Joe’s Weather Blog: Sub-zero lows await KC (SUN-12/31)

Well 2017, after being warm overall…will end the year with a stretch of 10 straight days below average in KC. The arctic air got a bit of a push last night…skies cleared out before daybreak this morning and the temperatures dropped to 0° at KCI…there were sub-zero readings around KC…as a matter of fact parts of N MO dropped to 10-15 below. Tonight will be our 2nd night tanking below zero and the only issue is how far down do we get. It’s one of 3 nights that we’ll be sub-zero I think…another one comes Monday night/Tuesday AM and then Thursday AM.


Tonight: Clear and bitterly cold. Wind chills will be near 20° below zero or lower. Actual lows should drop to about 8° below. Some will be as cold as 20 below in N MO (maybe colder?). Wind chills up there will be 30 below.

Monday (New Years Day): Mostly sunny and cold again with highs around 8°

Tuesday: Another bitter cold start…down to about 6 below BUT we may level off there and rise a few degrees by daybreak as a more southerly airflow starts. Highs on Tuesday should be around 20°

Wednesday: Not as cold in the AM but still a chilly afternoon with another shot of colder air coming in . Lows in the morning in the teens with highs in the afternoon in the 20s


The overnight forecast for last night was a tough one. I’ve been resisting dropping temperatures this morning to sub-zero because of a few things…1) there were a lot of clouds all night long…2) there’s no snow out there to speak of locally and 3) there still was some wind allowing some mixing. I expected us to clear out around daybreak…and then see the temperatures drop a few degrees. That’s exactly what happened but I got nervous as temperatures were at 0° (my forecast) for 2 hours time with clear skies. My forecast low for days was 0° this morning and I was nervous looking at the noon validation to my forecast..would we drop below zero in that 2 hour period…

No we did not. Perfect forecast.

Tonight we won’t be as lucky.

While there is still no real snow locally around…the skies tonight should be clear and the winds will be a bit lighter. With dew points down to at least -10°…indicating the dry air…we’re going to tank tonight. I’m forecasting a low of -8° and probably won’t change that since that’s what I’ve had now for several days. That is cold and it will be in the top 5 of coldest starts to a New Year in KC weather record books going back to the 1880s. Take a look at the coldest starts for 1/1

I don’t think we get to that -13° although IF we had a couple of inches of snow on the ground, I’d be forecasting lows probably closer to -20 than -10°. The lack of snow on the ground is a key to how low we can go.

Speaking of which here is some late afternoon research I just did correlating the importance of snow cover to extreme low temperatures in KC…click on the following tweet for additional data

That won’t be a problem in N MO however and points northwards…

There are pockets of snow out there south of the St Joseph area however…and you can see this a bit more clearer when looking at this special satellite channel via NEXLAB. This shows the snow in lightish blue…and the clouds as more white…very helpful.

Where there is blue/cyan=snow on the ground=20 to 30° BELOW zero forecasts for tonight! Needless to say…bitterly cold.

This morning the lowest temperatures on the MO side were down to -12° in Downing, MO towards the north of Kirksville. Seems to me they could get down to -25 tonight.

Here is the early afternoon forecast thoughts from the NWS…they’re being a bit more aggressive with their low temperature forecast…bringing us within one degree of tying the record low for 1/1

The circled numbers/cities are the cities that will be close to or forecast to break records on Monday AM.

The core of the high…1046+ millibars…will be on top of the area tomorrow afternoon…

That 1046+ high equates to about 30.90″ on you’re home barometer…so tomorrow afternoon while watching football and eating even more…IF you have a home weather station you may want to check it out and see how it’s performing.

That high will slide to the south of KC tomorrow night. Temperatures, which only should be around 10° on Monday…will quickly tank during the evening to sub-zero levels.

The key to the lowest temperatures tomorrow night (Tuesday morning) will be the return of a southerly wind component. Typically, when we have that phenomena happen…and there is no snow cover the temperatures within 2 hours stop falling and either steady out or actually start coming back up. I’m forecasting a low of -6° before daybreak BUT with the potential of temperatures actually being “less cold” than that at daybreak on Tuesday, perhaps closer to about 0°. Regardless Tuesday AM is nasty cold again and for kids at the bus stop…it will be a tough one…and may lead to school closures, especially in the rural areas. Wind chill factors will be 10° below . Some area kids may get a bonus day off from school on Tuesday because of the cold weather.

Another shot of cold (but more of a quick hitter comes later Wednesday. Sub-zero lows are possible again Thursday morning.

Then we get a break for a couple of days as we should moderate “somewhat” heading into next weekend. Hey we may crack 32° on Saturday…maybe. By then the consecutive streak of time below 32° in KC will be well over 350 hours!

A couple of other notes…if you’re wondering why I’m not talking about snow…or a storm…or moisture…well take a look at this 7 day forecast for total precipitation…no bueno.

The GFS is dry through day 11…the 10th…the EURO does have a minor event before that though although it’s not even sure if it would be snow or rain…and that’s the way we roll in KC. A lot of wasted sub-zero cold followed by prospects for liquid and not frozen snow…or some sort of weird combination. Obviously that may change…but golly.

It would make sense though…as the flow flattens after these nasty cold shots of air…we going to moderate, at least in the upper levels above the surface…this, while NOT surprising in the least is still somewhat of a bummer for “snow wanters” out there.

Final note before I end the last blog of 2017…I was keeping track of how warm we were, compared to average before the cold snap hit the area. We were up to 7.3° or 7.1° (I forget) above average on the 21st…since then, thanks to all these cold days we’re now only about 1.5° above average…and we may lose another degree or so from that. We’ll end the month barely above average.

Overall though this will be another year of average temperatures above average in KC. The chart below has the moving 30 year average in black…and where we stand heading towards the New Year.

This should end up as the 28th warmest year in KC weather history. It will be around 20th warmest for daytime highs and about 50th warmest for daytime lows it seems. There may be a few last day changes to this since we’re so cold today…but it’s tough to move the needle much at this point.

OK that’s it for 2017…I hope you have a wonderful 2018. I’ll be taking a blog day off to start the year on Monday Tuesday’s blog will be more stats driven about the year that was…codifying some of the information along. Let’s hope for some fun weather to track in 2018. I’m sure there will be highlights…but if we’re tracking a drought again…that is no fun at all for a weather enthusiast.

Finally…a look at 2017 in review from a local weather perspective courtesy of Meteorologist Michelle Bogowith

Our feature photo comes from one of the great contributors of classy and beautiful pictures of the area. This last one of 2017 is from Savannah Whitesell‎ of Savy Photos Photography. Thanks Savannah for all your contributions as well as all the other photographers or picture takers that we've featured on the blog in 2017!

From Hillsdale Lake





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  • Richard

    Thanks Joe Happy New Year
    Go chiefs !
    By the way, the winds don’t seem to be muchbof a factor, for now anyway.
    Will they pick up ? I thought they would be stronger with the WCW wind chill warning put out by NWS