It’s going to be a brutal run for temperatures, and if we don’t get a snowstorm by the time this is all done, I’ll be somewhat surprised. The cold won’t ever be an issue, for at least 10 days I think. Now the issue is a “real” storm…those have been in short supply, but yesterday in northern Missouri there was 2-5″ of snow…now about 10″ on the ground up there. It shows that even without a real storm, things can get very white around parts of the area.
Regardless of this, it’s nasty cold and that won’t change for days, and perhaps weeks, to come. All of winter cold is happening this month, and about a week ago, when we were going through the December and January stats, both months being 5° above average, for us to average that out, we’d need 10° average temperatures this month. We might not get there but in the end, we may get somewhat close IF we don’t modify fast for the last week of February.
Today: Periods of freezing drizzle and snow. Accumulations under 1″. Highs near 10°.
Tonight: Cloudy and bitterly cold. Lows around 5°.
Tomorrow: Cloudy: Highs near 10°.
Wednesday: Light snow. Dusting to 2″ possible. Highs around 10°.
So a lot obviously to talk about today, but let’s start with the freezing drizzle. How can this happen?
Well believe it or not, water can actually remain a liquid even with temperatures below 32°. How can this possibly be?
The main reason is because there isn’t a “nucleus” for an crystal to develop around. To get a snowflake or an ice pellet you need to have something for the crystal to form onto. When we get this freezing drizzle that “something” isn’t there.
In a sense, it’s almost like flying through a cloud. Airplanes in particular need to watch out for this phenomena because ice can form on the wings of a plane that can cause a reduction of lift and crashes.
The supercooled water droplets freeze onto surfaces (car windshields, etc) and that is how you get freezing drizzle. Without an ice crystal as a starting point, water can’t freeze. This is the key. This will also typically occur when the air above the cold moist layer is pretty dry and that is the case today. Sometimes when this air above the cold moist layer saturates, and ice crystals start falling aloft and through the cold moist layer close to the surface, you can get snowflakes or graupel. That too is on the table today.
So there you go.
This arctic air mass though is something else. Highs all week may remain below 15° and that is a rarity for such a length of time, and the motherlode of the cold air moves in potentially over the weekend.
Things that I’ll be talking about this week is the extent of the cold weather and the extreme of the cold. For example:
High temperatures below 32° streaks…
Highs 20° or lower…
Highs 15° or lower.
That last one is intriguing.
That clock is going to get a work out I think.
At 4:20 p.m. on Saturday, we dropped below 20°. This too will go on for a LONG time.
I’m not sure we’ll get to 13 days, but this is going to be an impressive run. Odds favor at least into Sunday.
Model data suggests that towards the end of NEXT week, it may get above 32°. We’ll see. These arctic air masses can only go for so long but then again are plenty of times that we get these re-enforcing shots coming in unless the flow above us really shifts towards the west, allowing a more mild air mass to develop.
Man though it’s cold out there… -20 to -30 across the northern Plains.
As far as snow risks go, the snow is almost like sugar really. So it won’t accumulate much today, perhaps 1/10-1″ in spots.
The Wednesday issue may be a bit more somewhere out there. Data has another 2″ snow across areas from 36 highway northwards, including about 1″ in the Metro. There might actually be some jet stream dynamics providing some lift for the right areas. We’ll see about getting the setup for that though. It may be close. There is going to be a ribbon of air around 30,000 feet or so that will either be centered towards northern Missouri or farther south. IF it’s centered towards northern Missouri, the Kansas City metro may be more favored for snow accumulations.
Our feature photo comes from George E. Birdsong up in Savannah, Mo.