Rain & Snow More Likely This Weekend
by Cody Matz
March 06, 2013 8:02 PM
A large wave is rolling onto the west coast and will eventually pop out into the Plains. As of Monday, it looked like this storm would stay to our south and affect mostly the I-40 and I-70 corridors. But with each passing hour, the forecast track shifts further and further north with much of the I-80 and I-90 corridors now in the crosshairs of this one. I realize that we have all heard this one before… “storm rolling into the west coast, pulling out onto the Plains, and brings much of our area some good precipitation.” But then we don’t end up getting much out of it… it all just seems to go around us. Well, to be honest… I’m not saying that can’t happen this time. But this storm has the potential to bring some major precipitation to the areas it impacts whether that’s our neck of the woods or not. So we can’t just simply ignore it thinking what has happened in the past will surely happen this time too. This blog will focus on what the computer models are showing and how several different groups of people are interpreting that information including the Weather Prediction Center (formally known as the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center), the National Weather Service, the Climate Prediction Center, as well as our current thinking.
So this could really be a pretty big storm with long-term implications… meaning that this could help the drought quite a bit. Now the drought isn’t going to go away overnight, but you have to start somewhere, and this would be a good storm to do just that. The Weather Prediction Center produces a forecast that shows how much liquid precipitation they are expected for the next 5 days. This forecast goes through Monday morning…
Some pretty impressive numbers for the Midwest this time of year with areas along and south of I-90 pegged to get over an inch of liquid precipitation. As it stands right now, that would probably be a combination of rain and snow.
If you’re not convinced that some of our area has a chance to see some heavy precipitation… well the Climate Prediction Center’s forecast pretty much spells it out for you.
The CPC highlights areas that will be affected by abnormal weather events like heavy rain, heavy snow, high heat, dreadful cold, etc… This is for the forecast period days 3-7. So basically, these are all of the drastic events that are expected between Saturday and next Wednesday.
Right now, this storm is just all over the place, so it is really tough to nail down a forecast so far into the future (I realize its barely 48 hours away, but with potentially large storms like this one, that’s an eternity). So to be as accurate as we can while still giving you some useful information, we came up with this graphic.
At the moment, the best chance for accumulating rain and snow will be along and south of I-90. The front range of the Rockies could get well over a foot of snow, but our area is more likely to get a band or two of a few inches or less considering that plenty of rain will be falling beforehand. But with so much uncertainty in this storm, areas north of I-90 all the way to northern Minnesota cannot be ruled out of potential precipitation. The further north and west you go, the better your chances for cold air that would give you better chances for snow if it actually precipitates.
Now, I know everyone too well at this point to even talk about anything but potential snow amounts. Below I have posted two images from different forecasting models showing the snowfall potential through Saturday evening.
Fairly large differences in these two models with the first one showing a more concentrated heavy band of snow in our south that could bring 10 inches to some isolated locations. The second image shows a broader area of snowfall that’s quite a bit further north, but generally smaller on snow totals. Both scenarios are completely feasible so this one may yet again come down to the wire.
The WPC continues to show the amount of snow expected in percentages. The following 2 images shows the probability of receiving at least 1 inch of snow and then at least 6 inches of snow.
According to the WPC, much of our north and west has at least a 50 percent chance of more than an inch of snow and a slight chance of getting at least 6 inches. The heaviest snow will likely stay to our southwest with good chances in parts of Colorado and Wyoming of getting at least 6 inches of snow. We will have more details on this storm in the upcoming days so stay tuned!