Winter storm ending-Wed. AM Update
Wednesday Morning Update:
Our winter storm has come and gone, but it left behind a lot of snow. Here's a look at some unofficial snow totals from the National Weather Service:
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI 5SW BENTON 5.0 INCHES CAPE GIRARDEAU 3.5 DEXTER 7.0 3N GRANDIN 5.0 PERRYVILLE 3.0 MINER 8.0 SIKESTON 7.0 4N SIKESTON 9.5 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS ALBION 18.3 INCHES ANNA 8.0 BROOKPORT 4.5 CARBONDALE 8.0 CARMI 8.2 CARRIER MILLS 9.0 CYPRESS 8.0 DELWOOD 9.5 DONGOLA 12.0 HEROD 9.5 MOUNT CARMEL 11.0 STONE FORT 12.0 W. FRANKFORT 6.0 WEST KENTUCKY BARDWELL 7.0 INCHES ELVA 3.0 MURRY 2.0 OSCAR 7.5 PADUCAH 4.2
Parts of S IL & SEMO are also reporting snow drifts up to 2 feet.
Christmas Night Update:
We're underway with tonight's winter storm. So far precipitation has been mainly rain and sleet over most of W KY & NW TN, but has changed over to snow with some sleet over SEMO & S IL. Here's how it looked after we wrapped up Local 6 at 10:
Over the Local 6 area, some of the precip is still trying to overcome the drier air, and is evaporating before it reaches the ground. This is doing 2 things....1) it's getting the atmosphere closer to saturation, and when that happens, precipitation intensity will increase....2) it's cooling the atmosphere, which will aid in the transition from rain to snow.
You'll notice much heavier snow over northern Arkansas as of this radar image....we've even had reports of thundersnow as close as Pocahontas, AR. That's a good indication that this thng is really getting ready to get going over our area. Conditions will be quickly deteriorating overnight through early tomorrow morning.
As we've been saying for days now, the snowfall forecast is all dependent on the exact track of the low. Just a 20-30 mile difference either way could make a ton of difference for sections of W KY & NW TN. Here's what the latest model information is showing:
Still thinking much of SEMO & S IL will get 6-12 inches....locally more if a particularly heavy snow band sets up somewhere. In W KY & NW TN, the closer to the river you are, the more snow you'll get. 4-8" likely for much of the Purchase Area and near Reelfoot Lake, decreasing to an inch or two east of a line from Hopkinsville to Murray to Martin. Again, all of this could change if the low jogs a little farther east or west.
The other factor in this storm will be the winds. As of tonight, we've already had several reports of sporadic power outages due to gusty winds of at least 40-50 mph. These kinds of gusts will continue overnight and for most of the daylight hours tomorrow.
That's the latest for now. It's time to ride this thing out and see what happens! -Trent
Christmas Afternoon Update:
Precipitation is spreading in from the south as we speak. Temperatures are currently running in the mid 30's, but as the onset of precip occurs, the process of evaporation will help bring temperatures down. A changeover from rain to snow has already occurred as close as Jonesboro, AR. One of the trends we're seeing in the models is that there may be a period of accumulating sleet for the counties along and near the Ohio River as precipitation transitions from rain to snow. This could further add to problems with road conditions. We're looking at new data as we speak, and will have much more comprehensive coverage with special newscasts at 5 & 6pm. In the meantime, here is a check of the latest watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service:
Our Hour-By-Hour Forecast Snowfall Map:
Christmas Morning Update:
There has been a pretty dramatic shift southeast in the forecast models overnight, putting the path of heaviest snow right along the Ohio River. This also puts more of W KY in line for accumulating snow.
In addition to the Blizzard Warning in bright purple for nearly all of the Local 6 area, a Winter Storm Watch is in effect for Christian Co., KY...and a Winter Weather Advisory for the counties of Carroll, Gibson, Henry, & Weakley in NW TN.
With the track of the storm shifting southeast, the snow totals have also shifted. Here is the latest projection from the National Weather Service:
Beginning this afternoon, we'll be in for special Christmas Day updates every hour on Local 6, and will have additional updates here throughout the day. Merry Christmas! -Trent
Monday Night (Chrsitmas Eve) Update:
Not much has changed since the Midday update but the computer models have shifted the heavy snow line a little further to the south closer to the Ohio River. A BLIZZARD WATCH continues for Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. In addition to snow, winds will cause blowing and drifting snow, reduced visibilities for travelers, and occasional whiteout conditions. The National Weather Service will upgrade the WATCH to a WARNING at some point on Christmas morning. See previous update below for additional information. Above is the latest Snowfall Forecast as of Monday night:
Monday Midday Update:
We just wrapped up a conference call with the National Weather Service in Paducah with other emergency managers and media. The Local 6 area appears to be the bulleye for a high-impact winter storm that could bring up to or over a foot of snow and blizzard conditions to parts of the area.
