Joe’s Weather Blog: Fires + a chill + snow chances (TUE-11/29)

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Good morning…another decent weather day for late November in the KC area today. It won’t be as warm as the 60° day from yesterday but the number of 60° days are dwindling in the KC area for 2016…so highs into the 50s are pretty good too! The longer term forecast is mostly cold…and the prospects of at least some snow may be increasing during the 1st half of December.


Today: Mostly sunny and pleasant with highs 50-55°

Tonight: Fair skies and cooler with lows in the 20s

Wednesday: Variable clouds and chilly with highs 40-45°


Well through yesterday our monthly temperatures are running about 8° above average for the month of November. pretty darn impressive and while the longer term looks seasonable to colder than average there will still be a couple of days every so often of decent weather through mid December locally.

I thought we’d start the blog today talking about the fires that have been raging in parts of the SE. Last night the worst of the fires (in terms of human impact) were occurring around the Gatlinburg, TN area. This is a popular reort region of the Smoky Mountains. I’ve blogged in the past about the drought that’s been affecting the SE part of the country…so let’s start there.

Here is the drought report from last week…showing the darker reds indicating where the drought has been the worst…



That dark red color shows “exceptional drought” and it’s very prevalent. In the map below…you can see how little rain they’ve had in the past couple of months. Less than 1.5″. Heck there were parts of AL that set records for NO rain at all over the course of a couple of months!


Rainfall in the last 60 days

Yesterday in advance of a cold front, that actually created some rain for this area…the winds were howling. Remember as well the elevations of the various hills etc of the Smoky Mtns. The winds were gusting to 50-70 MPH and with fires already burning and power lines coming down sparking more fires…things got out of control. 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg alone. Both ends of town suffered damage…but it appears the downtown Gatlinburg area was spared.

I posted this video to my FB page last night (excerpted below via Michael Luciano) showing a couple of people trying to evacuate the wildfires and struggling to get out safely. The language is understandably rough…everywhere they turned there was fire…in some cases blocking their progress. The roads were winding all over the place and at times the visibility was near 0 in the smoke…and it was at night.


There is some good news today…the fires aren’t as bad now as yesterday…the winds aren’t as strong…and rain (perhaps heavy) is in the forecast…strangely all this comes along with a chance of thunderstorms. Gatlinburg is SE of Knoxville, TN

Meanwhile back home…we’ve been pretty dry too…the NWS in Pleasant Hill sent out this tweet yesterday.

So it’s been dry for most…and not much is expected here for another 7-10 days or so. There is a weak system that we’re watching for the weekend that even it produces something…odds favor light amounts of whatever may fall.

On that subject I noticed some weather folks starting to mention the “S” word.

The EURO model in particular has been somewhat bullish on these prospects including one chance on Sunday…with the “deterministic” EURO showing a whooper of a snowstorm 10 days from now. When meteorologists just jump on these runs from so far out…it’s not a smart thing to do. You know that and I know that. Their eye candy for sure…the EURO was especially fun to look at for snow lovers…because I saw a path that we’d be VERY vulnerable to accumulating snows through mid December…but even yours truly who tweeted out a couple of weeks ago to watch the 1st 10 days of DEC for snow chances isn’t jumping up and down quite yet. Sure my curiosity is there…because I’ve been expected a flip towards colder weather to get going for December…and that appear to be happening. So at least it will be cold.

Why am I not jumping up and down yet for any big snowstorm? Because IF you just look at that one model run you can get excited…but what a good meteorologist will do is look at the ensemble computer runs of that model (or whatever model that is interesting to me) and see IF there is any agreement. When looking at the ensembles…you get a better idea of probabilities…of the overall potential outcome of various weather scenarios etc. They’re not perfect either…by no means…but IF there is ensemble support for what the “deterministic” model shows (that’s readily available for all to see…as opposed to the ensemble information that isn’t as readily available or isn’t looked at as it should be) then maybe you pay a bit more attention.

Let me show you what I’m talking about…


Ensemble snow totals from the EURO model

There are actually more than 50 different EURO model runs 2 x’s per day…there is the “deterministic” model that is readily available…then all the other ensembles that have different initializations and even different physics within the model run…you end up getting is mish-mash of possible outcomes that are then averaged out to create an “ensemble” model. The concept is that it shows a LOT of potential outcomes for various weather features…then average out those outcomes to hopefully a better “solution”.

Notice on the top of the above chart…the number of model runs (50+-left side) and the forecast snow amounts (right side). There were about 20 runs out of the 50+ that actually had some accumulating snow here on Sunday (I’m thinking it may still be too warm for that potential). Notice on the bottom bar graph the different between the “deterministic” run (blue) and the ensemble average (green). Now when you see what the deterministic model does in 10 days…we’re talking a TON of snow (16″)…and it would be a blizzard with the surface features you get mildly excited IF you love snow (then again this is 10 days away and we know that those are typically fantasy storms in model land). Then you look at the “ensemble” amounts…and well…”poof”.

Hey it could happen…just the fact that model data is showing something is interesting I guess…considering last year they never showed anything for snow lovers…hey it’s a step in the right direction at least. The period to watch it appears would be from the 8-10th. At least there may be some players on the field this December and this is a big change from last December that was so crazy mild for KC. I see lots of reason for optimism for snow lovers in the Plains for the 1st 15-20 days of December.

Regardless there are some colder and cold days coming during the 1st 1/2 of December.

Have a great day and thanks for reading my thoughts. Our feature photo comes from Katherine Kat Brock showing the sunset from Buckner, MO yesterday!







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