Joe’s Wx Blog: Toto’s Revenge!

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10PM Update…all continues to go according to plan, there are even a couple of showers out there now approaching Topeka, but those should move NNE and weaken. Our storm is organizing aloft across the the OK/TX Panhandles. Already seeing many reports of thunder and lightning down there and that shows the dynamics of the storm.

The newest NAM model is in and really just confirms my previous thoughts so I really didn’t need to alter my snowfall forecast that much. Here is the model forecast…even cutting some of those totals a bit, I’m still within my range on my map.

ScreenHunter_07 Feb. 24 21.39

We’ll be tracking this thing like a hawk heading into tomorrow afternoon. At this point I really don’t need to change anything…there are still some things that are bothering me about this but I’m just so impressed by the model totals on precipitation indicating a lot of lift in the atmosphere and there are several parameters that are just really favorable for heavy+ snowfall.

Here is what I went with for the late shows…


I’ll keep and eye on the new GFS as it comes in and see if any other changes need to happen. I sure hope not…from here it’s time to just start eying the storm.



I know…I know…the Weather Channel has their goofy name for the upcoming Winter Storm and I’ve already told you that I think it’s pretty silly overall to be naming these storms like that, and I still feel that way. Although to be honest for those in the world of social media it is beneficial so I will give them that aspect especially when you can #____. Some meteorologists have thrown out Toto’s Revenge or the Blizzard Of Oz #2 to this storm. Most of my readers this afternoon, should the storm do what I think it’s capable of doing will be calling this storm something else. Those titles however aren’t quite up to our FCC standards so let me say ahead of time I see where your coming from.

Call this storm whatever you want, but the word historical comes into mind. The record for KC snow on the 26th is 10.5″ set in 1993. The record for the 26th for KC is 2.4″ set way back in 1890. that record is VERY breakable. So let’s get into things.

There have been some VERY minor changes/adjustments to the data. Basically though my thoughts haven’t changed much and this should be a pretty healthy snowstorm with near blizzard conditions. One of the criteria for blizzard conditions is a period of time (3 hours) where the winds are gusting to at least 35 MPH. the winds just above the ground will certainly be strong enough (40-55 MPH) but there is a question of whether or not that strong wind just above the surface will works it’s way downwards. It might for a while, but perhaps just falling short of the criteria needed, but it will be close and it will be windy, moreso than the last storm a couple of days ago.

Our storm now is located in the Rockies and it’s spreading snow into the mountain areas in CO as I type this. Denver is expecting a nice snow out of this. You can see it spinning around on the IR satellite loop here. That’s the storm aloft. At the surface a surface low pressure area is now developing out towards the SW Plains states and the desert SW.

This is a map showing the isobars and the surface wind flow. Isobars are lines of equal pressure. If you watch this map tomorrow you will see the storm developing at the surface in front of your eyes. It should update about 1/hour automatically I hope. This surface storm, as of this writing in NM will intensify as the upper core of the storm catches up to it and deepens through tomorrow night into Tuesday and will move from OK, into AR and then up towards the MS Valley.

As far as the modelling goes take a look at how this all affects the precipitation and notice how the precipitation blossoms across KS and moves towards the north around the storms circulation.

For reference as I mentioned yesterday. 00Z means 6PM, 06Z means 12AM, 12Z means 6AM, and 18Z means noon. The times by the way go every 3 hours. The solid RED line is called the 540 thickness line. Basically it’s a very generic rain/snow line. If you look carefully at the data it seems to show the potential for a brief period of liquid rain at the onset of the storm. Then, looking carefully the RED line moves SE of KC, indicating that we should be all snow from there on in.

We should be seeing heavy snow(!) from about 9PM tomorrow night through 3-6AM Tuesday before the snow lightens up. That combined with the near-blizzard force winds means that it will be a miserable TUE AM around these parts with dangerous to impossible travel conditions.

In terms of timing out the snow a bit more, take a look at this next animated graphic, showing the precipitation type.

Aloft you can really see the core of the storm going through changes (getting stronger) to the south of the KC area.

