First Snow of the Season

Good Thursday bloggers,

The snow is about over and amounts played out just about as forecasted.  The heavier band along I-35 was about 10 miles west of where Gary had the band last night.  But, our 1″-3″ forecast turned out well.

Wider view of radar estimated snow totals.



This is just a radar estimate.  So, we would love to have your snow totals as nothing beats the human touch.

The rest of today will be cloudy with flurries and some mist as temperatures rise to 32-34.  There will be a chance of re-freezing tonight and some black ice, so be aware of that.


Gary will have more later.

Have a great day and enjoy the snow.  It is good snowman snow.


The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

2 AM Update:

Good morning bloggers,

An extremely heavy snow band tracked across Olathe to Downtown. This clipped the Plaza and an inch of snow fell and the snowflake contest ended around 2:30 AM.  4″ fell in Merriam, YES FOUR inches of snow from that band fell in parts of the KC Metro area, while others were less than an inch.  New areas of snow are increasing to the west, so most areas will end up in that 1 to 4 inch forecast range.  There has been some graupel (snow pellets) that cut into totals in areas that did not get the heavy snow band.  Let us know how much you end up with when you wake up.


Previous entry below:

Good late evening bloggers,

As Tom Petty sang, “The Waiting Is The Hardest Part”. I think that is how it goes. If you stare at radar it can drive you nuts. At 9:40 PM the radar echoes began rapidly increasing, so hang on. Remember we aren’t forecasting a major snowstorm here. Widespread 1 to 3 inch amounts are what we are forecasting. There may be a couple of pockets with more than that.  Here is the map I am showing at 10 PM:


So, try to be patient. There is no way this one goes “poof”. Now it may around 6 or 7 AM, but not for the next seven hours. It is coming and 1 to 3 inches will fall. Let us know when you see your first snowflakes.  Have a great night. I will check in later.


Snow Is Heading Our Way

Good evening bloggers,

We are currently on the air right now and updating this forecast on the fly.  The latest data has a low end total of around 1″ and higher end amounts of 4″ or higher. On our analysis we are attempting to pick out the likely areas the will end up with 2″ of snow or more as you can see below:


The snow is now developing southwest of Emporia and it  marching it’s way northeast up I-35.  This storm, if it starts earlier, has a better chance at some of the higher totals.  Let us know what you think, and let us know when you see your first snowflakes!  Have a great evening. The snowflake contest is about to end.


Winter Weather Advisory

Good Wednesday bloggers,

The new data is in and snow is an almost 100% certainty tonight as a storm system tracks in from the southwest USA.  It looks like the storm will hold together and be strong enough for bands of heavier snow.  This is still a storm falling apart as it moves towards us, but  it looks like it will wait until after it passes KC and our area to do so. We are in a Winter Weather Advisory from 6 PM today to 9 AM Thursday.

I will time this out and go over the new data today at 11 AM on 41 Action News Midday.  Gary will have a more detailed blog later and have new data and updates on the NOW KC at 4 PM and and 5, 6 and 10.





Have a great day and enjoy the snow!


Here we go again!

Good evening bloggers,

Look at this!  Our local ski area Snow Creek is making snow. Now, will we get snow to fall from the ski? Yes, but how much?


I am currently getting ready for the newscasts on 41 Action News, and the NAM model just came out with a “BIG” warning sign for those of you hoping and wishing for snow.  This also happened with the storm in November. This is the first model run that has not had a more amplified wave as it is approaching the area on Thursday morning, and instead it has a flat wave. It doesn’t mean that this will be the final solution, and even with this solution there could be a thin band of 3″+ of snow.  But, my confidence just took a shot as I am analyzing this data. Take a look:


This is the first run that does not have an  organized vort max, and instead, as seen in the yellow color, there is a stretched vorticity pattern, that gets even more stressed by Thursday morning.  In the past few model runs I was rather impressed with how the wave was looking and I, as a snow enthusiast, was hoping that the wave would look even stronger, and not weaker. Unfortunately, for us snow lovers, this is not a good thing to look at.  It doesn’t mean it won’t snow, and this may still be quite wrong, and even this solution has a band of 2 to 4 inch snow potential north and west of Kansas City, so I am still holding out hope that it looks a bit better on the next few model runs.


