Joe’s Weather Blog: We’re going to need a bigger shovel-maybe (WED-2/13)

Happy Wednesday! The good news is that we’ve got a breezy and milder day heading this way with highs into the 50s. Get out…enjoy it…do whatever…but get out of the house because regardless of how much snow we get from these systems that are coming through over the next week…it’s going to get cold. Thursday will be the transition day…and we’re into the cold on Friday with alternating snow chances and sticking snow likely. As I mentioned yesterday we won’t get blasted by the full-on effects of each potential storm but at least one get us…and the one that I’m most concerned about at this point is the one for Friday afternoon>evening.



  • Forecast:

Today: Lots of high clouds around…turning windy in the afternoon with highs 50-55° or so. Winds possibly gusting to near 30 MPH

Tonight: Milder with fair skies and lows well into the 30s

Thursday: A cold front will move through with variable clouds. The timing of the front appears to be near or after lunch. Highs may reach about 50° (colder north>warmer south) before dropping into the 20s in the evening with teens as wind chills.

Friday: Snow developing with accumulations likely. Highs 20-25°



  • Discussion:

First of all…as usual thanks for reading the weather blog. Yesterday it was the #1 item on our web page which is always humbling. It still amazes me the comments on FB I get about this “outlet” for me. So many mention that they learn about the weather and like the whys and whatfors about these storms…set-ups…whatever. A darn weather blog. Still amazes me.

Onwards.

Won’t bother with today or tomorrow as that is pretty straight-forward. The issue for Thursday is when the cold air is injected into KC from the north. My thought is sometime around or after lunch with the 50° weather turning into 30° weather by the time evening rush is done with…and colder with the wind chills.  There could be a few sprinkles with this but not much is expected rain-wise.

OK now the elephant in the room. I think by now everybody knows about the snow potential over the next week. 3 storms through next Wednesday. As I mentioned yesterday I’m not in the mindset that ALL three give us crazy amounts of snow. Last night there was a rather significant change, in at least one model, for the weekend system and the one next TUE>WED.

So to try and simplify things…let’s refer to Friday’s system as storm #1…Saturday night’s system as storm #2 and then the TUE>WED AM system as storm #3. I still worry that we may be vulnerable to other “things” beyond that but IF I start talking about that possibility I’ll need security guards in the grocery store (kidding not kidding)

So my confidence level about the 3 storms is “somewhat” strongest for what’s ahead of us…storm #1. Storm #2 and #2 I have less confidence about…especially #3 at this point because…well it’s about a week away. Storm #2 is somewhat problematic as well…I think we’ll get something from that…but I’m not sure if we get the “big one” from that.

Then there is storm #1 (the one due in Friday).

I want to show you some of the data from the newest weather satellite that became “operational” just yesterday. It’s the GOES 17 satellite that is more focused on the western part of the country and the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.

 

Pretty shots…but there are issues with the satellite. There are some problems with the equipment up there and in particular with the way the satellite cools itself down when the sun hits it just right. Remember this satellite is way up there…some 22,000 miles up…the Space Station is 254 miles up…so it’s not as if we can send maintenance up there. They’ve come up with some workarounds, which is still amazing to me for something that is orbiting the Earth and so far away…but for several hours each day during certain times of the year when the sun heats up the satellite too much…pictures won’t be usable. Regardless there is still a LOT of good data coming down the pipeline towards us.

So with that said…Storm #1 is still off the western US…off the coast of CA.

It’s that mass of clouds on the far right hand side…hopefully when daylight comes the US borders will become more evident.

That storm right now at least is in a few pieces (yellow flag in my mind) and when it comes ashore in CA tomorrow afternoon and crosses into the Rockies Friday morning…we’ll see what kind of shape it’s in.

That yellow flag is one of the problems I have with this set-up right now. The storm is going to be a fast mover it appears when it gets into the Plains and I’m still not sure how well put together it’s going to be when it flies through KS on Friday afternoon. Let’s go up to about 18,000 feet and show you the 3 storms. The one is KS is storm #1. The map shows areas of “vorticity”. These areas are where the atmosphere shows cyclonic tendencies and ahead of these features you  get “lift” (good for precipitation) and behind the features you get sinking air (good for clearing). These areas have varying intensity…big storms generate lots of lift…weaker ones…less lift.