Even IF you don’t understand weather maps, I think by looking at the above animation you can clearly see the storms path and notice as more circles develop…the storm get’s stronger aloft and hence stronger at the surface. Very impressive to see.

There was a storm VERY similar to this one on March 28th of 2009. Then rainfall amounts varied from about 1/2″ on the northside to close to 1.5″-2″ on the south side with a VERY similar track. There was even some snow as well which is impressive for very late March. I do think there will be a gradient through the region, and while I’ve broadbrushed 8-12″ on my forecast map this AM, during the evening shows I will be drawing in a higher max snow area, perhaps on the southside of KC metro southwards. for reference sake here is the map I showed during the AM show this evening @ 5PM. (Updated)


What I may do is extend the 12″-16+” line into the southside of the metro. I’ll think more about that later today/tonight but just a heads up. The models have been a bit bullish in generating precipitation totals with these cold systems.

I should also mention that there are convective elements in the fields that would also lead me to think that the potential of more thundersnow is in the offing for areas from KC southwards especially. Not to the extent of a few days ago, but there may be some rumbles and you know what that does to the snow totals.

OK so let’s get into the models because there is still a chance that this may blow up in the meteorologist’s faces. Why because IF this the track slides about 50-100 miles farther south, and I’m already expecting a pretty sharp northwestern cutoff we can get very little in the KC area with the emphasis being south of the metro towards the lakes region. Think about that…100 miles is all it would take and yes it is certainly in the back of my mind and as you look at some of the graphics that follow you can see that there are some computer runs that do just that!

Again just think about 75 miles and it’s the reason why many forecasts of big storms blow up in our faces and the reason why we spend so much time telling you why the track of the storm is so important. Personally I would really like it from an accuracy standpoint if this thing was just a bit farther north and yes I’m a bit concerned with how far south it is tracking. I would prefer from a forecasting standpoint that the storm be along or slightly north of the Red River along the TX/OK border. The RPM model above keeps the storm just slightly south (again about 50 miles it seems) south of the Red River. That’s how little wiggle room I’ve got with the forecast and why if it blows up on us, will be the reason we blow it. It’s like I can see the train way down in the tunnel.

Hopefully everything will work out as I expect it too. Again though, should I all of a sudden have to make a BIG change to the forecast later this evening, I can see that being a reason.

So with all that said, assuming the storm does what I think it will do and NOT shift 50-100 miles farther south…here is my timeline.

Rest of today and tonight: Sunny the mostly clear skies for through the evening hours. Highs near 40° then dropping into the 20s tonight as clouds increase later tonight.

Monday through 3PM: We actually may wake up to some sunshine. Clouds will gradually thicken up and lower during the day. We should stay dry through at least 3PM Highs should be around 35° or so.

Monday 3PM-6PM: We turn gray and breezy. You will start feeling like the storm is coming by the way the clouds lower and thicken rapidly. Some light rain or a wintry mix may develop. My thought is that the roads should hold through evening rush hour.

Monday 6PM-9PM: Precip should move in from the south. Whatever mix there is (or even rain for some) will start transitioning over to snow

Monday 9PM-Tuesday 6AM: The “worst” of the storm. Heavy snow with the potential of thunder again. Snowfall rates may approach 1-2″/hour and this is when we get the bulk of the accumulations. Winds will also be from the east at 25-35 MPH in gusts. Near blizzard conditions are expected in the area.

Tuesday 6AM-6PM: Occasional bands of snow rotate around the storm well south of here, through the metro area. Some additional accumulations are possible…probably 1-2″ with the smaller bands

Tuesday 6PM-Wednesday Noon: Scattered snow showers are expected with minor accumulations possible. NW winds of 15-25 MPH means more blowing and drifting of the snow even through Wednesday night.

So there you have it. IF you want a lot of snow you want no changes int he track or even a bit of a northward jog. IF you don’t want snow, you want the storm to track just 75 miles south of what I think it will do…there is a way we can miss this mostly at least…right now though I don’t think that will happen.


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