Joe’s Weather Blog: Now comes the bitter cold (THU-2/7)

Well that was a weird one last night. I don’t have a count (working on it) but I don’t ever remember seeing so many lightning indicators show up in the data for a winter weather event…snow or ice. It was impressive on the south side of the Metro and points southwads towards the Lakes and the I-44 corridor. There was the pretty rare combo of being in an ice storm warning and a severe thunderstorm warning too at the same time. The ice accumulations were the worst (by far) on the south side. Sleet was a major factor in the end as well for the south side of the Metro with significant accumulations of ice on trees etc. a bit farther south.

As a matter of fact my colleagues at the NWS indicate that there were 8000 lightning indicators…remember a lot of this was probably in cloud stuff and not the more traditional cloud>ground strikes…through their area of responsibility last night. That’s most of W MO and parts of E KS.

Power outages locally are few…thank goodness. Statewide on the MO side…about 4500 customers are without power. There is a lot more ice on the tree limbs and power lines south of the Metro…and with the increasing winds today as the cold air plunges through…that’s going to be a lot of stress on the trees and the swaying lines…so these numbers may increase. This map may not be totally accurate but it gives you a pretty good idea.

KS side is doing well…

  • Forecast:

Today: Falling temperatures with gusty winds of 30 MPH. Highs near 15° or so this afternoon with steadier temperatures when the sun returns. Wind chills sub-zero. Partly cloudy skies

Tonight: Mostly clear and bitterly cold…lows from 0 to 5 below.

Friday: Sunnier skies with highs 20-25°

Saturday: Increasing clouds with some light snow possible at night. Highs 30-35°

Sunday: Variable clouds with highs in the 30s

  • Discussion:

So much happened last night…there was a tornado warning down towards Springfield, MO..a few of them really. There was a combination of 1″ hail…sleet…ice…thunder/lightning…freezing rain and probably a few other things as well…oh and some snowflakes too.

How can you have a tornado warning (I don’t think there were any actual tornadoes though) and temperatures in the 40° range like what happened in Springfield. Well it’s because down towards Springfield (and here) but moreso down there…just above the colder surface air there was all that warm air. There was even a special weather balloon launch last night at 12AM. This indicated that just above the surface it was close to 60°. Remember central AR was in the 60s and 70s all week too…well all that warm air was being lifted and was unstable. So really it was almost like a springtime scenario. That created thunderstorms down there above the surface cold air…and they started to rotate. Add in a warm front that was essentially stuck…separating the cold and warm air masses with dew points near 60° in the warmer sector of air..and sure something could happen. Surface winds near that front were from the east and southeast…that provided the extra low level directional shear too. again no reports of actual touchdowns…it’s REALLY tough for something like that to work it’s way to the surface because of the cold air at the ground..but I think there were reports of 60-65 MPH winds. There was also 1″ hail reports too as well as one isolated report of golf-ball sized hail as well.

Locally…we had the thunder/lightning/sleet and freezing rain. More sleet though in the KC area kept the ice accumulations lower. That’s mostly a good thing. Predicting something like this is next to impossible. I don’t think anyone this morning woke up (if they didn’t wake up a few times last night with the sleet pinging on the windows) and said “they way overhyped this one”. I do think though that those memories of big ice events, like what happened in 2002, are so firmly stuck in everybody’s mind that that is the comparison to every ice event.

That’s a lot of ice…

On the north side of the Metro though…clearly it wasn’t as bad. The worst slid more towards and south and east of I-35. Amounts on the north side (in terms of ice…were mostly under 2/10″ or so. South side of KC…closer to 1/4″ and then farther south 1/4-1/2″.

Now comes the winds…

Gusts to 30 MPH will be possible…

Temperatures above are in RED…we’re 10° at 9AM…at least the sun will be making an appearance soon it appears…

We may well tank to below zero tonight. An ice encrusted landscape will help the cause as well.

So the cold will be the next big story today/tonight. If folks down to the south lose power…it won’t be a pleasant night for them.

An update on the light snow potential for Saturday night in the blog tomorrow.

Our feature photo comes from Rob Reeves in the Olathe area with that combo of sleet and hail that fell from the thunderstorms last night.


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