KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You know me and my rabbit holes I go down to dig deeper that others in different types of extreme storms. I find this stuff fascinating and we’ve got an intense storm coming into the Plains over the weekend and Monday of next week. But as usual (this winter), there isn’t cold air to be had for the storm to work with, despite there being a lot of cold air out there these last couple of days.
The trend over the weekend will be for milder air to return to the region. Sunday we may pop well into the 50s and continue to go up into Sunday night ahead of storms coming towards the region. These storms will need to be watched for the potential of stronger winds. They will be hauling through the region pushed along by extremely strong winds above the surface.
My rabbit hole yesterday was diving into the intensity of the surface storm that will be nearby. It will be deep and intense which prompted me to look for the most intense storm (by pressure standards) to affect the region. I thought I found it, but upon more digging… I found another one.
Kansas City Forecast:
Today: Cloudy with a chance of some light drizzle, freezing drizzle or mixed-in ice pellets later this afternoon and this evening. There is a chance this evening of a few slick spots, mostly south of the Interstate 70 or U.S. 50 corridor. High temperature today only in the lower 30s.
Tonight: That moves away this evening after 9 p.m. Partly cloudy and cold. Northside drops down to near 20 degrees, perhaps colder if skies are clearer.
Tomorrow: Partly cloudy and seasonable with highs in the upper 40s.
Sunday: Cloudy with a few scattered showers in the morning. Then breezy and milder with highs well into the 50s. Storm chances go up later in the evening. Some risk of stronger winds from the storms.
So about my rabbit hole: This storm has already set some records for the lowest air pressure in the western U.S. Most were records for February, some were all-time low pressure records.
So yesterday got me wondering about the potential in the Plains and for Kansas City in particular. I went digging through data and found the lowest air pressure (I thought) was back in late March of 1977 with a barometric pressure reading of 28.87″ (see yesterday’s blog).
Model data continues to indicate that we may be challenging that, but I wanted to make sure that I had the correct lowest air pressure reading for KC. So down the rabbit hole I went again. I contacted some folks I know who specialize on this stuff on a more national scale. I also remembered that several years ago I was sent a list of records for the metro concerning this aspect of storm tracking and found an even lower pressure reading and more intense storm.
Say hello to Feb. 9, 1960: 28.82″ set at the Downtown Airport, then the official weather station of KC. The record I dug up yesterday was the record for KCI, but there was a transfer of records from the Downtown Airport to KCI when KCI opened in the early 70s.
Here is the weather map from the 10th, but the map actually shows the data from the previous day (the 9th).
You can clearly see the sub 976 millibar low. Millibars are abbreviated as mbs and are another way of measuring air pressure. Most of you are more familiar with the conversion to inches, and that conversion yields this chart:
So we had 28.82″ which gives us 976 mbs.
That would be a respectable hurricane-strength type pressure if we were tracking this in the Ocean.
What was the weather like that day? Well the surface storm tracked towards the south of I-70. We had some rain with a change to some snow. We ended up with about 1 inch of snow the following day. We had a high of 46 degrees, so despite the intensity of the storm over the two days (9th/10th), we only had about 1/4 inch of moisture.
Data overnight from various models runs suggest the lowest air pressure will be close to midnight-3 a.m. on Monday morning. Here are various model solutions for the locations/intensities of the surface low:
The GFS model is a bit deeper, dropping the low to a core of around 978 mbs (28.88″) towards Maryville and not right on top of KC.
Odds favor us not to break the record for the most intense storm to affect the region from an air pressure standpoint. But we will be in the general vicinity of something like that happening, which is in itself something pretty amazing, and shows the unusualness of this storm.
Weather around the U.S.
Out west it’s been doing a lot of “weird” things for the last few days: snow, graupel (dippin’ dots) and hail have been common. California snow amounts in the mountains around Los Angeles may exceed 7 feet, while the Los Angeles basin today is more concerned about flash flooding. There were all sorts of reports of thunder mixing in with the frozen precipitation out there.
You can clearly see the storm this morning off the coast of California. The flashes that you see are actually lightning indicators on the satellite images.
The rains today/tomorrow will be welcome in some cases and dreaded in others out there due to the flooding aspect.
The snow will be mostly welcome.
The snow will extend down to the mountains around San Diego as well.
And around Los Angeles.
Waterspouts are possible as well in that region with the convective nature of the precipitation.
Weird storm and as you know my mantra: weird storms do weird things.
So that brings us to this: What weird things will it do for KC? Well it should bring highly unusual low air pressure to the region. Migraine sufferers take note of that for the weekend and early next week.
Potential for high winds in KC
The next issue is stronger winds with thunderstorm potential This is on the table, but there is a key for this. There has to be storms coming together out towards the central and southern Plains. Odds favor storms, but I’m struck by how quickly the atmosphere will recover from being cold and dry (like now) to being warm and moist. I’m struck by the advancement of the cold air into Texas. With the real gulf moisture confined to the Gulf Coast (see that green contour) dew points there are 65-70 degrees (juicy), but the rest of the state is in the colder air mass.
We’re asking Mother Nature to due a LOT of work over the next 48 hours or so to get that moisture to surge northwards.
Model data is bringing some 60-degree dew points into Oklahoma by later Sunday. We’re in the lower 50s for dew points and the Storm Prediction Center is watching Oklahoma for the potential of stronger storms that would be racing towards the northeast at close to 60-70 mph potentially.
Here is my concern locally.
The winds just above the surface on Sunday night will be cranking. Take a look at the 5,000-feet wind flow:
Those winds (at that level) are nearly 82 knots, close to 90 mph on this model. Perhaps a bit too high, but jeez, that’s a lot of wind.
So my concern is tied to that. If storms are organized and moving towards the northeast at close to 65 mph (or faster), it won’t take a ton to get the rain to bring those stronger winds down to the surface and for us to have severe-criteria winds in the region later Sunday night.
It’s “weird” because it’s late February and folks aren’t thinking about severe weather risks around here. If this happened in the afternoon, it’s a bit less weird, but with this happening later in the evening is a weird thing.
One note to this: If we don’t get that better moisture to come up the State Line in time, we may see the storms weaken as they come out of the better “juice” in the southern Plains and get closer to the metro. That would reduce the higher wind threat.
It’s certainly something to watch out for and pay attention to the updated timing and forecasts over the weekend.
I may get a blog out on Sunday if this scenario increases.
OK that’s a lot for today. The storm though won’t really drag in any unusual amounts of cold air. Temperatures next week look to remain above average and there are still no decent snows showing up. Be aware though that we may see colder trends after that connected to what I wrote about yesterday.
Ben and his drone got out this morning to check out the sunrise.