Joe's Weather World: A mess of ice…followed by near 45° air…then bitter cold (FRI-1/17)


My goodness what a mess. In some ways the forecast is correct but in some ways it wasn’t. For those who follow me on twitter (@fox4wx) I’ve been tweeting about the atmospheric profile revealed by the 2 balloon launches per day that we get from Topeka. I did a tweetstorm last night and another this morning with the data that the balloons showed. See that information in the discussion part of the blog.

The onset of the frozen precip was delayed a couple of hours…that didn’t surprise me last night…I was showing how the dry air in place was going to eat into what was coming up from the southwest. What I didn’t count on though was the strength of the warm air coming up in the atmosphere above the surface … insofar as how temperatures would be just above freezing above us this early…I was expecting that to happen at 9-11 AM and not from the get go.

Hence the predominant type of precip being freezing rain and not sleet and snow.

  • Forecast:

Today: Freezing rain (a bit of sleet) transitions to liquid rain lighter showers during the early afternoon as temperatures approach 32°. Winds increase as well as the afternoon moves along. The bulk of the main thrust of frozen precip will wind down by 11AM…earlier SW of KC it appears. afternoon activity will be less widespread.

Tonight: Rising temperatures into the mid 40s with a few rain showers. There may be a few few rain/snow showers after 3-4AM

Saturday: Falling morning temperatures with gusty NW winds into the mid 20s…then slowly recovering to the lower 30s in the afternoon with sunshine and breezy weather.

Sunday: Turning colder again…highs 20-25° with wind chills near 0° especially in the morning.

  • Discussion:

It’s a mess…this is an “impacts matched the forecast” expectation type event even though the precipitation types haven’t timed out correctly for the area.

Some sleet and lots of freezing rain has moved through the area early this morning. As far as all of that goes…read my tweet threads from last night and this morning…from last night…

For the purpose of this forecast…several things to look at. Notice the wide gap between the red and green line…that means dry air. That will take some time tonight to saturate. See the dashed blue line that’s angled with the 0 below. That is the freezing (32°) line…

See how the red line (temperature) goes to the right of the dashed blue line (32°)? That means that the air at that particular level was warmer than 32° BUT…

The HUGE gap between red/green (drier air) means that when the snow falls through the dry air it will evaporate BUT at the same time pull the temperatures (red line) to the left of the 32° line…meaning the atmosphere is below 32° and flakes can reach the ground

This should happen after 3-4AM or so…the issue is HOW LONG does the snow last and how heavy it is. I’m somewhat concerned that there may be a couple of inches of snow during the AM rush before we make the transition to sleet.

Why the transition? Prolonged SE/S winds will keep bringing up above freezing air above us…that converts the snow to other types precip…including sleet and in time freezing rain. All of that should start after 9AM or so for KC.

These types of storms are notorious for producing some extra snow or less snow than you think before the transition takes hold…regardless it will be a mess tomorrow morning into the lunch hour it appears. Please be careful on the roads.

and from this morning…

The red line is the temperature trace and the green the dewpoint trace…actually it was dry below about 13,000 feet or so. I said it would take awhile to saturate. The 0°C or 32F line the dashed blue angled line. I thought that when the atmosphere would get saturated…

the the red line would pull more to the LEFT of the blue angled 0°C line…meaning the atmosphere was below freezing upwards…supporting at least more snow and sleet at the onset…that really DID NOT happen effectively…

The morning balloon launch showed this…there is still a large part of the atmosphere JUST above 0°C…and that area will increase today. That is the “warm” layer expanding. Flakes melt in that “warm” layer.

and since the area is large vertically (above 32°) the flakes>drops don’t have enough time to refreeze into pellets…hence the freezing rain becoming the dominant type of precipitation out there for many areas from KC southwards. Occasionally some pellets are mixed in…

So that is a recap of what happened…

Here is radar…assume most of this is freezing rain from 36 highway southwards…and then rain early this morning in the KC region adn southwards.

It is snowing in northern MO…

Here are the latest advisories…

It’s just a mess out there…

Actually it may have been worse IF folks didn’t heed all the warnings…so good job on your part!

Now the next focus is on the temperatures…

By around 12AM tonight…temperatures should be in the 40s.

Then as the main storm passes through IA…colder air will wrap into the region..perhaps creating a wintry mix of rain in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

So that by tomorrow morning…at around 9AM…we get these temperatures…and there is downside to those temperatures.

The by the game on Sunday we have this…

So just a cold weekend with blustery weather tomorrow and chilly weather Sunday.

That’s it for today…odds are no blogs this weekend unless I get something together tomorrow.

Monday morning we should tank to around 5 above I think.

Our feature photo comes from Sarah Holloway from the other day…seems applicable today as well with the ice this morning.


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