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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is a lot on the table for this next potential snowstorm in the region. The data trends are concerning in terms of amounts and how things play out.

There continues to be significant track vagaries that will determine who potentially can get a huge snow, the biggest possibly in years, and who again may be saying “Yeah… so what.” There may be both expressions by later Thursday.

The problem is how the Kansas City metro fits into these solutions. There have been some really eye-popping numbers on some of the data outputs with even some growing numbers on the less-aggressive model solutions, which is catching my eye. I’ve showed you this data on the news Monday and will do so again during later newscasts on Tuesday.

Some of the tracks being portrayed by some model data are classic. Remember this storm is different than previous winter events we’ve seen, perhaps for the last few years.

A ton of gulf moisture is coming up Wednesday. A seemingly strong circulation is forecast to potentially take a perfect track for someone in the region to hit some snow jackpots of over 6 inches, perhaps well over.

The specter of thundersnow is on the table somewhere depending on how the storm plays out and the circulation. But it’s also something that may need more addressing Wednesday especially.

Yet so far, I’m holding back on snow maps, and may do so at least for the rest of the day today. Although I’ll likely get something together for the later shows tonight, there are just too many questions right now regarding how things really play out. Please just be aware that Thursday may be a BIG storm, with all sorts of wintry precipitation issues including freezing rain, sleet, strong winds, and heavy snows.



Today: Sunny this morning with some filtered sunshine this afternoon. Increasing winds gusting to 30-40 mph as the day moves along. Warm. Highs in the mid-60s.

Tonight: Mild with mostly clear skies but some possible. Windy and mild with lows in the mid-50s.

Tomorrow: Increasing clouds as the morning moves along. It appears the cold front that will be the first step in the winter storm may hold off until later in the day. Temperatures tomorrow could still pop to near 65 degrees before the front arrives with falling temperatures from north to south later in the day. Windy as well ahead and then behind the front. Some rain showers are possible later in the day especially. Perhaps some drizzle before hand.

Thursday: A wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet will change to snow in the morning. Perhaps during rush hour. Windy with 3 to 6-plus hours of moderate to heavy snow possible somewhere out there, especially from Kansas City south perhaps. Blowing snow with 30 mph winds from the northeast. Travel may turn dangerous. Snow winds down later in the day. Cold with temperatures only in the 20s and wind chills closer to zero.



For those of you who enjoy looking at some of the model outputs ahead of the blog, obviously you’re seeing the “jackpot” snows for the metro. Many of the models have crazy high snow totals. It’s sort of plausible that some of those higher-end numbers could happen, or at least get closer to happening.

Again to stress: this is a different beast that what we’ve experienced this winter, and perhaps last winter, and perhaps the previous winter.


Well it’s a developing storm. It’s going to tap into Gulf moisture, a lot of Gulf moisture, returning northwards into the circulation.

Some data shows it taking a perfect track to bring Kansas City into the functional and impressive comma-head part of the storm, which sort of sits and pivots around the metro area. This would enable a tremendous amount of lift, with warm and moist air being brought into the circulation from the south and bending back west towards east central Kansas.

That my friends is how you get a big snowstorm around here. The record on Thursday the 17th for snow is 6 inches set back in 1893, one of the oldest daily records we have on the books as a matter of fact.


There are always issues with snow in these parts. One must be careful and not use recent biases to go all in, or all out, of a potential storm. There continues to be reasons why this storm could be a bigger storm than we’ve seen recently.

It’s easy to be anti-snow jaded when it comes to snow around here. We’ve been left out of the bigger snows in Kansas City for quite some time. I get that. It should remain in my mind as we approach this for another 12-24 hours, hence the slow-to-no rollout of specific numbers.

Today’s message is one of being prepared for an aggressive system and the potential for aggressive snow totals.

These things though are rarely easy. Since the big winters of 2009-10 when the snows were well forecast for several days out with very few changes needed (those were the days), snows around here have been trickier in some cases to pin down. We’ve been disappointed (of you want the snow) numerous times. I get it.

What can go wrong?

So with that said, there are numerous things that can still go wrong or perhaps “not as right” depending on your wants as we say. What are those factors:

1) A father south snow track. This would be a deal breaking for the heaviest snows to affect Kansas City. It will take a 6 to 10-plus-inches forecast and kill it to a 1 to 4-inch forecast in no time at all.

2) A prolonged period of sleet/mixed precipitation. This too knocks everything down in terms of amounts.

3) A rapidly lifting out storm. This would cut the snow totals, perhaps in half.

4) We don’t get into the comma-head part of the system. This cuts the numbers.

5) The storm isn’t as mature or organized as some of the models portray. This cuts your totals.

6) A dreaded dry slot, mid-level dry air that cuts into the storms circulation and reduces the high snow rates that accumulate quickly.

So right there there are at least SIX things that can go wrong (and usually do) with these types of systems. It’s almost like Kansas City is programmed for this when it comes to winter storms for the last 10 years or so (mostly).

