Joe’s Weather Blog: The Tuesday snow conundrum (MON-2/5)

Good morning…another sub-zero morning out there with temperatures tanking to -2° before the south wind shift that occurred around 3AM. This allowed the temperatures to recover + some clouds helped the cause too. So as Ii start this blog…we’re around 5°. The clouds will counteract the return of south winds somewhat today but it will be less cold than yesterday…unfortunately though this will be a brief respite as it will be colder again on Tuesday. There is snow up in NE that may be an issue towards N MO today with that…worse case, I think, for us would be a few flurries. I’ll put radar in the blog so you can track this.

Also the situation for Tuesday is still unsettled. Snow is expected but who gets how much and where a heavier band (3″+) could set up remains to be seen. Seeing a lot of forecast maps with this band changing location…to me that’s not really helpful and the reason why I’ve held off creating any snow track maps. I still think a broad brush approach to this is the way to go for now.


Today: Cloudy and turning breezy this afternoon with highs near 25°

Tonight: Fair skies and turning colder again with lows by morning down into the 5-10° range as the winds switch back towards the north and colder air comes southwards.

Tuesday: Snow is likely in the region…again more on this in the discussion. Temperatures will struggle…we may go up a few degrees in the morning into the early afternoon but the snow should move in towards the afternoon or early evening. The AM rush should be OK but there may be issues with the PM rush…depending on where this possible band sets up…and that’s the rub…there are significant discrepancies where this possible band establishes itself.


1st about the snow towards Nebraska now…

I can’t show you local radar because the Pleasant Hill site is down for the next 3 days or so…so tomorrow we’ll be using radar from Topeka to track “something”. Also as you look at the radar above, there is a lot of evaporation happening with the snow up there…at least as of this writing the snow that’s reaching the ground is more towards the I-80 corridor.

It’s all about the “band”

Where it doesn’t set up those locations may get very little snow…perhaps a dusting, if even that…but where this potential band does set up…amounts could be 3″+. This was the point that I was trying to make yesterday and the reason why I didn’t want to post specific city maps. I didn’t want to forecast 2-3″ or whatever in Harrisonville when they may only get a dusting or forecast 5″ in St Joe when then may get 3″.

That’s why I was trying to paint a broader brush.

Notice how yesterday my colleagues from the NWS posted this snow forecast…

Then this morning it was changed to this.

I don’t like doing this shifting from place to place on the air IF it can be avoided…and in my opinion, at least yesterday it could’ve been avoided for an event that was still 48 hours away.

Heck…looking at the latest NAM model this morning (which has been ALL over the place) there would be little to no accumulation at all south of I-70…the following map is the “liquid” equivalent. Notice the model IS picking out a band of .2″ of liquid which would equal about 2-4″ of snow…but notice again from Downtown south…almost from KCI south…little to nothing…and that’s the rub.

I have little faith in the precise location of where that band really will establish itself…it very well could waver 25-50 miles one way or another…and that places the heart of KC either really IN it for a significant afternoon/evening impact…or with a change farther north…us getting bupkis!

There is little to no skill, in my opinion, for the placement of this possible band from 24+ hours out. The new hi-res NAM model output this morning shows about the same thing…

The location is critical…because I wouldn’t be surprised to see 4-6″ of snow in localized spots within that band…but where that band sets up is still a question to me.

I knew over the weekend this was going to be an issue and I don’t really think with any confidence we’ll truly know the exact spot it sets up till it starts showing itself on Tuesday.

The equivalent I guess would be precisely saying today where a line of thunderstorms will fire up within about 25 miles tomorrow afternoon…there are weird similarities. In this springtime parallel we know or have better confidence that there will be thunderstorms…we just aren’t able to precisely pinpoint the exact spots that the line establishes itself.

Why is there this lack of confidence? It’s because we’re NOT really dealing with a credible disturbance…there are tiny pieces that will be running around the Plains and zipping through the area. Let me show you a forecast map up around 18,000 feet, highlighting the “vorticity” or the tendency for the air too broadly rotate and create “lift”. The following map is for 6PM Tuesday evening. Note the small RED speck towards Topeka/Manhattan. That’s a tiny wave. It’s flying towards the east mostly…we look for heavier snows near and north of that track. Also note the wave near the OK panhandle. Could that do something for us? Will the wave that’s near Topeka pass the Metro by then give us sinking air cutting the snow off? Will that wave near Topeka even be there? Will it be near Garnett or Harrisonville and put the Metro into the heavier snow band?

This is why I emphasize that this is not accurately predictable really from 24+ hours hour yet. IF we were dealing with a significant storm in the atmosphere or at the surface we could sort of “hang our hat” on something…but in this case there’s nothing to really hang our hat on except we THINK there will be some sort of band set up “somewhere” in the viewing area. the new GFS though is trying to have a more identifiable wave to actually “hang our hat on” and track.

It’s very frustrating to say the least because while I can explain it…predicting it is something different.

The morning GFS run seems to have the initial band setting up towards the NW of KC  into the mid afternoon…here the 6 hour totals from Tuesday Noon>6PM…these are liquid totals…and with ratios would equal 3-4+” of snow

Notice as well int the above map that the snow that breaks out SW of KC that would be moving east or northeast…

IF that verifies (above) and it may be keying on that disturbance in the map farther up in the blog that was towards the OK Panhandle area…this would indeed bring widespread snow of 1-4″ through the KC region. Looking deeper into the reason why it’s coming up with this solution over the drier NAM model…it appears that is the case. The wave coming up from SW KS and W OK is definitely healthier looking on the GFS model…

Also of note…is that the snow fluff factor will be better than average…maybe close to Sunday’s set-up…that means what falls will have an easier time adding up…the air will be cold at the surface and above us too!

This just sort of exemplifies how there will be some winners for snow…and IF the band (maybe about two-three counties wide) sets up along or near I-70 there will be a sizable chunk of the population of KC that gets a very impacting snow…whereas IF it sets up 25-50 miles farther north…then most of the Metro will be relying on perhaps a secondary wave whose very existence and location is questionable. IF this other wave…coming towards region from the OK panhandle is real…then we could be in business on an area-wide scale for accumulating snow that snow-lovers will be happy with.

I wish it was easier to figure out but in a winter that’s been rather strange this is what we’re dealing with…

Our feature photo is from ‎Devin K McCleary down in Garden City, MO

I may update the blog later around lunch.




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  • Richard

    Thanks Joe
    Funny how the anticipated storm for tomorrow might or might not produce much.
    But yesterdays mini storm became the little engine that could and produced more than was anticipated. 😄
    It’s a hard area of the country to predict winter storms !
    Happy Weatherperson’s day Joe !

  • Richard

    Something weird here. Your reply to me yesterday is gone now. I was going to reply back to you, but
    I only see a (spam?) comment by a Travis Joyce that says “Can I just become a CI instead of going to prison?”