A little snow for MLK Day

Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018  3:30 P.M.

Another Arctic blast coming…will it arrive with some snow?

Another bit of the so-called Polar Vortex is breaking away from the Arctic and will settle down over the western Great Lakes over the next 48 hours.  That keeps any heavy snow threat far to our north.  But, we’ll see two attempts at some light snow during the next 24 hours.

First, a weak warm front is moving east from Arkansas and Missouri and should pass overhead tonight.  It is currently creating some light snow west of the Mississippi.  However, as it comes east it’ll be hitting drier air.  Thus, the snow system will fade.  We may see some flurries or even a dusting of snow from the warm front, but nothing of any consequence is expected.

Second, a better chance for snow will come around midday tomorrow as the Arctic cold front comes quickly across our area .  There should be enough moisture to squeeze out some light snow and snow showers for a couple of hours.  With snow  showers in the mix a few isolated areas could get a quick inch (or so) of snow.  But most of us will probably get less than an inch of snow.  That’s not much, but even a small amount can create road problems.  Luckily there will be enough time to get roads back in shape by rush hour (for those who don’t get the holiday off).

Longer term…

Tomorrow’s shot of cold air will be the last for awhile.  Temperatures should warm significantly by late week with rain becoming our primary precipitation threat, probably Sunday,  In general it looks like the upper air pattern will shift to a  “western U.S. cold- eastern U.S. warm” pattern for at least two weeks.  Our January Thaw is on the way – right on schedule.

Good news update!

Friday, Jan, 12, 2018

Icy weather takes a break

All of a sudden the freezing rain has quit and will not return for 2-3 hours.  As a result, the icy mess I talked about a couple of hours ago ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.

With this break, we’re back to a mostly snow situation.  Sleet and (mostly snow) will return by 4 P.M., just in time to foul up rush hour traffic.  Snow will continue through rush hour and gradually end before midnight.  Total snow accumulation: 1″-3″.

This sudden halt in the icy weather has given us a tremendous break!

Much worse than expected

Friday, Jan.12, 2018 11 A.M.

Sleet/freezing rain will cause more problems than snow.

This afternoon is going to be a real mess.  Yesterday, I discussed the quicker timing on the current weather pattern.  So far, that has worked okay…with one exception – cold air.  Temperatures were expected to remain in the 30’s until late afternoon.  But, the really cold air (20’s) has swept across the area much sooner than that.  It’s already here.  So, the consequence of that is much more trouble.

With temperatures aloft still well above freezing, rain will be the primary precipitation until late afternoon.  As that rain falls into the cold near-surface air we’ll see a 4 to 6 hour period of freezing rain gradually changing to sleet.  If freezing rain dominates, it could cause big problems with tree limbs, power lines, etc.  If sleet dominates the main problems will be with the roads.  Sleet should be the dominate precipitation, but a longer than expected period of freezing rain isn’t out of the question.

The snow part of the equation hasn’t changed.  The precipitation should change to snow by 3-5 P.M.  Snow will wind down this evening and end by midnight.  It’ll be hard to measure with all the ice already on the ground, but the Louisville area should see an accumulation of 1″ to 3″.  Higher snow totals are likely north and west of town.

Wintry Mix tomorrow

Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018  5 P.M.

Slide from rain to snow begins tomorrow morning

A couple of subtle changes in the forecast models point to some changes in how tomorrow’s winter storm will affect us.  First, the timing has accelerated so that the majority of the wintry mix will fall during the daylight hours.  That suggests lower snow/ice accumulations than previously expected.  Second, the storm development has been delayed.  Thus, the storm should not reach full classic cyclone status until tomorrow evening…after most of the snow has ended here.  This implies a shorter duration of the icy precipitation.