The data trends off the NAM and the GFS is actually farther north, in what is a shift from 24 hours ago. Now the NAM model (this morning’s run) perhaps have the bigger snows on the north side of the metro with dry slot/mix issues more prevalent on the south side of Kansas City, with a spread of 1-15 inches from south to north in the immediate KC region.

The NAM certainly has mixed sleet through 9 a.m. Thursday on the north side. There is an elevated layer of above-32 degree air at 10 a.m. in Platte County. This is because the winds above us will still be blowing in “warm” air from the south and southwest.

Here is a look at a forecast sounding for the KCI area around 9 a.m. I’ve circled an area of the atmosphere where the temperatures are warm enough to melt any snow flakes that are falling. The liquid drops would then refreeze into ice pellets/sleet as they fall through the colder near surface air (below 32 degrees). The diagonal WHITE line that I’ve drawn in from the left to the upper right represents the 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero Celsius) line.

That’s a problem for those who want snow, at least for a while on Thursday morning. See towards the far right side? Those are the wind flags, screaming out of the northeast below and from the south-southwest above. That is overrunning, where warm, moist air overruns the colder denser near surface air.

On the NAM model, tough to get accumulating snow through. Let’s say 9 a.m., maybe even 10 a.m. in the north side. The south side is roughly the same as well.

So for a second, let’s say this is the play to make. That means a sleet accumulation of whatever. Still messy roads with all sorts of cancellations for the morning rush on Thursday, but little to no actual snow accumulation.

It’s at this juncture that the storm is in the perfect spot taking a great track for us to be dumped on.

This is about as good as we can do for a surface storm track.

Yet we’re fighting that ice at 9 a.m. or so.

So taken at face value, let’s then say that we make a rapid conversion to moderate to heavy snow after 9 or 10 a.m., from north to south, south be quick I think.

That leaves our storm streaking away in that time frame, likely undergoing various structural changes, and now the issue is how long can we get the moderate to heaviest snow and where does that precisely set up.

The NAM then creates the heaviest snow band at noon.

12 p.m. Blue is the snow, heaviest arcs on the northwest side of the metro towards northern Missouri

3 p.m.:

Metro in it, northern part of metro perhaps moreso. South of the metro, not nearly as much

6 p.m.:

Dying snow band pushes away and storm and wind winding down

So the NAM model cranks this idea out:

1″ in Lees Summit to near 18″ in St Joe and honestly on the south side those numbers might be a bit high because it has a 2-3″ artifact with sleet falling…thinking it’s snow

The sharper cutoff on the south side above is partially in response to the dreaded dry slot that cuts the better snow production south of Interstate 70, especially prematurely during the height of the storm. The best comma-head/pivot to the storm is on the north side of the metro.

The run from last night had this idea.

So we’ve got ourselves a 50-75 mile shift in the heavier snows.

The higher-res NAM model through 6 p.m. Thursday has this idea:

More generous with the average totals around the metro, widespread 6 to 10-inch amounts.

Notice though how things really drop off on this model as well, about two counties south of Kansas City. You can visualize how a track change in the system can shift what happens north or south and bring less or more snows to some areas.

This is why I’m still wanting to be prudent, not overhyping the potential with big maps (yet), but cautioning you to the potential.

There is another aspect to this: The wind while this is unfolding. The winds above the surface, a few thousand feet up may be cranking at close to 50 mph. This is a problem because it could create near-blizzard conditions for the area being maximized for snows.

Where that combination sets up remains to be seen, but all areas will get crazy winds making things even worse it appears on Thursday mid-day or thereabouts.

What about the specter of something more unusual, for example thundersnow? This is on the table for that heavier snow band/comma-head that sets up. There may be a tremendous amount of lift developing in that band, and that could be enough to get some rumbles going. Something to watch because that adds to the snow.

There are so many caveats to this: If the storm accelerates faster (very possible) as we finally get into the better snow production, that cuts the amounts. There are a bevy of reasons highlighted above why this system may not do what the morning models suggest.

Let’s keep the horses in the barn for another 12-18 hours or so, before we start dialing up the numbers to high. There is potential, as highlighted this morning, lots of potential. But the science says to be restrained at this point. Be prepared, be cautious, but be restrained.

Other models have more south solutions. The EURO, which has been the farthest south with most of the heaviest snows, last night pinched a bit farther north with its idea. Here is a compare-contrast slider for you.

Yesterday morning run SLIDE RIGHT…early morning run today SLIDE RIGHT

You can see clearly the northwards jaunt.

So there are trends developing that need to be watched carefully and that place Kansas City in a more favored area.

I’ll get a GFS update out by 10:20 or so with that output.

GFS with a 3 hour faster switch time.

Look at the lower amounts on the south side of the metro. I question if the north side is a bit too high into Platte County.

Canadian for added non-clarity:

Finally the new EURO…

Again please reread the six things that can go wrong before you have yourselves worked up too much on this situation.

Our feature photo comes from Audrey Duty down in Deepwater, Missouri.