Joe’s Weather Blog: Set-up(s) for potential snowstorms (TUE-2/12)

Oh boy…I’ve been banging this drum for awhile and the model data last night is coming into line for snow..and maybe a good chunk of it over the next 10 days or so. It’s a pattern that anyone who loves snow has waited on for years…and if you hate snow…which is probably the vast majority of our viewers…you’re not going to be happy. The set-up screams accumulating snows in the Plains…how it all comes together is to be determined…but somebody in the Plains, perhaps very close to KC will see 6-12″ of snow between now and the 25th of the month…likely even more.

Why…well several reasons…one the atmosphere will support snow…two the atmosphere (at least for these 1st two opportunities) will be cold…very cold…that means higher fluff factors to the snow and better snow ratios…meaning less water in the snow but more accumulations (sort of the opposite to the heavy wet snows) and three…there will be disturbances coming over the cold air and that generates lift and snow production.

We’re going to need a bigger boat…as the line from Jaws goes…or on our case perhaps a bigger shovel.

And yet there is some GOOD news too!

  • Forecast:

Today: Clearing out later this morning into the afternoon. Blustery and chilly with highs in the mid>upper 30s. Average is the lower 40s.

Tonight: Mostly clear and cold with lows near 20-25°

Wednesday: Sunny and warmer (see some better news) with highs well into the 50s and I wouldn’t be shocked if some are in the 60s, especially south of KC

Thursday: We may sneak in one more mild day depending on the speed of the next cold front…highs near 50° before falling. A brief sprinkle or two possible with the front in the afternoon. Should be one of those days of colder north and warmer south.

Friday>Sunday: Not safe for reading…unless you like snow

  • Discussion:

So I wasn’t sure if I should use that title for the blog or not. I was actually thinking whether or not the title should be “should I use a sexy title or talk about the good news” but that title was too long. There is good news and let’s not ignore it…36+ hours of milder temperatures.


Now the not so great news…lots of cold air is going to be into the weather pattern. Really it’s already out there…and I’m not really referring to the cold weather in place today. There is a lot of cold up to the north of here…

Look up towards the northern Plains…so many sub-zero temperatures at 7AM this morning. Now it’s almost always cold up there anyway during this time of the year…but here’s the thing…some of that cold air is eventually going to get shoved southwards…that’s the cold front coming into our area on Thursday at some point in the afternoon…and that front, as I’ve mentioned before, is the table-setter to what’s to come for about 7-10 days afterwards.

That next air mass will be cold…it will be cold on the ground…and cold aloft. This time there won’t be any layer of “warm” (above 32°) air just above us changing whatever over to rain…or sleet or whatever…this time what forms (snow) will come all the way to the ground. Since the air will be colder…this also means the fluff factor for the snow will be increased. That means instead of 1/3″ of liquid being 3″ of snow or so…now it can be 4-6″ of snow…and that’s an issue for the potential over the next week or so.

So we know we’ll have the cold air…now will we have the disturbances to generate lift. The short answer is YES and there are more than one heading towards the region.

This next map shows the “vorticty maxes” at around 18,000 feet up. Somewhat complicated but these “maxes” help use look for rising air (ahead of them) and sinking air behind them. The map is a snapshot in time for Friday at noon.

I didn’t(!) circle the upper level low in the Great Lakes…that’s the injector of cold air into the Plains…the disturbance coming at us on Friday is a bit disorganized on the GFS model…healthier on the EURO model. This wave coming on top of the cold air will generate at least some lift and create a somewhat broad area of light to moderate snow in the Plains. Who is targeted remains to be seen but we should get at least some snow from this…odds favor over 2″.

The next system is near WA/OR id day Friday. That, according to the GFS at least is going to be a better and more organized wave coming at us over the weekend…

Then there is another one towards AK that will be an issue sometime TUE of next week. So at least 3 waves in one week with cold air in place. Admittedly it may be tough to keep the air cold enough aloft for wave #3…then again that one is a week away.

Over the next 10 days the EURO model generates over 1/2″ of moisture…the GFS cranks out over 4/10″ but the GFS ensembles (multiple different model runs with different physics and initializations) which usually are drier are wetter (that’s concerning) with almost double that GFS total. The EURO ensembles are also a bit wetter.

So let’s just say we get 1/2″ of liquid from these various set-ups over the next 10 days…with the cold air in place and the higher snow ratios…highs Friday may only be in the low>mid 20s…that means higher snow ratios.

Snow ratios are typically 10:1-12:1 in the KC area…meaning 1/2″ liquid is 5-6″ of snow…but cold air is much more efficient and letting snow form and increasing the “fluff factor” of the snow allowing it to pile up more efficiently. I saw this on the web and it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about…I think it may be from Accu-Weather.

Again that 10-12:1 ratio is just a “rule of thumb” thing…Mother Nature loves to change the rules on us during snow events sometimes.

Anyway…cold air in the atmosphere…disturbances of varying intensities generating lift in that cold atmosphere…and plenty of other things all will conspire to crank out the snow in the Plains. The devil is the amounts and who gets hit hardest. That remains to be seen.

Last night the EURO model and the GFS were hitting us pretty good. I don’t want to show snow totals but I will show you the liquid equivalents…

First the EURO model…

Close to 1/2″ liquid through Sunday morning.

Now the GFS model…

4/10″ or so…lighter southside of KC

Now the EURO ensembles…

About the same…

So here’s the bottom line..we are setting up for multiple rounds of snow…perhaps one of the most favorable repetitive snow patterns in years in the Plains…how KC plays into all that in terms of amounts…we’ll see but I’ve been bullish on this for quite some time, as you well know, and I see nothing to get me off that position at this point.

Finally…I fully know this stuff can blow up in my meteorological face…I don’t think we’ll get hit by all 3 of these possibilities to the same extent…one or two may be more minor compared to the other one…or vice versa. It’s snow…it’s KC…but this winter has been “different” which I think we can all agree on…it wants to snow…lately we’ve been fighting bad set-ups above us and layers of warm air…but it wants to snow…and I don’t see how we don’t go through the next 7-10 days without getting something more significant than the 1-2″ snows that have been a bit more common this winter (with interludes of bigger storms).

Just a reminder that this would be a good opportunity to follow me on twitter @fox4wx. I will be posting model updates etc as they come out as we get closer to these chances…it’s the best way for me to get out more immediate information as opposed to writing 1500 word blogs every few hours!

Our feature photo comes from ‎Lynn Sue Morarity‎ down in Cole Camp, MO


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1 Comment

  • Lynn Morarity

    Thanks so much for showing photo. My daughter took this from her deck. You have no idea what I’ve gone through to have KC as my locals! I’m just out of your area. So—I send my billing to Lee’s Summit to my brothers business and then he sends it to me! Love KC have gone there all my life, lots of relatives. Love your morning show and everyone on it, plus evening and weekend (when football or golf don’t screw it up)! Thank you all, live stream you in summer and my husband and I sit on the deck and take you along! Appreciate all of you.

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