Joe’s Weather Blog: Bitterly cold then frigid air awaits KC (WED-11/27)

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Temperatures this morning have tanked as skies cleared out a couple of hours fast last night than what I thought…lows are sub-zero and even as cold as about 10 below across northern MO. I had a feeling yesterday that they would see lows that brutal and wrote about it in the blog. I was thinking KCI (official for KC) would drop to about -1° this morning with clearing towards 3AM or so…but instead as I was driving home after the late news last night…I saw the moon and knew we’d get colder. So far their low has been -3°…and it may drop another couple of degrees before the sun starts helping out. My concern is IF we’re that cold now…what happens later in the weekend and to start the New Year.


Today: Sunshine…followed by increasing clouds in the afternoon with highs in the teens

Tonight: More clouds and not as cold with lows holding steady after an evening brief drop-off. Temperatures may actually rise a bit overnight…lows 10-15°

Thursday: Mostly cloudy and not as brutally cold with highs around 30°

Friday: A front will be moving into the region. Timing still a bit fuzzy on this but highs may again be in the 20s to 30°.


The morning weather map shows the temperatures nicely…they’re in RED…and notice the sub-zero numbers, especially north of I-70

St Joe has been down to at least -7°.

We’ll get quite a bit of sunshine this morning…there may be some thin cirrus around…but the lower clouds that are already moving into the central Plains will start moving our way this evening. You can “see” them on the map above…they’re represented by the darker green and blue circles out towards central KS and NE and points southwards.

As the day unfolds, you’ll see them better on this satellite view.

Those clouds come in this evening…clouds act as a blanket…and help to keep the “heat” we build up today trapped and not escape and dissipate in the lower part of the atmosphere. So as a result of that, with the clouds in the area tonight…it won’t be as cold as this morning on Thursday morning.

With more of a S/SW wind on Thursday we should moderate somewhat…maybe closer to 30°.

Friday won’t be terrible although another front…and the cold air associated with it begins to affect the area at some point. We may not drop a lot on Thursday night either…so there is some room for a brief warm-up on Friday before the colder air thumps us again. It depends on the timing of the front.

Concerning that colder air for the weekend. This is a big ticket item for KC. Brutally cold weather will come down the Plains towards us. There won’t be much snow left on the ground locally…northern MO though will continue to have snow cover…and that snow cover will help in factoring in how cold it gets in the morning, especially on Monday.

The model trends last night are more towards the persistent and more consistent (so far) GFS model. The EURO model has started the thrust of cold air more westwards as well with the overnight runs. The core of the area of high pressure on the EURO run last night now moves more towards MO, which is what the GFS has been saying for days now…instead of the Great Lakes region.

IF that maintains into the weekend…then more sub-zero cold is virtually guaranteed locally and likely even colder than this morning with or without snow on the ground.

The GFS model is still nasty and brutally cold…and is still sending lows down to 15-20° below zero on Monday morning. Again I believe that’s overdone but IF we get some additional snows over the out.

That is a good question…will we see additional accumulating snows over the weekend. The EURO really doesn’t have anything to speak of. The GFS has some flurries perhaps around on Saturday then some very light snow around on Sunday…with the potential for N MO to see another 2-3″+ over the weekend in total.

Should that band slide farther south…that would be concerning because then we’re primed for a major league tank on Monday morning especially. as is some areas in N MO may see lows at least 15 below on Monday morning…perhaps colder in some areas!!!

Now let’s have a little fun…and I want to dovetail into what I wrote about yesterday. Yesterday’s blog had quite a bit of information in it from 1989..and comparing what the GFS was modeling for later in the weekend and early next week…and comparing it to our historic cold in December of 1989 when temperatures fell to -23° for two straight days before Christmas.

Let’s show you the archived data from that cold weather outbreak…1st the scope of the cold. This map shows the highs and lows for the country on the 22nd. That was the 1st morning we tanked to -23°.

