Preliminary Winter Forecast

Good late evening or early morning bloggers,

The winter forecast with an in-depth report will come out later next week on December 4th. We are still in the process of verifying the cycle length and figuring out what this unique pattern will mean for Kansas City and all of the other locations around the United States.  Let’s look at the pieces of this complex atmospheric puzzle.

2We use Lezak’s Recurring Cycle (LRC) as the centerpiece of this complex puzzle that comes together every fall. According to the LRC:

  • A unique weather pattern evolves between August 1st and November 30th.  The old weather pattern falls apart during the first half of this period and by early October the new weather pattern is becoming dominant.
  • Between October 1st and November 10th long term long-wave troughs and ridges become established. These will be the main features that will return at regular times during the rest of fall, winter, spring, and deep into summer
  • A new cycle length is established and is consistent

There are other factors that likely do influence the weather pattern and there are indexes and teleconnections that can be monitored, likely also showing cycling features.  These influences include the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the PNA, the El Nino Southern Oscillation index, and many other possible wild cards:


In recent years the Arctic Oscillation has gained traction as a defining index to help decide whether or not it will be a cold or mild winter. Last winter went against that index as it was not a negative year, and yet last winter was one of the coldest ever across the United States.


When the AO index (and the NAO index) goes deeper into the negative there is a much higher likelihood of Arctic air blasting south into the United States.  Storm systems get energized by a stronger jet stream. The jet stream becomes stronger in response to temperature contrasts. The stronger the contrast in temperatures the more powerful the jet stream will become due to what is called the thermal wind, a fictitious wind that helps generate the jet stream that is experienced high up in the troposphere.  When the AO (and the NAO) goes into higher positive territory the temperature contrast is usually weaker and the jet stream lifts farther north and the pattern will more likely be less stormy and warmer.


This season has seen the AO has trended negative more often than positive, but the jury is still out on where it will go this winter. We have noticed that when it dips into negative territory during October it is a strong indication that it will go deeper negative during the winter months and it is something we are paying attention to.  The NAO has been more into the positive, and this is definitely contradicting the more negative AO, thus far.

El Niño:


El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (Enso) and is characterized by warmer than average ocean water over the tropical Pacific Ocean.  The exact opposite of El Niño is what is called La Niña, or the cooling of the Tropical Pacific waters. There are influences around the world most directly affecting the areas near the tropics. But, these influences can and likely do affect other areas of the world a long distance from the tropics, and the United States definitely experiences these influences.  Right now we are not officially in an El Niño episode as it takes five consecutive three month averages of +.5°C above average or higher. We still haven’t had one three month average come in at that level, but it is likely happening right now.

These are just a few of the factors coming together right now. And, we are still winding it all together and our official winter forecast will come out December 4th. Our weather team at 41 Action News will each their own individual snowfall forecast on our Weathering Winter Special, and I am working on the winter forecast that will come out and try to have a solution for this big LRC puzzle. For now, we can look at the past five winters, of which four of them had quite a lot of snow:


The 3.9″ winter in Kansas City was a high positive AO winter. The 2009-2010 winter with 44″ was an AO negative and a weak El Nino.  How will it all come together this year? I will go over the features coming together next week as we identify and verify a few more parameters that are all coming together.  This year we are forecasting a lot less snow, than that five year average.    We are leaning in the direction of a drier winter and below average snowfall. I am waiting one more week to analyze and make our winter forecast.


We will go more in-depth into these pieces in our December 4th blog. Between now and then it is a dry pattern with a warming trend heading our way Friday into Saturday. I am emcee of the Plaza Lighting Ceremony and Alex Gordon is going to help Flip That Switch Thursday night. I hope to see you out there, or you can watch it on KSHB.com or on your 41 Action News station.


Preliminary Winter Forecast Tonight At 10 PM

Good morning bloggers,

A winter storm is going to be developing today, but Kansas City is again on the edge of this system. This will likely impact travel on Wednesday as will be able to see below. Tonight at 10 PM I will go over the LRC Puzzle and begin the discussion of the winter forecast. This will be a preliminary winter forecast with the full version coming out one week from Thursday on the 4th.  I will be writing up a preliminary winter forecast blog later this evening.


Tonight, there is a fast moving and intensifying storm system that will drop into our area, but as you can see below the temperatures are not of Arctic origin, and we have a Pacific influenced air mass in place. There still may be and likely will be accumulations of snow not that far away, and a few of you likely live in these areas. Chillicothe and Trenton, MO are likely going to see accumulations of snow tonight.


