Joe’s Weather Blog: Rain then snow, then cold, then wind (THU-1/13)

Weather Blog

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Another wonderful mild day on the way for the Kansas City region, with more sunshine than yesterday and in the end, somewhat milder temperatures. We should enjoy more mild weather on Friday too. Highs may approach 50 degrees for some, depending on the clouds increasing, but it will change later Friday night into Saturday morning as our expected storm drops in from the north and creates accumulating snow locally.

There are some wrinkles to the forecast including how quickly the accumulating snow starts on warmed surfaces later tomorrow night and how fast the slushy/wet snow accumulates into Saturday morning. But so far, so good regarding the snow thoughts from the last couple of days.

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Forecast:

Today: Mostly sunny and mild with highs in the mid-50s or so. Nice day with a northerly breeze developing.

Tonight: Fair skies with more clouds arriving overnight. Mild again with lows near 32 degrees.

Tomorrow: Thicker clouds with perhaps a few showers around during the middle of the day but, the best rain chances hold off until mid-to-late evening. Highs between 45-50 degrees. Breezy as well.

Tomorrow night: Rain mixes with snow before a switch to snow, perhaps moderate at times while you’re sleeping. Accumulations 1 to 3 inches possible towards daybreak from south to north. Temperatures will be somewhat steady for a while in the lower 30s.

Saturday: Snow tapers off towards lunch. Windy with gusts to 30 mph possible blowing some of the wet snow around. Final accumulations appear to be in the 1 to 4-inch range from the southwest to the northeast part of the metro region with higher amounts of 4-7 inches possible farther north into north-central and northeast Missouri. Temperatures will be in the 20s for most of the day with wind chills down to the single digits in the afternoon.

Sunday: Partly cloudy and chilly with lows in the teens in the morning and highs near 32 degrees. Morning lows, depending on clouds, may drop into the single digits and perhaps near zero in some places, sub-zero in northern Missouri.

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Discussion:

So this has been quite the up and down month around here: cold, mild, a bit of something for everyone. We’ve already had our first 60-degree day. We’ve had several 50s and our monthly average is running about 3 degrees below average, but we’ll cut that number more over the next 48 hours between today and tomorrow.

One of the interesting things I think is that our morning lows these last couple of days haven’t been all that “low.” This morning we dropped into the upper 30s (which is our average high for mid-January). We’ve been above average with these lows as a pretty constant thing these last two months or so (or so it seems like).

Next week looks like another sort of up-and-down week. Some chilly air with moderation. There does appear to be about a week of rather cold weather coming starting next Wednesday or so, pretty cold too. More on that next week.

Onwards to the winter storm impacting the area to start the weekend.

There are two pieces to this: one in the Pacific Northwest, and another in western Canada. You can sort of see both pieces then combine in the Plains and drop into Kansas on Saturday. Let’s go up to about 18,000 feet and track these pieces. Notice how when they combine, they form an upper-level low.

See how they combine? This new combined storm will be a big-ticket weather maker for the central and eastern U.S. with heavy snows east and north of its track.

For the Kansas City area, while there may be a few appetizer rain showers ahead of the feature tomorrow during the day, the main impacts won’t start until tomorrow night.

During the day, we can actually warm up nicely. We’ll start in reasonable shape. With not a lot happening, aside from increasing and lowering clouds, we can probably get into the mid-40s, with some upside into the 50-ish range.

Here are the HRRR thoughts for tomorrow afternoon.

Rough ideas for highs Friday

We’ll have a breezy southeast wind though, so it will still feel chilly especially with all the clouds in the area.

Our system will be creating a large swath of snow across the Interstate 80 corridor tomorrow afternoon.

3 p.m. tomorrow

This area will drop southwards into the less cold air during the evening at the surface and above us, so the snow will most likely change to rain as it comes down the State Line before midnight or so.

Then by midnight (give or take) we have this idea off the hi-res NAM: a rain/snow mix on the south side and all snow on the north side.

Temperatures at this time may be in the 32-35 degree range and if the snow is somewhat on the lighter side, it may take a bit for it to create issues on the roads at least.

Then by roughly 2-9 a.m. we should be getting the bulk of the accumulating snows locally. Model guidance this morning is beefier with 1) the liquid it cranks out that would be then calculated into snow and 2) the actual snow amounts. We’ve been down this road before where the models 36-48 hours before an event have been too generous in cranking out the moisture. I don’t want to jump on this right now. For example, it has a broad area of 1 to 2 inches of snow at midnight tomorrow night on the north side of Kansas City. I think that isn’t correct with the timing of the switch happening around that time.

Let’s just say there is a bit of upside to my thinking and we’ll evaluate things later today and more tonight. The road situation will not be great on Saturday though. If you have plans for tomorrow evening though you should be just fine.

Our ensemble data is showing an uptick in the number of at least 2-inch totals for KCI.

EURO Ensembles
GFS Ensembles
Canadian Ensembles

It seems the likelihood of 2-plus-inch snow is increasing, especially on the north side of the metro, from I-70 northwards.

So what could go wrong with this?

  1. Temperatures remain above 32 degrees for longer into early Saturday morning, making the wet snow take longer to really accumulate.
  2. IF the system is too far east towards Kansas City instead of central Kansas, we can get dry-slotted. One model that I saw did do that yesterday evening and stripped away the moisture to produce the snow in the clouds. I don’t think this will happen.
  3. The snow could end faster on Saturday morning so that it doesn’t have as much time to accumulate. I think the best window for accumulating snow is roughly 1-2 a.m. through 9 a.m. or so. If we accumulate it faster, and it ends slower, 2-5 inches are possible.
  4. The combined system just may not be as impressive as the models think. There are a lot of things happening in the atmosphere when these systems combine and if the end result is not as beefy, it would cut the precipitation dropping southwards.
  5. If things are stronger than expected, if the snow dropping is heavier in an east-to-west fashion, we could see more snow that what I’m thinking at this point. Again 1 to 4 inches is a reasonable first stab at this.
  6. My colleagues at Pleasant Hill have also noted that the atmosphere is pretty loaded with moisture for the new combined system to work with, with 1.5 to 2 times its typical mid-January moisture load. That may be important in the end to boost the snow totals.

My feeling is that while the heaviest snow probabilities lie more towards the northeast of Kansas City, I can see some upward pressure on the 1 to 4-inch forecast that I’m running with 36 hours before the first flakes fall.

Don’t let your guard down about the stronger winds as well. Gusts may approach 30-plus mph for awhile into Saturday afternoon with the dropping temperatures… good day to watch some TV.

The feature photo is from Tedd Scofield. We had a pretty sunset last night!

Joe

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