We will be in the left front quadrant of this system, which will provide just enough lifting for it to snow Wednesday night and Thursday. If there is just a bit more organization than is shown on this latest model run, then we can get the higher amounts. It is a concern as I am currently working on the forecast. This is just one model, but it is this NAM model that actually predicted much less snow in the November 15th system that left us with barely a dusting.  It is something to think about.

One thing in the favor of slightly higher amounts is the fact that I believe we can see the disturbance that is coming this way.  Take a look:


Take a look a the rain around San Diego.  That rain and band of clouds with a little curl to it is heading our way, and this is the disturbance we will have to watch closely.


Have a great late afternoon or evening, and I will be covering this tonight on 41 Action News.


An Early Week Storm Spins By, What’s Next?

Good afternoon bloggers,


A storm system is spinning overhead this afternoon with the rain and snow shifting away to the north as this storm moves out. Take a look at the interesting temperature pattern around this tightly spinning system as of 1:30 PM:


It was 51 degrees in Des Moines, 54 in Columbia, and 43 to our south in Chanute, KS.  The colder air is wrapping in behind this storm from the west and southwest. Now, here I come back from a week off and I am dealt with a pretty big forecast problem for Wednesday night into Friday.  Will we see precipitation?  Right now I am confident we will, so I am going to up the probabilities significantly. What type will it be?  Snow, Rain, Freezing rain? It will not be a big event, but our latest Powercast  has over an inch of snow in KC Wednesday night. Take a look at this:


Let me stress that even though I am leaning heavily in the “it will precipitate” trend, this is a rather light precipitation event, and that makes it even more difficult to forecast……once again!  We will discuss these things on 41 Action News. I will show this powercast in motion. Let us know what you think? And, then if you are wondering about Christmas week, and I talked about it on Weather2020, but a cold outbreak is likely increasing the chance of snow, as we have had in our forecast for weeks now based on the LRC.

Let the fun begin!


Update on the rain tonight & snow for next week

10pm Update
Of course, our late newscast is at the mercy of Sunday Night Football, so here is a quick update on what’s going on.
The main band of rain continues to push through the area.
4 (1)

The top the hour rainfall observations are nice in a few areas.

I still think we’ll see rain for the next three to four hours before it starts to taper off. I am going to stick with my previous forecast and say that the back edge will pass through Monday afternoon and produce a few more light showers.
That said, some of the new information I’ve seen roll out is suggesting a few snow flurries may try to make an appearance in Eastern Kansas after 8 to 9pm Monday. This will not accumulate or amounts to anything, but if someone in Lawrence told me they saw a snowflake Monday night, I would not be surprised.

I’ll have a fresh forecast for you after the game is over tonight. Of course, Kalee will be in bright and early tomorrow morning with another fresh take on things.

Right on cue, the rain is moving into the area tonight. I expect it to be in the greater Metro around 7p, and then inside the 435 loop around 8:30p. Here is the wide look map:

And this is it on closer inspection:
3 PM

This main rain band should push through and be gone a little after midnight tonight. Some lingering sprinkles and showers are possible. Earlier today, thunderstorms produced hail and a few tornado warnings in parts of Oklahoma and Southern Kansas. I do not see that kind of activity for us.
Latest look at the high-resolution HRRR model shows the radar looking like this around 10pm tonight:
The model may be hitting the heavy rain a little hard, but I do believe there will be pockets of heavy downpours. Plus, a few rumbles of thunder are still possible.
Oddly enough, I had several questions about us getting thundersnow tonight. I do not see that! It’s going to be far too warm at the surface to produce snow. Our temps will be in the 50s all night.
Here is the rain timeline for tonight into tomorrow:

For Monday, as this system continues to truck East, we’ll see a second window for rain as the back edge slides through. I would expect this somewhere between the Noon and 4pm timeframe. Just a few showers is all it should be.