The map above shows the forecast for 4:30 AM Wednesday morning, and the map below is the snow forecast I quickly drew up and showed on last nights 10 PM newscast. It appears that Kansas City will once again be missed by this snow potential as the snowflake contest continues. There is a good chance of some accumulation northeast of Kansas City. Even in these snowier areas the temperatures may be a bit above freezing, so most of the roads will likely see some minor accumulation, and then when the snow ends the snow on the roads would melt fast by early morning. The window for this snow potential will open up around 2 AM and quickly end by around 6 AM. There may be some flurries or snow showers behind the system as the winds pick up from the north, but again temperatures will likely be above freezing.


This storm that will impact our area tonight is part of a series of waves that will likely cause some significant travel delays on Wednesday:


The good news……..after this storm moves offshore, the conditions will improve dramatically on Thanksgiving Day with a big warming trend Friday into the weekend ahead of Sunday’s cold front.


The warm front will pass through and we are forecasting a high into the lower 60s Saturday. By Sunday a cold front will move through so you will likely need that coat for the Chiefs/Broncos game Sunday night, but it will likely stay dry.



We will post our preliminary winter forecast tonight right here.  The full in-depth report will come out one week from Thursday.  Have a great day bloggers!


Congratulations to JD Rudd & Snow Chances

Hey bloggers,

Let’s watch our own JD Rudd on Let’s Ask America at 3 PM today.  We will discuss the weather pattern later today!


Go JD!!!!!!!!

Well, did you watch? Wow! JD won and raised $27,500 for the Red Cross.  The last question asked where people in New York City are most likely to leave their umbrellas, Home, Office, Restaurant, or cab?  JD correctly answered this final question to multiply his winnings by 5 to $27,500.  His answer home!

Now, look at this:


We must watch the Tuesday night storm system closely as that is snow not that far away.  I will discuss this on 41 Action News this evening, and then try to update the blog later.


A murky forecast week ahead & we discuss snow

A ton of things to talk about in our blog tonight. I hope you are sitting down!

First off, I do not see it snowing in Kansas City tonight. I just don’t. The cold air is well up to our Northwest and by the time it meets up with the rain for their date, the moisture will be in Central Missouri. Now, that said, I do think portions of Central & Eastern Missouri have a shot at seeing a dusting to just-under an inch of snow by Monday morning. That would be just outside of our viewing area though.

As of 5:30pm, here is a look at the temperatures around the region….

And a look at the latest radar.

As I explained on the air at 5pm, I don’t see the changeover happening until around 3 o’clock in the morning and a lot of the short-term forecast models are in pretty good agreement about this. So I do feel confident in how our Powercast model is handling things.

Now to be fair, given the big change in airmass (dropping almost 20 degrees), I could see the atmosphere squeezing out a few flurries around 5-6am in and around the Kansas City area. Even the Powercast model supports this. But will it amount to anything? No. It would be much like Tuesday of last week. Enough to make people say “oh,snow!” but it’s not true snow. And it would not accumulate. Any actual snow would fall in Central & NE Missouri as I have highlighted here.
2 PM

Given the rain we’ve seen today, any leftover water on the roads could pose a problem in the early morning Monday. As temps fall just a few degrees below freezing, we could see a little patchy ice on some of the roads. Again, this will greatly depend on what roads have moisture leftover on them as NO new rain/drizzle/snow will be falling in KC during the morning commute. I am not a road engineer so I cannot say with any good certainty where those areas will be. All I can tell you is that temps will dip below freezing around 7 to 8am so that would be when we could see leftover moisture try to freeze. Stay alert.

Something really important that I want to point out: look at the rainfall amounts we’ve seen in the last 36 hours.

On average, the snow to liquid ratio is 10:1. Meaning for every 10 inches of snow, it melts down to about 1 inch of water. So, using the 10:1 ratio (and all other things being equal in the atmosphere), look at that rainfall amount picture again and move the decimal point to the right one digit. If you do that, KCI would have almost two and a half inches of snow yet Downtown KC would have just under a quarter inch of snow and Olathe would have just under three quarters of an inch.
Why does any of that matter? It gives insight on snow forecasting & the challenge that comes with the task. It’s one of the reasons why we forecast snow in a range (1 to 3, 3 to 5, etc). It also goes to show how one select area can get a good amount of snow while others do not. Keep this in mind as we move more into the winter months and we forecast snow. And just remember that if the whole overall system wobbles off course just by 30 miles, an entire snow forecast can change greatly.
And yes, all being equal, there’s have been over seven inches of snow in Kirksville.


I know with the holiday coming up, many are wondering how the weather will play out. Right now, this week is murky at best. The forecast model guidance is all over the place. Oddly enough, there is one day in the next seven where the models are in surprisingly close agreement: Thanksgiving!

There are indications a little clipper system will slide across the area on Wednesday and be gone by Thursday. The question is: how fast can we turn things around? Guidance says highs will only be in the upper 30s to right around 40°. There has been consistency in keeping things dry for Thanksgiving day.

