Joe’s Weather Blog: Winter Storm Approaches KC

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9:15 Update:

And so we sit in the sleet that continues for the vast part of the KC metro. We are switching over to snow…but the process is coming a little later than I would like to see to try and maximize a snow situation that was on the tenuous side to begin with…as a result my feeling is that we should reduce the snowfall accumulations by another 1″ or so…and drop the KC metro to 1-4″ with the lighter totals on the SE side and the heavier totals up towards the north of KCI…

The storm in question is going to pass just too close to KC. If you’ve read the blog…we really have talked about how we needed the storm aloft to pass some 100 miles or so south of KC…this altered track will take the heaviest snows towards the NW/N of the KC metro area…

Courtesy of NEXLAB here is a look at the storm aloft…

I really wanted that L to be closer to Tulsa as opposed to Gage, OK…that difference IS a big deal to us in the world of weather. With that L moving towards the NNE…it’s just taking a NOT favorable track for us here in KC proper…NW MO and NE KS should still get a healthy+ snow out of this…and it’s coming down pretty good now.

To be honest I’m not shocked by this…as I mentioned around lunch time this thing was not behaving the way I wanted it too…maybe disappointed is the better word. With all this said it’s still VERY messy out there and we should at least get some snow on top of the ice that may create additional problems overnight into tomorrow AM and there may be some trailing snow in the area tomorrow AM as well.


Reports are coming in on the KS side especially about the changing over process on Twitter now…but again barring a big change and with a short window to the better potential accumulating snowfall…I think it’s best to shave it another inch as I mentioned earlier.

I’ll keep watching things for the next few hours and update the blog if needed later tonight…


4:15 PM Update:

KC timeline (updated) and viewing area accumulations (updated at 4PM) have been updated and are at the bottom of this entry…

So far so good as far as the forecast goes however there are concerns on my part about how this all plays out tonight and whether or not I want to shift all the snow totals about 25-50 miles farther to the north and NW. When the NAM came out this AM and suggested a lingering snow into 2-3AM tomorrow morning…and the axis of heaviest snows just barely towards the NW of KC…I wanted to adjust upwards the amounts of snow potential to 3-6″ just in case KCI ended up on the higher side of things…but my feeling in looking at the data, the short range models and the potential for at least some sort of dry slot to clip through the area is that I should’ve left things as I had it going into this morning…with the metro getting 2-5″. The amounts will vary from about 2″ in the Lees Summit area to the higher totals up towards N Platte county. My feeling is that the heaviest snow axis will be towards the NW of the KC metro…just barely though and that’s why this is difficult….

The rain snow line as of 4PM was still off towards the west of KC and north of the metro as well. It will still be several more hours before we transition fully to accumulating snow. Most treated roads appear to be holding up well but a concern I have is that after daylight…things may have more of a tendency to freeze up so be careful out there…and if we end up shoveling tomorrow AM remember that there is going to be a base of ice below the snow.

Here is a look at radar from Penn State…showing the rain/snow line…this will move into the metro this evening.

If you look carefully at the FUTURE radar below off the HRRR model…you can see my concerns with a potential dry slot. This is going to be a close one though…and I always get nervous with these scenarios.

So with that said…here is what I’ve come up with and this map will supersede the map below.


So basically I’ve revised down about 1″…something tells me I should even take another 1″ of the forecast above…and I may do that this evening in an update before 10PM.

So let’s now update the timeline for you…

Now through 8PM: Freezing rain/sleet and some flakes will continue to increase. watch the roads over the next few hours.

8PM-10PM: We transition to snow and also need to watch for a dry slot to come close or through the area and potentially reducing the intensity of the snow. The ONLY way I think the map above works is IF we get 1-3 hours of decent moderate to heavy snow…IF that doesn’t happen, or is farther north…the KC metro accumulations will be on the lower side of the range given. Please remember this!

10PM-2AM: Snow continues but tapers to lighter less accumulating snow

2AM-The Rest Of Sunday: Lots of clouds with occasional snow showers. There may be some minor accums but nothing to really affect the grand totals of the storm. Cold and blustery with temps struggling in the 20s and wind chills closer to 10-15°.

I’ll revisit the data this evening and do another update closer to 10PM or so.

For you snow lovers…I think this will be more of an appetizer as opposed to a full dinner at least for the KC metro.


