Joe’s Weather Blog: Today’s snow update (TUE-2/6)
I’ll be keeping an eye on how things play out all day long…in all honesty though there have been so many things (suspicious) about this whole set-up…that for a snow lover…this has been a frustrating “storm” that really isn’t a “storm” to follow. Now that it’s starting to show itself a bit more…things are becoming more clear I think. The main thing is that the heavier accumulations should stay north of Metro KC.
Forecast: (1:30 PM Update)
Today: Partly sunny skies south of Downtown and cloudy north. There might be some non-accumulating patches of flurries or light snow on the northside of KC. Temperatures in the teens.
Tonight: A band of light snow should pivot through the area this evening and ending towards midnight. Accumulations with this could be an dusting to maybe inch or so. The roads will probably get slick in areas but it shouldn’t be a close down the city accumulation and it should be less than what we saw this past Sunday morning. Lows near 8°
Wednesday: Clearing out but remaining cold with highs in the 20s.
Discussion: (1PM Update)
Not a lot of change to this morning…those who are seeing the sunshine on the south part of KC are really wondering what all the fuss is about…
There still may be one band of snow that lasts for a few hours this evening…can’t promise a lot from it…but now it’s down to that, as we expected this morning. I don’t think that’s going to be able to do a lot for accumulations…1″ could be a REAL stretch…we’ll see.
Oh and some of the models are buzzing about the weekend set-up. The GFS especially looks cray cray with the moisture and the ice>snow situation. I’m not excited at this point…looks like just about every other thing we’ve seen this winter…maybe a light snow with 1″ or less type thing…
Yet another snow opportunity is going to leave my snow blower, which now seemingly has 3″ of dust on it…parked in the garage. This one won’t cut it in the end.
There have been so many things wrong with this scenario…so many things that had to happen right for us to get a more significant snow. As we’ve gotten closer to this…and the trend of not even getting really cooperative upper levels of the atmosphere set up nicely…or even close to nice for snow lovers…the caution flags were going up the poles.
So here we are…and let’s start with a look at the atmosphere as a whole…just looking straight up thanks to the balloon launch from Topeka earlier this morning. I want to show you this for a reason.
The RED line is the temperature profile of the atmosphere as you go upwards…the GREEN line is the dew point (moisture) of the atmosphere. Why am I showing you this. Notice the spread in the lines from about 500 mbs (about 18,000 feet) on down. See how the lines spread apart. When the lines are more together…or seemingly on top of each other, the atmosphere is fully saturated. When farther apart…the air is drier…the lower part of the atmosphere below about 18,000 feet and especially below 700 mbs (or about 10,000 feet where the lines spread out more, is pretty dry
That’s issue #1…why, because snowflakes can’t really form to begin with until the atmosphere starts to saturate…and 2) because then those snowflakes that up there have to saturate the air farther down as they fall. At first evaporating…then maybe reaching the ground and 3) this dry lower part of the atmosphere will be re-enforced for most of the day today.
That’s not a good look for snow lovers…BUT it can change (and will). The waves moving through the Plains this morning aren’t exactly the healthiest…the lift…not the greatest to start with…so this process will be ongoing through the day from Metro KC southwards. There might be a brief few hour window this evening where things may cooperate for additional snow but even with favorable fluff factor we’ll be only able to get so much to fall in a few hours unless the snow is harder coming down than I’m thinking.
Areas up north of KC…from roughly Holton, KS to Atchison, KS to St Joe, MO to Plattsburg, MO to Trenton, MO to Kirksville, MO should see one of these bands form and come together later today and tonight. This should equate to heavier snows there…2-5″ not out of the question. This is the “banded snow” that was talked about over the weekend and was the issue of where it would set-up. IF this were farther south…let’s say from Ottawa to KC to Liberty…then the Metro would be the jackpot winner…but it doesn’t appear likely that this is going to happen (at least of of this morning).
