Groaning over the snow

Despite a little more cloud cover today, this was another nice afternoon with highs pushing up into the 50s and 60s across most of the area. Hard to argue with that for the end of January.

A weak cold front is going to slide through the area tonight. That will not cut us down drastically, but I do expect it to be about 8-12 degrees cooler for Sunday. Also, plan on more clouds than sunshine tomorrow. With that front coming through, I cannot rule out a few spotty showers tomorrow morning into the early afternoon. I think they will be very few and far between, so nothing major. Overall, another decent day by January standards.

All right. Elephant in the room….what everyone is wanting to know: HOW MUCH SNOW FOR TUESDAY????

In my opinion: it’s still to early to call numbers for sure. Way too much that can wiggle still. I mean, look where our infant storm is right now.
Do you see it? Still floundering out in the Pacific. In all honesty, it’s not truly a “storm” yet, just a chunk of energy out in the ocean. It’s got a heck of a journey left to go still. And has to interact with a few other features in the atmosphere down the road. Which means we still have more questions than answers a this point. In my opinion, it’s too soon to slap numbers on this thing that we can stand behind with confidence. Personally, I don’t like tell you one thing one day, then model chasing each day after. It’s a fast way to lose your hair and develop an ulcer.

Those hardcore weather geeks out there have no doubt already scoped out the model charts, itching to see what they say for snowfall. I’m betting some had this reaction upon seeing the numbers in Kansas City:
It’s okay. Laptops are getting cheaper these days.

For those that didn’t see, this is what we’re talking in terms of raw model snow output. First up, the always goofy GFS:
SNOW - GFS 12z Sat
That says *no* snow in Kansas City. None.

And then the statistically more accurate & reliable, European model:
SNOW - Euro 12z Sat
Here again, notice what it’s saying? Nothing for KC. Nothing.
The Euro really has not budged much over the last day or so. I will give it credit for that. If anything, it’s pushing the snow more to the Northwest.

The Canadian model has been banging the drum for snow in KC the last few days. Today… it changed it’s tune.
That is a big difference from the other day. I posted an image in my previous blog.

Now for those snow lovers who saw the NAM output from 6am, I am betting you did this:

And here is why:
SNOW - NAM 12z Sat
But let me remind you, that’s just ONE run of ONE model. Doesn’t mean it’s right.

Yes, the NAM handled the east coast snow surprisingly well, despite what many forecasters thought. But last I checked….
We don’t live on the east coast. So I don’t think it’s as easy as just putting all of our eggs in one model’s basket, so to speak. And for those asking “which model has done the best this year”, the answer is: none of them. Each model has totally been off and each model has done well on various storms. No single model has been totally right all the time. That said, much to the chagrin of others, the Euro remains the more dominate model.

Local weather service offices are putting out more detailed information on this storm. This is what the Topeka office published this afternoon:
I actually like how they are handling this. Staying away from amounts, which is a good idea considering this storm could drastically change track.

And this is what the office out of Kansas City posted today.
NWS graphic Saturday
Well then.

Now I say that will all the love and respect in the world. I do agree that we’ll see a sharp gradient between little snow and no snow. But putting amounts on this right now still seems a little early too me. A lot *is* still going to change. Especially if/when that warm air gets involved.

So what’s the deal? Let’s break this down a little bit more.

The guidance today is finally picking up on what I have been talking about for a few days: warm air. I strongly believe we’ll draw in warmer air into this storm. Like we’ve seen before, that’s all it takes to cut off any kind of meaningful snowfall in Kansas City.

It’s why the GFS and Euro are saying no snow in Kansas City; both models are putting highs in the 40s to near 50 in KC Tuesday!
TEMP - GFS 12 Sat

TEMP - Euro 12 Sat

Obviously, the NAM doesn’t buy that. Hence the reason it puts a lot of snow over the area.
TEMP - NAM 12 Sat

Based on past storms, what I’ve seen on the guidance, and my gut/experience mixed together, this is what I’m seeing today:
No, I’m not putting snow amounts on anything yet. I feel we need at least one more day before we can do that with a respectable amount of certainty.

