KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Colder has poured into the region this morning and it’s being underestimated by the models. I was watching this yesterday as I was looking at the weather maps and kept saying to myself, “man that’s a lot of cold air.”
I underestimated it as well to some extent. Temperatures this morning are about 5 degrees colder than I thought. It will be a big struggle for us to get to 30 degrees today I think. At least the sun is out.
Another significant storm is going to move into the Plains later Sunday into Monday and come right towards the area early Monday morning with additional rains. Some thunderstorms and some very low pressure for this part of the country. This storm is affecting the western U.S. today with lots of bad weather.
I noticed yesterday that the grass, in spots, was getting greener and greener. Very weird for February. The warm rain we had, even though for many it wasn’t much, may have jump started the greening process.
With that as a background, I am wondering if March weather locally will be pretty wild and wooly as I’ve been mentioning for about a week or so. Lots of storms, perhaps some snow chances again, and potentially some severe weather. March may march in like a lamb, but it gets wild again quickly.
Kansas City Forecast:
Today: Sunny, blustery and cold. Highs in the mid-to-upper 20s.
Tonight: Fair and cold, lows near 10 degrees.
Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a chance of some freezing mist/drizzle/ice pellets later in the day or in the evening. It would be light and perhaps more from KC southwards. Something to watch. Highs in the low to mid-30s.
Saturday: Improving with highs in to the 40s.
Sunday: Rain chances start increasing with the temperatures. Highs should surge into the 50s.
I’ll dive deeper into the next more significant system in tomorrow’s blog. But a potent one is coming later in the weekend, with the prospects of severe weather towards the central and southern Plains later Sunday into Sunday night.
As a matter of fact, the strength of the surface storm may be extreme from a local standpoint. I’m checking into the lowest air pressures on record here, and it appears 28.87″ may be the lowest barometric pressure reading for the KC region set back in late March of 1977, associated with this storm:
Our pressure that day dropped down to 28.87″.
Depending on what this storm does on Monday, there are pieces of data that suggest even lower air pressure potential. That would be wild.
Onwards to my original title.
As you know, I’ve been mentioning that March may be wild and wooly, a term that I’ve used quite a bit over the last week on TV and on Twitter (@fox4wx). For snow lovers, this winter has been pretty miserable. Snows everywhere but really not here.
This next map doesn’t take into account the snows from the last 48 hours, but it shows the approximate totals for the snow “season” thus far.
Heck in just the last 48 hours, the northern U.S. into the Great Lakes has been hit hard. There are some areas in the Rockies that had close to 4 feet of snow. And today the mountains of southern California get in on the action.
Here are more specifics through this early morning:
Meanwhile in the snow desert of KC, we’re at 8.7 inches.
I’ve mentioned as well the need for a snow “Hail Mary” or two or three. In March, we can get snow. And we can get BIG snows. Our biggest one-day snow on record is back in 1912 on March 23 when we had 20.5inches of snow (although this has always been a somewhat dubious record. Other data shows us getting 16 inches of snow that day) with a two-day total of 25.1 inches with that storm. So big March snows can happen.
So with all of that said, can we see a wild and wooly March? Absolutely. There are a variety of reasons too why this March can perhaps be wilder than our usual Marchs, which are pretty all over the place to begin with.
One reason is a continued very active pattern. The storm coming Sunday into Monday (granted it’s late February-Mother Nature doesn’t care what day of the year it is) is very dynamic. The one that affected us yesterday is very dynamic.
The one that may affect the region later next week may also be very dynamic (or it could be nothing locally), but the pattern is very energized and has been for quite some time. We’ve just been in the wrong place for snow and with temperature being so darn warm, it’s tougher to get that snow locally.
There are a couple of things though that are making me wonder and I really haven’t dived too much into them this season because that hasn’t been a big factor for snow lovers. One of them is the NAO or North Atlantic Oscillation.
The NAO is a way to gauge a change of air pressure from the subtropics near the Azores in the eastern Atlantic to the Iceland/Greenwood region. When the values are negative, typically a weather regime is noted. When the pressure values are positive, the opposite occurs. In the image below the reds are warm and the blues are colder.
It’s been awhile since the values were negative which can allow colder air to drain into the states. As a matter of fact, the trend for most of the winter has been positive. There was a time in the first half of December that it was negative (we were warm) and it’s likely to be negative for awhile in early March.
There is some thought that perhaps negative NAO values in March and April do have somewhat more dramatic affects on temperatures.
When the values are negative there is more of a tendency for bigger dips in the jet stream to occur, especially in the eastern U.S. When positive, the jet stream can tend to be flatter.
This indicator though (NAO) isn’t perfect at all. We look for it to work in concert with others including the AO or Arctic Oscillation.
Here is the definition of what that is via the CPC or Climate Prediction Center:
“The AO is a climate pattern characterized by winds circulating counterclockwise around the Arctic at around 55°N latitude. When the AO is in its positive phase, a ring of strong winds circulating around the North Pole acts to confine colder air across polar regions. This belt of winds becomes weaker and more distorted in the negative phase of the AO, which allows an easier southward penetration of colder, arctic airmasses and increased storminess into the mid-latitudes”
When the AO values are negative, we can get colder as opposed to positive values.
If you want cold and snow, you typically want both NAO and AO values to be negative. Even then, by no means is it a lock.
The AO values for most of the winter have actually been negative.
So there are other things needing to play along. There is another facet to these indices and others that I watch, including something called the WPO or Western Pacific Oscillation. More on that one another day.
Again with both values tanking for the next 10 days or so, it could open the door to colder air and storms getting involved together in the pattern. Whether that means something for us in the Plains or the eastern U.S., where there may be a stronger connection, remains to be seen but the overall pattern is still energetic.
It won’t be dry for the KC region in the big picture for the month overall.
It just depends on whether or not we get the colder air to work with whatever comes our way.
So in essence, could there be some snow “Hail Mary” attempts to get our totals back up? Absolutely. Perhaps a better chance this March as opposed to others, but will there be?
Don’t bet the mortgage on it.
I do think though there will be lots to write and talk about this month, from 80s to snow scares to more wind to severe weather. The Plains are going to be interesting to watch over the coming weeks I think as they usually are in March.
March has a weather reputation for a reason and this March should follow suit.
The feature photo is from Sara Sims. Did you look to the west in the early evening and see the moon and two bright objects? The one to the right is Jupiter and the one below is Venus. Look carefully at the picture below.