Joe’s Weather Blog: It can’t snow again…right? Ummmm right? (THU-4/15)


Well it can… and it can accumulate, but boy is it pretty unusual. Not unheard of. In the last 130 years of records, we’ve seen about 12-15 accumulating snows from the 15th onwards. I’m not sure who got Mother Nature mad back in 1907 and 1918 when we had three accumulating snows each of those years from the 15th onwards, but that must’ve been not pleasant.

Heck in 2018, we had a trace of snow on the 14th and 15th. Who can forget May of 2013 when we had three days of snow on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. That’s the year School Day was cancelled… remember that?

So it can happen, and yes there is a reason why I bring this all up.

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Today: Sunny this morning with increasing clouds later this afternoon. Highs in the upper 50s.

Tonight: Clouds lower and thicken. Showers/drizzle possible overnight. Lows in the lower 40s.

Tomorrow: Off-and-on rain. Miserable with highs in the 40s.

Saturday: Variable clouds with scattered showers, especially in the afternoon. Highs in the 50s.

Sunday: A bit more sunshine with a few showers still possible and highs in the 50s.



I’ll be taking a few days off, so odds are unless the title of today’s blog is actually more likely than not… no blog updates for a few days.

So back to the title. There is a method to the madness. Can it snow again? Yes. Will it? I doubt it but…

Today it’s going to snow significantly out across the western Plains.

Southeast Wyoming looks to be the jackpot of snow, although western Nebraska will get a bunch as well.

So yeah, the Plains can still get snow in April and even May.

Here in Kansas City, it’s tougher for obvious reasons.

The above chart shows the accumulating snows from the 1880s from the 15th through mid May. This though doesn’t take into account the trace amounts that we’ve seen in that time frame of which there were some as well.

As mentioned, three years ago it snowed on today’s date. We actually average 6/10″ of snow in April.

I bring this all up because for the last couple of days, model data has been showing a potential swath of snow in the region later Monday night or Tuesday morning. This would be associated with a strong April cold front coming in later Monday afternoon into Monday evening.

Monday will be an interesting day, as we warm up into the 60s to near 70° ahead of the front, with rapidly dropping temperatures behind the front. You can see the front reflected on the temperatures:

We go from the 60s to the 30s from Kansas City to Omaha, Nebraska later Monday afternoon. The timing of the front will play a role in whether we’re 65° Monday, or warmer with a 2-3 hour delay in the front’s arrival. But once it moves into the area the temperatures are going to drop off quickly.

So colder air moves into the region as the front moves south, that’s a given.

Aloft the air as well will be chilling… that too is a given. The model data suggests that the air aloft will support snowflakes towards very early Tuesday morning. That ISN’T a given (yet).

One of the reasons why I think the models are suggesting what the models are suggesting (snow) is that we MAY move into a favorable position of the jet stream to help to generate lift. The models are taking that lift and really cooling down the atmosphere below 5,000 feet or so allowing the snowflakes that form above us to reach the ground, or get very close to reaching the ground.

Let me show you more…

Let’s now go up to the 30,000-foot level and follow the winding flow of air up there. We look for areas of stronger winds in the jet stream. Look towards the area from Iowa to southeast Canada, that’s one jet stream. Then the area in the Deep South is another.

Do you see the dashed areas? Those are two of four quadrants of the jet. The dashed area in southeast Canada is the left front part of the jet stream and the areas from northern Missouri into Western Iowa and eastwards is the right rear part of the jet stream.

Those areas represent parts of the atmosphere of enhanced lift. Remember though, that lift is upstairs. However since the air is being lifted upstairs, the air “downstairs” has to replace it, and that air is being lifted as well. Hence there is a good deal of rising motion in the atmosphere.

It’s more complicated than that but you get the idea.

So we have this enhanced lift happening nearby. This helps to remove heat from the air, cooling things down even more, and now we get the air cold enough for snow, and thick enough to allow the snow to fall and perhaps get to the ground.

With all that as a reference… look what the overnight GFS has been doing to us:

This would be the predominate precipitation type at roughly 4AM Monday morning

The EURO was doing something similar for the last couple of days. Last night the operational model backed off.

Same time frame:

Also of note however are the ensembles of the EURO: about half of the members still think “something” could happen. That is not an inconsequential number.

The GFS ensembles are about the same as well, half have something too.

So can it happen?

Sure it can.

To get sticking snow though will be more problematic. It will REALLY have to come down (even though the timing at night is favorable) because the ground will be warm from Monday in the 60s.

Many a forecast though has busted by weather folks overestimating the warm ground effects. If it snows hard enough, it can stick regardless.

So it’s something to watch over the next few days. I’m not sure I’m ready to put snow in the forecast but since I mentioned last night that I would be getting into this in the blog today, consider this an opening salvo. I think at this point the chances of us seeing snow are less than 20%, but we’ll see.

It could be one of those 35-38° can-it-happen type events.

Regardless, it will be a colder and blustery Tuesday next week.

A lot of writing without talking about the upcoming rain for tomorrow. That is one miserable day overall. The hi-res NAM shows another soaker but not a flood maker:

Tough to see how we get to 50° with off-and-on rain through the day.

Our feature photo today is from Lindsay Adell.


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