In my opinion, I think areas to the North & Northwest of metro Kansas City will need to be on guard for the heaviest snowfall amounts.
The area in red has the best chance for more than 8″ of snowfall. That would have big impacts on work, school, life in general. Add in the wind (which will be over 30mph), there could be blizzard conditions in the the red zone.
If you plan to travel West on I-70 through Kansas, or plan to go toward the Omaha area, you may need to change your plans Tuesday.

Confidence on timing is still good, overall. We’re looking at late Monday night through early Wednesday morning for the storms to work through the area. This is where my mind is as of right now:

Tuesday morning through noon:
-Rain for Kansas City area & points South of I-70
-Light snow in Northeast Kansas & Northwest Missouri

Tuesday afternoon:
-Rain changes to a wintry mix (sleet & freezing rain) near KC Metro, rain continues South of I-70
-Moderate to heavy snow in NE Kansas & NW Missouri

Tuesday night:
-Light snow near Kansas City. Locales South of I-70 seeing light rain changing to light snow on the Kansas side, remaining light rain on Missouri side
-Moderate snow pushes to the Northeast, through Northern Missouri into Iowa

Wednesday morning:
-Lingering snow flurries

I will write up another blog tomorrow with new thoughts/details on what may happen. Don’t be surprised to see a few changes. Remember where this storm is right now and what all it still has to do. We’re in the Sweet 16 round of this thing, and shakeups are bound to happen.

Have a great evening,

The waiting is the hardest part

Tom Petty truly said it best, didn’t he? If the comments/questions/emails/tweets are any indication, a handful of you are seconds away from salivating on your keyboards over the potential for snow next week. However, the waiting is the hardest part, it seems. Waiting six to 12 hours hours for new computer forecast model runs to come out… people are sweating buckets!

But here’s the thing: We still have nearly four days until our storm gets here. Four days for things to go back and forth. Four days for models to show copious amounts of snow, only to be taken away on the next run. Four days for this storm to change its course, change its strength, change its mind. I mean, it’s all the way out in the Pacific. WAYYYY out there.

It still has to move across the ocean, it still has to arrive onshore, it still has to move across half the country. Remember too that despite this being 2016, we can’t really sample a storm all that well until it moves over land. Sure, we can see it on satellite and run the huge mathematical computer equations (models) to see what it may do.

With all those variables, there is something bound to change. To fill in more of those missing letters, we need this thing to move over land. That won’t happen until about Sunday. Even then, there is a lot that could still change.

Yes, I know the models have fallen into a bit of agreement this morning. The Euro & GFS being quite similar four days out is exciting to some. But check this out.

Here is the latest (6am run) of the Euro:

Here is the 6am run of the GFS:

One of the other models that goes out four days or more is the Canadian. It’s singing a different tune.

So which is “right” and which is “wrong”? None of them. They are guidance. They are here to help out forecasters. Rarely does a model ever hit it “on the nose”. And when you are looking at guidance this far out, you know it’s going to change! I know the ____ model says this many inches of snow. I see that. But that doesn’t mean it *will* happen.

If any of you follow college basketball, we can relate the NCAA tournament with a situation like this for Tuesday. Today is like the start of the tourney. You know who the players are, you know the records of the teams, but you do *not* know who will win. Sure, you can pick a favorite. You can hope/wish/pray one team wins it all. But that doesn’t mean they will.

Just like in the madness of March, anything can happen. Upsets, heartbreak, pure joy.

I think we have put ourselves into a situation where we focus so much on the numbers… “how many inches of snow will fall at my house??!”. We lose sight of the forest because of the trees. Let’s step back, let’s rethink this approach. Instead of “you said we’d get xx inches of snow and I had xx inches!”, think about how much snow is enough to cause problems for you. Enough snow to be a concern. We call this, impact based forecasting.
Can many–if not most of us–deal with a few inches of snow? Yes. We don’t live in the South. We have great street/road crews here. We have people that own plows for the front of their trucks. A snow event of under six inches will not shut down our area. Put something like that in Atlanta or Dallas, then it’s a different story.

