Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quick Update on Weekend Winter Storm...

I just wanted to post a quick update on recent trends with respect to the weekend storm system in the Plains and southern Rockies. I'll make a more detailed update later today...

In general, the main swath of heavier snow still looks as if it will be laid out (East of the mountains) from the northeast corner of New Mexico into the northeast corner of Iowa and on into Wisconsin, as shown on the cumulative snow depth forecast from the GFS computer model, valid 6am CST on Sunday (scale in inches on the right):

The main thing I wanted to update at this time concerns the potential for icing.  It looks like the incoming cold air will deepen rapidly enough in the central and northern portions of the affected region to prevent significant icing, as precipitation will change to snow rather rapidly in those areas.

Further South, the models continue to hint at the potential for a period of icing on Friday night from eastern New Mexico into southwest Kansas, including portions of the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle region.  This "hint" has become consistent enough to warrant a specific mention across this particular region.  The image below is from the SREF model (a computer forecast model that focuses specifically on short range weather trends), and is valid at 3am CST on Saturday morning:

The darker green shaded area on the image represents where the model is forecasting the potential for the accumulation of one-tenth to one-quarter of an inch of ice by that time.  By 6am CST on Saturday, the threat is forecast to move Northeast into southwestern Kansas, as shown on the image below:

At the moment, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the specific amount of ice that is being forecast by the model, but rather the area where the event is forecast to take place.  Folks within and near the green shaded areas on the 2 images above should be prepared for the possibility of ice that could accumulate and cause travel disruptions, as well as a potential hazard to trees and power lines if enough ice is able to accumulate.  This would generally take place during the period Friday night and early Saturday morning.

We'll likely be able to become more specific as to the magnitude of this potential icing event later today and/or tomorrow morning... so stay tuned for updates on this situation.

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