By Tuesday, the cold air returns and brings some strong Northwest winds with it. Sustained winds around 25-30mph would not surprise me. Add in air temps in the mid 30s, it’s going to feel pretty raw. So while you may have ditched the jacket today, you’ll need it and the coat by Tuesday!

All right, what about those snow chances later in the week? Models continue to agree that there is a chance. Right now, here is how I see things:
2 PM

That last line is key: we have to wait and see how that storm may track. Should it dip farther South, we won’t get much of anything here. Should it take a bit more of a Northerly track, things change.
Without publishing a snowfall map (which would then get shared and passed around as “truth”), let me say this: as of this moment, right now the Euro model calls for nothing more than 1-3″ across the entire area. The GFS parallel says 1-2″. The operational GFS is hinting at 2-4″.
So what I see from this, as it stands now: not a “major” storm. That said, KC has yet to see an inch of snow this season. Thus, it could become a big deal should a few inches fall.

The best advice I have: please do not get your heart set on a number just yet. Whether you love snow or loathe it, don’t set yourself up for something that still may not happen.

As I tend to do on Sundays now, let me show you my forecast worksheet for the coming week, comparing the models with what I am forecasting.

And, for verification, here is the result from last week.
Here again, it was the Euro that was the closest down the stretch. I’ll freely admit, I did not do as well as I would have liked. The low, gray clouds really messed things up. But that’s the way it goes. As you can see, pretty much everyone missed Wednesday.

I will be off next weekend on my first vacation in a long time. Some have asked if/when I’ll ever get time off! I know you just want me off your TVs for a while! :)

All the best this week and here’s to hoping whatever weather you want, happens outside your door this week.

Mild with rain this Sunday, watching for snow next week

Overall, the forecast seems to be on track for the second half of the weekend. Clouds to dominate the sky most of Sunday but I am still seeing signs that we’ll get sunshine to work its way into the Southeast part of the viewing area late in the afternoon.
That will not last long, however. The rain system we’ve been tracking will start to push into the area by 7pm.

For those going to the Chiefs game, I don’t think you have to worry about rain. Plus, it will be fairly mild for mid December (our average high is 40° in KC).
3 PM

Timing out the rain chances for Sunday, it looks like this to me.

For Monday, as the system passes by, we should find ourselves in the dry slot of the storm. However, as the system pulls away, I could see some wrap-around moisture impacting the area Monday afternoon. Along with that, we’ll start to draw in some colder air. This means falling temperatures on Monday.
2 PM

No snow expected for us this weekend. But I know some of you have been following the models and watching them try to sort out the snow chances for next week. While the finer details are still rough around the edges, stepping back you can see there is agreement that snow will fall in the area. Now does that mean it’s a 100% chance right now? No, not at all.

From what I have seen on the 12z runs of everything, all models suggesting a little accumulation of snow on Thursday, a little more on Friday, and then perhaps one last little bit for Saturday morning.
Right now, the totals from the Euro model indicate around 2-4″ for the greater viewing area. The GFS parallel suggests amounts around 1-3″ for the greater area. Again, these are just model suggestions not our forecast. There is still a lot that can (and will change).

One thing that caught my attention this afternoon, was a comparison of all the major models and their ensembles. What the heck is an ensemble? Each main model (GFS, Euro, Canadian) has one. What happens here is that some of the initial data used to run the model is altered slightly to see what outcome it produces. For example, maybe the operational run uses an air temperature of 50° and a dew point of 45°. It then spits out a solution. The ensemble, however, may use an air temperature of 55° and a dew point of 40° and comes up with either a completely different solution or, perhaps a very similar solution to the operational GFS.
Here is a comparison of operational models (on top) with their ensembles on the bottom and this is for 6p Thursday. Click to enlarge.
One thing I notice here, simply looking at the big white line (the freezing line), four of the five keep that freezing line along or North of I-70. Only the operational GFS pushes that cold air farther South.

