Posted on Leave a comment

A wintry conundrum

Picture20

First of all, notice I’ve scooted the overnight lows to the right on the outlook. That’s to make it more clear that the low temp is what is expected that night and into the next morning. For instance, the low of 5 on today is for tonight/Saturday morning. The low temp for the day usually occurs at daybreak, as that is often the coldest time of the day.

Now, on to the forecast that is giving meteorologists across the South a headache (ha).  First of all, we have some snow flurries being reported around the plateau this morning. Those flurries will continue until noon. Radar shows a pretty good band of flurries headed this way right now (at 8:30 a.m). The snow flurries are moving southeast. No travel problems are expected.

Picture21

On Saturday, temperatures should warm into the mid 20s, with quite a bit of sunshine. At this point, our next storm system will begin taking shape across the southern Plains. As soon as this storm develops, we’ll be able to track it much better than we are currently tracking the hypothetical low that we expect to develop. At this time, we expect this low to track to our south, being steered by strong northwest winds aloft that will direct it to the south and east. Usually,  a storm track to our south means snow, as I explained yesterday. However, if the models verify and warm air moves in overhead, we’ll be looking at more of a wintry mix instead of plain snow.

I’ve explained in previous posts that arctic air is very heavy and dense. Therefore, it is difficult to move. Often times, when warm air tries to move in from the south, it will ride up and over the arctic air that is here at the surface. This creates a situation where you have cold air here at the surface, but warm air aloft. This is what creates a wintry mix. We should see a lot of warm air moving in aloft, guided in part by the arctic high that we have had in place shifting east. That will bring in southerly winds, especially overhead.

So, what does this all mean? I think precip will begin moving in sometime Sunday afternoon or evening (more likely later) and will begin as a snow/sleet mix. As we go through the night Sunday, precip should transition to a light freezing rain/sleet/snow/rain mix, with temps trying to get above freezing. I don’t think we’re looking at an ice storm, as I am fairly confident that temps will get above freezing before we can reach ice storm criteria. Never the less, prepare for travel problems, as it only takes a little bit of ice to create a travel nightmare. I do expect the dominant winter precip with this event to be freezing rain and sleet, though the wintry precip should stay on the light side.

Stay tuned.  I’ll admit that this is an ever changing, complicated forecast. We have several things to watch. First, how far south will the storm travel? Will it go so far south that we get just a few sleet pellets/flurries (as one model suggested this morning). When does the precip begin? Wintry precip for one hour vs wintry precip for several hours makes a big difference in impacts. How cold will it be when the precip starts? I’ll be updating all of this as soon as any new information makes this more clear. We’re still 72 hours away from this and a lot can change.

What to do now? Just be aware that there could be travel issues Sunday night and Monday morning. Prepare for power outages, just in case the ice lasts longer than expected. I do expect the biggest part of the mixed precip to be freezing rain, but I think it will stay on the light side. I don’t think we’ll see power outages, but it never hurts to expect the best, prepare for the worst. All of this mess should be plain ole rain by mid-morning to noon on Monday.

You want some good news? A warm-up is on the way!!! Can you believe we may be in the 50s by Thursday!? The January thaw will be really cranking by the end of next week. You want more good news? There’s really no more big arctic air outbreaks in sight for the next two weeks (maybe longer!). If I hear shouting from my cubicle I’ll know you all are reading my blog (ha).

I’ll be updating the forecast all weekend. For those of you reading this on TAP’s intranet, you can follow my blogs at https://meteorologistmark.com/ .

We’re up to 12 degrees now at 8:40 a.m.  Our low last night was 6 degrees at 3:04 a.m. Keep an eye out for some of those flurries today and stay warm!

And let me know if you have any questions!

 

Leave a Reply