Our Next Storm Leads to an Active End to a Tranquil Month
by Cody Matz
February 22, 2012 10:40 PM
Our next and quite frankly, one of the few storms this winter is moving into the area Wednesday night and will stick around through the day Thursday. A couple of days ago this storm didn’t look like much of a snow maker as it looked fairly weak and with little moisture to work with. But over the last 36 hours, this storm has slowed down, which has allowed it to get stronger and pick up more moisture along the way. These added features could lead to a pretty good snowfall event for some areas in the north and east. But there is a lot of uncertainty with this type of storm since the forecasting models that we use to analyze these storms differ greatly from one to the next. So here is what the National Weather Service (NWS) is thinking for this upcoming storm. The first image is from the NWS office in Sioux Falls and the second image is from the NWS office in Aberdeen.
Notice that the Weather Service thinks that the heavier snow will fall in the north and east with a band of generally 3 to 8 inches. But the Hydrological Prediction Center (HPC) does not agree. Now they forecast a little differently showing the amount of snowfall in probabilities. So the image below shows the probability of areas receiving at least 4 inches of snow.
Notice that the HPC highlights many areas across the south and west as receiving the most snow, with the probability of getting at least 4 inches is greater then 40 percent.
Now, at the moment I am agreeing with the National Weather Service, however I do think this heavy snow band may be somewhere in between these two highly qualified forecasts. So the name of the game right now is, just be prepared because there is still a pretty good chance that these forecasts differ at least a little from what will actually occur. Stay Safe!
After a couple of very tranquil weeks for much of the Upper Midwest, a change in the overall North American pattern has our neck of the woods bulls eyed for an upcoming couple of storms. The first of these storms already moved east of our area and brought up to a half-inch of rain and sleet and 1-5 inches of snow across the area. But two more storms are now looming in the wings. The first one is already moving over the northern Rockies and is set to arrive late Wednesday. The second, which is currently in the Gulf of Alaska, will shoot southeastward through the next few days. This second wave has the potential to be the strongest as it could tap into A LOT of moisture and cold air which will give us the potential for a decent snow storm. But lets focus on the storm that will affect us next.
This next storm is fairly unique as it is an Alberta Clipper of sorts, but it looks pretty intense for that type of a storm. There isn’t expected to be a whole lot of moisture with it so overall precipitation will likely stay pretty light, however it will tap into some colder air and really kick up the winds as we go to the end of the week.
Much like the last storm, precipitation type will be an issue. Low-level temperatures will still be pretty mild through Wednesday and even Wednesday night which will lead to areas of rain and sleet, but then eventually changing over to snow. Check out temperatures around 5000 feet Wednesday afternoon. Remember that the atmosphere has to be completely below freezing for snow to hit the ground.
Temperatures will be far above freezing for most areas Wednesday afternoon and evening, but the northeast will have cooler mid level air. But temperatures at the surface will be warm enough during the day to likely melt the snow as it falls to the ground so snow isn’t expected until the evening.
Not everyone will get the precipitation either with a band of light rain and light snow setting up somewhere in South Dakota. But that’s tough to pinpoint at the moment considering just about every computer forecasting model is different. See for yourself…. 2 such models are shown below for the same time period.
Notice that both have a pretty narrow band of precipitation, but are oriented and placed slightly different. So we will have to watch to see where this band ends up getting placed Wednesday evening. Here is a summary of what we are expecting for this first storm Wednesday into Wednesday night courtesy of the National Weather Service.
If you aren’t looking forward to the rain and snow Wednesday and Thursday, then you aren’t going to enjoy the wind that will accompany this storm Thursday and Friday. The two pictures below show the probability of experiencing sustained winds of at least 15 mph. The first picture is Thursday afternoon and the second picture is Friday afternoon.
Notice both days, many areas have a 100% chance of experiencing winds greater then 15 mph. In fact, many areas will see sustained winds to 30mph Thursday with gusts to 50 and sustained winds of 25 mph Friday with gusts to 40.
Once we get passed this first storm, which pretty much takes 3 days to move through, we get a one-day break and then another storm will move into the Midwest. Now the exact track and strength of this storm is still unknown, however, computer forecasting models are suggesting that this could be a BIG weather maker in our area with snow, wind, and bitter cold. Now, I don’t even want to venture a guess at snow totals just because it is just too far away to know anything for sure, but take a peek at one of the models below.
I realize you may not entirely know what’s happening, but let me ensure you that if you don’t like snow, this is not something you want to see!