500mb (18,000ft) height anomalies from this morning’s GFS. Almost 7 standard deviations (unheard of) below normal. (Weatherbell.com)

3:00 p.m. update: NWS Morristown reports up to 22″ of snow fell at Mt LeConte in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, with drifts waist deep there.

Here are several new share-worthy items from this stunning mid-fall snowstorm:

Original story from 11:35 a.m…

Snow to start November in South Carolina? Basically unheard of. Until today.

The snow is not just the mountains either. An extremely unusual cold pocket of air has brought record early-season snow to low-elevation spots like Columbia, South Carolina.  In the Smoky Mountains, and surrounding parts of the Appalachians, measurements well past one foot have been recorded.

This all comes on the heels of a big windstorm and massive waves in and around the Great Lakes on Halloween. The storm will also impact the Northeast on its way out to sea.

Perhaps the most incredible aspect of this amazing storm is the low elevation snow in the southeast. Columbia, South Carolina is a shining example.

Reports range from about 1″ in the area to as much as 4″ or so. Keep in mind, this area is around 200-300 feet elevation in South Carolina. At the start of November.

According to the National Weather Service office there, this is the earliest measurable snow has been recorded in Columbia.  In fact, there have only been two other Novembers since the 1800s with snow accumulation in that city.

Add in some elevation, and the snow totals go way up. The Smoky Mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina have been particularly hard hit. Some of the highest mountain peaks are reported to have picked up between one and two FEET of snow. At least a little more is to come.

Further north, through the mountainous portions of Virginia and West Virginia, several inches of snow have fallen with more on the way.

Today’s snow wasn’t the first major impact from this big early-season winter storm. Yesterday, wicked winds and record Halloween snow rocked Chicago as well as other areas across the Great Lakes region.

Dubbed the Halloween Howler by local media, wave heights past 20 feet were seen in and around Chicago as wind gusts as high as 60-70 mph blasted the region on Friday.

The Chicago Weather Center has more great pictures as well, and NWS Chicago has a recap on the high wind and wave event.

Now what?

This morning’s radar showed the extreme cold pocket over the Southeast U.S. The upper-level low pressure responsible for dumping snow on that region will move offshore and to the northeast through early Monday.


Saturday morning radar shows the upper level swirl impacting the southeast. (Weathertap)

On its trip out to sea, a strong coastal storm will continue to develop. By tomorrow afternoon, it is expected to be east of New England, bringing heavy rain and snow to parts of that region. Maine and adjacent locations in Canada are likely to get hit particularly hard with blinding snow and angry winds.


GFS model forecast for Sunday afternoon showing a large storm off New England. (Weatherbell.com)

Winds in the wake of the storm will continue to rip across much of the East Coast throughout the weekend, causing at least isolated power outages. Outages may be widespread in areas that received the heaviest of snow.

If all that wasn’t enough, a large portion of the eastern United States is facing a cold night tonight as well as the next several. A huge area of the mid-South is at risk for a freeze tonight, and that will progress eastward tomorrow night.


U.S. weather warnings, showing a large area at risk for a freeze tonight. (NOAA, modified by CWG)

Welcome to winter 2014-15!