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Joe’s Weather Blog: Goodness gracious the cold air (TUE-12/26)

Some very light snow is out there as I type this blog…the air is so cold that with very limited “lift” in the atmosphere right now…what’s coming out is almost like sugar. very tiny flakes that really won’t accumulate much more than what is on the ground now. There have been some coatings to 1/2″ amounts out there…and there have been some road issues…but I was hammering the snow situation pretty hard yesterday on the air and it’s panned out well I think from a forecast standpoint. The main weather story is the cold weather…and the colder weather…and the real cold weather.


Today: Cloudy with snow flurries ending. Remaining cold with little temperature change. Readings only around 10°. Wind chills near or below 0°

Tonight: Assuming we clear out we’ll tank to near or below 0°. That cloud cover though will be a bugger to get rid of and this complicates how low we can go. Would it shock me to see some drop lower than -5°…NO. It really just depends on the clearing skies…because goodness knows this air mass will support colder weather.

Tomorrow: Variable clouds and cold. Highs only around 15-20°

Thursday: Mostly cloudy and cold with highs 25-30°


One of the things I look at when I try to see how well (or not) I’m forecasting the day to day weather is verifying my forecasts…it’s not often a meteorologist will really look at what they say and what really happens. So I’m starting this blog with a self criticism…

I’m in somewhat of a rut forecasting temperatures right now. I feel I have underestimated the strength of the cold air that has been an issue here for several days. It started on Saturday when my morning forecast for that day was off by about 6° for that day. I’m not sure how I messed that one up. Then after a great snow forecast on Sunday AM…I was still too warm on the afternoon highs…then the same thing happened yesterday…I overshot the highs by 6³. That is NOT up to my standards…so yesterday I really made a conscientious attempt to knock the highs down for today compared to model guidance…and I’ll still be too warm (as a forecast).

Arctic air masses will humble us…clouds are always a conundrum, more so  at night with forecasting how low you can go in these bitterly cold air masses…then you worry about wind direction aspects too. That one bit me on my Monday low temperature forecast.

So my errors in temperatures are higher than what they typically are right now.

I’ll see if I can self-correct this as the days move along.

The snow this morning was well forecast yesterday. We’re going to be somewhat vulnerable to this little systems for quite some time…there really isn’t that much moisture in the atmosphere overall..and the waves themselves are rather weak and not really organized to well. There are no strong or organized systems though that will threaten the area for awhile it appears. So for snow lovers…this little systems is as good as it gets.

We’re certainly cold enough for snow…check out the surface map at 9AM this morning…the red numbers are the temperatures. Also note the cities that have the little ** between the temperatures in red and the dew points in green. Those are light snow reports. Notice the dew point numbers in green…those numbers are pretty low… minus 5 to minus 10 up to the north of here…that’s some pretty dry air that will flow into the area tonight.

Those low dew points are important because IF skies are clear…it shows potential for how low you can get from a temperature standpoint overnight. You can see why I wonder if some could start Wednesday morning with sub-zero cold.

Also of note is the deeper snow cover across the northern parts of MO too…that will certainly play a factor in things IF they clear out. I do have concerns that some could tank to -5 to -10° up there especially. IF some went even lower…I wouldn’t be shocked either.

The other issue that needs to be written about is the weekend cold shot that lasts into the start of the New Year. This one (while almost a lock) has been interesting to look at from a modelling standpoint. The GFS model in particular has had shades of 1989 historic cold temperatures for KC in it for the last couple of days. 5000′ temperatures of -24°C rival the coldest extremes here of 1989. I actually wet and researched some of the balloon launches profiling the atmosphere from that historic cold outbreak…our 5000′ temperatures on the 22nd were -23°C and on the 23rd was -17°C

Check out this archived map via Plymouth State of the 850 mb temperatures (about 5,000 feet up). Those temperatures are in °C.

Now look at the forecast temperatures from the GFS model for New Years morning…


For context the morning lows back in 1989 were the all time lows on the 22nd and 23rd…-23°F up at KCI.

So this model at least is showing the potential to get that cold. Big caveat now…we had 5″ of snow on the ground…we had clear skies…and we had light winds. That all may not work out this time…

Now the EURO model isn’t that brutal for us (compared to the GFS)

BIG differences…some 13°C or almost 25F at that level…and that makes a world of difference on the ground.

The GFS also gives us accumulating snow of some substance leading into New Years…while the EURO really doesn’t.

I think the GFS is a bit too aggressive (I hope) with this. While I’m not convinced the EURO is totally right either. Hence the reason why I forecast a low of -5° for next Monday. Let’s see where that forecast goes over the next few days.

For what it’s worth the new GFS for this morning is still doing the same thing. I will give it credit for one thing…it’s been consistent with itself. It has an accumulating snow here on Sunday…a few inches…then the arctic hounds are howling Sunday>Tuesday morning. We’ll see. I’ll look closer at things this afternoon.

That’s it for today…

Our feature photo comes from Jan Holmes…with a Chiefs twist!


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