Joe’s Weather Blog: “Complicated” Snows

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I’ve been following what has been happening in the Atlanta, GA area somewhat over the last day or so…and it’s horrendous. People stranded in traffic for close to 24 hours now…stores staying open so that folks could get warm away from the abandoned automobiles…school kids sheltering in school and not able to get back to their homes all while their parents were out in their cars trying to pick the kids up from the schools. Just a mess.

It was amazing to see how quickly things there deteriorated. Check out this picture that was running around twitter. Not sure of the original source after all the retweets but still it shows what can happen in about 1 hour.

Needless to say…you hate seeing RED if you’re a commuter.

Folks there had the information they needed…the weather forecasts were pretty darn solid…and yet all this happened…dare I say the worst traffic disaster I’ve seen that was weather related.

The the governor of GA did what officials will do when they don’t plan as effectively as they could…he said the magic words that send meteorologists over the edge…

“This came rather unexpectedly.“

Hey look I get it sometimes…we are wrong. We’re not perfect. Maybe we’ll say an event will happen and it doesn’t at all. Or maybe we’ll say we’ll get this much snow and we get twice as much as we thought. In this case however it’s so far from the truth it’s ridiculous. I wasn’t even following their forecasts and I knew about all the warnings that were in place. The question I’m curious to ask…plain and simple is what piece of information did the Atlanta area need from a weather standpoint that would’ve helped you plan for the event better? What information were you NOT given that could’ve made you’re job easier to do?

Hey we get thrown under the bus sometimes…comes with the territory I guess. We’ve predicted snowstorms perfectly sometimes, and inevitably a lead-in into weather will be something like “residents were surprised to see snow this morning”…it’s happened at FOX 4…so I get it.

Perhaps the Governor needs to pay attention to the NWS or the TV stations a little more…this is from the NWS in the Atlanta area…it was issued Monday morning.

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 29 09.02

To be fair, folks down there aren’t as prepared as we are up here…but surely it didn’t have to be that bad…surely something smarter could’ve been done in terms of preparation or road treatments or better yet…pre-treatments.

So needless to say that weather was “complicated”. What about KC?

Well for the last few weeks we’ve seen little precipitation in the region aside from some snow/rain showers that really haven’t amounted to anything significant.

There are going to be a few chances over the next 7 days…and there will be plenty of cold weather around for the 1st half of February…but will anything be significant?

The 1st opportunity comes tomorrow afternoon/night with another cold front that will move through the region…at this point amounts look to be minor. Something to watch though in case there are some snow showers that slicken the roads a bit…don’t be shocked if there is some sort of mix of precip at the beginning of whatever happens.

Next opportunity is later Friday night into Saturday AM….and today, for what it’s worth the NAM model is all of a sudden rather bullish with some snow totals.

It is tied to a wave that will be streaking through the Plains states. I’ve traced the wave in question to this system off the WA/OR coastline.

That wave will zip through the Rockies and then help to generate snow in the Plains as it overruns the cold front that will have moved through the region tomorrow night into Friday morning. So as the wave moves through the Plains Friday evening, it will bring it’s own moisture and maybe tug some moisture up from the south…creating some bands of snow in the region. Here is the way the model depicts things happening.

For a time reference…00Z is 6PM…06Z is 12AM…12Z is 6AM and 18Z is Noon.

The model is cranking out upwards of nothing for the south part of the viewing area to upwards of 3-4″ for the northside…

ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 29 09.22

At this point I’m still not convinced that this will play out like the models suggest. I’d prefer the wave to take on a more southern track for one thing. It will be moving pretty quick as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the modelling shifts the snow a bit farther north in future runs. It certainly is something to watch though…and should the wave come out farther south we get more of the white stuff. This particular system has me curious about how it will play out. It shouldn’t be a “big” storm but a farther south track would give us a “storm” like what we’ve seen so far this winter.

Morning model update: One thing that I am noticing in the model data is the potential of getting some jet stream dynamics involved in this process…should that play out then the accums on the above map are doable…still think there should be a southern cutoff to this…but perhaps the NAM model is onto something.

Then there is the issue of the “eye-candy” that I blogged about yesterday. The last 24 hours of model solutions have been pushing this system so far south that we don’t get anything but cold weather…or at least very little. Like yesterday I think all eventualities are still on the table and just because the models are sending this thing well south of here…doesn’t mean it will happen that way…so that storm is still on the table and must be watched.

What I want to guard against is looking to far through the forest and ignoring the trees right in front of my face with regards to the system later Friday night into early Saturday morning.

The pattern though is still cold and getting colder. Here is some long term modelling showing the potential of below average temperatures…

This is about how I expect the 1st 2-3 weeks of FEB to play out…with overall below to well below average temperatures.

Now let’s see whether or not with all that cold weather…we can get some snow to make things more interesting around the region.


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