Joe’s Weather Blog: Snow like sugar (WED-1/5)

Weather Blog

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — My Weather Blog has been a very popular click these last 10 days or so, often the No. 1 thing on fox4kc.com. It amazes me. The blog was a creation of mine about 20 years ago, the longest and most detailed blog for decades in Kansas City and I continue to churn it out, almost day in and day out.

It’s a passion project for sure and I’m humbled by the 10s of thousands that click and read my more detailed weather thoughts about the whys and what’s comings of the Kansas City weather world… as well as other meteorological things too.

So thanks for reading, especially these last couple of weeks! It’s noticed and appreciated! Hey, one way of immediately being notified of blog updates, like within seconds of me clicking on “publish,” is to sign up for the email notifications. Enter your email address next to the subscribe now and you’re all set.

for illustration purposes only

Forecast:

Today: Sunny and blustery into the early afternoon, then turning cloudy with some flurries possible towards early evening with light snow developing this evening. It will immediately stick. Highs today in the lower-to-mid-20s with winds gusting to 25 mph at times.

Tonight: Light snow through the wee hours. There may be a pulse up in the snow but overall, as we’ve been saying, this isn’t a big snowstorm for Kansas City. Amounts will range from a dusting to 2 inches from north to south. Better chance of near 2 inches will be more on the south side of the Metro, south of I-70. Temperatures drop to near 5 degrees.

Tomorrow; Variable clouds and cold with more sunshine in the afternoon. Highs only in the mid-teens.

Friday: Partly cloudy and not as cold, but chilly with highs in the mid-to-upper 20s. Lows in the morning will initially drop then recover by daybreak because of south winds.

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Discussion:

This is not going to be a big snowstorm for Kansas City, but there will be nuisance snows through the area overnight into early Thursday. Most, if not all, of the snow should wind down by daybreak tomorrow.

One of the many issues for this pretty weak system is that the colder air that blew in last night is also pretty dry air. So it’s going to take a bit of time to saturate the atmosphere, but eventually after dark that will happen and snow will make it to the ground.

The wave coming down from Nebraska isn’t too strong and will actually be weakening towards the Kansas City area overnight. So the bands of snow that will be rather prolific snow producers out towards central and northern Kansas, but as they streak towards the east-southeast, they may be on the weakening trend.

So that’s a negative. The thing that still sort of bothers me about this though is if this little wave can maintain itself a bit longer and if these little bands that are streaking our way can maintain themselves a little longer, we could also see the snow maintain itself a little longer. These little systems in the cold air can overproduce sometimes, so I’m on guard for that overnight.

Let me take you up to about 10,000 feet or so and we can track this disturbance coming out of the western Plains and streak towards the east-southeast.

See the core of RED coming to the ESE…then the reds sort of fade as they move into eastern KS

This wave weakens, so the “lift” is better out towards the central Plains as opposed to eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

This impacts our potential snow. If this wave is more “functional” this would be a no brainer 2-4-inch snow for the region. But since the wave appears to be a bit fragmented and weakening in the model data at least, it’s tough to be that bullish at this point.

Regardless, at least this time we’re not fighting the sleet or ice situation. This will be a pure snow maker for the area. The next issue is the bitter cold air that is in place for the snow. This affects the snow “construction.” When temperatures are closer to 32 degrees, the snow is more “wet.” It’s that packable snowman-making snow. When the atmosphere is as cold as it will be when the snow is coming into the area, the snow is finer: more sugar like, more powdery. This can accumulate easier, in part because there is less compaction. The snow is lighter and fluffier typically. When the snow is “heavier,” it compacts and weighs on itself.

So this colder, denser air allows the snow ratios to be higher. Typically you may have heard about the 10:1 rough ratio we use for snowfall forecasting: in other words 1 inch of rain equals 10 inches of snow. Well when the air is this cold, we get more of a 15:1 ratio (or higher). This means that 1 inch of rain equals 15 inches of snow. So less “liquid” can equate to more snowfall.

Model data its sort of in the 1/10 to 1/15-inch range for a liquid equivalent. That equates to about 1.5 to 3 inches of snow. There is the issue though of the dry air that the snow has to overcome at first. I do wonder if I’m going to spend part of the 6 or 9 p.m. shows tonight telling you how the snow is evaporating from the clouds to the ground because it’s being eaten away by the dry air below the cloud bases. That seems to happen a lot around here in these situations.

The model runs from this morning are showing roughly that idea.

The hi res NAM model showing roughly .05″ to .15″ of “liquid” equivalent

The lower resolution NAM model, a bit more generous.

This shows close to 2/10″ of moisture that would be converted to snow

Notice both pieces of data do show lesser totals up towards central/northern Platte County and northwards to really no accumulating moisture across northern Missouri.

So let’s factor in some evaporation and respect the 0.15-inch of liquid equivalent. Now convert that to snow with a 15:1 ratio so we sort of get 1-2 inches of snow. And I’ll allow the potential of perhaps some weird skinny bands that could somewhat overproduce. So maybe somewhere out there, better chances southwest of the downtown area, coming up with close to 3 inches of snow. That is my thought at this point.

Here is the model output of the snow. This looks pretty good give or take about 1/2 inch or so.

So the roads will be messy tomorrow in the morning especially, but should show improvement on the treated roads during the afternoon with some sunshine helping the cause. We will though have a lot of clouds around tomorrow, and with the colder air in place, it will be a struggle to warm up. Teens at best.

The we recover starting Friday, even earlier to some extent as temperatures will initially drop tomorrow night but then steady out and come up towards daybreak. We should start to melt and get rid of the snow a bit faster on Friday. Saturday we’re back into the 40s and there might be some rain showers in the afternoon

Also of note, right now at least, there doesn’t appear to be any big storms coming down the pike after this one, so this weird winter will continue. There is the potential of some 50s coming back too before next weekend, depending on the timing of various features.

I’ll see you tonight at 5, 6, 9, and 10 p.m.

Joe

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