Joe’s Weather Blog: Another cold shot of air + snow risks (SAT-2/3)

Good afternoon…mild and breezy out there as I start this weather blog on a bright Saturday afternoon. Temperatures are well into the 40s and approaching 50° as well…nicely above the average high of around 40° for early February. We should finish the day with highs into the 50s in KC…which is pretty OK. We also are getting wind gusts to near 30 MPH…so it will remain windy out there too. Obviously my attention is focused on the temperature switch for Sunday and the snow potential.

Forecast: (UPDATED Sunday at 9AM)

Sunday: Cold with a chance of some light snow or flurries. Highs only in the mid 20s in the morning then perhaps colder in the afternoon. In other words very little change in temperatures during the day or even some dropping temperatures. The snow shouldn’t amount to much more than a dusting to coating in some areas but should remain under 1″ for just about the whole region. Be aware of changing road conditions as well later this morning. The sun should come out in the afternoon…after 2PM or so.

Monday: Pretty darn cold in the morning…near 5° then variable clouds, especially in the afternoon with chilly temperatures but a more seasonable day. Turning windy too as the day moves along. Highs well into the 30s

Tuesday: Turning colder again with a chance of snow…amounts are still VERY questionable however. It will be cold though with temperatures in the 20s

Discussion: (if you don’t want to go through this…scroll to the bottom for preliminary thoughts)

I don’t necessarily want to keep writing about the frustrations of getting real “snow” in the KC area This is now going on several winters and as mentioned numerous times in the blog…Sunday the 4th is the anniversary of our last “real” snow in the KC area…something as simple as getting more than 3″ of snow in 1 day has become near impossible and we’ve failed miserably at getting to this meager mark in KC over the last 4 years…and we won’t tomorrow either.

The 12PM surface map shows our area in a rather strong SW wind flow…there is a trough to the west of here…denoted by the wind shift in dashed black lines and the real cold front is across the northern Plains…and if you look at the temperatures on the map, they’re in RED…you can see the near 0° temperatures as of the noon hour up there too.

Later this evening when the winds initially shift towards the NW…there won’t be a real cold air tap…but when the winds shift towards the NNW overnight that’s when we tap into the nasty cold air to the north of the region this afternoon…so we get to experience another day on Sunday with a midnight high temperature…that seems to have happened more than a few times this winter as well.

Snow risk on Sunday:

We know it will be much colder…feeling some 30-40° colder in the afternoon especially but what about the snow risk? A weak disturbance will be coming southwards. Whatever snow it generates will be coming into the colder and drier air that will be in place on top of the area so the snow will be falling apart as it approaches later in the morning. Some snow is possible…tough to imagine getting more than 1/2″ or so in the KC area.

Tuesday’s snow risk is still there…although it is still, like yesterday, very suspect. The benchmark though for getting a “significant” snow is still VERY low in recent memory. Take a look at the snow stats over the last 4 years…showing the most snow in one calendar date in the KC area…

You can see the real snowstorm on 2/4/14…and then the crumbs. We did have 2.1″ on 1/14 this year practically half of seasonal total. Overall though there are a lot of nickle and dimers in there.

Will Tuesday be a nickle and dimer or something a bit beefier? Again it’s too early to say…but the big issue that we’re fighting is the lack of a strong disturbance and the potential of things being suppressed to the south of the area with us on the northern edge of something.

Let’s start with the bad or good news depending on your perspective. The GFS model wasn’t so great for snow locally although it wasn’t terrible either. it just shows a very sharp cutoff to the snow…I don’t want to show the snow totals map..but instead the accumulation of liquid equivalent. This occurs over the course of 24 hours from Monday night>Tuesday night.

You can see KC is on the northern fringe on this model…and any shift south would be no bueno for snow enthusiasts…and we’re talking any shift south of 25+ miles or so. Areas farther south in the higher totals would also have some precip type issues for awhile on Sunday…some sleet would be possible cutting the snow amounts. Just north of that transition though there would still be heavy snow…shovel-able snow at that..again this would be just south of the I-70 corridor on this map.

The EURO model is somewhat more encouraging and hasn’t changed that much today vs the overnight model. Yesterday it was giving us a big-time snow…it seemed unrealistic as I pointed out in the blog. Today it seems more reasonable…but…

Most of this would come in the afternoon and IF that heavier band which generates the totals ISN”T there or isn’t as beefy as the model shows…we’re not going to get much snow out of this…

Again the map above show the “liquid” precip totals over 24 hours ending Wednesday at 6AM. The indications though just from the map above..a significant snowstorm and because the model is so much colder in the atmosphere…it would pile up more efficiently as well.

Offhand I’m wondering IF the model is too cold above the surface and that may be a reason why it’s being generous with the amounts of liquid which converted to snow creates much higher totals compared to the GFS model in the KC area. Just a thought.

I think this is manifesting itself when looking at the total available moisture it the atmosphere. While the times are different…12PM on the GFS model below and 6PM on the EURO model below that…you can see how on the GFS model there is a sharp cut-off to the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. There is a LOT of dry air in N MO. How much of that dry air sneaks southwards is an issue and a reason why there is such a sharp cut-off to the snow potential on the northside.

Again this is concerning because IF there is a slight shift south…again as I mentioned above…no bueno for snow lovers because we don’t have any room for it as the drier air will then be on top of the I-70 corridor region.

The EURO doesn’t have that dry source to the north as close to the KC area…

There is a difference IF you look closely…hence we have more moisture to work with with a weak system.

That too, the weakness of what we’re working with, isn’t a confidence builder either. This won’t be a strong disturbance zipping through the region.

Here is one bonus though…note the GFS ensembles showing the same idea as the beginning maps of the blog (the liquid equivalent)…there are quite of few of them that are bullish…that is making me go hmmmm.


  1. Not the greatest set-up…weak and broken up waves are always a pain in the “you know what” to track and forecast which one will be the better precip generator.
  2. IF we can get the atmosphere to be colder…then the ratios would be better…the snow more powdery and the amounts would be higher with the fluffier snows
  3. Recent history is NOT on our side…it’s not even in the same neighborhood…zip code…city…you get my point. A couple of years without a significant snow is one thing I guess…but 4 years…come on.
  4. The time of getting the heavier snows would more likely be towards before lunch Tuesday and into the afternoon…IF that doesn’t happen…I don’t think we get that much.
  5. The GFS ensembles are still somewhat bullish and even farther north than the operational…perhaps more aligned to the EURO model…this is why, at this point I can’t discount a more significant snow for the KC area…for those farther north towards northern MO…this may not be a big issue.
  6. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room here…a shift south by some 50 miles or so wouldn’t be helpful IF you want some decent snow in KC
  7. Right now I think some areas in the viewing area get 3+” of snow…I just don’t know where that will be.

That’s it for today…not exactly the easiest thing to figure out and more twists and turns are likely over the next 48+ hours. Our feature photo comes from Carol Welty Poland‎ in Gladstone, MO. This isn’t from 4 years ago…but from about 7 years ago to the winter of 2010-11


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