As usual the models show small differences between each other.  But, in general, they stand in pretty good agreement.  On the larger scale they have shifted the storm track just a little westward from yesterday.  You might think the general agreement among the models means that tomorrow’s weather is well defined.  Not so!  Freezing rain and sleet are extremely difficult to predict.  That’s because they are created only within VERY narrowly defined parameters.  Rain and snow can occur under a huge range of atmospheric conditions, but not sleet and freezing rain. In the lower 2000 to 3000 feet above the earth, one half of a degree(Celsius) of cooling can convert rain to freezing rain. Another half degree cooler and it can  change to sleet.  Another half degree and snow becomes dominant.  Computer forecast models are very good, but splitting hairs in near-surface temperatures is a little too much to ask.

So, it comes down to us humans to try figure it all out.  This human thinks it’ll work out something like this.  Rain showers this evening will become steady rain after midnight.  Temperatures fall into the 35-38 degree range by 7 A.M. Cold rain for the morning rush hour.  Sleet should begin  by late morning and change over to snow around 1-3 P.M.  Snow should taper off to flurries by 7-8 P.M.

That’s my timeline.  Here’re the results I expect:

Rush hour:  rain and cold                                                                                                                        Roads should get slushy/icy by Noon                                                                                         Afternoon rush hour:  Slick, icy roads, snow falling. Temperatures drop below freezing.       Night: Windy and cold with snow flurries.  Snow should end by midnight.                                  Total Snow/ice accumulation for Louisville area:  1″ – 3″  (Jefferson County and east closer to 1″-2″  while up to 3″ west of Louisville/southern IN)

Note:  I still expect a band of heavy snow from western KY northeast to Evansville, Indy and Ft. Wayne.  This swath of land should see a 4″ – 8″ layer of snow tomorrow.

Well, that’s what I think will happen tomorrow.  Now it’s time to settle back and wait to see what really happens!

Late week snow still on track

Wed. Jan 10, 2018  5 P.M.

Heavy snow likely near Louisville

Today’s latest from the GFS products department…

Forecast for 12 hours ending at 7 A.M. Saturday.

Unfortunately for local snow fans, this is probably a little too optimistic for Louisville.

Yesterday there was a very wide range of computer solutions for the storm late this week.  Confidence is higher now as two changes have occurred in the past 24 hours.  First, the various models have converged in their solutions.  Second, the very unusual (and snowy) solution by the operational GFS has faded into a much more realistic-looking forecast today.

In general, my current expectation goes like this:  strengthening low pressure will develop over the northwest Gulf of Mexico and move northeastward tomorrow.  It will accelerate quickly along the spine of the Appalachians tomorrow night.  That storm track will be very important.  A little farther west than expected and we’ll see almost all rain with just a little snow at the end.  If the track moves a little east of current thought, we could be in for a heavy snow (5″-10″).

The highest probability, though, would be for the storm to follow the current projected path OR to the left (west) of the current prediction.  As usual, the NAM is a little more rambunctious with this system.  It almost always is more energetic than the GFS 48 hours in advance, but the GFS is almost always better in the end.

So, here’s what I expect – rain showers become likely by afternoon tomorrow. Rain continues tomorrow night and Friday morning.  Temperatures turn colder by Friday afternoon and the rain changes to snow by mid-to-late afternoon.  Temperatures will drop rapidly as the rain transitions to snow.  A “flash freeze” of roads will be possible.  Snow diminishes after midnight.  Total snow accumulation for the Louisville area:  1″ – 3″  Less snow will fall east of Louisville.  For instance, Lexington should see little more than flurries.

Note:  Very heavy snows are expected west and north of Louisville.  A swath of snow should fall over western TN, western KY, southwest and central IN.  Paducah, Evansville, and Indy could get as much as 6″-12″ Friday afternoon and night.

Friday night snow?

Tuesday, Jan.9,2018  3 P.M.

GFS points to snow Friday night!

Here’s the latest prediction from the GFS 2.5 km model:

Looks exciting, doesn’t it?  But don’t get too excited yet.  This prediction is definitely an outlier, at least so far.  The GFS ensemble shows(a group of GFS models run under slightly different starting conditions) shows a wide range of possible solutions for this future storm.  The Euro and Canadian models also are much lower with their forecasts.  But, it’ll fun to see how it develops this week.