Jumping ahead 24 hours, look at the difference.
In this setup, the operational Euro and GFS push that cold air South, but their respective ensemble counterparts are not as aggressive. What all of this tells me is: we’ll see a lot more flip-flopping of the models over the next few days.
It’s too early to try and dig through the details of the models and hash out a forecast for snowfall that’s going to be reliable. It’s all just going to change tomorrow anyway. So, let’s not try to pick out a single tree in the forest. Let’s just call it a chance for snow next week and leave it at that until we get closer to the event. Wishcasting does nobody any good and I refuse to post a snowfall map this far out. That’s what leads to hype and eventually to people saying “you said xx inches of snow and I only got xx inches. Must be nice to be wrong all the time and still keep your job!”.

For those wondering about temperatures this month, it’s actually been a fairly balanced December so far. Almost 14 days in and we’ve had seven days above 40° (which is the average high) and six days below.
1 PM

After Monday, it may be a while before we see temps above 40° again this month. Especially if we do wind up with snow next week. We’ll continue to provide updates on it all.


So about those clouds…. | Severe weather record for 2014

Ten years of doing weather on TV and I am still humbled by the atmosphere. I expected a few breaks in the clouds today, but not large holes. Some areas managed to see a fair amount of sunshine (through thinner clouds) this afternoon. I was hoping for that YESTERDAY and it didn’t happen. Thus, I figured we’d stay mainly overcast today. Evidently, the atmosphere didn’t catch my forecast. So, what happened? Well, part of me thinks it has something to do with a little feature that moved into the area I did not expect. I talked about it on air at 6p. Watch the loop of the water vapor from today below and see if you can spot it.
Do you see that little push of moisture into the area from the North? Watch is sink through Iowa and then into NW Missouri. I think that may have been enough to mix up the atmosphere and cause some thinning of the clouds. Remember, we’re still stuck in this overall ridge. This is an Omega block (the larger feature resemble the Greek symbol: Ω).

It’s often tough to get things to move through the ridge. That said, little smaller-scale wiggles can certainly happen and become trapped under the ridge. But there is change happening. Right now, the storm pushing ashore on the West coast is squishing that Omega. Eventually, it’ll shove that thing out of here, just in time to replace it with rain for the Sunday.

Latest guidance continues to suggest any meaningful rain will hold off until after 7pm Sunday. Catch the keyword? Meaningful. I cannot totally rule out a rogue shower trying to develop out ahead of the main wave. Should this happen, it’d only be in the form of a brief sprinkle. Once the main course gets here, that will be full-on rain.
I still believe we’ll find ourselves in the dry slot for Monday, at least in KC. Our Northern and Eastern counties may still see some light rainfall. But that’s all this will be: rain.

Latest run of guidance for next weekend is still up in the air. The Euro model now paints a snowy picture, indicating around 2-4″ of snow right along and South of I-70. The GFS…says no. It doesn’t put any moisture close to KC! Here is the GFS for next Friday night at 10p:

It places the system well to our Southeast and very meager amounts of moisture in the area. If you look closely for the 5400 line (also known as the freezing line), it’s North of KC. So simply going off the GFS, no snow for next weekend.
Now, here is what the latest Euro is advertising:
Uh-oh. That’s a different story. The freezing line plunges South (blue line marked 540) and there is a fair amount of moisture for it to work with right over KC. This would be why the model claims KC sees a few inches of snow.