So who may be impacted the most from this snow event Tuesday? At this time, the odds suggest it’s those locales to the North & West of Kansas City.

Does that mean this can’t change? No. Once more, we are still four days away and forecasters truly cannot get a good handle on a winter event until about 2-3 days out, at best.
Something still tells me we have to consider another layer of warm air aloft. That has burned us before. If we get that, then snowfall amounts would be greatly reduced. Recall that by average, it takes 0.10″ of water to get 1.00″ of snow. If we get 0.30″ of sleet/drizzle/rain, then that right there is 3.00″ less of snow that will fall.

I never have–nor ever will–profess to know it all. I will never be a perfect forecaster, that’s impossible. However, I have lived in a snowy climate. I have had to forecast winter storm after winter storm while spending seven years in North Dakota, thirty minutes from the Canadian border. I also spent six years forecasting snow events across all of Western Kansas & into parts of Nebraska. Through all of those years I learned one big lesson when it comes to snow forecasting:
Caution Sign

You can hope, you can wish, you can pray all you want. The atmosphere will always (and I mean always) do what it wants, when it wants, and how it wants. We humans matter not.
Getting lost in the shuffle of the computers as well as the hype of what so-and-so said/posted here/there doesn’t help matters either.

So what can we do between now and Tuesday? Pretty easy:

And remember, for every person that loves snow, there is another that absolutely cannot stand it. And vice versa. We live in a region that gets snow in the winter, severe weather in the spring, and heat in the summer. If that’s not for you, there are four dozen other states you can call home.

Like I tend to say toward the end of blogs like this: our team will continue to do what we do, monitoring and updating you on this next storm. At this point, there isn’t much to worry about for a couple more days. Go, enjoy the break from winter. We still have plenty of February left to go; it’s even a leap year.

And for those wanting Spring, well… the waiting is the hardest part.

Have a nice weekend,

Spring preview, then a winter wallop

What an afternoon across the area for January. Sunshine today and temperatures soaring into the 40s and 50s.
Those are the readings from the top of the 4pm hour. Not that bad in parts of Southwestern Kansas.

We are going to have a nice sunset across the area, it’s already looking good on our Skyview network.
If you can, take a photo and send it to us! We may show it on air this evening.

The sky will clear out tonight and it will get cold, as lows dip into the 30s. You’ll still need a coat and gloves for the morning drive. However, by the afternoon, we’re back into the 50s. Highs will remain above average for a few more days.
So in the short term, it’s sunshine & above average days. Make the most of them!

There is already a lot of talk about Monday-Wednesday of next week. If you are a weather geek that checks the models daily, you already know what I am talking about. Winter is going to return to the area and in a big way for some.
We will be watching a storm system that looks to travel across the region, dumping some decent snowfall in a few select locales.

With it being this far out, there are still a lot of variables at play and many thing will change. Proof of that: in the 12z (6am) versions of the models this morning, they played the ol’ switcher-roo game! Yesterday, the GFS model wanted a few inches of snow over KC, while the Euro said we got a dusting at best. Now, it’s the Euro saying we get a few inches of snow and the GFS saying it’s just a dusting!

Here is an idea of what we know so far:

Let’s check out those possible scenarios.
#1: This is the output from the 12z GFS model for next week:

#2: This is the possible outcome from the Euro model:

#3: Based on the path of previous storms, things could go a little more south than the current guidance is suggesting. If so, this could be the possible outcome:

Once again, exact amounts will change but the high end could be close to 15-20″, but that would be worst case.
Something else to note: we have had a problem with warm air (slightly above freezing) aloft when these system move over the area. It’s not out of the question that happens again with this one. If so, snow amounts would be cut down a lot and some could wind up seeing nothing but showers & freezing rain/drizzle/sleet. This is why you will likely see some forecasts that include “rain & snow mix”. This is not a slam dunk forecast where we *know* it’s just going to be snow. Just one of those variables I mentioned above.

