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Winter Storm Takes Aim On KC

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10PM Map Update…

Here is the latest NAM model…ScreenHunter_04 Dec. 30 21.52

Not very impressive. I question how much snow will be closer to the Lakes region as well since there may be some rain or a mix for a few hours during the event.

I essentially went with 2-3″ for the metro. Would I be shocked IF someone squeaked out a little more in our viewing area…no but at this point I think it’s a good average range for most of us.

My colleagues at the NWS in Pleasant Hill don’t seem overly impressed as well, focusing more on the lower end of their forecast as well.

We’ll see…the new GFS is also around 2-3″ for most of the KC area.



Well despite all the subtropical moisture this storm has stirred up and pulled into the Plains region from the Pacific Ocean, this storm is pretty anemic looking on the water vapor loop this afternoon and there are many things that bug me concerning the evolution of the system over the next couple of days. I haven’t seen enough to make me want to change my forecast from this AM, but the storm doesn’t look like it will be a healthy one when it moves through the region tomorrow into tomorrow night.

As mentioned there are many things that bug me about my “conundrum” storm as I labeled it yesterday. The folks at the Weather Channel have all their nutty names for these winter systems that I can barely pronounce, I’m calling this one my own “conundrum” storm. Here are the items that bother me about it.

1) It’s weak and disorganized now and may never get organized since it shears apart as it moves through the area. When I talk about storms “shearing” apart, I’m referring to storms that start to break up into pieces and squirting through the flow, unable to focus their energy into creating heavier bands of snow.

2) Surface gulf moisture. Paging the gulf moisture are you there (echo…echo). There is so little down to our south that despite south winds here for more than 24 hours surface moisture will be at a premium. Heck the dewpoint in Houston now is 25 (but should pop up later this afternoon). In reality the moisture is confined to the TX coastline at the surface.

3) Model precip parameters. While the NAM is coming back to reality from a liquid standpoint  compared to yesterday (the amount of precipitation that falls from the system) I still really wonder if this weak looking storm can generate the values being portrayed. Per the morning models, the NAM generates about 4/10″ of precip while the GFS has about 1/3″ or so at KCI. For the Pleasant Hill area values are very similar.

4) The timing of the snow. Should we get 1 or 2/10″ of this system spread throughout the day tomorrow, during the daylight hours, falling as mostly light snow, on an intermittent basis and combined with temperatures of 30-34°…there will be a good deal of melting going on, especially on the pavement and especially on the treated roads (that’s a good thing). I can envision a scenario where the snow is sticking on the grass better than the roads until the evening starts.

5) I think the only way my forecast works out (2-4″) as of this writing is on the assumption we get more accumulating snow tomorrow night. This is what I’m hoping for to give us another 1-3″ of accumulation because I’m not confident in a lot of accumulating snow during most of the daytime tomorrow. IF we can get 2″ to stick in the day tomorrow, I’m golden. IF it’s 6PM and we have a dusting or so, I won’t like my chances that much of verifying. I’m hoping that with the colder air pressing in and the “fluff” factor of the snow going up, that this could yield some extra accumulations.

5A) Will this weak storm be able to generate any heavier, prolonged bands to add to the snowfall potential? On the flip side to that is will the storm go through a brief intensifying stage nearby to allow that to happen, which is what the NAM has been hinting at, especially at the 850 mb or 5000′ level.

6) I try to take a simplistic way to forecasting snowfall amounts. While not a concrete process for all storms, I break the vast majority of systems into categories to keep it simple in my head. I typically forecast amounts of 1) a dusting to 2″…2) 2-4″…3) 4-8″…4) 8-12″ and 5) Over 12″. This doesn’t work for every scenario but it’s what I try and do for most if I can. In reality I wish I could say on the air…”I think we’re going to get anywhere from a dusting to 4″ and call it a day. I like my odds with that forecast and in reality for the vast part of the viewing area a general statement like that would work great for the storm As we know though in the real world there is a big difference from a dusting snowfall to a 4″ snowfall. although we’ve seen numerous cases where less than 1/2″ of snow can almost grind the city to a halt in terms of a commute.

OK so with all that said here is where we are with the latest advisories. Winter Weather Advisory in effect for most of the viewing area.

ScreenHunter_01 Dec. 30 12.14

Now as far as the modelling goes, as I alluded to earlier the NAM has cut their precip totals in half which is what I’ve been expected and hoping for. I say that because from a meteorology standpoint, I just couldn’t see how a storm like this could crank out all that moisture. With that said here is what we’re looking at this afternoon.

First the NAM model.

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 30 12.15

Now the hi-res NAM model…notice how the details are a bit more fine-tuned in the higher resolution model.

ScreenHunter_04 Dec. 30 12.16

and finally the GFS model…

ScreenHunter_03 Dec. 30 12.16

So from this standpoint all the data suggests a 2-4″ snowfall for most to the region except north of 36 highway. I still think those higher numbers (4″+) off to the west of here are not too bad, since the storm will be slightly stronger out there as opposed to here.

The good thing for me today, as I try and figure things out, is that we don’t have a 5PM newscast. So when the 9PM show rolls out, I’ll have the NAM to hopefully confirm things and then by 9:45-10PM I’ll have the GFS to confirm things more. What I hope to see are precip totals around or even slightly below 1/3″. What I don’t want to see is the NAM freaking out with either little to no precip or kicking things up a notch shall we say and cranking out 3/4″ of precip.

So here is my timeline of the events over the next 36 hours through early TUE AM. AS usual please note that this can change and may get updated later this evening so check back in with the blog before you go to bed tonight.

Now through 6AM Monday: Clouds continue to increase, lower and towards 3AM thicken up. Temperatures tonight only drop to 32-36°

6AM-Noon Monday: Snow spreads through the region from the south to the north. It may be in patches and be somewhat intermittent at times. Accumulations should be under 1″ for the most part. Perhaps a bit more farther south away from KC.

Noon-6PM Monday: Snow in area but may not be falling continuously. Temperatures start to edge down and approach 28-31° by later in the day. Most treated roads should hold up unless it snows harder than I think. With that said be alert for changing road conditions towards evening. Accumulations around 1″ (especially grassy areas)

6PM Monday-12AM Tuesday: Temperatures drop a bit more, into the low-mid 20s, Snow should again pick up and become a little more on the fluffy side. This will be the core of the “storm”. Roads should slicken and this is going to be a tough time for travel potentially, especially considering all the NY Eve activities around the region. Be prepared to give yourself some extra time getting to you destination. Additional accumulations of 1-2″ for a total of 2-4″ out of the storm.

12AM Tuesday though Wednesday AM: Getting colder as temperatures head into the teens. Slick spots/snow on roads worse and travel could become hazardous. Please be careful should this scenario pan out when your heading home after all the parties! Snow winds down with minor additional accumulations.

By the way, longer range we should be a bit warmer heading towards next weekend and beyond.

Finally starting today for the rest of the snow season (through 3/15 or so) the featured image on all my blogs will be the FOX 4 Snowfall Potential Index. This is a quick and dirty way for you snow enthusiasts and snow related businesses to get an idea of what I’m expecting over the next 5 days in terms of the risk of the KC metro area getting 1″ or more of snowfall. When the number is a 1 that means it’s doubtful. When the number is a 10 that means it’s a definite in my opinion and that means certain blog readers are going to make some money soon.

I’ll again give quick updates in the comments section as things develop this evening and I’ll see you again tonight on FOX 4 News @ 9 and 10PM


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