Real Storm Systems & Fantasy Storm Systems

Good Morning Bloggers,

A major winter storm is intensifying over the northeastern United States this morning. The forecast is tricky for the big cities. New York City had rain near Brooklyn this morning with snow just a few miles to the west. The rain/snow line is near the city and there could be a wide range of snowfall amounts in a fairly short distance. Just like back here in Kansas City, forecasting the exact amount of snowfall is not impossible, but a very difficult task and getting it exactly right for each location is likely impossible. So, there will be some people who think the weather forecasters can’t get it right and there will be some people who think we hit it spot on.  As we have discussed many times, when it comes to forecasting the exact amount of precipitation or even close to an exact amount, it should not be an expectation for our accuracy.  This goes for forecasting rainfall amounts, snow amounts, and ice amounts.  If we were forecasting rain, and it rains the forecast is considered accurate. Let’s say I say 1/2″ to 1″ of rain may fall with 2″ possible. This would be like saying 5″ to 10″ of snow with 20″ possible.  If the person was expecting 5″ and then 20″ falls, they would say “What?”, and consider that forecast was blown, even though it would be in the forecast. When it comes to rain, if 2″ of rain falls, and other areas only get 1/2″ of rain, which happens near Kansas City all of the time.  The expectation for forecasting snow and ice are just way too high. Way, way too high.

Now, with that said, this is the challenge for New York City this morning. It is a real storm system; a rather powerful storm system and it fits the LRC about as perfectly as any storm has this season. If you look back 47-48 days ago in January I can show you an almost identical pattern, but we are getting different results. There is a blocking high this time. Take a look at the pattern this morning:

The Real Storm & Then The Fantasy Storm


This map above shows the 500 mb flow valid at 7 PM eastern time tonight.  If you look real closely, then you can see the intense smaller scale storm system at this 500 mb level, around 18,000 feet above us, near New York City.  It is very negatively tilted, tilted from west to east, and very intense. Thundersnow is likely in a few spots near the coast today. Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel is likely thundersnow chasing today.  Have you seen the video of him going “crazy” during the thunder snowstorm live a few years ago? I am sure you can do a google search to see the clip. Here in KC, we certainly do not have too many chances, certainly not in the past few years.  Well, they likely have a few in NYC, but temperatures have been above 32 degrees, so their difficult forecast is now a “nowcast”, and I would love to have that problem, but instead here in KC we have to wonder about a fantasy storm.

The Block: Look at the ridge to the due north of this double barrel storm system. The block that formed over the past ten days is still there and affecting the weather pattern. Look at what happens next:


This map above shows a weekend storm, not quite put together like that eastern storm, but it is still fairly decent in strength and in two pieces. The lead storm is rather small scale near the Arkansas/Oklahoma/Missouri border. And, the blocking high is still influencing the pattern. Take a look at the forecast surface map Saturday evening:


This is close to producing a severe weather outbreak, but conditions likely just fall short. But, there will still be some strong thunderstorms possible near this developing surface low this weekend as it tracks towards the southeastern United States. Kansas City is on the edge of this system and I will go over the details on 41 Action News tonight.

Okay, are you ready for a massive fantasy storm? Take a look at this:


This is a forecast map valid around right when spring begins.  A major block is forecast to form on this model. It is also forming at a time when the big vortex forms over Canada, which is due to form, based on the cycling pattern hypothesis that was published in a peer review this week.  Those upper highs are strong and would have a major influence, but are they real? Is this just a fantasy storm? Well, I want to show it for conversation today. Can you imagine?  Take a look at the reflection at the surface:


What is this? Well, it is a 20″ blizzard and near Kansas City. My winter forecast snowfall total would verify in an instant. Again, can you imagine? Well, we know what will likely happen, but let’s monitor this last gasp of winter closely.

So, here is reality. It is cold this morning. Bundle up! I have quite the day planned. My promotions team is following me from blogging to Sports Radio 810, to a school visit with Sunny where I talk with 500 kids today, then off to work to look deeper into this pattern on the 4, 5, 6, and 10 PM newscast, to bedlam basketball this evening when the Sooners take on the Cowboys, onto the 10 PM newscast, then on my way to Raleigh, NC at 6 AM tomorrow for a big business meeting for Weather2020, then back to KC on Friday morning,  picking up Sunny, heading to Gladstone Elementary, then to work, then the Pet Telethon on Sunday where I am host for the 18th year, then to Cancun on Monday. WHEW!  Life is exciting.  Thursdays blog may be late!

Have a great day and thank you for sharing in this Action Weather Blog experience featuring Weather2020 and the LRC. Click on the blog at to join in the conversation. So, who believes in the fantasy storm?


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