Let me do something to help explain the disagreement in the models. Below is a chart showing all the model guidance data from today’s runs. This is similar to how I write things down every afternoon when I forecast. Some may poke fun at me, but I write things down. I keep notes. I track changes. I cannot try to retain all of that in my mind and I try to look at the major forecast models (GFS, ECMWF, NAM, RPM, RAP, HRRR) to get an overall idea of what could happen.
Forecast Chart

As you can see, the European model believes we see a big warm up next weekend, while the operational GFS model slowly steps our temps down over the weekend. The experimental and soon-to-be operational GFS parallel really dives off the cliff with a cold solution for next weekend. Obviously, with a spread like that, it makes forecasting difficult. If you know me, I will tend to lean toward the Euro model down the stretch. While I am not going to go all-in and totally buy the Euro, I will trend that direction.
Forecasts can differ from meteorologist to meteorologist and it really is about what forecast model you trust more.

Another source I utilize is the Weather Prediction Center and their 7-day “cartoons”. Here is what they are depicting as surface features going down the stretch.

It should be noted these maps are drawn by humans, whereas the computer forecast models are simply numbers spit out by a computer after processing complex math equations.
Looking at the charts (or “progs” as they are called), I can now understand a little more the complex nature of the forecast for Friday-Sunday. We’ll have a shot of cold air trying to push in from the North, but a little surface low hanging out in Southwest KS. Couple that with a surface high over Northern Florida, you’d expect to see an influx of warm air from the South.

My gut tells me you are going to see a variety of forecasts over the next couple of days as forecasters sort this one out and the murky waters clear up.
I know as the “consumer” this can be a challenge because you are trying to plan out various events due to the holiday. Believe me, it’s no picnic for us when we have to leave the forecast open-ended.

All any of us can do is look to tomorrow. And right now, tomorrow is looking cold and windy.
3 PM

The warm air was nice while it lasted. Hope you stay warm on Monday!

Maybe some snow tonight?

Good morning bloggers,

As JD showed yesterday, there is some potential for snow tonight as the rain band increases and the cold air blasts in.  The morning model runs are now showing some snow as the system passes by. Could the snowflake contest come to an end? It would only take around an hour of decent snow to produce one inch on grassy surfaces, so we will be monitoring this closely tonight. And, today is the last day to enter the snowflake contest.



This map shows the NAM model forecast of the thin band, but growing area of snow at midnight. Have a great day, and JD will update the blog later today with his take on this possibility.


Watch for rain & tumbling temps on Sunday

For the first time in almost two weeks, our highs were above average in Kansas City today. And that was despite the cloud cover.
1 PM

Tonight I am expecting rain to move into the area while many of us sleep. There could be a few hit & miss showers overnight along with some drizzle. Temperatures will stay in the 50s so there is no threat of any frozen precipitation. At least, not tonight.

It’s looking to me like the heavier rain will stay just off to the East of KC on Sunday, but there could be one or two pockets of moderate rainfall that pass over us. As for amounts, I’m thinking we’ll see a range of 1/4 of an inch to about a full inch by the end of the day Sunday. Forecast models are not quite in agreement on how much rain will fall. The latest NAM & RPM are depicting higher amounts, while the 18z run of the GFS comes in much drier.

NAM Total Precip - via WeatherBell

NAM Total Precip – via WeatherBell

By 6pm Sunday, NAM suggests around a quarter of an inch in Kansas City. Meanwhile, just to the South & East, amounts around 1″.

RPM Rainfall amounts

RPM Rainfall amounts

The RPM is aggressive with heavy rain amounts in Kansas City, suggesting 3/4 to an inch in the city by 6p Sunday.

GFS Total Precip - via WeatherBell

GFS Total Precip – via WeatherBell

The GFS is not too giving with the rainfall, as it claims we’re lucky to even get a 1/4 of an inch. It is worth noting the GFS does pick up on higher rain amounts to the East and North.

The other story for Sunday will be falling temperatures. I expect us to start out in the middle 50s, then by about 4:00pm, cold air will push in and drop our temperatures into the 40s. We will need to watch and see if the true cold air (below freezing) can catch up to the moisture. I think it will do so Sunday night, once the precip is in Eastern Missouri. When this happens, there will be a little wintry mix to light snow in Eastern Missouri. But again, we’ll need to monitor this. Should the cold air catch up to that precip early, the mix and light snow will develop back to the West in Central Missouri. Obviously, I’ll have a better handle on this tomorrow afternoon. At this time, I do not see a threat for frozen precipitation in Kansas City this weekend. Snow-lovers will have to continue to wait.

Looking ahead to the holiday, we will have another shot of cold air knocking on the door. The forecast high for Thanksgiving will depend on which forecast model you believe in. As of this afternoon, the Euro model says a cold front will just pass through the area on turkey day.

