KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Well it’s once again that time of the year. If you missed the winter forecast over the weekend, during a special that we aired on Saturday morning, you missed our snow predictions. No worries, I’ve got your back with the blog. I’m going to reveal those forecasts to you below.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a rather extensive winter blog about some of the things that I was looking at concerning some of the winter weather trends that I was noticing. Sort of a heads-up blog. I want to give you a link to that blog, so that I don’t have to retype all of it again. :)
Here’s a preview of the winter forecast blog.
So let’s dive in deeper now.
Over the last few weeks, the region has dried out tremendously. No moisture and no lasting cold or strong pushes of colder air. We’ve lacked any sort of strong Canadian or Arctic connection into the Plains. On the surface, that isn’t too unusual for later November or early December.
What is bothering me is that this lack of lasting cold may continue through Christmas. So in a sense, we’re losing weeks of potential winter weather already… No storms are showing up of consequence for quite some time.
Kansas City seems to be struggling with snow to begin with. Part of my story on the winter forecast was how the 30-year snow averages are dropping. The new average for snow in a year here is around 18.2 inches, a drop of 0.6 of an inch from the previous 30-year average.
So as the climate is changing, we’re seeing lower snow totals. Part of this is also revealed in the fact that the Kansas City winters are actually warming up. That’s a pretty definitive trend line.
So not only are the winter averages going up, so are the actual days during the winter that are above average for temperatures.
I mentioned the 30-year averages earlier. Every 10 years, for climate purposes we adjust the 30-year averages. So for example, our new set of averages reflects the weather for 1990-2020.
What has struck me so far this late fall and winter is that we have the capacity of getting very warm. We’ve already had record highs: More may fall over the coming two weeks (or at least get challenged). Just a byproduct of not having any real connection to Canadian cold air.
After a wet October, aside from one system on Nov. 12… nothing really. Nor are any expected for a couple of weeks or so at least. December is a dry month here and all it takes is one storm to catch up fast during this time of the year. But you can tell (at least for awhile) the atmosphere overall in the Plains wants to just be mild.
Mild atmospheres though do hold more moisture, and if you can get a setup, sure you can get some snow.
So between everything that I wrote in that previous blog, and where things are going, I came up with two numbers in my head. The first number was 22 inches. That would be above-average snows for Kansas City. I was more or less committed to that number up until about 10 days ago.
Then as the trends for temperatures (warming) was being realized more and more for this month, I started wondering… what happens if we don’t get much snow this month? Then we’re down to essentially two months of snow.
I never trust March/April for snow anymore. We had none last March but managed a freaky 3.5 inches in April. If we hadn’t had that, we’d be stuck at around 12 inches (much to Michelle’s chagrin ;) ). In the end, last winter Garry and I each had a solid forecast of 16.5 inches of snow. We had 15.5 inches overall.
The second number I had in my head was 13 inches. This is partly a thought to what happened last winter with the snow that struggled so mightily. To be honest, I have a tendency to miss my forecasts because I didn’t go with my first thoughts, but I noticed myself thinking more and more about that lower number as December was slowly slipping away from a snow standpoint.
Now on average, we get our first inch of snow on Dec. 15. So what’s happening now isn’t too unusual. Let’s say that holds true, perhaps even later than Dec. 15. Let’s look at the snow totals over the past 20 or so winters from Dec. 15 onwards:
How about from Jan. 1 onwards:
And Jan. 15 onwards:
There are some exceptions here, but we better get that first inch before Jan. 15, otherwise snow enthusiasts won’t be too happy. As a matter of fact, if we don’t get that first inch by Jan. 1, in the 16 previous totals from above, only about six had more than 13 inches for the rest of the season.
And that’s where we ended up as you can see below. Odds are if we get a few inches that last week of December, I will be shooting too low with my forecast. But if we’re here and still waiting in January for our first inch… that is not a good sign for the rest of the winter!
The team puts together their own thoughts. We don’t share our numbers with each other before the “reveal” because we like to have a little fun with each others’ prediction. The team knows that usually I’m on the high side, but this winter, despite my first thoughts, in the end I just couldn’t commit to that number.
So with all of that said… here are our predictions. The team average is 16.5 inches and that’s what we’ll be going with. We’ll see if any individual is closest. Whoever it is gets the Golden Snowflake Award as we say in the weather office. Garry had it the first year, and got it again last year… actually we split it in half since we both had the same 16.5 inches forecast.