KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Well it felt like winter this past weekend that’s for sure. Clouds on Saturday, temperatures struggling near 32°… it actually was a typical late December day around here. Yesterday was a bit better as the sunshine helped the cause and today we’re moderating again. But the last couple of days it’s felt more like winter.
It doesn’t look like winter though. Granted winter begins at 9:59 a.m. Tuesday. The week overall doesn’t appear overly cold and yeah, we’re going to make another run towards 70 degrees on Christmas Eve with a likely record high at this point. Crazy. If we get to 70-plus on Christmas Eve, it will be the third 70-plus day in December, and that hasn’t happened before in our record keeping going back to the late 1880s!
So as far as the snow situation goes…
Today: Sunny and pleasant by December standards. Highs in the upper 40s.
Tonight: Chilly but seasonable with lows in the lower 20s.
Tomorrow: About the same really.
Wednesday: No changes with highs around 50 degrees.
So some are wondering: where’s winter?
It’s a fair question at this point. Temperatures this month are running more than 9 degrees above average for December. If the month ended today, it would be the third-warmest December in Kansas City weather history. But obviously there are still 12 more data points to enter, including today. I don’t think we’ll end up in third place, but it will be a top 10-warmest December almost assuredly.
As is from the 1st through yesterday, the 43.7 degree-average temperature is the sixth-warmest start to December.
So yeah, folks are wondering where is winter.
It’s certainly not showing up in the snow totals around the region, or the Plains really south of Interstate 80.
That’s a pretty large void in the immediate region and points southwards. Even Chicago is doing a thing today regarding a lack of snow this season, with more days to be added.
That’s pretty crazy for Chicago.
When looking at more granular data for the U.S. as a whole, well, let’s just say it’s not exactly “festive.”
Nor has it been wet either, and this is slowly turning into a “thing” for agricultural interests around here.
That “thing” is that we really haven’t had significant moisture going back to Nov. 10, and no significant moisture (over 1/2 inch) is coming for at least another 7-10 days it appears. That would take us to almost seven weeks without much soil recharge. Since the soils aren’t frozen yet, they can accept and soak in the moisture still.
Again this is a developing “thing” that needs to be watched.
So where is winter? Is there anything coming?
Last week we talked about how some various “teleconnections” were pointing HARD at coming cold. Yet the models were (and to some extent still are) struggling to deliver that cold. There are signs though that the models may be catching up to the teleconnections (here is the definition of teleconnections: Changes in the atmosphere in one place can affect weather over 1000 miles away. They call these patterns teleconnections. … Teleconnection patterns are caused by changes in the way air moves around the atmosphere. The changes may last from a few weeks to many months. via UCAR)
I also showed you last week this really cold air mass, relative to average that has basically been occupying the western part of Canada and continues to sort of fester there, waiting to be released into the States.
So in a sense, we’re just sort of waiting on a change to the jet stream that would pull that colder air southwards to get to the region. I’d be shocked if that change didn’t happen by early January and the models may be catching up now to this potential. Notice the unleashing of the cold into the western U.S. and the Plains: the map below is a five-day average from late on the 29th to Jan. 3.
That again is a five-day average of things. When you look at the more detailed part of this, you can see how the colder air is unleashed around New Year’s Eve.
That would be cold for sure. The GFS sort of gets there too, but about 3-4 days later than the EURO.
Regardless, my general feelings are that the first two weeks of January will be colder (relative to average) than the last two weeks of January. It may be very cold too on a couple of days.
So what about the snow situation?
Well that is a bit iffier but based on where I think we’re going to be for the first two weeks of January, then I can’t see how we don’t get some accumulating snows from this cold. Model data is somewhat catching on to at least the potential to this increasing (in my mind) chance of snow.
The next chart(s) shows the probability of the region seeing at least one inch of snow by Jan. 3 or so. These are the EURO and GFS ensembles. Slide left for the GFS model and right for the EURO depiction:
So solidly in a 30-40% chance, which is better than what they’ve been showing for awhile really. Still, when looking at the same idea except for 3 inches or more… well let’s not get to revved up at this point.
Not overly thrilling really for the Kansas City area.
How can this be? It may very well be cold, but if we have a dry flow aloft (in other words if that flow is from the northwest or north), it’s pretty darn cold, but it’s not moist.
Perhaps a well-placed clipper or disturbance can change this potential snow situation. If the air is going to be cold, we get more of a possible fluff factor to the falling snow, so less moisture can still add up in the snow department to some extent. Any setup like that though is about 10 days away from even being picked out with any confidence.
This, to me at least, sort of has the markings of a more active first two weeks of January before that sort of runs its course and we come out of the cold for the last half of the month. So my thought is that between the cold coming and a few setups, we do get our first accumulating snow by the middle of January.
OK that’s it for today. The feature photo comes from Tiffany Lanier. It was a pretty full “cold” moon last night that rose.