We could use some snowfall, as we’re behind for the season. Over the last three months, it’s been tough to get more than a few inches of snow in Kansas City.

Keep in mind that February is typically the snowiest month of the year for Kansas City. And with this being a leap year, there is PLENTY of time left to go! Moreover, I have a season total snowfall forecast of 30″ to hit!

The team will continue to monitor the trends and provide updates. Stay aware that some outlets & social media accounts will likely be posting raw model output over the next few days and proclaiming a “massive winter storms is going to hit ______”. The bottom line: yes, some area in our general region is likely to get a good snow event. However, it’s far too early to pinpoint where exactly. And the city/location/bullseye will likely change over the next few days.

Enjoy the departure from the cold, we’ll keep tabs on the snow.

Major Warming Trend, Major Storm

Good Tuesday bloggers,

There are 2 main topics for the weather the next 7-10 days.  First, is a huge warm up this week.

UPPER LEVEL FLOW TODAY: We are still in the cold air as the jet stream is to our south.  The jet stream will flatten out and track to our north the next 2 days.  So, highs today will be in the 30s with Wednesday in the 40s.



UPPER LEVEL FLOW FRIDAY-SATURDAY: A flat ridge will form over the middle of the USA and this will allow some rather mild air for this time of year to surge into the Plains.  Highs will be in the 50s Thursday and likely 60s Friday and Saturday.  Notice, the dip on the west coast.  This is the start of a major storm that will affect us next week.  This is item #2.



UPPER LEVEL FLOW NEXT MONDAY: A deep storm will be forming over the southwest USA.  We will still be in the mild air, although a cold front may sag in ahead of this system, turning us much cooler by Monday.



There are two main tracks we see that this storm could take.

TRACK #1: This would track the storm over KC February 2-4.  If this happens we see some heavy rain and perhaps light snow at the end with the snowstorm over I-80.



TRACK #2: This solution takes the center of the storm along the I-44 corridor.  This puts our area in a prime spot for heavy snow.



So, what do we lean with? We lean with track #2 as it fits what happened 50 days ago from February 2nd, using the LRC.  A deep closed low tracked northeast along the I-44 corridor December 13-14.  We will know more in a few days, but the model trend is slightly south.

Enjoy the warming trend.



Big Weather Pattern Shift

Good Monday bloggers,

We are tracking a small and fast-moving storm system today.  It has produced some drizzle during the morning and we may see some flurries this afternoon.  The main feature with this storm is wind and clouds.  Colder air is moving in, but the Arctic air is gone so, temperatures will be in the low 30s this afternoon and 20s tonight.  The, the jet stream will retreat north and flow from west to east, zonal flow.  This will bring a massive warm up to the middle of the USA.

Radar from 1030 Monday morning.



UPPER LEVEL FLOW FRIDAY: The jet stream becomes west to east and retreats to the north.  So, mild air will surge into the Plains.  The Pacific Northwest will become stormy and it is this energy that will drop into the southwest USA and become our next potential big storm February 1-4.



So, how mild are we talking?  Let’s go day by day.

TUESDAY: Highs will be in the 30s behind this storm system.



WEDNESDAY: Highs warm to the 40s.



THURSDAY: Highs warm to the 50s


FRIDAY: Highs will likely reach the low 60s.  If they fall short, it will be the upper 50s, so either way some great weather is around the corner.


Have a great week.


Another Odd Storm System

Good Wednesday night bloggers,

The storm we had yesterday was tough to forecast as it was forming overhead.  There was nothing moving in.  The storm system for later tonight and Thursday is the reverse.  It is a storm system that is moving across Kansas and falling apart as it moves towards us.  So, how much of this storm will hold together before it falls apart?  It is a tough call and something we will not know until we are in the storm system.  Nowcasting will be of the utmost importance.  The NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from 9 PM tonight to noon Thursday with KC on the edge.


