KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This is a true story. Last night around 8 p.m. or so, I called my colleagues down at the National Weather Service to talk through what I was seeing and what I had been seeing for the last couple of days regarding the potential for what could unfold overnight.
Since all other available forecasts out there were not expecting what I was anticipating, I wanted to run through my thoughts with them and see where they were at.
During the 5 and 6 p.m. shows, I talked about how the superintendents would potentially wake up to pouring down snow and might have to cancel school Thursday.
They were starting to see the potential as well, but weren’t going to update their forecasts until later that night. I had a 9 p.m. newscast to put together, and Alex and I were clearly the most aggressive with our early evening forecasts compared to other sources.
I wanted to elevate it even more.
I was going to go 2-5 inches and had the graphic done and ready to show. I then got a bit worried that a layer of warm air at around 5,000 feet would hold off the transition until after 1 a.m. and could chop off an inch or so from that forecast.
I settled in at around 1-4 inches of snow, specifically mentioning that if the snow was pouring down between 1-2 a.m., higher numbers of that would be the result.
It was a hero or a goat forecast as I mentioned to Karli as we were texting each other before showtime, and I’m thrilled that meteorology won out.
It has been and always was a classic track and setup for heavy wet snow in KC and for parts of the region. The concern was the switching and then the time it would take to stick. The roads became a mess, and fast. The switching took place between 1:30 and 2:30 and it poured heavy snow.
The roads put up a bit of a fight, but as I told my colleagues snow rates will almost always win out IF it’s heavy enough regardless of the temperatures on the roads or in the air. That was in play last night.
Remember there couldn’t be any pre-treating because of all the rain. So when things got bad fast, there are only so many crews/plows out there to work at one time. Perhaps, as well, they were “surprised” by the timing and the amounts. So no doubt they’ve been scrambling as well.
Kansas City Forecast
Today: Snow ending this morning before 9 a.m. with some sunshine returning for awhile. Highs should pop into the lower 40s, perhaps mid-40s for areas with less snow cover. Lots of melting this afternoon.
Tonight: Variable clouds with lows in the mid-to-upper 20s.
Tomorrow: Partly cloudy and pleasant with highs in the 40s.
Saturday: Milder and breezy with highs in the 50-degree range.
Super Bowl Sunday: Partly cloudy, breezy and warmer with highs 60-65 degrees!
Sometimes forecasting snow events here is difficult and goodness knows I’ve had my share of misses. It comes with the territory.
This system though has been on my “nervous” list for almost three days. When you see how things could play out in your head, and you feel that you may be one of the only ones seeing it, it takes faith in what you’re seeing to go on the air and essentially contradict most other forecasts and say, “I think it’s going to be much worse than what you’re hearing.”
Alex and I were having these conversations yesterday afternoon as we were aggressive forecasting up to 2-inch total potential.
Then Wednesday night I wanted to be more aggressive. Hence that lead to this tweet thread as a heads up to where I was going with the forecast for the later shows. Read through the whole thread if you have Twitter.
So what did I end up doing on the air for the 9 and 10 p.m. shows?
This won’t be perfect and likely too much southeast of the metro, but I will take the general gist of this as being pretty darn good considering the timing of the switch, and all the other variables involved.
It actually happened: A storm that was dynamic, potent and well-tracked actually came through for the metro. There were reports of thundersnows last night in a few areas, including to the north and south as well as within the metro itself.
It poured snow for several hours and it’s a winter wonderland for some areas this morning. For others towards the southeast of Kansas City, not so much.
KCI has had almost 3 inches so far and there are reports of near 4-inch amounts in a few areas in the northern metro. I’m closing in on nearly 3 inches.
Some media today will be talking about “surprise” snows, or “unexpected” snows… I’m already seeing it on Twitter. Our viewers though, and my social media followers hopefully were not “surprised” by the “unexpected” snows. So it goes.
I’ll update this later with more snow reports, but here is an early list.
This will be bringing our seasonal totals up to nearly 8 inches worth… so we’re getting there.
So in this very weird winter, and with a lack of a cold air connection to the storm, aside from the generated cold air from the dynamics of the storm overnight, it may actually moderate a bit this afternoon with some sunshine. The storm has actually brought in warmer air behind it.
We’ll see how much moderation can be realized with the 1-4 inches of snow on the ground locally.
Next storm system in KC
The overall pattern though remains mild with milder temperatures coming over the weekend especially.
The next system of concern, likely rain, is set for Valentine’s Day. This will likely be a rain system, but again will bear some watching.
There may be another system on its heels as well for later next week. That may have a more wintry aspect to it. The pattern is active next week.
That storm is off the coast of British Columbia now and it will be dropping into the southwest part of the country.
Let’s track that system which by tomorrow will be near the coast of California.
Notice several things, like how it drops off the San Diego, California, coastline. Notice also the next system behind it… possibly affecting us later next week. See how that second system gets closer and in effect scoops up the system off California? That then angles the storm towards the region.
By 12 p.m. Tuesday, we’ve got this:
That too will be taking a northeast track towards the region on Tuesday. It will likely be a wet system with additional rains as the drought continues to break.
Speaking of which, KCI had a phenomenal 1.75 inches of moisture, one of the biggest producing systems in awhile. I’ll dig into that more for the newscasts tonight.
Next week’s system will bear more watching because the Tuesday system may leave a chilled atmosphere behind it. For what it’s worth, the EURO has a snowstorm here next Thursday, and it’s on the table. There are numerous ensembles that are very much in the camp of potentially something wintry. So heads up on that scenario.
OK… that’s it for today. I’m worn out from a late night and early morning watching the events unfold overnight.
The feature photo is from Patrick Trudel, out measuring the snow.