Joe’s Weather Blog: Lots of cold…some snow…creeping drought (FRI-1/12)
Good morning…brisk to say the least out there with a good NW wind contributing to the old weather in the region this morning. It’s going to be a pretty cold weekend then a bitterly cold start to the next work week in the KC region. The cold is a given though in the upcoming set-up…snow is also becoming more likely as well. There are two bullets we’ll try and dodge including snow chances on Sunday morning and then late Sunday night into Monday morning. The two combined IF they bulls-eye the area, may give the region enough snow cover that it will impact morning low temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings…and could influence any warm-up into the end of next week.
Forecast: (2PM Update)
Tonight: Filtered moonlight>cloudy skies…and cold with lows around 5°
Saturday: Variable clouds with a few flurries possible. Highs again around 20°. Steady to slowly rising overnight temperatures.
Sunday: Some light snow is possible from before daybreak to late morning. Accumulations are possible…from a dusting to about 1″, especially on the KS side…lighter amounts farther into the MO side. This easily could shift east or west. Not as cold but still chilly with highs near 30-32°
Monday: AM snow possible…this will need to be watched for the potential of 1-3″ or so as the arctic air is dumping into the region again. This could have significant impacts on the morning rush hour! Falling temperatures with readings about 30° to start the day but tanking into the single digits by later in the afternoon (if not earlier). Wind chills will be sub-zero in the afternoon as well.
Tuesday: Bitterly cold morning with lows of near 5 below (or colder). Wind chills will be a major issue. -20 to -30° values are VERY possible. This alone may contribute to additional school delays and cancellations. Highs should be 5-10° above.
The cold and the snow chances are more or less the main items in the blog today. The cold weather has been talked about for days and while there are some subtleties that need to be figured out about how cold we end up getting, especially when it comes to the wind situation…it’s guaranteed that more arctic air is heading into the area early next week for a few days.
As I’ve mentioned for the last several days…region-wide 10-30(!) below is on the table for Tuesday or Wednesday morning. What will need to be figured out is 1) snow cover…IF we have a couple of inches of snow on the ground…watch out! 2) will the winds drop off Tuesday morning to allow the perfect combination of clear skies, dry air, and light winds with snow on the ground to send temperatures to the lowest potential and 3) how quickly do the winds switch toward the SW and start to push out the coldest air on Wednesday morning. The longer the wait…the colder the lows Wednesday morning.
IF we don’t have that perfect combination set-up Tuesday…lows may be closer to 5 below. The issue on Tuesday may be the wind situation mixing and stirring the air up. In a sense, it’s sort of like this morning. The air is cold…but still on the positive side of 0°. The air on Tuesday AM will be colder…but if it’s stirred up with wind…temperatures won’t freefall as badly…perhaps closer to 5 below in the KC area. IF the winds drop off…we tank to near 15 below! The data today shows that the winds may not drop off…that means that while it will be brutally cold…the actual temperature may be closer to 5 or 10 below BUT now wind chills are a bigger issue as suggested above.
If you’re wondering can we get that cold? We can…we would’ve on New Years Day IF there was more prevalent snow on the ground in KC…but remember it was mostly all north of KCI towards northern MO.
Wednesday morning lows will be dependent on how quickly the arctic air moves along and moves out. We’ll probably be around 5-10° Tuesday afternoon…so we really don’t have to drop far to get to 5 below Tuesday evening…from there do we keep dropping or level off as the winds switch towards the SW? Typically around here even with snow…a south or southwest wind usually stops those bitterly cold falling temperatures at night in their tracks.
The bottom line is that more school closings are likely Monday (although many are off for the holiday)>Wednesday of next week. Some because of snow…and more because of dangerous wind chills. Parents and kids take note! I’ll get more into the cold and the importance of the key ingredients for the bitterly cold nights over the weekend.
As far as the snow risks go…let me show you the NAM model…this is basically a model that goes out for the next 3 1/2 days. It will auto-update for you all day and weekend long. So if you look this morning or tonight, you will get the latest model forecast to see how things are looking. Again remember it’s only a model.
We may have some new readers this morning…so what you’re looking at is this. The black lines are called isobars. They measure lines of equal pressure. You can more or less track the areas of high and low pressure developing and moving across the country. Note the 1044 mb high moving in tomorrow…that’s some darn cold air from the arctic building southwards. On TV we convert the mb or millibars to inches of mercury. So IF you have a weather station at home that tracks the barometer or air pressure…it will be soaring again Saturday to about 1040 mbs or 30.70″! Not as high as New Years Day…but pretty close.
The solid red lines are called thickness lines. Without getting too into the weeds on this…the higher the thickness the warmer the air from the ground up to about 18,000 feet or so. The lower the thickness the colder the air. The more solid RED line is what we refer to as the 540 thickness line. That is an approximate rain/snow line. It’s not perfect though as a demarcation. We can get snow when that line is to our north…or we can get rain when it’s to our south…but we’ll start with the basics today. Note how that line stays south of the KC region through the weekend. This tells me that overall the atmosphere is cold enough to support snow all weekend long.
So what will cause the snow to get going…lots of mid level moisture streaking from the NW to the SW. this will be associated with little disturbances that come down in the flow…so let’s try and track those waves by going up to about 10,000 feet and look for little kinks or little U shapes in the flow aloft.
The model above shows the relative humidity at around 10,000 feet or so. Notice the blue colors…that’s mid-level moisture. Notice as well the little waves. You can see them as little kinks…even little U shapes. Sometimes they’re big kinks…sometimes they’re more subtle. There’s a subtle one for Sunday AM and a bigger one for Monday AM.
For timing purposes…12Z is 6AM…18Z is Noon…0Z is 6PM and 6Z is 12AM.
So there are waves coming down in the flow…there is moisture above us…now the next issue is will the wave saturate the atmosphere enough to get the snow to reach the ground. I think it will.
So the potential of a “plowable” snow is there for Monday morning especially.
All these systems haven’t really amounted to a lot when it comes to moisture though. Even if whatever happens over the weekend happens…amounts will be under 1/3″ total it appears (which will be converted to snow amounts)…some not even getting that much. Yesterday’s system was mostly in the 1/10 to 1/3″ range, which would be fine except we’ve been dry for almost 3 months now…really since the last big event around here on the 21-22nd of October (2-3″).
That dryness has led to the region teetering ever so close to “moderate” drought conditions.
and on the KS side…things are getting worse, especially in the central parts of the state.
Severe to extreme drought conditions are expanding through central and SW KS according to the latest drought report that was issued yesterday.
Wichita has had about 3/4″ of moisture since 11/1. Dodge City is at 1/10″ since November 1st and less than 1/2″ since October 1st.
This is typically the driest time of the year around the KC region to begin with. January only averages about 1″ of moisture in KC. February is a bit better…close to 1 1/2″ on average. It would be nice to get something a bit more substantial. During the winter it’s not as big of an issue…but it’s important to recharge the soils and lakes and ponds heading into the spring. IF this was happening during the spring when the vegetation was actively growing and using the soil moisture…that would be a big issue.
That’t it for today…I may try to update the blog a bit this afternoon if time permits.
Our feature photo comes from Gary Duggan…taken in Florida. We need some warm thoughts this morning