Joe’s Weather Blog: Ice, snow, winter storm headed for Kansas City (THU-12/31)

Weather Blog

We’re now less than 24 hours before a winter storm hits the region.

A Winter Storm Warning goes into effect at midnight for the KC Metro area with a winter weather advisory surrounding the region into NW MO and NE KS. They have expanded both in the last hour as I expected they would do and follows my thinking from yesterday.

The counties in purple are the winter weather advisory areas and the pink the winter storm warnings.

There was heavy snow in southwest Texas yesterday…that’s something you don’t see often. A few reports of thundersnow down there, too. Another rare event for that part of the country. This is quite the epic storm down there.

The darkest blue above is 4″…then the yellow is 6″ and the speck of orange is 8″

Look at the scope of all the headlines…

Quite the storm and as 2021 starts…it’s going to hit us pretty good.

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Forecast:

Today: Mostly sunny this morning with increasing clouds as the day moves along. It will remain dry though with highs in the mid 30s after a frosty start.

Tonight: Clouds slowly lower and thicken. After 2 a.m. there may be some flurries or ice pellets that will slowly pick up in intensity and switch to ice before daybreak tomorrow. Lows in the upper 20s

New Year’s Day: Ice to snow. Snow amounts will depend on the switchover time. Later in the morning: 1 to 4 inches. Earlier in the morning: 2-5 inches. The ice may be enough, combined with the wind to cause some power outages in spots. Winds will gust to 35 MPH.

Saturday: Some light snow is possible from KC southeastwards…a dusting to 1″ is not out of the question with some upside southeast of the Metro. Highs in the 20s to near 30 with lots of clouds.

Sunday: Variable clouds. Temperatures in the 30s

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Discussion:

I’m going to keep this entry a bit less complicated.

So there isn’t a tremendous amount of change in my opinion that I want to bring to this entry. There are model wobbles happening to some extent…how much of that will actually turn to reality is a bit questionable to me but these items are what appears to be the most likely scenarios.

  1. We’re fine for today and most of the night through 1-4 a.m. or so tomorrow.
  2. Whatever comes up from the south will be sometime after 2 a.m. it appears. There may be with combination of flakes and ice pellets, but at some point it should transition to freezing rain.
  3. Part of the trick to this is this “warm” layer that will be overhead and coming into the State Line area from the east. This is wrapping around the circulation of the system. How long does that warm (above freezing) layer linger tomorrow morning. Remember, we only get a vague idea what really is happening there about 2 times per day with the balloon launches in Topeka and Springfield, Mo. There might be occasional aircraft data though to intersperse in that but we’re sort of “flying blind” a bit with this…and that is so important to determining how much ice we get and how much snow we get.
  4. The highest amount of ice to me appears to be on the south side of the Metro along the US 50 corridor and down to the north of the Lakes region. Model data this morning continues to paint a picture of decent moisture through the region and I can’t disregard (right now) that the models are cranking out 3/4″ to 1 1/4″ of moisture.

Take a look at this comparison with some of the new information this morning with the total moisture amounts.

I just can’t outright ignore that.

So there is still a lot of moisture coming towards the area. In looking at the moisture within the atmosphere, one model, the NAM, has about 20% more moisture on top of us (up through the atmosphere) than the other model. As a matter of fact, the NAM has about 2.5 times the typical January 1 moisture above us. That is a big deal…and perhaps a tell. Maybe it’s a bit extreme but I don’t want to ignore this.

5) The issue is timing out the switch time…earlier means less ice and more snow…later in the AM means more ice and less snow.

6) That is sort of connected to this “warm layer”. The last few runs of the models have slowly reduced the “amount” of warmth in that layer by a few degrees. It’s still there though just above the surface. Again two model runs…see that purple-ish area…above that and below that it’s below 32°. Within that layer it’s 32° or higher. The top graphic is the NAM model…the below one is the HRRR model.

That layer is about 3-5,000 feet thick…that won’t work for snow until it’s gone. The timing of that is roughly 9 a.m. Friday on the top model and 7-ish a.m. Friday on the bottom model.

7) Then the issue is how much precipitation comes down when that layer is eliminated. Again the two models…now showing the model depiction of the amount of moisture that would be converted to snow. I’ve done a 12-hour plot of total moisture ending at 9 p.m.

Sliding to the right would be about 1-3″ for KC and to the left 3-6″ of snow for KC on top of ice.

That’s a bit of a headache but last night I went for 2-4 inches of snow on top of the ice and I see no reason right now to change that.

8) Whatever happens and whatever form(s) all this takes, the heaviest part of this appears to be roughly from 6-7 a.m. or so though 1-2 p.m.

9) It’s going to look like an ice-encrusted mess out there and this will be a bit tougher to shovel because of the icy base with the snow on top. Get your chisel out!

10) The Saturday thing is still a thing…especially from KC southeastwards. We may be on the northwestern side of this though. Fascinating though to look at where the two storms go through Missouri. They’re within 1-2 counties of being almost identically located! The difference: The Saturday system is coming into a drier atmospheric environment (much less it appears) so less production.

11) There should be a sharp cut-off to the ice and snow amounts. The cut-off may be somewhat close to the area that saw the most ice on Tuesday, Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas. The new GFS just came in and basically shows a slight uptick in the moisture amounts on the northwest side of the Metro with no real change on the south side of Kansas City. It shows the transition timing to be close to 9-10 a.m. or so.

Again note the tight gradient in Northwest Missouri on the various models.

12) I’m not ruling out power issues for the Metro, especially the south side as mentioned last night.

13) Finally this thread IF you missed it on Facebook or Twitter last night. Click on that thread to see what I wrote about last night.

OK…Facebook Live coming tonight at 8 p.m…and of course the team will be all over this today and tomorrow. There will be extensive coverage of the weather with cut-ins and the whole 9 yards!

The feature photo today is from the ice storm in northern Missouri on Tuesday. I hate ice, but it does give us some pretty pictures.

Our feature photo comes from Crickett O’Day up in Stewartsville, Mo.

Joe

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