Joe’s Weather Blog: Cold End To 2014…Better 2015 Start (WED-12/31)
Good morning and Happy New Year! It’s a bitterly cold end to 2014 around the region as temperatures dropped to 0-5° this morning…the good news is that we should enjoy enough sunshine for awhile today to allow some moderation to the cold airmass in place…then the coldest air spins away overnight tonight and into the start of 2015. The cold will come back with a vengeance though by Sunday morning.
Rest of today: Fair skies and chilly again this morning with increasing PM clouds filtering the sunshine. The average high is 38° and once again temperatures today will be running about 15° below average (for highs at least). Highs should be in the 20-25° range.
Tonight: SW winds will start to move the arctic air away from the area…temperatures will drop about 5-8° this evening then start to level off towards the start of the new year. Lows should drop to about 15° or so. Wind chills will be in the single digits.
Thursday (New Year’s Day): Not too bad with seasonable temperatures and highs in the mid 30s.
Last week I forecasted a low of 3° this morning…and it looks to be right on although I wouldn’t be surprised if we dropped to 2° between hours. I always am happy when forecasts days ahead of time don’t need to be touched…it’s my philosophy in forecasting the weather when I’m on shift…and it’s the reason my forecasts change little from one day to another. So for example odds are IF I was on duty tonight, the exact same forecast for the weekend would be displayed as last night.
I really need to see reasons to change my forecast from day to day. Sometimes it’s inevitable but for me at least these are somewhat rare occurrences. I absolutely abhor changing the forecast 10°+ from one day to another when forecasting. Like Ii said sometimes you have too if the data shows a front speeding up or slowing down…but these are occurrences are somewhat rare for me.
With all that said, there are still no reasons in my opinion to change the weekend forecast. The chances of some sort of wintry mix are still there on Saturday. Clarity for this though is NOT there as of yet. I had a feeling yesterday that this would be the case because of what the storm that’s evolving out west will be doing over the next few days.
First let’s look at the water vapor loop showing the storm in the SW part of the country. See yesterday’s blog for more details about the effects out there.
The storm will be undergoing various evolutions over the next 3 days as it gets closer to us…it will get stretched out…it will then try to reorganize in the Plains then it will get absorbed in the flow aloft on Sunday.
All these changes and the timing of said changes leads to a low confidence forecast. To add more intrigue another dump of bitterly cold air is going to move in the Plains at the same time. How this affects things also adds to some of the low confidence and the model mayhem that is in progress.
Here is what we know at this point….temperatures will moderate on THU and FRI ahead of the storm. We should be above freezing both those days…one big issue we may have is what’s happening above the surface though in terms of the atmospheric profile. Will we be below freezing up through the clouds and the areas of falling snow? In other words will the falling snow stay as snow or will the flakes melt. If so what form will the precipitation be as it reaches the ground into Saturday morning (at least) and possibly into the afternoon Saturday.
For snow lovers this is an issue because flakes could melt as they’re coming to the ground. They could refreeze in the form of sleet or they could stay liquid since our surface temperatures would be near or even above 32°.
This is problem #1 for a big snowstorm around here through the middle of the day on Saturday (note the time reference).
What the storm does have in its favor right now is that it appears to be a rather healthy looking system on the model data as it’s coming out of the Plains towards the KC area and it’s track is favorable to chill the atmosphere down as it moves closer to us. The atmosphere, while perhaps too warm (barely?) to support snow during the 1st part of the day on Saturday may cool down enough later in the day to support the snow potential.
This raises the specter of at least the potential of a fast accumulating snow later Saturday into Saturday night. It may not be the biggest snowstorm, but there is potential for a few inches of a wet, heavy snow into Saturday night. It’s appearing more likely that we’ll be going into the “comma-head” portion of the system as it moves by. How large the snow shield is with this comma head will play a large role in determining how widespread the accumulating snow is. I don’t think the entire area will get an accumulating snow…the Lakes region seems the least likely at this point.
Following the storm a rather strong shot of nasty cold air will move in.
I created the graphics in the tweet above to show you how tough it is for us to get to 0° or below in KC on any particular date in December at least. Last night the airmass was cold enough to support sub-zero cold weather here…but a lack of snow negated the coldest potential. I wonder IF things may be a bit different on Monday morning. IF there is snow on the ground and IF we have the other conditions we look for (clear skies/dry air/light winds) we may be setting up for our 1st opportunity this winter for sub-zero cold in the KC area.
The cold part of the forecast is most assured…what happens before that though is still going to throw us some loops between now and Friday. I think any forecasts of snow at this point should be taken with a grain of salt (or multiple grains) because they will change many times (including my speculation above that I wouldn’t say on the air at this point). How cold we get Monday morning will be, in large part determined by whether or not there is a blanket of snow through the area. Just to show you how cold things can get when you have snowcover and a very cold airmass at the same time…Scottsbluff and Alliance, NE in the western part of NE got down to -28°(!) this morning.
By the way our air pressure maxed out at 30.76″ overnight….that’s pretty good and it’s the reason @JDDiebolt has our featured photo of the day.