KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While the winds will be going pretty good today, at least temperatures will be close to 10 degrees (or more) above average in the area. That’s a good sign and we should continue to melt some of the ice/snow in the area. The shaded areas always tend to hold the winter coatings much longer and that will likely be the case again today.
The next system is on track for later Wednesday evening. That system looks to crank out 1-4 inches of snow in the area. There may be some thin bands of snow embedded in the overall broader band. Those can’t be forecast at this point with any precision. You can see there is a setup for these thin bands that are less than a county wide. And with the bitter cold air in place, the snow ratios will be higher, hence maybe a bigger snow pop for some localized areas.
Today: Clouds and sunshine. Windy and milder with highs near 50 degrees.
Tonight: Cold front arrives in the wee hours. Whatever we are at midnight is the high for the day (mid-30s) then we drop to around 20 degrees by daybreak with partly cloudy skies.
Tomorrow: We’ll start cold and stay cold, especially with the winds going, but we should get enough sunshine to recover somewhat into the mid-to-upper 20s in the afternoon. Blustery as well. Snow arrives later in the evening.
Thursday: Snow ends near or before daybreak. 1-4 inches before 7 a.m. likely as the system quickly moves away. Nasty cold on Thursday as the winds relax towards afternoon. Highs only around 10-15 degrees.
It won’t be in the 70s (or 60s), but some should see the 50s today. So that is a good day, although the winds will be pretty busy adding a chill to the air.
The next cold front is working its way through the northern Plains region. The air behind that is easily sub-zero, and the colder air mass will be dropping into the Kansas City area early tomorrow morning.
That means ahead of the front we get a nice south flow of air. Aloft westerly winds moving through the western Plains will bring downslope warming into Kansas and Nebraska ahead of the front. My hope is that we tap into some of that as well before the day is done. The sunshine will be key to that. There are a lot of clouds out there this morning. The more we thin those clouds, the better.
Overnight, the colder air comes down and by daybreak we’re down to around 15-20 degrees, which is seasonable for the region for early January.
There should be enough sunshine tomorrow through early afternoon to warm things into the mid-to-upper 20s from Kansas City southwards. By then, the snow that’s left won’t really have any effect on the temperatures. The models tend to struggle to some extent with temperatures because they think there is impactful snow on the ground still, when in reality (at least for us), it’s mostly gone, whereas northern Missouri still has 3-5 inches on the ground from the weekend system.
We recover about 5-10 degrees tomorrow thanks to the sunshine.
Then tomorrow evening a system streaks to the east-southeast from Nebraska. This will bring fast-moving snow (at first needing to overcome the dry air) into the area. But odds are we should have snow for at least some parts of the area by 9 p.m. Wednesday.
We then get snow saturating the atmosphere and most areas get snow for about 8 hours. Mostly on the lighter side, but I have thoughts that there may be some bands of snow that can produce somewhat heavier totals. These bands are typically longer in length but thinner within the main broader area of snow. They’re impossible to specifically pinpoint this far out… it’s really a matter of radar detecting them. They could be anywhere within the snow region really.
That’s why there is some potential for 3-4 inches if they setup and affect an area. What happens is that in the mid-levels of the atmosphere (roughly around 8-13,000 feet up), you can get something called frontogenesis.
This is a fancy word for a temperature gradient that develops in this approximate layer of the atmosphere due to wind direction and speed changes. This gradient helps to generate lift. That lift in a saturated atmosphere where the best snowflakes form and fall helps to create these bands of snow. Those bands can produce some higher totals for those who are in the right spot. They tend to move east-southeast, and if you’re at the beginning of the band moving in and at the end of the band moving out, you get more snow than others.
Again, precisely where these bands set up isn’t well forecasted, but seeing the potential can be, and it’s why the range for my thoughts, 1-4 inches, is exactly that: a range. Some may only get 1 inch or so. Others can get 3-4 inches. With the atmosphere being so darn cold, the snow ratios will be 15-plus to 1 and that means more of a fluffy accumulating snow, not exactly a snowman-making snow.
The morning runs of the NAM model is indeed indicating this situation developing. Notice the bands of higher “liquid.”
Here is the hi-res NAM model:
I don’t want to 100% be in the exact placement of these particular bands. I want to tell you about the potential. We’ll decipher radar to some extent overnight Wednesday to see who gets the better snows and who gets the lighter totals.
See that darkest blue area towards Clay County? There might be some embedded 5-inch totals in there. Again, perhaps not in Clay County, but whoever gets into this favorable band that moves across.
Then Thursday will just be COLD!
Typically in this scenario, we’d be tanking to well below zero overnight, but we’re going to get a wind shift towards the south and that means that temperatures may initially drop in the evening to around 2-7 degrees then start rising to around 10 degrees before daybreak.
As written yesterday, the arctic air comes in and it goes out quickly. We should be melting the snow nicely on Friday and especially Saturday.
Another decent push of cold air returns though Saturday night into Sunday with near-30-degree weather.
So lots of ups and downs for the next 5-7 days.
The feature photo today is from Austin Hamilton up in Iowa. A very wintry shot for sure.