disturbance between Alaska and Hawaii. It’s WAY out there still.

However, computer models are able to crunch the numbers and determine the physics of the atmosphere, and they are unanimous in suggesting this seed will sprout into a strapping Texas low which will march northeastwards as a moisture-laden winter storm next Tuesday.

Seed of the Tuesday-Wednesday storm currently between Alaska and Hawaii. Courtesy College of Dupage.

Seed of the Tuesday-Wednesday storm currently between Alaska and Hawaii. Courtesy College of Dupage.

The exact track will determine whether cities like Toronto and Halifax see a major snow storm, rain, or maybe even nothing at all.

Yes, it’s convenient to be able to say anything could happen, but the idea here is to convey the risk.

Using a weather forecast is really an exercise in risk management.


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In this case, there is the risk for something big next week, but the level of risk is not yet high enough for most of us to start changing plans. However, if you’re in the snow clearing business, or you have long distance travel plans that are flexible, the risk may already be enough that you decide to take some precautionary action.

Despite this uncertainty, the computer model data Wednesday afternoon showed surprising agreement. 

READ MORE: FIND OUT WHAT THE COMPUTER MODELS ARE SAYING

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