Wednesday afternoon the storm was getting its act together across western Kansas.  Heavy snow was falling in Russell and Hays.



Here is the time line of events.

1 AM THURSDAY: The area of snow will be approaching.  A lead band may sweep across the city and turn all areas white, maybe even up to 1/2″ of snow.  Again, nowcasting will be important.



730 AM THURSDAY: The area of snow is breaking up as it approaches.  Now, there may be freezing drizzle with this system that is not being picked up on powercast.  All it takes is a trace-.01″ of freezing drizzle to cause a big issue, remember Tuesday.



1115 AM THURSDAY: Look how the snow area is shrinking and having a hard time moving east.  After the noon hour the storm will be pretty much over for us.  This storm will re-organize and become a massive storm for the east coast.  We will be left with clouds and colder weather Friday.



So, bottom line is this.  There is a chance of snow and freezing drizzle from about midnight to noon Thursday.  We will have to watch for slick roads as black ice and a light snow accumulation could make for a mess.  Total snowfall is still in the dusting-2″ range.  The best chance for 1-2″ of snow will be from Lawrence westward.

Have a great night and stay safe


Freezing Drizzle is Now Snow

What a day for us in the 41 Action News Forecast Center, good afternoon,

This storm started producing freezing drizzle, not too surprising since the echoes were forming fairly low. We had what are called Super-cooled water droplets and instead of snow it was freezing drizzle for a while. It finally changed to snow by 2:45 PM and one heavier band is heading this way.


Let’s see what this heavier band does as it moves across.


Snow On Tuesday

Good late evening or early morning,

A somewhat disorganized storm is approaching.  It will likely snow over our entire viewing area but amounts will vary quite a bit from a dusting out west and southwest to near 4″ possible farther northeast and east. This system just doesn’t have a strong upper level storm associated with it. Here is a look at the Powercast:


This first map shows the band of snow forming north of KC late Tuesday morning, but just a few hours later it is forecast to look like this, below:


You can see how there may be a snow shadow to our south and west . Amounts will vary and here is one solution that I have some confidence in:


I am expecting around 2″ in Kansas City. There are parts of the metro area that haven’t had more than 2″ in a storm the past two winters. Let’s see how this sets up in the morning.  There has been some discussion of ice, sleet, but this will not be the main precipitation type. There could be some brief periods of sleet or possibly it will end with some freezing drizzle, but snow is the main precipitation type for this storm.

We had a winner to our snowflake contest. Tom Croy got within 15 minutes. He picked 6 AM January 17th, and Jeff measured the first inch at 5:45 AM:


Let us know what you experience. I will be blogging on Weather2020.com in the morning.


It’s a week of Winter

Nothing like a “light” band of snow to humble you just a bit…

This is what the radar looked like overnight last night:
Overnight snow
If you watch that loop, you can see how the Northeast side of the Metro got a piece of the stronger band that moved over. That’s all it took to put down 2-3″ on the Northeast side of KC and only a dusting to an inch on the Southwest side.

So the timing was on the nose, but the amounts wound up being a tad more than I had anticipated:
This is based on the reports from the National Weather Service & the NOAA snow analysis map. If you have a report, we’d love to have it. Feel free to email/tweet/Facebook us.

Looking back at my blog from yesterday afternoon, it seems the GFS was the closest to being right! Of course, when it comes to snowfall, the difference between 1″ of snow and 2″ of snow is only about 0.10″ of water. Yet another reason snow forecasting isn’t as easy as picking out a model solution…

Now with that blanket of snow on the ground and a clear sky, we are really going to tumble into the ice box overnight. I’m going to put KC in the subzero range:
Areas that picked up 2-3″ of snow, you will likely bottom out even lower. Readings near -10° by morning would not surprise me at all. That’s just the air temperature! The wind will not be all that strong, but we could still wind up with wind chill values near -20° for some locales. It may be a very good thing that many do not have to go to work or school tomorrow.