The latest development is that the Winter Storm Watch area will likely be upgraded to a Blizzard Watch or Warning this afternoon. When that happens, we will update you on that.
To put the potential significance of this winter storm in perspective, NWS forecasters recalled the magnitude of the 2004 Pre-Christmas Snowstorm that brought up to 20 inches of snow to parts of the area....this storm could rival that one across SEMO & S. IL, at least in terms of impact. Where the heavy snow falls, it will likely be a crippling snowstorm.
Officials are advising people within the current Winter Storm Watch area (show below in this morning's update) to plan on not being able to travel at least on Wednesday. Snowfall intensities at the height of the storm Wednesday morning will likely overwhelmed snowplows, and some major highways and interstates could close for a period of time during and after the storm.
The period of heaviest precipitation still looks like it will fall between 9PM Tuesday and 6AM Wednesday, gradually tapering off from southwest to northeast during the day Wednesday. It still appears that the heaviest snow will occur over SEMO & S. IL, with some impressive totals as well along the river counties in W. KY. Here is the snowfall total map the NWS shared in this briefing:
They also stressed that it is important to remember that this is still a developing storm system currently in it's infancy, and that the forecast track could change. Even a 25 mile shift in the center of this storm could cause major changes to the forecast, especially near the Ohio River.
Finally, a reminder that since most stores close this evening and do not reopen until Wednesday morning (when travel could be impossible in some areas), this afternoon is the time to prepare!
We'll stay on top of any changes and have more updates as this event unfolds.
Monday Morning Update:
While you're out taking care of a few of those last minute gifts today, you may want to take a few moments to get prepared for what looks like it will be a high-impact winter storm for at least parts of the area. At the moment, southern IL & southeast MO look like they will take the hardest hit from this storm, but areas near the Ohio River will also feel the effects of this system. Since yesterday, the Winter Storm Watch has been expanded slightly to the southeast, now including all of S. IL & SEMO, the river counties in W. KY, and Lake, Obion, & Dyer Co., TN. Much of this region will likely be upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning by later today.
The general setup discussed in previous updates below really hasn't changed much this morning, so let's get right to what things look like for how this storm will unfold. The RPM forecast model used to generate our Hour-By-Hour Forecast is starting to hone in on more of the specifics...here's what it's showing this morning:
Above is the forecast for 9PM Tuesday. Precip will move in from the south during the evening Tuesday night, beginning as rain over most of W. KY & NW TN, and perhaps a rain/sleet/snow mix for the southern tip of IL & SEMO.
After midnight, the changeover from rain to snow will work it's way west to east. The farther southeast you go, the longer you'll stick with rain, especially for places like Martin, Murray, & Hopkinsville.
By daybreak Wednesday morning, the entire area should complete the transition to all snow. Somewhere within the area, most likely in SEMO and/or S. IL, a band or two of heavy snow will set up. We'll also be experiencing north winds gusting up to 30 mph, which will create dangerous and very difficult travel, with near-blizzard conditions possible!
By midday Wednesday, this system will begin to move on to our northeast, with snow tapering off during the afternoon.
Now, onto the forecast for snow totals. This is still very much subject to change.....all four of the different forecast models I've analyzed this morning is offering a different forecast. This storm system really hasn't even developed yet, so until it does, models could still shift things around.
Before I show you a couple of graphics, here are some numbers discussed by the National Weather Service in their latest updates.
-Along and west of a line from Poplar Bluff, to Sikeston, Vienna, Harrisburg, & Carmi: up to 10-15"
-Near the Ohio River for counties in IL & KY included in the Winter Storm Watch: 2-5"
-MO Bootheel & NW TN: 3-5" (higher totals in NE Arkansas)
-Less than 2" for areas of W. KY & TN not in the watch.
Here's what a couple of our forecast models were showing:
The Euro model above has been fairly consistent over the past few days, at least in terms of trends, keeping the heaviest snow along & northwest of the Ohio River. However, it is a "low-resolution" model, so it's not necessarily the best way to go for a specific town-by-town forecast.
The RPM model below is a higher resolution model, but generally performs at it's best when within 24-hours of an event, so it's forecast should improve as the day goes along. As of this morning, it actually puts the heaviest snow a bit farther southeast, right over the center of the area.
As we get closer to this event, that RPM model will update every 3 hours, and should get a better idea of how this thing will unfold, so be sure to check back tonight for the very latest. You can also get updates through the afternoon by checking Jennifer Rukavina's "Breeding Extreme" blog.
Something to keep in mind, most stores will be closing early this evening, and don't reopen until Wednesday morning, at the height of this storm. So this morning and afternoon are the times to prepare if you need winter weather supplies! If we do end up with heavy wet snowfall combined with strong winds, spotty power outages could be possible, especially in S. IL & SEMO.