As I mentioned the air below 18,000 feet is dry right now…and that needs changing. It may occur…but slowly through the day. With minimal lift in the atmosphere…I’m just not sure how that can happen too quickly. This lack of “lift” will not be helpful + there will be dry air constantly coming into the area from the east and northeast…so as the atmosphere tries to saturate it will be fighting the dry air coming in at the same time. at times it may be able to crank out some snow flakes today in Metro KC…but it will be a day long process mostly.
As far as tonight goes…there actually is an identifiable wave coming through aloft. So that’s a 1st good step for snow making. As a result some sort of band of snow should come together west of the KC area and rotate through between 8PM-12AM or so. This would be our chance of getting 1″ or so of snow and that may be a real push too because it will be zipping through the region. Areas farther to the SE of KC…Butler>Sedalia for example…may see most of this band pass north of your areas…so you’re left with crumbs. It would be this time period that we could see some light accumulations in the Metro KC area.
Strike 3 for a heavy snow in the KC Metro area and south.
So we’re left with essentially this…a Winter Weather Advisory for areas towards the north of KC and south of KC highlighted in the blue counties below
The counties towards I-44 may see some weird band of snow come together overnight as moisture from the south tries to sneak northwards.
The “emptiness” around the KC region is stark.
Can something surprise us? Sure…IF this wave is even stronger than I think as it moves through KS later today…that may saturate things faster…maybe increase the snow rates for awhile…perhaps there is some upside to the dusting to 1″ potential for the KC area. I won’s be shocked…but at this point based on the look of things…it’s tough to go that far right now.
I’ll keep an eye on radar from Topeka all day for you…and you can too. Keep in mind two things…1) the radar closest to KC is in Pleasant Hill…and it’s being upgraded through Wednesday so it’s not working right now.
Also the radar beam from Topeka…by the time it gets to the downtown KC area is shooting up at about 8,000 feet or so. So that means it’s NOT seeing what’s happening below 8,000 feet (give or take).
We use the lowest radar beam tilt (.5) for detecting precipitation. So look at the chart above and look for the slanted white line connected to the 0.5° tilt. Remember we’re some 75 miles away from the radar in Topeka…
So IF you notice radar echoes around the state line region…and you don’t see snow flakes out your window…this means that the snow is evaporating before it reaches the ground.
So that leaves me with something along these lines for snow totals….
I wanted to open up the area north of KC to potentially 4″…perhaps a few 5″ers can’t be ruled out because of the “fluff factor” of the powdery snow that’s likely with the cold air mass
So will the perception be “are we wrong”?
That I don’t know really. If you’re a regular blog reader (and yesterday the weather blog was extremely popular on fox4kc.com…essentially the #1 read item on the web site…Sunday too so thank you!) I hope you don’t think so. I hope I was able to explain and show the needed caveats to snow accumulations. I felt that this would all be determined by where any real snow bands set up. Right now it appears this will be in the area farther north of KC. I think I explained that the “significant” snow would be tied to the location of the band or bands. As I mentioned numerous times…there were still many suspect-able things about this…so I hope I didn’t get the snow lovers hopes up too high. Over the weekend I stressed that some areas could see 2-3″+ but the exact locations couldn’t be determined at that point. The apparent reality is that this will be on the north side of the area in the area highlighted for you in darker blue.
Hey maybe there could be a curve ball at the last minute that “hangs’ and the snow lovers hit it out of the park in the KC region…but it doesn’t appear favorable for that right now.
I’ll take the warranted heat for this past Sunday…but for today…not so sure it’s really warranted…at least in my opinion. Yours may differ of course and there’s nothing wrong with that. Remember just because your weather app was going crazy from hour to hour with snow amounts for today (I remember in a news meeting last Thursday the 1st thing I got hit with was “are we really going to get 7″ of snow on Tuesday”. When I then asked where they heard that…well I said I doubt it and remember that same app will change from model to model. I said let’s not discount the potential for today but we really wouldn’t know till last night and this morning how today would play out. Why? Because we were never dealing with a well defined strong storm system. I won’t take heat for bad app forecasts.
Our feature photo comes from Jenni out in Shawnee from Sunday.
I’ll keep an eye on things just in case changes are needed.