Joe’s Weather World: I have concern for a significant snow in the region (SAT-10/24)

Weather Blog

There are many things on the table for Monday regarding the next system coming out and moving our way…but let’s start with this…there have been more than a handful of cities that have set daily or monthly snow records for October already from I-80 northwards to the Canadian border. Records for daily amounts…so early heaviest amounts…monthly records etc.

We’ve only had 2 other measurable snows (more than a trace) on Monday’s date (10-26). Both were 1″ totals…as recently as 1997 too. On Tuesday’s date there has only been 1 other measurable snow…1/2″. So these snows don’t happen…they’re rare and it has to stay in the back of your mind when looking at the information before you. On the other hand you can’t say “well it’s so rare it can’t happen again” when you see what is trying to unfold.

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Forecast:

Today: Cloudy and cold. Highs only around 40-45° or so. There might be a few cracks in the clouds.

Tonight: Steady temperatures with clouds. Lows in the upper 30s

Tomorrow: Cloudy with developing mist/drizzle or light rain later in the day. Highs only in the lower 40s

Monday: Developing snow…accumulations possible. A snowstorm by October standards is possible. Travel issues as well as power outages may be on the table as well depending on how hard the snow falls and how much falls. A bit premature for amounts but as a starting point anywhere from a dusting to over 3″ is on the table especially from the Metro northwards.

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Discussion:

So it can happen…we spent time on Thursday talking about the October “Surprise” back in 1996. 3-8″+ fell in the region resulting in so many power outages. A bad situation and when you look outside and see all the leaves on the trees…I’m reminding myself that it could happen again.

The model data has trended a bit colder and farther south. This is an issue because instead of some sort of wintry mix…this would increase the chance of snow.

Some forecasters (including myself many years ago) put wayyyyyy too much emphasis in how the warm ground will prevent snow accumulations. I gave up that ghost years ago after witnessing 1st hand how heavy snow rates can overcome “warm” ground temperatures. There is something to that regarding pavement and daytime/nighttime timing (sometimes) but the bottom line, as we’ve seen in so many other cities not too far north of the Metro…if it wants to snow hard enough…it will stick regardless.

Last October we had sticking snow at the end of the month. The October before…sticking snow in the middle of the month…so it can and has happened as I mentioned quite a few times already this month.

Let’s start with today…clouds are still all over the place. These clouds kept temperatures well above freezing last night. I talked about this chance quite a bit yesterday on the news…despite the freeze warning that was in effect. I had a feeling it was going to be a struggle to get to 32° when we had a blanket of clouds around that weren’t showing breaks.

These same clouds are sticking around today…and we’re really going to be on the struggle bus to get to 45°.

There may be some breaks later today but I don’t think those breaks will be that helpful to warm things up. So we’re stuck in the cold air today.

Overnight the same flow of cold moist air above us will continue…so tough to imagine we break the clouds up tonight and really tomorrow too.

Aloft as this unfolds locally…we’re watching a dip in the jet stream move through the northern and western US. It will tend to break into 2 pieces…one of which will be dipping into the southwest part of the country. You can see that splitting on the maps looking up around 18,000 feet or so. This is what we refer to in weather land as the 500 mb level. This is from the NAM model.

For timing…0Z is 7PM…12Z is 7AM…18Z is 1PM and 6Z is 1AM etc

See that dip occurring in the western US…that is a developing upper level low that will help to force the flow aloft to come to us from the southwest. That southwest flow aloft will blow disturbances this way…over the cold air. That spells lift and in time as the atmosphere gets more saturated…precipitation.

What’s also important is as the atmosphere saturates…it will cool down as well in the critical areas where snow flakes form. Right now the air is above freezing from around 5500 feet to about 12,000 feet…so things need to change and the air is dry too so all this has to change before we can even get any precipitation.

This dry layer will only slowly saturate tomorrow…taking all day and probably most of the night. So whatever mist/drizzle we get tomorrow will be light and more of a nuisance than anything else.

As the flow aloft increases and speeds up from the southwest on Monday morning though…disturbances will come up at a more rapid pace. This is where things get trickier. This will saturate the atmosphere and at some point something has to start falling.

Then the issue is what form will the precip take and the trend in the last 18 hours has been for colder solutions and especially colder when you get to the critical areas where snowflakes form most efficiently up around 10,000 feet or so. That is important because If we’re getting better forming flakes up there then with a cold enough atmosphere below…those flakes make it to the ground.

We still have model disagreement to some extent on the amount that will fall from a liquid perspective. The NAM is the driest…the GFS is wettest. You can use the slide for comparisons

At face value…the GFS would suggest the potential of over 4″ of snow…the NAM after eliminating a bit from rain at the start on Sunday…would suggest about 1-2″ of snow.

Other models show a wettest EURO…and an in between ICON model

So let’s just eliminate a bit from those totals for initial melting…perhaps we don’t have perfect 10:1 snow ratios…perhaps a bit less maybe 8:1.

You can see how a 1-4″ forecast right now is doable.

So it’s becoming increasing likely that this will be the 3rd straight October with accumulating snow in KC…before Halloween! Technically the 4th straight October with flakes. We had a trace of snow in 2017 too!

We get snow in October but we can’t get snow in March it seems!

Our feature photo comes from Becky Reiber Cortus

Joe

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