A Winter Storm Develops On Friday

Good morning bloggers,

A winter storm will be developing on Friday.  There are still a lot of questions for what exactly will be happening, and with a huge NFL playoff game being played in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium the pressure is on the weather forecasters to get quite specific.  When it comes to forecasting snow, the difficulty factor is much higher.  It is unlike forecasting anything else as the exact amount becomes more important. When it comes to predicting rain, we just say, it is going to rain, and then when it rains we are accurate. When it comes to predicting snow, the amounts become the measure of accuracy.  We are saying there is a 100% chance of snow Friday night and Saturday.  If it snows we are accurate, right?  Well, not really, because the difference between a dusting or no accumulation and 2″ or more will often be the difference between no major travel problems, and a complete mess.  So, we do our best to get the exact amount.  When it comes to rainfall, we can forecast a 100% chance of rain and if it rains the average person considers the forecast accurate. It may rain 0.25″ in one location, and just a few miles away it may rain 1.25″.  If that were snow, it would be the difference between 2.5″ of snow and 12.5″ of snow.  With that said, look at St. Louis on this snowfall forecast below:


What you see on this map, for Kansas City, I think it has a decent handle on the snowfall amounts in my current forecast.  We are forecasting 2″ to 5″ of snow to accumulate by noon Saturday over the KC region.  Some models have a lot more than this, and others have a lot less.  Here is the bigger picture:


So, it appears the St. Louis area is the main target for this developing winter storm.  The RGEM model, one I rarely look at, just came out and it looks similar to the NAM and  Canadian models. It has a faster changeover to snow, and only one or two degrees colder at the surface. This one or two degrees may be the difference between KC seeing 2″ of snow and 10″ of snow.

2This is the RGEM model valid at noon Friday. As you can see, there is rain heading this way, as this storm intensifies.  This storm is directly related to the blizzard that we had back in November. If you remember, that storm also started as rain, it was faster moving, and a bit stronger.  The rain changed to heavy snow with the winds gusting to nearly 40 mph. This transition happened during the noon hour that day, and 5.8″ of snow fell at KCI Airport, making that the first 3″ or more snow storm in almost five years. We may be about to have our second 3″ or more snow storm in five years, and it is spot on accurate based on the LRC.  This has been in our forecast for this week since October.  Yes, in October, our 12-week forecast had a winter storm in the forecast for around January 12th. And, for those of you watching my on 41 Action News, since December 30th I showed a graphic showing that there would be a storm on January 12th for the Chiefs game and that this was the “blizzard part of the LRC returning”. All of that was on the air every night since before New Years.  Absolutely incredible, when I know many of you realize that the models had it sunny and nice.  It is not easy to keep saying there will be a storm, when it doesn’t show up on the models, and this is the power of the LRC.

Now with that said, look at what happens Friday afternoon:


By 3 PM Friday, above, you can see the large precipitation area of rain and snow, and just a few hours later, it completely changes over to snow. Remember now, there are models that change it over much slower:


This model, and a few others such as the NAM and Canadian model, and now also the European Model, has the changeover happening by 9 PM. It may not happen this early. There is a flow from the Gulf of Mexico and this warmer air is trying to pump in, and this is also a storm intensifying at this time. This means there will be some dynamic cooling.  I believe the same questions came up with the blizzard as it was changing over. The storms aloft are quite similar on Friday night into Saturday morning, so this will be interesting again to watch unfold. If the changeover happens later, then more of the precipitation will be in the form of rain.


By 6 AM Saturday, this model has all of Kansas and Missouri in snow, with the exception of the southern borders.  The storm will begin shifting east Saturday, and it will still likely be lightly snowing during the Chiefs game, and there is still a chance of a few heavier snow bands hanging around.

Overall, here are my takeaways:

  • A wet January storm is developing and targeting our area
  • Rain will begin Friday
  • Rain will mix with or change to snow later Friday evening and overnight into Saturday morning
  • Snow will begin accumulating with 2″ to 5″ expected near Kansas City
  • Eastern Missouri has a better chance of a lot more
  • There are still uncertainties, and these amounts may be dropped a bit, or they may rise a bit

Let’s see how the models come in today. Either way, if you have followed the LRC over the past few years, then you know that by January we now know enough to make these accurate predictions. It was a year ago this week where I stood in front of my peers and predicted the tropical storm Gordon EIGHT MONTHS before it happened. And, now, this is the first of many signature predictions this year.

Thank you for sharing in this weather experience featuring Weather2020 and the LRC. Go over to the Weather2020 blog to join in the conversation.  Here is the link: The Weather2020 Blog   Have a great day!  New data comes in soon.


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