For those wondering, the record low at KCI for Monday is:

Let’s look ahead to Tuesday now. Still watching a system that will likely bring some snowfall to the region.
Guidance has pushed the system a little more North than it had appeared yesterday. Still, snowfall still appears to be on the menu for Tuesday.
Diving head first into the computer guidance, let’s look at the raw snowfall output.

We’ll start with the NAM, which somewhat had a handle on what happened last night.
So it’s not a significant snow event, but that could be due to a layer of warm air aloft. More on that in a bit…

Since the GFS did a good job last night, let’s see what it is saying for Tuesday:
Not too far off from the NAM.

The high resolution RRPM model takes things in a different direction.
Now while this is a rather big change from the NAM & GFS, I do think it picks up on the “wild card” feature we have to watch for. Again, more on that shortly.

So let’s check out the European model… brace yourself.
To say this model is aggressive might be an understatement! Snow lovers may get their heart set on this one. I urge you to use caution right now.

And here is why, the “wild card”:
A shallow layer of warm air aloft will totally bust the snowfall forecast. The area which is more subject to seeing this would be those South of Interstate 70. Yes, that included the Metro KC area.

Recall how this has happened before. All it will take is for a small layer of warm air aloft to go above freezing and we’ll wind up with sleet instead of snow.

And, like we have seen before, we have to stay mindful to the potential for freezing rain. Referencing the sounding above, surface temperatures could be in the middle 20s. This would be enough to cause some roads to get slippery before any snow fall at all.

Exact placement and track of that system is going to be key, as will that layer of warm air. These are two big variables that will need to be watched. If they are too much, locales along and South of I-70 may see very little snowfall!

That said, let’s take a stab at what may happen in terms of *total* snowfall:
This is the broad approach and is still subject to change. Should that system wind up taking a dive to the South (as the last one did) we could be in for higher snow amounts in the Metro.
On the flip side, if it nudges a little more North, then the snow amounts could be low and it’d be another sleet/freezing rain event.

We will continues to monitor and keep you posted, as always. And hey, if you like snow, there is yet another chance coming up on Thursday. Early thoughts leave me a little skeptical. The European model says not a drop of moisture falls in our area, it all stays in Southcentral Kansas (near the Wichita area). However, the GFS is more aggressive and tries to bring a rain/snow mix to our area. My kingdom for mid-range model agreement…

Fresh information rolls in every few hours, so we’ll keep fine-tuning the details as we draw closer to Tuesday afternoon. In the meantime, try to stay warm!

Snowflake Contest…Ends!

Good Sunday bloggers,

Well, it happened.  The snowflake contest ended at 545 AM, January 17, 2016.  The Plaza received just over 1″ of snow.  There were heavier amounts northeast and less southwest.



SNOWFALL ON THE PLAZA:  Around 1.5″.  2″-3 fell from St. Joseph to Liberty to Warrensburg.  A dusting to 1/2″ fell in Olathe and Overland Park to KCK.



SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Now we turn to the cold.  The sun will not help as highs reach 10-15 in KC, with single digits in northern Missouri.



MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY MORNING: At least the kids do not have to go to school and the wind will be light.  That being said, a 5 mph wind will make wind chills close to -10°.



TUESDAY MORNING: MLK day will be sunny with highs around 20°.  The next storm arrives Tuesday, but the morning rush hour looks dry with lows in the teens.




TUESDAY PM/EVENING: The evening rush hour may be a mess as the snow rapidly gets going.  This is a bigger and stronger system than the one from Sunday.  A mix will be possible south.  Could that sneak into KC?  We will know more the next 1-2 days.



NEXT STORM EARLY SNOWFALL FORECAST: This is looking like a dusting to 4″ snow.  A few spots may see 5″.  The track and location are not set in stone, but this gives you an idea of the kind of system we are dealing with.



Have a great week and stay warm.  JD will update this tonight.