Sunday Afternoon Update:
Winter Storm WATCH in place across SEMO and much of S IL Tue evening - Wed morning. Advisory type and placement likely to change, as we get closer to the event.
Sunday AM Update:
Just finished pouring through the forecast models and wanted to share the latest on what we're seeing with this potential winter storm. Remember, the information below is simply a glimpse at what we're looking at in the forecast models....which are subject to change.
First of all, what has not changed since yesterday is the timing and overall setup of this system. Low pressure is still forecast to develop over Texas by Christmas Day, and will track across the Mid-South, passing southeast of our area. This will lead to precipitation beginning as early as the afternoon hours on Christmas Day, with the heaviest precip occurring late Christmas night and the early morning hours of Wednesday. Precipitation should taper off Wednesday afternoon.
That said, there have been some changes to the forecast since yesterday with regards to the track of the center of this storm. Models overnight have all trended toward taking the low a bit farther to the northwest that what was being shown yesterday...which would push the heaviest band of snow farther northwest as well. Here are several of the forecast model images as of this morning's latest updates.
We'll pick up the discussion around 12AM Wednesday. With the center of the low near middle TN, both the GFS (above) & European models (below) are in good agreement in keeping enough warm air around to result in precip Tuesday night beginning as primarily rain or a rain/sleet/snow mix over a large portion of the area...especially for W KY & NW TN.
As we move ahead to things at around 6AM Wednesday, with the low moving off to our east, that allows colder air to wrap around from the north, pushing the rain/snow line through the area, completing our transition to all snow. Again, both models (GFS above, European below) are in good agreement on this scenario.
The shift farther north and the initial precip falling as rain is the big change in things this morning, and that has led to some pretty big adjustments from yesterday in the snowfall totals, with the models keeping the higher totals farther northwest.
Above, the GFS now shows the heaviest band of snow closer to West Plains, MO, to Chester, IL, to Effingham, IL.....with little more than an inch or two over most of W KY, NW TN, and the MO Bootheel....and perhaps 2-4" or slightly higher most of our SEMO & S IL counties.
The European model above is very similar, but shifts the heaviest snow band about 25-35 miles farther southeast. It's solution could result in some higher totals perhaps in the 6"+ range in parts of S. IL & SEMO.
Bottom line with the snow total graphics above....it's still too early in the game to lock in any sort of specific forecast for totals, we still just need to monitor the model trends on where the heavy snow track will fall.
That's the latest from the models this morning. It's important to remember that these models have done a little flip-flopping over the last day or two, and it's highly probably that they will continue to change over the next day or two. The storm system we're waiting for hasn't even developed yet...once it does, models should have a much better ability to help us nail down some specifics. Stay tuned for more!
If you are hoping to wake up on Christmas morning to a fresh blanket of white snow, you may be disappointed...however you may be able to exchange that dry forecast for a snowy one on the morning after Christmas! For several days, forecast models have been showing a storm system developing over Texas on Christmas Day, tracking northeast through central Mississippi, middle Tennessee, and eastern KY. Those forecast models continue to be in very good agreement, which increases our confidence that a storm system will likely hit our area in the days to come. If this current scenario were to play out, it would be a classic setup for a winter storm in our area.
Before getting into what forecast models are showing, remember that forecasting winter weather is tricky business for our part of the country, and a lot can change in a small amount of time with these kinds of events! Ultimately, the exact track of the center of low pressure will have a huge say in what kind of weather we see. If the low tracks farther to the northwest than what is in the forecast above, the area of heavier snow will shift north, and more of the Local 6 area will get rain. If the low tracks farther south, the band of heavier snow will also shift south, and our snow totals will be lower.
Based on the latest model data as of Saturday morning, our confidence is increasing that some part of the Mid-Mississippi/Lower Ohio valley will experience significant snowfall between Christmas night and Wednesday afternoon. Here is a snowfall graphic based on the midnight run of the GFS computer model, showing heavy snowfall over most of the Local 6 area:
With this event still 3-4 days away, it is important to look at trends, but not specifics. At this stage in the game, it's almost a certainty that these numbers will change, so don't get too hung up on these totals. One thing that we can say with great certainty is that the primary precipitation type should be snow...perhaps a bit of rain/sleet at the beginning...but we should not have to worry about ice unless something drastic changes.
Because of the timing of this storm, it will be important to stay on top of the very latest forecast over the coming days. This system has the potential to cause some major travel problems in the days after Christmas over a large part of the region. In addition to the possibility of heavy snow, this storm could generate strong northerly winds of up to 30 mph, which could create near-blizzard conditions.
With this forecast in mind, WPSD Local 6 has put together a Winter Storm Survival Checklist, which you can download by clicking the image below.
Also, the National Weather Service has made available a Winter Weather Awareness Guide, which you can download here.
Be sure to stay with The Weather Authority over the coming days for the very latest on this possible storm!