Quick update

Sun., Jan 7, 2018

The short term models have, as expected, all gone to a forecast for the Louisville area which consists of almost all rain tonight and tomorrow morning AND  a few periods of sleet/snow mixed in.  But, essentially we’re just looking a a rain situation locally as temperatures remain above freezing all night.

Doesn’t look like the NWS has given up on its icy prediction yet.

What’s going to happen tonight?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Which precipitation type will dominate tonight?

Forecasts have been calling for snow and/or sleet and/or freezing rain and/or rain for tonight and Monday morning for several days now.  But, as we get closer to the event, the actual sequence of events seems to be coming into clearer focus.  The computer models are still quite varied – I’ve just looked at five different models and the results still are different.  One says mostly snow, another says mostly freezing rain/sleet, two say about a fifty-fifty split between icy types and rain, while another one predicts mostly plain old liquid rain.

So that aspect of the models doesn’t provide much help.  So maybe it’s time to put a little common sense human forecasting to work.  One thing the models do agree on is surface temperatures.  In general, they all hold surface temperatures above freezing overnight and tomorrow.  Thus, any icy precipitation that mixes in should melt on roadways.  Concrete sidewalks and roadways could get a bit icy late this evening.  Once precipitation begins this evening, temperatures will drop  few degrees for an hour or two.  During that time we’ll see our best chance for icy precipitation mixing in with rain.  After midnight, by far the dominant feature will be rain as temperatures rise into the mid to upper 30’s by morning.

So, summary, when all is over, this system should cause only a few, if any, problems for the Louisville area any all roads should be fine (although wet) for rush hour.  However, north and northeast of Louisville more ice will mix in, especially those areas which still have some snow on the ground.  Numerous road problems are likely in these areas.

Potential storms update

Sat. Nov.18, 2017  3:10 P.M.

Severe Thunderstorm WATCH expanded  WHY?

The Storm Prediction Center has seen fit to expand the Tstorm Watch to cover most of Kentucky.  At least for northern half of KY and southern half of IN, watch seems pretty useless.  As mentioned earlier, the part of the storm line approaching our region has lost any severe weather characteristics.

So, risk of severe thunderstorms for Louisville area is extremely low.  Southern KY has a very slight risk.

Nasty weather late this afternoon

Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017  2 P.M.

Cold Front approaching rapidly

A strong cold front is pushing rapidly (about 50 mph) southeastward across the lower Ohio Valley. Currently, is is stretched from about Indy southwest to near Paducah.  That pushes the front through the Louisville area between about 4:00 and 5:00 this afternoon.  The front has become active with a narrow line the showers/thunderstorms along it.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all of southwestern Indiana WEST of I-65 and most of KY west of Louisville.  Louisville is not in the Watch.  Nevertheless, the front is already beyond it’s severe weather.  A couple of severe winds reports came from southern Illinois as the system developed (often the case in marginal situations), but over the past hour or so the energy has become more evenly distributed along the cold front.  Thus, the threat for severe weather in Louisville area is very low.  Strong winds, yes; severe winds, probably not.

What to expect:  Winds will be quite gusty as the front approaches.  Wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph will be likely.  The cold front will bring a narrow line of showers and thunderstorms through the local area between about 4:00 and 5:00 P.M.  During that time we may see gusts reach 50 mph.

Temperatures will remain in the mid 60’s before the rain.  An hour later they should be in the lower 50’s.  After the rain departs, strong winds will continue for a few more hours.  This time they will be from the northwest around 30-40 mph.

NOTE:  Yesterday I was hoping the cold front would arrive around 3:30 so that the UL-Syracuse game start would be delayed, but played straight through after that.  Now, it looks as though the game should start but still be in the first quarter when the thunder hits. Then a delay of 60 minutes to 90 minutes before resumption..