Here is wayyyy more information than you want to know about the above map.

So the rough idea of a “transition zone” between rising air…lift…and sinking air…is the axis location of the “U” dips in the above map. With me so far? Notice as well the size of the “U” dip. For storm #1 it’s not overly “dippy” compared to storm #2…do you see that.

Less “dippy” storms tend to move fast. So the time that we’re in the “favorable” zone of lift is shorter than when the dips are deeper in size. Still with me?

Now that is up there at around 18,000 feet. We have to look at the entire atmosphere though as well. That smaller dip will be bringing some decent moisture with it and tapping into some sub-tropical moisture coming up from western TX…and that moisture will be one of the keys for us to get significant snow. IF that moisture isn’t as impressive or it gets pushed a bit farther east or south of here…we may NOT have a big snowstorm in KC on Friday. Nuisance snows yes…I think that’s unavoidable at this point (nuisance meaning 1-4″ or so) …it could be a sign that the wave is moving too fast or isn’t strong enough and this has to be at least looked at right now and NOT discounted at this point.

Then there is the matter of a building southwards area of high pressure…this is the cold air maker for us…BUT it’s also a dry air maker too. So the feed in the lower part of the atmosphere is of drier air…and that too can chew on what falls for awhile. Too much dry air and decent snowmakers can turn into blah snow makers. I may be making too much of a deal on this BUT it’s in the back of my mind as well.

Right now I think the odds of all this happening and ALL of this just turning into a “nuisance event” is around 55% and 55% should NOT be discounted at this point.

If you want something more significant (meaning in my weather head…4″ or more) you would like to see that moisture source be 1) real and 2) have that wave a bit more focused and “sharper”. That helps maximize the lift a bit more…that lift then works in concert with the moisture coming northbound…and as a result you get more impressive swaths of snow moving through the area.

There are some so-so favorable jet stream dynamics at play with this as well…for conciseness I won’t get into that right now. Not the greatest set-up and I’ve seen better over the years.

The new data slows the onset of sticking snow to the afternoon Friday. That makes sense and I can see how the dry air flow from the north is sort of working against the snow as it tries to come eastbound. However I also see how the snow out west is coming together better later in the morning and that snow would then come along the I-70 corridor in the afternoon…the issue remains how well it holds together as it comes eastbound along I-70.

You can see the conundrum. Dry air…sort of a disjointed broken up wave moving through the Plains…lift in the atmosphere that isn’t exactly super focused and a snow window that may be only around 6-8 hours or so…and some of that may be chewed on by the dry air.

This is the reason why we want to hold off on how much snow will fall from this. I know many are seeing all sorts of numbers on their various apps and with other sources…last night I mentioned that there was potential of over 4″ on Friday. That is still there certainly BUT I’m not sure how much over 4″ we will get at this point and that’s why I don’t want to do any snow maps yet with more precise information.

Trust me I know you want all the answers but for those who DON”T want a ton of snow…consider the early data today a better trend for your side. I don’t want to throw a 4-8″ amount out there at this point because my confidence isn’t there for something like that right now. The dry air scenario chewing at the snow because the wave coming in is sort of a mess needs to be factored into the equation. IF that dry air is “less” dry and IF the wave is better put together then yes over 4″ is VERY doable…again though lets try as we can to keep the horses in the barn for a bit longer.

There is still all sorts of potential with these 3 storms…and I won’t be surprised by some significant snow on the ground in a weeks time but let’s try and deal with them one at a time.

Takeaways from this…

  1. Snow arrives after lunch Friday and sticks right away
  2. The evening rush hour may be a mess
  3. A LOT of schools are NOT in session anyway because of in-service conference days ahead of the 3 day weekend anyway
  4. The dry air seeping southwards may “chew” on the snow as it comes eastbound
  5. The wave needs to be better organized with more focus to tap into the moisture trying to come northwards and also to act as a better “tug” on that moisture
  6. The weekend system bears some watching as well as does the one next week. Still WAYYYY to early to worry about forecast accumulations with that one.

OK that’s it for now. I’ll get an afternoon update out on FB by 3PM or so.

Our feature photo comes from ‎Sharon Griff Holloway‎ outside of Trenton, MO

Michelle and Karli will have more information as the day moves long on FOX 4.

Joe

 

 

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