KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Another cold day on tap for the region today with a mix of clouds and intervals of sunshine. Despite more sunshine today compared to yesterday, temperatures will be about as chilly as yesterday.

It’s funny… the average high for this time of the year is around 42 degrees, and we have one day we can get there, perhaps Tuesday. The average low is 24 degrees, so we’ve been close to, if not above average for the few days, so it’s not the lows (yet) that are the issue. It’s the colder afternoons that are the problem.

As we’ve talked about for the last few weeks, significantly colder weather is coming next week. It’s a lock. No doubt. The magnitude of the cold may not be historic for this time of the year, but it will be memorable for sure, especially as we head towards Christmas. Sub-zero lows are on the table for one or two mornings with struggling afternoon highs likely below 15 degrees for a couple of days.

What about the snow?

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Kansas City Forecast:

Today: Mixed clouds and sunshine. Cold with highs in the lower 30s. Blustery as well with gusts over 25 mph at times today.

Tonight: Fair skies and chilly with lows near 20 degrees depending on the clouds. The breeze will fade a bit.

Tomorrow: Sunny(!) but still cold with highs in the lower 30s.

Sunday: Sunshine followed by increasing high clouds. Warmer with highs potentially in the lower 40s.

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Discussion:

Winter officially starts next Wednesday afternoon at 3:48 p.m. That’s about right considering the weather coming our way next week, including the strong chance of temperatures dropping below 32 degrees and, once there, staying below 32 degrees for roughly 6-7 days or so continuously.

That’s going to be roughly 168 straight hours of 32 degrees or lower. That though pales in comparison to what happened in February of 2021. That brutal cold outbreak that broke the power grid in various parts of the country, especially Texas, locally was over 312 hours of continuous temperatures of 32 degrees or lower.

So it will be about half as long as that, but still a long time! So that got me thinking: What are the longest stretches of days below 32 degrees? Here are the answers:

Twenty-seven straight days is the record, and no that is NOT going to happen this time through. As a matter of fact, if we go with seven-straight days, that wouldn’t be in the top 50 of longest streaks.

Here is the same data, except in a more chronological view.

You can see the 2021 stretch, and the recent other ones as well. Roughly 12 or so (adding in another one in 2000) since 2000. So these types of stretches are more likely than not during the course of the year. It’s not unusual. It’s still cold though!

The timing of the Siberian/arctic air is still later Wednesday into early Thursday. Wind chills will tank to near minus 20 degrees, perhaps below in some areas. Temperatures may fall throughout the day on Thursday and not stop falling until sometime Friday morning. Whatever recover we get later next week will be sluggish through Christmas. Let’s see what clouds and any snowpack do to the temperature potential.

Snow chances

Now about the snow. There will be several opportunities next week, and one of them MAY come right out of the chute on Monday. I’ve been sort of iffy on this first risk these last couple of days. The GFS has been the most bullish with this compared to other models. The GFS is notoriously too wet with winter systems, especially those that have snow potential.

To me at least, it’s been showing gobs of snow almost day in and day out for the last couple of weeks. And here we stand at 4/10 inch of snow without accumulating snows for weeks around these parts. So I had a healthy skepticism about what it has been showing for the last 36 hours or so.

Then last night the other models sort of followed the GFS lead and started cranking out the moisture as well. It’s an interesting system to be tracking this weekend.

This is system number 1.

The system that we’re watching is NOT the dramatic swirl of clouds out in the central Pacific Ocean below. It’s more of the little swirl of clouds that’s off the coast of California almost halfway between the coast and the more-pronounced swirl on the far left side of the animation below.

As we go up in the atmosphere to around 18,000 feet or so, X marks the system that we’re going to be tracking over the weekend.


You can also see the various upper-level lows. The big one is in Wisconsin this morning that continues to circulate cold air and moisture into the region this morning. Notice the blocking H’s (highs) across Canada. This means that the upper-level systems can’t move northwards as easily. Those blocks serve as a wall in a sense and that keeps the pattern somewhat active.

That X will come eastwards into California into Sunday morning. Then it will start to weaken and get a bit disorganized into Monday morning as it moves into the western Plains, and speeds up as it zips through our region during the morning Monday.

This creates at least some precipitation, but there are issues perhaps keeping this as all snow:

1) On Sunday temperatures may warm up to to 40-45 degrees, and with the increase in clouds Sunday afternoon into night, we may not drop below 33 degrees at the surface. The air just above the surface may also be around 32-34 degrees or so a few thousand feet up (but it will be chilling down).

So whatever falls may be a wintry mix/rain at first before likely transitioning over to snow for a time. How long that takes and how long we can keep the snow with a fast-moving wave zipping through in six hours or so is what complicates things.

2) Then the issue of the ground/pavement temperatures comes up. Will the road temperatures be just warm enough to help melt whatever falls? This is another issue to watch.

What does this mean in the end? I guess I could see a path for anywhere from a dusting to 2 inches or so from this fast-moving system.

The overnight models might even be a bit more bullish with the potential so that will need to be watched into the weekend. The morning NAM model gives us nothing. Overnight ensemble model runs (roughly 75 different possible outcomes) show roughly 1/10-2/10 inch of liquid equivalent. Allowing perhaps some actual rain, then some melting, and that’s why I think at least a dusting to 2 inches is on the table for discussion.

System #2 is connected to the Siberian/Arctic plunge that’s coming later Wednesday into Thursday. Amounts on that would likely be light, but there will be a lot of blowing around of whatever does fall. Snows with arctic air mass intrusions can create some fascinating looks outside. Winds gusting to 25-plus mph, falling snow that’s blowing sideways, crashing temperatures… it could be quite the night Wednesday.

Typically we don’t get a LOT of snow from these transitions, so that could be another dusting to 2-inches type event. Two inches could be on the extreme high end I think. By Thursday morning, wind chills may be 20 degrees below zero!

Snow system #3 and #4?

This is VERY, VERY tentative and will depend on multiple things that don’t remotely exist and won’t exist for another five-plus days, but we do know about the cold air plunge. That is a lock later Wednesday into the holiday weekend.

The flow above us will be fast and furious from the north-northwest to the south-southeast. If there are disturbances in the flow, with that cold air, and the fact the cold air doesn’t hold moisture that well, streaks of clouds will occasionally be moving through, and it’s not out of the question that if a disturbance or two is strong enough, and doesn’t get ripped apart by the fast flow aloft, we could see some areas of light snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

While not very heavy, with such cold air in place, the snow would be light and very powdery. It can accumulate easily. Not a lot, but perhaps enough to create some additional, likely under 1-inch potential accumulations.

Again, VERY VERY iffy on that prospect, but not out of the question. By the same token, if the waves are weak, the snow could just fade away as it falls through the very dry lower part of the atmosphere.

So there you go, several chances.

Will there be 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day?

I’ve been at a 40% chance of that happening. I’m still not sure I want to increase it yet, perhaps maybe to 45%? I’ll figure that out for the news tonight.

If Monday looks to be “something,” I’ll get a blog out on Sunday regarding that prospect.

The feature photo is from Terri Bruntmyer.

Joe