Winter Storm Warnings are in effect for the entire region…although to be honest for KC proper the real action won’t begin till later today into this evening with a wintry mix changing over to snow (at times heavy) sometime after 6-8PM or so, from the NW to the SE through the KC area.

This morning is starting out VERY icy for our friends to the S and SE of the KC area…from Sedalia to Clinton to Butler and points southwards the roads are slick and hazardous. Farther eastwards the freezing rain changes to plain rain west of St Louis where temperatures are in the 32-35° range.

Here is a look at the temperatures on a regional scale…look for the dashed purple line for where temperatures are around 32°…

Now try and use your imagination a bit and combine the image above with the latest regional radar picture…essentially north of the purple line the rain is freezing on surfaces.

This data will update live throughout the day I hope!

Our storm itself is towards TX as I type this and you can see it spinning along down there on the latest water vapor loop…

The core of the storm should pass towards the south of the KC area…which is favorable for us to pick up a period of heavy snow. You can see on the images above how the storm is helping to fling the moisture down through the southern Plains states northwards and NNEwards. This will continue throughout the day today.

While radar now is essentially dry here (for the time being) as the storm moves towards the NNE later today a rapid expansion is the precipitation will occur through OK and into S KS and spread NEwards up and to the west of the KS Turnpike and the I-35 corridor. The air aloft though is still “warm” or at least there is still a decent sized area of temperatures above freezing around 5-6,000 feet that will melt the snowflakes as they fall…hence we’ll have a sleet issue later today into very early this evening in the KC area. In terms of the actual breaking out of the precipitation…here is the HRRR short-range model run that may help you as you plan out you day a little bit. This is from IA State.

As far as the model above goes…it may be a bit aggressive in bringing the precip up to the area through early this afternoon…but whatever falls in the afternoon will be a combination of freezing rain and perhaps some sleet…so do watch for that and the potential for changing road conditions as the afternoon moves along.

As the new data trickles in this morning…it continues to be apparent that there will be a major case of the have and have nots when it comes to the snow in the area…and potentially even through the KC metro. Areas to the north of I-70 have the highest chance of picking up the most snow…while SE of 435 on the south side of KC will see lessor totals…down towards Warrensburg and Harrisonville and SE of there for example. There does appear to be a somewhat lengthening window of 1-2 hours of snow…so that we have accumulating snow through 2-3AM or so…this would mean that I might go ahead and ratchet up the snowfall totals by about 1″ or so, especially on the north side of the metro…more on that in a minute.

Here is a look at the NAM model showing the precipitation types that will occur. For KC proper we should be in the heavy snow from about 8AM-1AM or so. Areas SE of KC will likely miss out on most of the heaviest of snows. Areas N and W of the metro will see earlier times of transition and a longer duration of heavier snows…hence the heavier totals for areas near St Joseph, MO and NEwards. These model graphics below will update throughout the day for you automatically.

For those unfamiliar with the time references in the animation above…12Z is 6AM…18Z is Noon…00Z is 6PM and 06Z is Midnight. To explain a bit further…when the time stamp is 00Z SUN…it means 6PM SAT. When it’s 06Z SUN…that’s 12AM SUN…confusing I know.

So with all this said, and I’ll do more blogging throughout the day…let’s try and create a rough timeline of how I think the day will play out.

Now through 2PM: Cloudy skies with little precipitation in the KC area. There may be some light patches of freezing drizzle and freezing rain/sleet out there though. Most, if not all roads should be OK for traveling, especially on the northside of KC

2PM-5PM: We should see an expansion and blossoming of the precipitation in the form of freezing rain and perhaps some ice pellets as the storm starts to make it’s turn through the southern Plains states. Treated roads should hold their own…but be alert to changing road conditions

5PM-7PM: The wintry mix will transition to sleet, heavy at times. Roads should deteriorate as the evening goes (perhaps quickly).

7PM-9PM: Heavy snow will start to move through the area and the transition will spread from NW to SE.

8PM-2AM Sunday: Snow heavy at times for the KC metro…this is the timeframe of the accumulating snow for us.