Our high on the 23rd was only -6°! Heck Omaha topped off at -15°

Now let’s look at the surface map…showing the sprawling high pressure area through the Central Plains region

The core of that high is at least 1052 mbs strong…that equates to 31.06″ on your home barometers. The reason that pressure is so high is because cold air is dense air. In a sense it’s heavier and exerts a greater downwards force. There is actually a pressure reading of 1055 mbs in there…that equates to 31.15″!

Now let’s go higher up…and show you the flow at 500 mb or about 18,000′ feet up. This is sort of interesting because I want to show you the forecast flow on Monday morning and you can see the similarities right.

You can see how the main flow comes down from the Arctic region through central Canada and down into the Plains states.

Now take a look at the forecast map for Monday morning…different colors but notice the orientation of the solid lines…sort of similar right?

It’s a pretty darn good match I think. In reality IF I were to look at all the bigger than typical arctic outbreaks around here…the maps would be “somewhat” similar. To me it’s a clue from Mother Nature to respect what’s about to happen.

As I talked about last night though…there are “ingredients” needed to really bake this cold weather “cake”. You need clear skies…dry air…light winds…and snow cover. IF you can get several inches + of snow cover..all the better to cook up a very cold morning(s).

One issue that I’m questioning is the snow cover standpoint. IF we do get another 1-2″ of snow over the weekend…perhaps more Saturday night into Sunday…watch out Monday AM IF we have those other ingredients in place. With the core of the high sitting nearby…that takes care of the winds and the dry air requirements. Only question would be IF there are any weird low clouds around to act as that blanket that I referred to earlier.

Take a look at the surface forecast weather map for Monday morning…compare it to the map 3 images above…

Pretty darn similar again.

So the “modelology” backs up the past weather. This is why I’m wondering just how cold we can get on Monday. I’ve got -3° and plan on dropping that a few more degrees in my evening forecast. I won’t go too far down because of the snow cover questions BUT if the snow cover aspect comes into play…I will get very aggressive later in the week tanking that Monday morning low temperature.

In going a bit lower in the atmosphere and looking at the forecast charts for a few thousand feet off the ground…our temperature this morning at 925 mbs or about 3,000 feet up was -16C or 3.2°F…the GFS forecast for Monday is for that same level to be around -19C or -2.2°F…even colder than this morning.

The bottom line to me is IF we have snow on the ground Monday morning…lows could easily tank to 10-17° below in KC. IF we don’t have snow…this might be more of a 4 to 10° below morning.

Snow cover is the key to the forecast.

Our feature photo comes from Mary Jo Seever.. Pretty shot of eagles at the Lewis and Clark State Park



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  • Richard

    Thanks again Joe !
    My home barometer only goes to 31 ! I have never seen it get that high.

    Question. On that Dec 22 ’89 map we got down to -23, but up north in MN and other northern areas, the highs are different. Some the same as KC, but others were “warmer.” What caused those pockets of extreme cold such as KC. Could cloud cover have been a factor in the “warmer” pockets?

    • Joe Lauria

      Richard…nice catch…didn’t even pay attention to that. That’s a good question.It’s one of those mysteries though…even Canada a day or two before, when looking at the maps, wasn’t below -35 to -40°. I don’t have a readily easy way to dig up the snow map from then…have to assume they had snow cover right? So I really don’t have a good explanation.

  • Richard

    KC /and some of the “lower 48” states aren’t the only ones without much snow. I keep track of Alaska weather. I have a brother in law who has lived in Anchorage most of his life (over 70 yrs).
    The following is from todays NWS Alaska facebook page :
    With 2018 right around the corner and Anchorage patiently waiting for snow, we wanted to investigate just how much snow has fallen compared the normal December snowfall. As of December 27th, 2017, Anchorage is sitting at 2.1 inches of snow for the month while the normal snowfall is 16.7 inches in December. While the accumulation is quite low, it isn’t the lowest on record. In 1980 the Anchorage area saw 1.4 inches of snow for the month of December and the highest occurred in 1955 with 41.6 inches of snow!

    To find your local snow forecast, visit

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