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Joe’s Weather Blog: Trying to provide a bit of clarity in an unclear situation (TUE-1/10)

Good afternoon. Interesting weather day in the region today as temperatures really warmed up overnight into early this morning  then rapidly dropped about 10-15° during the morning behind a cold front that is pushing through the MO side as I type this. There was a bit of rain associated with it…even a few lightning strikes on the KS side for a few minutes. Strong winds were also realized, mainly east of the metro…with gusts to 50 MPH+ towards Sedalia and Warrensburg.

Forecast: 

Rest of today: Mostly sunny and cooler (compared to this morning). Readings around 40° with blustery NW winds of 20-30 MPH.

Tonight: The winds drop off as temperatures briefly drop to near 32° or so then level off and start rising 5+ degrees towards daybreak.

Wednesday: Windy and very mild with highs approaching 55-60° although we may see a surge of low clouds. Winds again will be gusty at 20-30+ MPH in the AM then switching towards the NW later in the afternoon as colder air arrives.

Thursday: Mostly cloudy and colder with highs 25-30°

Discussion:

Remember over the weekend when I told you this was going to be a weird weather week with temperatures…going up at night…falling during the day…yup.

The temperatures today are the big weather story. Look at the data since 12AM for KCI through 11AM this morning.

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Notice we maxed out around 55° after daybreak…and then saw the winds switch from the SW to the W and now NW allowing the colder air to spill back in. We’re dropping into the upper 30s as I type this @ KCI with winds gusting to almost 40 MPH.

What’s fascinating (for this time of the year especially) is the rapid turn-around that occurs later tonight into tomorrow AM. Winds above us will increase (fast) and by daybreak will be 50-60 MPH a few thousand feet up from the south to the north. On Wednesday, assuming we get a least some sunshine…we should rapidly warm-up. The concern would be a surge of low level moisture (the low gray clouds) rapidly coming up from the south as the morning moves along. For giggles the record high tomorrow is 65° in 1960. The record today is 65° set in 1911.

By the way…for the month so far..through yesterday we’re running 7.5° below average.

Tomorrow afternoon into early evening will see the change that will start setting things up for what happens heading towards later Friday into the weekend. There has been just a touch of clarity it appears for that 3 day period. Some of it is potentially good news…although everything but a snowstorm, at this point, appears to be on the table.

The colder air will start moving into the region later tomorrow into Wednesday night. It will continue to flow southwards through Thursday and I think some model guidance is underestimating the cold air associated with this…that’s why I think it’s going to be colder during the day (20s) than others.

Then as we head towards Thursday afternoon here is the surface map set-up with a strong surface high across the northern Plains feeding colder and drier air southwards into the region

nam_precip_mslp_conus2_20

3PM surface map for Thursday

So here is the 1st higher confidence part about the forecast. It will be getting colder! This cold air will linger through Saturday and potentially into Sunday as well.

The air is also going to be initially dry closer to the surface. This means that whatever rain develops starts saturating the air mass above us it will initially be fighting this dry surface air into Friday. By the same token…something to remember over the weekend as we fight the surface temperatures (27-32°+) is that when it does start raining into that cold air…it will drop the temperatures a degree or so…because of evaporation effects initially. When every degree or two counts, this is important. When the rain stops and/or becomes intermittent, temperatures could increase a couple of degrees. While this happens though the drier (slightly lower dew points) air will continually come into the area thanks to N/NE winds into the weekend. So when the rain starts again we go through the same process all over again.

Why are we talking about rain and not snow? Well as I mentioned…the air above us will be too warm to support snow. This is higher confidence part number two. The temperature profile of the atmosphere mostly supports freezing rain/sleet combo and eventually freezing rain into Saturday. This DOES NOT MEAN that it will be doing that all day and night. There are going to be substantial breaks in the wintry precipitation that falls. This is higher confidence part #3 in my opinion

The storm in question is out there in the Pacific Ocean.

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Let’s jump ahead 3 days to show you the future of the circulation.

Friday

Saturday

Sunday…still aways away from the area

Despite the fact the the system will be aways away from the region on Sunday…note how the black lines in the map above are spreading apart from NE NM>E TX. That is the approximate wind flow up at around 18,000 feet. Here is a better map showing this.

Note how the winds are blowing from south to north in W TX and from SW to NE in E TX. This tells be the air is VERY diffluent (diverging) across OK. This diverging air up there creates converging air down below. This creates lift and that creates precipitation. What forms down there will be moving towards the northeast towards us on Sunday. Higher confidence item #4. It appears the “heaviest” part of the storm will be Sunday late into Monday especially Monday. That DOES NOT MEAN it will be dry on Sunday. I expect some sort of freezing rain/rain combo at times during the day.

Now comes the rub. As the “heaviest” part of the precipitation comes our way…the push of cold air will be stopping and we’ll gradually see temperatures creeping towards and potentially above 32° sometime on Sunday. This may end up being the saving grace in keeping us from having a MAJOR ice storm locally in the KC area (ala 2002). I can’t at this point put that temperature forecast though into higher confidence status though. The takeaway though is the longer the heaviest part of the storm takes in impacting the area…the less chance there will be enough sub-32° cold air around to create freezing rain.

Also remember as, I mentioned yesterday, there is a big difference impact-wise (especially during the daylight hours) between freezing rain at 31-33° and freezing rain at 26-29°

With all that said…I’m expecting at least some road impacts before Sunday at times. Also I expect some glazing and slippery conditions on untreated roads. Ice scrappers(!) will be handy over the weekend into Sunday afternoon. IF you’re going to the game…be prepared for at least a cold (30-33°) rain at times. 

Preliminary precip totals from the EURO indicate: (obviously this isn’t set in stone and any shift north or south will affect the impacts of the weekend system tremendously)

Friday into Saturday afternoon…under 1/4″ of moisture (this will be some sort of combo of sleet and freezing drizzle/rain). That type of total creates headaches and travel issues (untreated roads especially) but won’t take down power lines.

Saturday evening into Sunday afternoon: Another 1/10-1/4″ or so but heavier amounts farther south of KC…this may be an area to watch for more significant icing…especially near and south of US 50 (Sedalia>Warrensburg>Paola>Ottawa and southwards) should this play out.

Sunday evening into Monday: 1/4-3/4″ of moisture. This is the time frame that WE REALLY need the temperatures to be above 32° and data today shows this increasing chance. IF we don’t get those temperatures above 32° in this time frame then a more significant ice storm may occur.

So there we are…again there is no need to panic…there is no need at this point to run to the store and buy supplies for the next 2 weeks or whatever. I want all to be aware of the weekend potential. Would I be heading out to buy a generator at this point…no. Will I be checking my battery back-up on my sump pump on Thursday…yes. I learned my lesson in the last ice storm about battery back-up sump pumps.

Our feature photo comes from Brandi Meyer Lynchard in Lees Summit, MO

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Joe

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