As always, these are just computer models and they are trying to give a solution for seven days from now. Much can, and will, change. It’s too soon to buy into anything just yet. So I will put in a small chance of snow for now, but that may change. However, as you’ll see in my Sunday blog…a particular model wound up doing a VERY good job for this past week.

Taking a second to look back at the severe weather year that was (or wasn’t), we may wind up setting a record. With only a few weeks left to go, this will likely go down as the year with the fewest tornadoes in the last 61 years.

This is a breakdown of the average number of tornadoes per month in the US:
3 PM

And this is how 2014 has been:

That’s pretty quiet, compared to average. The typical “height” for tornado season is in April & May. Notice how this year, the peak was in June.
And, in this part of the country as well as the South, there is Second Season, which allows for severe weather and that usually happens in late August to September. Here again, notice how that was delayed into October, with nearly 70 tornado reports.

So far this year, we’ve only had 823 reports of tornadoes all year. Compare that to last year (which took the crown as the year with the fewest number of tornadoes), and this has been a very quiet year for tornadoes.
2 PM

I also listed the years of 2011 and 2004 because 2011 was a big year for Tornadoes (remember the outbreak in Alabama on April 27th?), and 2004 was the year with the most tornado reports ever. Here is an expanded view of that data:


So it’s obvious things have greatly settled down since 2011. Given the trends, I would expect 2015 and 2016 to be years where things pick back up again.

Hope you all have a great Friday night.

The grunge is here to stay

No, it’s not 1992 and we’re not in Seattle, but this period of “grunge” isn’t going anywhere soon. The low, gray overcast is locked in place and I just don’t see it clearing out of here completely for a while. So, what’s the deal? Well, someone clogged up the atmosphere.
That big ‘H’ is blocking the flow, as you can see in the 500mb map. We have storms on either side of the U.S., but the overall flow is stuck right now.
Nothing is really moving across our area to sweep this air out of here. And looking a little higher up in the atmosphere, there a small area of high pressure over the Gulf Coast area that’s just sitting there and spinning. This is helping to act like a straw and draw up moisture from the South. It’s like having a fog machine of sorts.
This is a chart of the 850mb level, about 5,000 feet up in the atmosphere. You can see the circulation around the High, which I have enhanced for you a little bit.

We’ll have to wait on something to come in and clear the air before we see any kind of change. Luckily, I think this happens over the weekend when part of the storm system that’s hammering California spins this way. Now it will not be the exact same storm nor will it pack the punch it has now, but it should bring some decent rain to the area. This is how I see things setting up by Monday morning.
2 PM

What implications does this have on the Chiefs game Sunday? Right now, not much. I think the game (which starts at Noon) should stay dry.

No forecast is really ever “set in stone” so should the system appear to speed up and arrive sooner, we will have to make adjustments. If anything, things have been moving so slowly, we may wind up going the other direction and delaying things into Monday.
Either way, as it stands now, rain for Sunday night into early Monday. Then, by Monday afternoon I am some concerns. I’m worried we find ourselves in the dry slot of the storm. The Euro picks up on this, as does the 18z run of the GFS. I noticed this yesterday but didn’t alter my forecast until I saw more info.
GFS Mond

So based on this, I will increase chances for rain Sunday night and then decrease chances for rain on Monday. Here again, we’ll have to monitor for any changes, especially if this whole thing hits the brakes and slows down.

Looking farther ahead in the magic crystal ball, there are some indications for another system to move through next Thursday into Friday. Temperatures would be in the middle 30s during the day, so I cannot rule out a little wintry mix. Obviously, we’re talking a full week away from today and–as many of us know all too well–so much can change between now and then.

Later tonight, I plan to produce a video blog talking about “chances of rain” in TV forecasts. Seems there is some misunderstanding about the “% chance” you see in a TV forecast really means. I’ll try to break through the fog on this in the video. Keep eyes peeled; I’ll post an update here on this entry when the video is complete.


7:45pm UPDATE
Video blog is up! You can watch it here: