Series of Clippers headed our way

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016

Clipper #1 – Tonight and tomorrow

This clipper will take a path from Iowa, Missouri into western Tennessee tonight then turn eastward tomorrow.  Very little moisture is available as the atmosphere is very cold.  Any significant snows will stay west and south of the Louisville, but the SW third of KY could pick an inch or two late tonight/tomorrow morning.  Meanwhile, the Louisville area will be on the edge of this system with plenty of clouds, but little, if any, snow accumulation.  Our best chance for snow will be between 7 A..M. – 10 A.M. tomorrow.  Some flurries could linger tomorrow afternoon.

Clipper #2  – Late Sunday into Monday morning

This clipper has more potential than #1.  We’ll see strong southerly winds Sunday in advance of the system.  That’ll warm us a bit (near 32 deg) but more importantly it’ll allow the clipper to tap into some Gulf moisture.  Nevertheless, the upper dynamics don’t look too great.  At this time, the models don’t organize the upper pattern into a single point of energy.  Rather, the energy remains rather diffuse.  Overall, it looks to have the potential for, roughly, a one to two inch snowfall.

Clipper #3 – Monday night and Tuesday morning

There’s an old saying in the forecasting world…”The last wave on the train is the strongest.”  Commonly, we call the little, fast-moving pockets of upper level energy “clippers.”  In meteorological lingo, however, they are known as “short waves” as they are little bits of energy moving along the troughs and ridges of the much larger “long waves” that circle the globe.  A series of short waves moving through a trough is called a “wave train.”

The primary long wave pattern over North America will be shifting next week into a warmer pattern.  But, not before the “last wave on the train” hits us Monday night into Tuesday.  For simplicity, I’ve named it Clipper #3.  And, yes, it’ll be far stronger than numbers 1 and 2!

This system has the potential be become a major winter storm.  But what it will bring us is an open question.  Depending upon the way you interpret the models, we could be looking at a big snowstorm (like the one that didn’t show up a couple of weeks ago).  Or, a major ice storm could be looming.  Another choice could be snow changing to rain and then back to snow on the tail end.  We’ll probably hear a lot of different “forecasts” about this storm over the next few days.  Most of them will be wrong.  It’s just too early to tell.

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