I’ll get right into the forecast. A winter weather advisory goes into effect Friday for all of Middle TN and the Cumberland Plateau. We will begin the day with rain. Some of that rain could become heavy at times. Winds will also be gusty, at times reaching speeds of up to 25 mph. These winds will feel good in the morning, because they will be out of the south. By the afternoon, the winds will switch to a northerly direction and you’ll be quickly reminded that it is still January on the plateau!
Temps will drop fast. I’ll let you know as soon as the front gets close to the plateau.
Now, there are two million-dollar questions. What time is the changeover going to take place and how much snow and ice are we going to get? I’m glad you asked!
Timing is very difficult to nail down at this time. I wish it were more clear, but timing these arctic fronts is like herding cats. You can try to do it, but your best efforts may prove futile. But, I will try. Remember, I’ve often described arctic fronts like syrup. Sometimes this syrup gets hung up on things as it travels along….things like the plateau. Will it just jump right on over us, or will it slow down a bit and take it’s time oozing up and over the plateau? That’s a good question, if I do say so myself. If it moves right in on us we’ll see a mix of freezing rain and sleet by early afternoon, creating hazardous travel. What is more likely is that the mix will arrive around mid afternoon. Yesterday I told many of you that I thought we’d be alright until about 5:00pm. Today, I’m saying 3:00pm. I may have to adjust that back closer to noon as more data comes in today. Models have been trending faster with the front and I’ll have to see if that trend continues. I’ll also have to see how well the arctic air moves along today and, judging by that, determine how quickly it will move through here tomorrow.
To make matters more complicated is the fact that a winter storm will be developing and strengthening on this arctic front. Which is often the case. The exact track of that area of low pressure is absolutely critical in how much ice and snow we get. Notice I said ice. I still think there will be a period of time when we get freezing rain and sleet. That shallow, dense arctic air will likely slip in under the warm, moist air we have in place and create a scenario for freezing rain. I do not think this will be an ice storm and I think, like Monday, the greatest impact will be to travel and not to trees and power lines.
At this time all guidance suggest, as it has for the past couple of days, that the heaviest winter weather impacts will be across West TN and western Ky, where winter storm watches are in effect. They can expect an ice storm followed by several inches of snow. I say “no thanks” to that! We just want snow, right? As I always say, it’s all fun and games until the lights go out.
Now, how long does the precip mix before it changes to snow? I don’t think that transition will last very long. It will cut down on our snow totals, though, especially if a lot of sleet mixes in with our snow. Therefore, I can still see us getting 2-3 inches of snow, with many of us being closer to that 2″ mark. If more sleet mixes in, we’ll be closer to one inch. If the track of the low changes, I’ll have to adjust amounts, though I don’t foresee having to do that at this time.
What should you do? Pray for snow! I’m joking. No I’m not. Ok, I am (maybe). Seriously, you should prepare for driving difficulties tomorrow. I would make sure I had no travel plans for Friday night. Just stay put. Fill up the car with gas today. This is your best weather day for doing that for the next week. If you go to the grocery store tonight expect to have to fight for the milk and bread (ha). Sometimes I like to go just to watch. It’s a weatherman thing. A buddy of mine and I once thought about creating an app that judged the severity of a winter storm by how hard the milk, bread and beer aisle at Walmart got hit. Still might not be a bad idea… I digress.
I will briefly mention that we have yet another arctic front coming Monday night that will bring more light snow. It looks like a one-inch-or-less event right now. I’ll keep you posted. That will be followed by more bitter cold temps, with another warm-up by the weekend following that.
Also, please don’t forget that we’re going to be bitter cold once again for several days in a row. We’ve had a nice break with this spring-like weather but it’s about to turn back to January on us! You know the drill. Make sure everyone you know is staying warm, that those pets are taken care of, that those pipes are protected. People, pets, and pipes.
Whew! Are you still with me? (ha) I will be posting an afternoon update and I’ll be updating throughout the day Friday with all the latest, including where the 32-degree line is. This will give you time to get home before the wintry mix hits. Our ground is still very, very cold and the wintry mix won’t take long at all to create travel problems. You know how it is, especially after what we saw Monday, one minute it’s perfectly fine and the next minute folks are going into the ditches.
I’ll be here watching it all, folks!