Joe’s Weather Blog: OH MY To The Cold! (TUE-11/18)

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Well it doesn’t happen often but today we shattered and blew up a previous record low temperature. Our morning low was 6° crushing the previous record of 14°. For whatever reason our previous record low was artificially high. The record lows from the 15th-24th were all in the single digits except today’s which actually went back to 1903!

Forecast:

Rest of today: Fair skies and cold but NOT as cold as yesterday. Winds will pick up in the afternoon with highs near 32°.

Tonight: Some clouds and after a brief evening drop in the temperatures we should level off and perhaps go up a few degrees by daybreak. Readings in the 20s

Tomorrow: More clouds moving in and another weaker shot of cold air as well. Highs in the mid 30s.

Discussion:

How many times in the past week, have we talked about the air coming to the KC area was from the arctic regions…it has really been amazing to go through such a long stretch of cold weather. As I’ve written about numerous times, the cold weather is not unusual for November but the length of the cold weather is unique and record-breaking in the area (and many others as well).

This morning I ran the HYSPLIT model which allows us to track where the air is either coming from ir where it’s been as it moves towards or away from KC. So you can track the origin of the airmass. It can be helpful in some scenarios. For example, say there is a chemical spill with toxic gases being released into the air…you can run this model on a very local scale to see where the air is moving and hence where the concentrated bad stuff is going to go.

You can also run the model in reverse and find out where the air came from. Sometimes during the summer when fires are forest fires are burning in other parts of the country and we have a smokey haze in the sky…you can see what part of the country or usually Canada, the air has been.

Take a look at this mornings reverse run…showing where a parcel of air was about a week ago.

114098_trj001

So basically our cold air of today was created in up in the eastern Siberian Sea (which is ice covered) and came straight over the North Pole then southwards through Nunavut/NW Territories and into the USA. Amazing!

Something else that is amazing is that more than half the country is covered in at least some snow this morning…

 

The analysis only goes back to the early 2000’s but that hasn’t happened before for this time of the year. That snowcover certainly plays a huge role in the record low temperatures this morning for a bunch of cities. The map below shows how much of the country in % is in the same boat. As of 7AM almost 59% of the country was below 20° and 86% was below 32°! (via WeatherBell). For the nation overall this is the coldest November morning since 1976!

Check out all the records and near record lows this morning (via coolwx.com). Click on the image below to make it larger.

ScreenHunter_02 Nov. 18 08.14

By the way this is our 9th(!) record low either tied, or in most cases, broken in 2014. We’ve also had 3 record cold high temperatures this year as well! We’ve only had 1 record high temperature this year(!).

The cold shots have been impressive this year!

Now what happens when the cold air goes over the warmer Great Lakes waters…boom you get lake effect and it has been cranking out snow across the favored areas of MI and NY like a machine. Amounts will be, and already are, being measured by the yardstick!

This phenomena can really happen anywhere you have cold air pouring over warmer waters, whether they be larger water bodies (like the Great Lakes) or even smaller bodies like larger ponds or even rivers. All you need is “warm” water and cold air. The cold air is transported over “warm” water and picks up the water vapor which is then deposited downwind over the land. In certain areas that get pounded harder than others, the land slopes upwards from the lake, now adding additional lift as the air rides up the slope. That’s where you get the huge totals!

The rates of snow per hour can be upwards of 4-6″/hour. In certain scenarios (like yesterday) you also can get the thundersnow phenomena. The thing about lake effect snow is that it usually is rather localized. For example yesterday in northern Buffalo they had about 1″ of snow I saw…whereas in the southern part of the city it was over 1 foot of snow.

Check out the latest radar from Buffalo of this persistent band of moderate to at times heavy snow. It has barely budged since I looked at it yesterday evening…just amazing.

 

When the machine is turned on…it can take a while to turn off….

 

The other facet of trying to forecast this phenomena is that the slightest wind shift dictates where the band set’s up and maintains itself.

What does that mean…well picture a compass. (image via wikipedia)

 

The winds are blowing from lets say 250° to 70° on the compass or from the WSW to the ENE. Now IF the wind changes by just 5° in either direction, the band of snow will re-orientate itself and other parts of the city.

This is what it looks like in Buffalo…

Here is a snipit from the NWS discussion from Buffalo this morning…

“…MAJOR LAKE EFFECT SNOW EVENT CONTINUES TO UNFOLD TODAY WITH A TIGHT NORTHERN GRADIENT AND NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING… REGIONAL RADARS AND GROUND TRUTH REPORTS THIS MORNING TELL THE STORY OF THE LAKE EFFECT EVENT THAT CONTINUES TO UNFOLD THIS MORNING. OFF LAKE ERIE…RADARS DISPLAY A STRONG BAND OF LAKE EFFECT SNOW ALONG THE LONG FETCH OF LAKE ERIE…WITH SOUTHWEST WINDS DRIVING THIS BAND INLAND OVER AREAS ALONG AND JUST SOUTH OF A LINE FROM BUFFALO TO NORTHERN GENESEE AND FAR SW MONROE COUNTY. BASED ON REPORTS THIS SNOWBAND IS EXHIBITING SNOWFALL RATES OF 4 INCHES PER HOUR. THERE WERE SOME RUMBLES OF THUNDER LAST NIGHT…AND THOUGH LIGHTNING ACTIVITY HAS DIMINISHED…THE RISE IN EQUILIBRIUM LEVELS ALONG WITH SOME SUGGESTION FROM MESO SCALE MODEL REFLECTIVITY…WE AGAIN SHOULD SEE LIGHTNING AND HEAR SOME RUMBLES OF THUNDER WITHIN THE SNOWBAND TODAY. A 240 FLOW WILL LIKELY KEEP THIS BAND OF SNOW NEARLY STATIONARY THROUGH THE MORNING HOURS…WITH JUST SOME MINOR (FEW MILES) OF WIGGLES NORTH AND SOUTH. EXPECT THE HEAVIEST SNOW ACCUMULATIONS TO FALL JUST TO THE SOUTH OF ROUTE 33 THROUGH THE EARLY AFTERNOON HOURS. BASED ON REPORTS THIS MORNING WILL UP THE SNOW TOTAL FOR AREAS JUST TO THE SOUTH OF ROUTE 33 TO 3 TO 4 FEET.”

Orchard Park, NY has had 36″ of snow in 24 hours. That’s where the Buffalo Bills play football I believe…can you imagine? They may finish with 5-6 FEET of snow. Heck with all the wind blowing…IF you’re not careful…you can get buried alive.

It’s an amazing thing to go through. I’ve been through that before in N MI and for a snow lover it was paradise.

By the way..IF you’re hoping for a warmer Thanksgiving week…odds are it’s NOT going to happen, although there could be some “less cold” weather for a day or two it appears. Overall though it’s cold and the latest EURO model has it VERY cold near or after Thanksgiving again. we’ll see about that.

Mark Schierholz with the featured photo again today!

Joe

 

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