It was a week ago at lunch that things went to heck and a handbag as the colder regime moved into the area. Today is the seventh day of it, and the core of the cold is moving in later today into tomorrow.

The potential is there for a record cold high temperature in KC, and it points out how unusual this cold weather really is. Average highs for this time of the year are in the lower 50s, and yet here we are with temperatures struggling to get to 40°.

We’ve actually been below 45° for highs since the colder regime took hold.

This last blast of cold will linger through Saturday, then the coldest air will release from the region as the atmosphere starts to realign itself and allow for milder weather to flow back into the Plains.

That will feel good, although I’m expecting quite a bit of a breeze with the warmer air returning, maybe taking the edge off of things a bit.

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Forecast

Today: Mostly cloudy with temperatures warming up into the lower 40s. A small chance of a sprinkle or flurry. Breezy in the afternoon

Tonight: Fair skies and colder with lows in the teens

Tomorrow: Mostly sunny and cold. Highs in the upper 20s. The record cold high is 29° set back in 1903. Blustery as well

Saturday: Cold with highs in the mid 30s

Sunday: Not as cold with highs in the mid 40s

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Discussion

The extent of the cold air continues to big a big story for the US. By later today, most of the USA will be well below average for temperatures.

The next load of colder air is coming down through the northern Plains today.

Who isn’t colder than average? Alaska, and for that matter, far northern Canada.

This is common in these persistent cold weather regimes. We can see why when we take a look a the flow pattern aloft. A big ridge in Alaska (record breaking for November) and a big dip through the central and eastern US and Canada. This allows for cold arctic air to come southwards into the USA.

It’s a pattern that in November is very chilly, but in the dead of winter with more established snow cover from the region northwards could be extremely cold. As is we’re running 10-25° below average for highs every day, take that in the winter and that is a heck of a lot worse.

Today’s next change is a cold front that is moving towards the region and should move through early in the afternoon. The air behind the front isn’t brutally colder than what’s ahead of it this morning:

Temperatures are in red

If though you go farther northwards into upper Plains, yup, it gets colder up there.

Temperatures are in red

There is snow cover up there this morning helping to chill the air down more.

So that colder air moves in as the later afternoon comes into focus. Temperatures may initially warm up into the lower 40s, maybe even middle 40s from KC southward, then start slowly falling later today.

We should be well down into the 20s by 12AM and not moderate a lot tomorrow. Here are the coldest highs for tomorrows date, the 18th

We’ve had record warm lows this month, and now potentially a record cold high.

This cold air is large in scope and now the main weather focus will shift towards the Great Lakes region where persistent and intense lake effect snows are establishing themselves.

Some areas of western NY, especially and to a lesser extent western MI, are going to be blasted.

I’ve talked about this extensively over last few days. I’m fascinated by lake effect snows and I’ve been through them before in northern MI.

Fast and furious, then in some cases a five-minute ride north and you come out into sunshine and some flurries. They tend to be narrow bands but long in length and are fueled by warmer Lake waters and very cold air just above the surface.

This sets the stage for convection. In the traditional sense the clouds aren’t that tall really but they are extremely efficient in dumping snows… often by the foot!

Our short-term model trends are cranking out close to 6″ of moisture in parts of western NY.

This is near and just south of Downtown Buffalo, NY

Again that is moisture, IF everything was rain, but it won’t be. As the bands come off the lake the colder air creates snow, and with the air very cold, the snow ratios are higher than 10:1… 1″ of rain meaning 10″ of snow.

In some cases they could be doubled that or somewhere in between.

IF the total moisture is correct then you can see why something historic may happen there. Thunder snows are likely in spots, especially closer to Lake Erie and in some cases over 3″ of snow per hour are likely.

Here is the radar from Buffalo…

As of this morning the heavier bands are south of Buffalo. What is fascinating about these bands is as the winds switch and vary, even by 10°, the bands realign themselves. It’s incredible to look at over the course of hours at a time.

The areas expected to be hit hardest tonight onwards are near and south of Buffalo and towards the Watertown, NY region as well.

The amounts have been trending upwards over the past 24 hours…and may go up farther.

Here are some more specific forecasts for that region.

This has happened before… .as a matter of fact 8 years ago today marked the start of their infamous Snowvember lake event. Upwards of 65″ of snow fell. Totals of over 5 FEET were reported! It happened over the course of 3 days. Look at how the bands set up and barely moved.

While some on the south side of Buffalo (Cheektowaga) had over 60″ of snow…at the airport in Buffalo they had “only” 6″ or so. It’s amazing the variation to the totals in just a FEW miles

It would be the equivalent to the Country Club Plaza having 6 FEET of snow and the station…3 miles away having 6″ of snow! It’s really remarkable.

Typically these snow bands are sharply cut off on the north side, and then more smoothly narrowed on the south side of the bands.

Again they form and thrive when the air above the surface is MUCH colder than the Lake waters.

The Lake waters are still in the 50s, the air aloft is MUCH colder, and as a result you get convective lift.

Cold over warm allows air bubbles to rise. There is more involved but that is the reason in it’s most simplest form.

This is also happening downwind of some of the other Lakes, extending through MI.

Really interesting stuff… these lake effect events. They usually are diminished during the core of the winter… why? Because the Lakes freeze over, they don’t contribute warm moist air to the atmosphere. So lake effect bands typically don’t form or are much reduced with the colder lake waters.

OK that’s it for today. Again the good news for us is milder weather for a few days next week. Thanksgiving though is still a bit iffy regarding rain and temperatures.

Our feature photo is from Lonnie Knox this morning.

Joe