2AM-4AM Sunday: Snow tapers off

It’s increasingly likely that the cutoff between nuisance snow and something more problematic will be through the KC area. Indications are that SE Jackson county near the Cass and Johnson Co, MO line may only get 1-3″ while areas from KCI northwards and westwards towards Leavenworth may end up with 6-8″ or close to those numbers.As a result of this potential…I think I’ll up the average snow (in my opinion) totals for KC to 3-6″. Here is a map with my thinking on this…AGAIN I WANT TO STRESS THAT IF THERE IS A WOBBLE NORTH IN THE STORM TRACK WE MAY NOT GET THAT MUCH AT ALL…THEN AGAIN A WOBBLE SOUTH AND WE GET MORE SNOW.


The blog will be updated again sometime before 3PM…have a great Saturday and just pay attention to the changing road conditions later today and the worsening conditions tonight.


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    • Ashlee Smith

      Jill sounds like you need to get a life if you have nothing better to do than to look for typos on a weather blog and then have the nerve to be extremely rude about it. What a shame that everyone’s not as perfect as you are. I’ll be praying for you sweetheart. Merry Christmas

  • WeatherFreak

    Joe, what is your take on the NWS recent discussion about the formation of a dry slot?? They are saying there is a good chance this dry slot is located very close – if not in – the KC metro area, resulting in a “non-event” for some. With your current snow index at a “10”, that could result in a major bust if certain parts of the metro end up with nothing. Would love your thoughts.

    • Joe Lauria

      Yes…always a concern…my opinion is that the chances of at least 1″ for the vast part of the metro are high enough at this point. I was thinking of only going a “9” but pulled the trigger on a “10”. The GFS DOES show this dry slot…NAM does not for KC (or most of it). In reality, until I see the radar explode later today across S KS and OK I won’t be comfortable with the accumulation forecast. jl

      • WeatherFreak

        Thanks for your thoughts Joe. As I’m sure you are well aware, KC has a very distinct history of getting “dry slotted” on these kinds of storms. I remember a similar December storm 3 or 4 years ago when everyone was calling for 3-6″ across the entire metro. We got the dry slot right over the top of us and most of the metro got a dusting at best. I lived in Lees Summit at the time and we didn’t see a single snowflake. Like your comment below to William, storms always seem to be “evolving” on this side of the state. I think this is yet another one of those kinds of storms (I grew up in St. Louis and noticed the same thing William mentioned). Thanks again for all you do.

  • william

    Hi Joe I am from Stl been here for a couple years now the type of work I do requires me to keep an eye on the weather you do a great job !!! but you mention how hard it is to forecast here in kc due to some split ? PLEASE I am not harpin at all just curious to the difference… Dave in stl is usually dead on if you could I know you are busy just let me know thanks…..Ps enjoy all the typos Jill

  • Joe Lauria

    William: I have mostly always felt that there is a certain “easier” way of forecasting there compared to here. I went to SLU so I’m somewhat familiar with that area. My feeling, and I talk about this often to groups is that storms seem to be “evolving” (intensifying/weakening/speeding/slowing) near us more often than there. It may be total fiction having been in KC for almost 20 yrs…but it’s just a feeling. jl

  • william

    Thanks Joe I read every blog you write and enjoy the vast knowledge you impart on all of us concerning the weather and what you say about storms being more evolved their never crossed my mind but now that you mentioned it I should say duh on my behalf thanks so much

  • Joe Lauria

    Hi gang…something that I’m watching carefully is the potential for the mid-upper level moisture to get stripped away from the storm closest to KC later this evening. It’s important because that would CUT the snow totals by about 2″. I’ll be watching radar and the short term models carefully later this afternoon and update the blog around 4PM or so. I have prepared a graphic showing the reduced snow amounts just in case but I’m NOT yet comfortable in releasing it.

    These are the ups/downs we deal with when dealing with a winter storm and I don’t want to knee-jerk a forecast yet.

    We also have some areas of sleet/freezing rain in the area now…so pay attention to the roads….JL

  • Penny Peterson

    Thanks, Joe, for your hard work … and the whole weather team! I do rely on your forecasts and enjoy your blog, it’s simple and to the point. I wouldn’t want your job – and glad there is someone like you to rely on! Keep up the great work and I will stay tucked in and warm here in KCK.

  • melissa

    in the same spirit of Julie up above… what about those going to see Transiberian Orchestra tomorrow? I am taking a van full of clients and want to make sure it is even safe to do so. The two shows are 3 pm and 7pm (cant remember which show we bought tickets for so an idea for either time would be helpful). I tried to figure it out on my own and, even though it was much easier to read than other blogs, I still find myself confused as far as timeline goes.

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