Joe’s Weather Blog: Arctic air alert with sticking snow potential (MON-12/27)

Weather Blog

Another weird weather day yesterday… as a warm front was moving up from the south…allowing a spring like air mass to move in, especially in the evening as temperatures popped into the mid 60s last night with dew points in the upper 50s.

As a matter of fact the dew points were the highest they’ve been for so late in the year in KC up at KCI at least. We ended up 1° short of tying the record high for yesterday. We had a 12AM high today of 64°…that will be well short of the record of 73°.

This crazy December continues with another surge of warmth tomorrow…then another surge on Friday. After each day a stout shot of cold air is coming. One on Wednesday and a stronger on sometime on Saturday. It’ll be a rollercoaster week around here so buckle up.

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Forecast:

Today: Fair skies and chillier than yesterday with highs in the upper 40s to near 50°. Not as much wind.

Tonight: Variable clouds but not overly cold with lows in the upper 30s but perhaps not that cold at daybreak

Tomorrow: We eventually warm up again… probably into the 60s with stronger winds developing. Also there may be some areas of rain developing especially on the MO side during the morning hours. Temperatures will start dropping later in the day

Wednesday: Colder! Temperatures only near 35° in the afternoon with sunshine.

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Discussion:

Lots of folks starting to ask about the snow situation…when will it snow? Well we haven’t had flakes yes this winter…the only time we’ve had flakes was back during that weird mid-November system that created the rain/snow showers even though temperatures were into the 40s.

So we still wait…but there is a contender for our first sticking snow…this will be on Saturday connected to an arctic blast…really a western Canada blast of frigid air that has been bottled up up there for seemingly weeks. It’s about to be released.

First though the warmth. What a month! More than 10° above average through yesterday and we could add to that today due to the 12AM high of 64°. This won’t be the warmest December on record…that will remain 1889…but it may well be the Top 5!

We stand at #2 as of now through yesterday’s date.

If the month ended today it would be the 3rd warmest December…but we still have 5 more days of data to input…and it will be all over the place…Tuesday and Friday…warm…then chillier the other days.

Let’s get through the next couple of days though…because even those will be interesting. A cold front moved through the region overnight. Temperatures dropped from the mid 60s to the 40° mark to start Monday morning. Keep in mind 40° is about the average HIGH for this time of the year. That has been one of the many remarkable things about these “cold” fronts of late…even behind the front there is no “real” cold air for us. It won’t be in the 60s this afternoon…but still the upper 40s aren’t too bad at all for late December.

The fronts also haven’t pushed the cold air too far south. So as a result when south winds kick back in the milder to warm air south of the region has a faster way to return northwards. Look at this near 8AM morning temperatures…the warmer air is just south of the area still

It won’t take long for it to return northwards.

So tomorrow, when SE and S winds increase again…this warmer air will come right back towards us and so will some moisture. Dew points will again increase to near 50° and that increase may help set off at least some rain showers in region near daybreak for a few hours or so. It likely won’t be much but hopefully something to knock down the dust with.

It will end quickly towards lunch or before tomorrow…but at least there is a chance of moisture. IF we miss out on tomorrow…some will…that will do it until the weekend.

This won’t be our driest December…but depending on tomorrow…it may end up in the Top 10.

Then later tomorrow the colder air will return. Notice in that temperature map above…the colder air is not that far away. It’s only 10-15° in parts of Nebraska this morning and sub-zero in the northern Plains where this is quite a bit of fresh snow on the ground.

So that air is refrigerated up there.

Notice though once you get south of SD…nothing for snow cover. Basically from around I-90 southwards.

So that air modifies as it comes into the Plains to a large extent at this point.

So we warm back up tomorrow…turn colder tomorrow night into Thursday morning before we moderate again on Friday.

The surge of warmth on Friday may not be quite as dramatic as yesterday evening…but 50s at the least are likely with a bit of upside. Then things get wayyyyy more interesting.

Finally after numerous failed attempts the brutally cold air that has created all sorts of craziness out in the northwestern US and western Canada will be tapped into. The Pacific Northwest yesterday had quite a bit of snow. Seattle averages about 5″ a season…they got 2-7″ worth yesterday alone.

These are the last 3 days worth of snow totals out there…

and more is coming out there this week.

There is one place called Postpile, CA…towards the west of Mammoth Lakes that has had 126″ of snow in the last 3 days…with a ton more coming. This is great news for the reservoirs out there in time whenever it melts off.

Here is a look at the set-up…from a surface temperature anomaly standpoint. The legend is at the bottom.

The warmest of the air will be roughly 25° above average on Friday and the coldest of the air will be close to 40° below average

This is one heck of a contrast. Something’s got to give. What will propel this even more…is a wave coming out of the SW part of the country. See the dip in UT…what that dip does…and where it goes will play huge wintry role in how we start out 2022.

Ahead of that dip…the SW winds aloft will be bringing disturbances up and over the building cold air at the surface…that that air will be COLD on Saturday.

Check out the EURO thoughts on the cold air. For noon on Saturday. The Canadian model is 10° colder!

The GFS isn’t as brutal BUT I think it will trend colder today.

So a TON of really nasty cold air. Disturbances coming into the cold air…at first perhaps we need to saturate the colder air…at first perhaps the air above the surface is still above freezing since this will initially a shallow push of bitter cold air (need to watch for sleet)…but in time the atmosphere will support snow.

The question then is how much do we get? I mentioned on twitter over the weekend that this type of brutally cold air mass coming in RARELY comes in without some serious fanfare. Sometimes big snowstorms…sometimes ice to snow…something has to happen here I think. Something wintry. Something sticking.

Right now it doesn’t appear to be a huge storm…BUT this could change as well IF that SW main wave is more organized and comes more towards the KC area than farther south. IF that happens then we may have a bigger event. Ensemble data this morning isn’t overly thrilled with that. Of the 80 runs that I looked at…most give us under 1″ of accumulated snow. Again though let’s not totally count on that outcome.

So here’s what I’m increasingly confident of…

  1. After another up and down week…we turn bitterly cold at some point Saturday. This will linger into Sunday.
  2. There should be some wintry precipitation with the transition on Saturday. Perhaps some freezing rain to snow. I am concerned about FLASH FREEZING on Saturday when temperatures plummet.
  3. Our 1st accumulating snow is increasingly likely.
  4. IF we miss out on this chance…it may be at least another week before another chance happens
  5. Whatever blows in won’t last for too long. The pattern refuses to lock in on the cold side for us. There appears to be a quick moderation on Monday the 3rd for a few days.

What I’m not confident about…

  1. Timing this whole transition on Saturday. AM or PM.
  2. The amount of the frozen precipitation. Data isn’t overly generous locally BUT this can change with a more “functional” storm
  3. Do we get a period of sleet or freezing rain. A bit more confident in the former and less on the latter.
  4. How long we’re primed for winter precipitation because there will be a time period that we need to saturate the atmosphere

So a lot on the table for Saturday after an eventful week of ups and downs. By the way…don’t let be surprised if there aren’t more tornadoes in the southern US this week and perhaps next weekend too. Volatile and diverse temperatures leads to more extreme weather, especially in the winter.

The feature photo comes from @KansasHoops…down in Cancun

Joe

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