Sunday, February 24, 2013

10:55am: Severe Blizzard Looming

Last week's storm was, in my opinion, a high confidence storm. The pending blizzard is, at best, a medium confidence storm.

I really feel for the television meteorologists in Kansas City: Depending on which tools you use, snowfall in KC will range from 20" to literally zero. Bryan Busby and Mike Thompson, you have my empathy on this one!

I believe the best forecast would be a blend of these two:
click enlarge
As always, my advice is to blur your eyes and don't take the point amounts too literally. For example, in Wichita, one model has about 7 inches and the other 10. The plume model (not shown) has 13 inches. So, for Wichita, I would be thinking about 7 to 13 inches.

In the northwest Oklahoma-Panhandle area of very heavy snow I would characterize the amounts as 15 to 24 inches.

I don't expect any part of Kansas north of the I-70 counties to have more than eight inches.

In southeast Kansas over to the Lake of the Ozarks, there will be some areas that receive more 14 inches.

The huge difference between the blizzard and last week's storm is the wind. This chart is valid at 6pm Monday evening. The area of orange on the KS-OK border is gusts above 60 mph. The whitish area is gusts above 45 mph. With winds this strong, power failures become a real possibility.
And, while on the subject of power failures, there is a possibility of a period of freezing rain in the area in red. This forecast valid at 4am Monday. Green is rain and blue is snow. This may increase the chance of power failures along with extremely slick roads.

Some precautions:
  • Fill your gas tank. Make sure you have an ice scraper. 
  • If the snow is sufficiently wet, there will be power failures due to the high winds and snow loading of lines and trees (branches leaning into the wires). Get a auto power inverter that can keep your cell phone or computer charged. 
  • If you must keep medicine chilled or run other appliances, get a generator. Make sure you follow all instructions to the letter. 
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Go to the grocery store to get any necessary food
  • Go to the ATM and get cash. 
  • Make preparations for your pets and farm animals
In the strongest possible terms, I urge you not to attempt to travel in or through the blizzard area once it begins Sunday night (in the High Plains, along and west of U.S. 83) and Monday morning over the rest of Kansas. Airline travel will be disrupted.

If this forecast is correct, I believe I-35 will be closed in Kansas and northern Oklahoma and U.S. 54 will be closed as well.

There is one last item and that is total amount of precipitation. Some of the models have well in excess of three inches in northwest Oklahoma where snow is already on the ground.

There is already an inch of water in the snow in the area shaded in darkest blue.
Put another 3-4 inches on top of that one inch and -- in spite of the drought -- you have a flooding threat if a quick melt occurs, especially if the ground if frozen.

I'll have another update late this afternoon. but I urge people in this region to prepare for a severe blizzard.


  1. Hi Mike, appreciate your updates, but can you please quote which models you're referring to? It's difficult to follow along by just taking your word for it and not knowing what your sources are.

  2. From Top:

    -- 12Z NAM with Kuchera snow algorithm
    -- 12Z 4km NAM with snow algorithm (from WxBell)
    -- 12Z NSSL 4km
    -- 12Z 4km NAM
    -- Midnight CST National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center

    The plume model to which I refer was 09Z.

    That said, I sometimes change the scale when I like the pattern but don't agree with absolute amounts depicted. I'm not doing that this morning.

    I don't "blame the models" when I'm incorrect. Consider forecasts you see on this blog as from me.

  3. Mike...What is your take on the Euro model? It is showing the system taking more of a southerly path when compared to the GFS and NAM. If that does happen how will that change precipitation amounts especially in Oklahoma? As always I love your blog and appreciate your expert analysis.

  4. The 00Z (most recent) Euro is figured in my commentary on this storm. Both the Euro deterministic AND ensemble give Wichita 1.2" precipitation. That would likely support 10" of snow.

    READERS: Apologize for the "inside baseball" comments above.

  5. Thanks for the extra info. Not to criticize (you have much more forecasting experience than me!) but HPC has basically rejected the NAM for this event, and is going with a GFS/Euro blend which has the highest snowfalls further south.
    Also, I have trouble with this: "Consider forecasts you see on this blog as from me"
    If you are showing graphics without attributing the sources, then those forecasts are not yours. Again, not trying to criticize, just trying to get the full story about how you assemble your forecasts (for my own education and as a learning opportunity for me!)

  6. If a model's raw output has "red" at (let's say) 12 inches and I choose to depict it as ten inches because I think that model is systematically overforecasting, that makes it "my" forecast/opinion.

    This forecast took nearly three hours. It includes the Cook method and the Goree/Yonklin methods that are independent of model QPF and snow algorithms. I use the models as a part of my thinking and, at times, forecast things no model is depicting in its raw output.

    Eric, I think this is better done as emails because I intend for this blog to be a public service -- not a discussion group for meteorologists.


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