KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s a murky and drizzly Tuesday start to the day in the region. Temperatures will struggle all day today.
There might be a brief break or two in the clouds as the sun is setting, but overall it’s not a pleasant forecast over the next few days with below-average temperatures through Friday and certainly more rain, and perhaps quite a bit of it.
The good news (and we could use some good news): It will warm up nicely over the weekend. Next week will be a considerably warmer week with numerous days into the 80s, but that’s about five days away.
It can be worse. As I talked about on the news last night, on this date in 2013, it was snowing and the high was 39 degrees. We had to cancel our School Day program at the K because of the snow that was falling with the colder weather.
Kansas City forecast:
Today: Cloudy and cold for early May with highs 50-55 degrees. Winds will drop off a bit in the afternoon.
Tonight: More clouds with some drizzle possible. Lows in the mid-to-upper 40s.
Tomorrow: Cloudy skies with increasing afternoon rain chances later in the day. Highs in the 50s.
Thursday: Rainy with some breaks. There are a lot of ifs about Thursday in the discussion part of things, but if nothing else, it will be an off-and-on rainy day. We may get into the 60s depending on if there are breaks in the clouds.
Yeah, nothing pretty about today at all really. Good day for a nap and a second or third or fourth cup of coffee.
Highs today will be struggling. It won’t be the coldest high for May 3, but it likely will be in the top 10.
At the end of the day, let’s see where we end up being on this chart, which shows the coldest highs for May 3.
Regardless, it’s a chart that I’d prefer to not show in early May.
The satellite pictures aren’t encouraging. With a north wind this morning wrapping cold and damp air in the form of moisture down through the Plains region, the clouds will be tough to break up today.
The morning surface map shows colder air wrapping in. I noticed that yesterday it was only in the 40s north of the region and that air is moving on top of the area today.
That’s why I’m pessimistic about getting much above the lower 50s today, assuming the clouds hang tough all day. Add in the wind this morning at least… and it’s miserable.
Tonight won’t be much better and neither will tomorrow as rain comes back into the area in the afternoon at some point.
Our next storm is in the western U.S. this morning.
This will be bringing rain to the region later tomorrow afternoon into tomorrow evening.
The atmosphere ahead of this storm will be pretty loaded up with moisture. Model data shows 1.5-2 times the amount of “average” moisture in the atmosphere for early May. This means that the storm’s dynamics will be able to generate some beefy rains in the area as things get going tomorrow night into Thursday.
Let’s remember the storm represents a pocket of cold air aloft. For example, up at around 18,000 feet or so, this storm will be bringing with it temperatures down to minus 23 degrees Celsius or about minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit aloft through the Rockies.
And then as it moves towards the Plains, it may bring temperatures close to -minus 17 degrees Celsius, or around 1 degree Fahrenheit, on top of the area later Thursday night.
On an upper-air map, we show the storm as a closed-off upper-level low that traverses the Plains.
Notice how the upper-level storm comes right along the Interstate 70 corridor aloft. At the surface, the storm will be just towards the east and southeast of the upper-level storm so that by the late afternoon Thursday we have the upper-level storm shown in black and the surface storm shown in red.
Note the location of the various fronts and also a dry line.
This is sort of interesting. Why? Because if (and this is a big if), we can manage to see breaks in the clouds, temperatures actually have the ability of warming up into the 60s. That’s here on the ground. Aloft, remember that the air will be around minus 15 Celsius or around 5 degrees Fahrenheit at close to 18,000 feet or so. That is actually a pretty significant change in temperatures from the ground upwards, and with these other features out there, could be the setup for thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon.
What is the chance for storms on Thursday?
So why am I bringing this whole thing up? There is a phenomena that can happen in these types of situations. We refer to these events as “cold core systems.”
In an idealized world, these systems can help to bring more robust updrafts and convection. Because the freezing level is about two miles up in the atmosphere Thursday afternoon, it doesn’t take much vertical development of clouds to get rain drops to get thrust upwards into that colder air, where they can freeze up and create small hailstones.
Sometimes, given the right circumstances, those hailstones then fall down to the ground. So that’s item No. 1 that I wanted mention.
Item No. 2 though is the more interesting part of things, especially for the Missouri side of the metro. In these scenarios and if certain things come to fruition, the atmosphere as a whole does have a tendency to want to “spin” upwards in some scenarios.
One of my colleagues Jon Davies, a severe weather researcher who lives in the area, has done a lot of research into these “cold core systems.” He created an idealized weather map for instances where you can get funnels and even brief, and typically weak, tornadoes.
Here is his idealized setup:
Now compare that graphic with the map I showed you above… Hmmm.
There are certainly similarities right. The thing is the storms that could form don’t have to be typical big thunderstorms. They don’t have to be 50,000-foot tall monsters that we typically see in the Plains for the bigger tornadoes. They can be 20,000-footers, and yet if the atmosphere is set up correctly, you can get funnels and tornadoes from the smaller cousins of the bigger supercell storms that we typically track through the Plains.
Here is more information from Jon about a case back in 2018.
Most of the time the tornadoes/funnels are short-lived, but on rare occasion they can be something more dramatic, as his research shows.
Odds are this setup is more favored for the Missouri side than the Kansas side, but if things come together, it could be a more interesting day than some even think about from this point out.
The key is do we warm up? We really typically need to get at least some heating to get the updrafts fired up. Where do the various surface features set up as well? These help to drive areas of convergence and help to provide better focus for storms to form. And then will the storms be able to attain any rotation to them to enable the starting process for funnels to actually even form?
It’s something that caught my eye over the weekend and I mentioned last night on the late newscasts. It takes the right setup but some data does show the ingredients that may be in play existing at least on Thursday afternoon.
Matthew Smith with the pretty featured shot of the blog today.