Joe’s Weather Blog: Ice storm concerns increasing (WED-1/11)

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Good afternoon. The 60s were nice while they lasted…63° officially at KCI…with 70° in Marshall, MO. Very impressive for January…considering now the temperatures are starting to tank downwards through the 50s and will be in the 30s by early this evening with increasing north winds. This is the 1st step to setting the stage for the weekend situation.

Model data today is increasingly suggestive of significant amounts of ice. What is UNknown is where the worst of the icing will be and how much total will fall. We can sort of deal with 1/2″ amounts of ice as long as there isn’t much wind on the power lines…but once you start getting more ice than that…the lack of wind factor slowly gets overcome and we start seeing some power line issues. Somebody is going to deal with that it appears…whether it’s in KC…north or south of here is too soon to say with any confidence but it’s increasingly likely.

Forecast:

Tonight: Cloudy skies and colder with blustery north winds. Lows near 20° with teens possible.

Thursday: Variable clouds and cold with highs 25-30°

Friday: There may be some light areas of freezing mist/drizzle developing. Temperatures should be in the 20s. We’ll need to watch for some light glazing at anytime during the day…but perhaps a better chance at night.

Saturday: Off and on very light freezing mist/drizzle. Temperatures near 30° or so. Amounts should be light overall…roads should improve somewhat after the AM slickness (depending on treatments)

Sunday: The real issue may be Saturday night into Sunday 3PM for the region. There are increasing concerns on my part of 1/2″+ of ice accumulation in that time frame. Should that happen…there will be the higher risk of power issues for areas most affected. Both the GFS and the EURO have some decent+ totals the issue is the location of the heaviest amounts…again we just don’t know with confidence.

Monday: Rain and warmer…we could end up in the 50s!

Discussion:

Ice does nothing for me. Aside from giving us some needed moisture…it’s a pain. If we’re going to be this cold…I’d assume getting a bunch of snow…but ice to me is worthless. It’s no fun…the longer term ramifications are a pain and I just don’t like it.

Just uttering the word ice…brings back memories of 2002. With good reason. Will this be a repeat of that. Probably not in terms of the 1-3″ ice totals that were widespread in the area. The concern though is what happens IF we get 1/2-1″ of ice and the end results of that.

I’ve been looking at the weather maps going back to 2002 especially looking at the similarities and the differences. Something though that I brought up on twitter earlier was this…

Amazing…look at that warmth ahead of the worst ice storm in KC modern history.

Via Penn State…here is a look at some of the maps from that day…

I know that is a lot…and I know that’s confusing. In the upper left…the flow at 18,000 feet or so…with the storm in AZ. The upper right map is the surface map with a weaker high in the upper Midwest.

The front in the upper right map is stretching from Lexington, KY towards Texarkana towards the SE of Dallas.

The lower left map shows the mid level moisture (700 mbs about 10,000′ up) with the darker green representing the moister air at that level. The lower right is the 850 mb map…with the 0°C line in yellow. Notice how it cuts across the KC region.

Now let’s compare that map to the map below…the EURO forecast for Sunday at 6AM.

There are some rough similarities…there is a storm in the SW…not as strong as the top map though…there is a high but more towards the Great Lakes…there is plenty of mid level moisture…and in the lower right side there 5000′ temperatures are around +6°C which is a notable difference.

One important thing that we’ll be watching for…is when we can bust above 32° again on Sunday. The earlier the better. Sometimes…when the air above us is warm enough…rain drops can actually help warm the surface temperatures 1-2°. This is what would be helpful in this case especially for Sunday. In 2002, the air was around 32° deeper through the lower part of the atmosphere.

That won’t be the case this time. Of course IF your surface temperature on Sunday was 20° instead of around 30° this wouldn’t even be an issue…but we’re straddling this 1-4° temperature variation around 32° which makes the total ice amounts tough to forecast from this far out with any real confidence.

So let’s go on the assumption that we’re 32° or below through noon Sunday. How much are the models giving us in the 24 hour period from noon SAT to noon Sunday. Most of this would come SAT night into SUN AM.

1st the EURO…

ecmwf_precip_24_kc_18

Now the GFS model…

gfs_precip_24hr_kc_17

Again both models showing their forecast for ice totals from noon SAT to noon SUN.

A lot is unknown again…but I wanted to get this out there because a lot of people are asking about potential power issues…and that is certainly on the table in some areas and it’s here where the winds play a BIG role in power line ice loads. When there is wind…adding stress/movement to the lines…they come down easier. One good thing is that we’re not expecting much wind with this situation.

 

You can see though once you get much above 3/4″ or so of an ice accumulation…all bets are off on the power lines/grid. That is the concern…with the above maps.

This all becomes mute no later than Sunday night (hopefully earlier) as temperatures warm up…and assuming the model data is close…we should see a warm surge of air come up from the south early Monday sending highs well into the 40s, if not 50s for many. Just crazy. The big ice storm in 2002 was followed by snow on it’s tail end.

OK I know that’s a lot to grasp…I was pressed for time as well so it’s not as thorough as I’d like. I may try and get a FB Live together later this evening as the new data roles in.

Our feature photo today is from John H Wallace Jr…down towards the Hallmark Greetings Production Center in Lawrence of the stunning rainbow yesterday morning.

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Joe

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2 comments

  • Rockdoc

    As always, your discussion is very much appreciated. I really like that you dug out the maps of conditions for the 2002 ice storm. Only thing I would wish for on this are links to these figures so I could download for future reference along with verified parameter maps for this storm 🤗

    Hope you post updated Euro, NAM 3k and GFS maps for 500mb, 850mb moisture/temps, and surface temps with lows/highs/freeze lines? Thanks!