Meanwhile, the GFS says that front runs out of gas and does not make it here until Friday.

If you are a fan of the “numbers”, the Euro says our high on Thursday is 30°. The GFS says 45°. That’s a bit of the spread! Right now, I’m going to lean toward the Euro and put our highs in the middle 30s. As always, that is heavily subject to change depending on the placement and timing of the next cold front.

For now, we will focus on the rain for Sunday (free car wash) and that next shot of cooler air for Monday, as highs return to the upper 30s.

Corridor of Fog and A Sunday Change

Good Saturday morning bloggers,

The ground has been cold and warm/moist air has surged north overnight.  As the warm/moist air runs over the cold ground, the moist air cools and condenses near the surface.  This is creating the fog.  Most of the fog is in a corridor from northeast Iowa to northern Oklahoma, clipping the northwest side of the city.  This will continue this morning, possibly shifting east a bit before the warm and moist air takes over and the fog pushes away.



This afternoon and night will be mild with a high today of 60° and temperatures tonight staying in the mid to upper 50s.  There will be a few showers from time to time and some drizzle, but rainfall amounts will be a trace-.05″.



A significant change arrives Sunday as a storm system evolves over the middle of the USA as it moves quickly to the east.  Colder air will move in during the afternoon as rain and wind increase during the afternoon.  Could we see snow Sunday night?  If the storm really gets organized fast, we could see a period of wet snow before the storm exits.  One factor is that the colder air moving in has a mix of Pacific in it, so temperatures by Monday morning will be 33° to 35°.  So, it will take a heavy snow and stronger storm system for us to have an issue.  It is something to watch.  JD will have an update later today with new data.

SUNDAY AT 1 PM: You can see the colder air moving in and increasing rain.



Enjoy the mild day and have a great weekend.


Rain Today & On The Edge Of Heavy Rain Sunday

Good morning bloggers,

Do you have travel questions for the holiday week? This pattern is changing fast and I will answer your questions at 6:30 PM tonight. Here is the link:

The Chiefs lose in a game that was impacted by the weather. While the Chiefs were bland and being out played by a bad football team in the first half, it was raining, and it was raining hard. It had to impact their moods and play. Then, there was a very  bad call by the referee that helped Oakland’s game winning drive.  The Chiefs are in trouble now, and I know this isn’t a sports blog, but just wanted to vent.  Let’s switch subjects back to weather.  Temperatures will likely warm above freezing before the rain begins. We did go with a 90% chance of rain today, moving in later this morning into this afternoon.  Last night after the game I strongly stated, “there is no chance of any ice in the morning. You need to have clouds first”. And, I clearly showed the low level moisture surging across the Texas/Oklahoma border way to the south at 11:30 PM last night.  That moisture is definitely on the move but the rain will hold off until after it warms to above freezing.


The temperatures will start well below 32° by 6 AM, but then the clouds will surge in and temperatures will rise above freezing before any rain develops.  By Saturday a much stronger storm will begin forming and we will likely see a few bands of showers, but the main storm won’t be forming until around early Sunday morning.


By Sunday, here is one solution that does forecast a nice band of rain:


We will keep you updated. Kalee Dionne is on this morning with JD Rudd helping out.  Have a great start to Friday!  Our preliminary look into winter will be on Tuesday night at 10 PM, and then our entire weather team will be making their snowfall predictions on December 4th on our Weathering Winter special.  And, JD Rudd will also be on Let’s Ask America on Monday at 3 PM. We have a lot going on! Good luck JD!


Major Changes Are Happening

Good late Wednesday night/Thursday morning bloggers,

Our weather team has been working hard at identifying this weather pattern and what it will mean for the winter.  We taped part of our Weathering Winter special that will be on December 4th at 6:30 PM.  We will finish that show by the 4th with our winter forecast revealed then. I will be going over the pieces of the LRC Puzzle that are coming together on Tuesday night at 10 PM and I will make a preliminary forecast for winter snowfall at that time.  But, the full winter forecast will be on December 4th. I have always wanted to wait until the first week of December and we are going to do it this year.


There is a lot going on in the changing weather pattern, and it will have impacts on Kansas City the next few days. The cold air has been quite stubborn and on another cold shot arrived Wednesday afternoon. The cold air will finally retreat and the one spot that will welcome any kind of warm-up more than everyone else will be Buffalo, NY.  Over 75″ of snow in the past three days, are you kidding me. I wish I was there. What an experience, but also scary as seven people have been killed by the winter weather.  As you look at the map I posted, you can see many features. The cold and deep upper level trough is lifting northeast and the jet stream is flattening out.  A split is developing near the west coast and there are two storm systems to track between now and Sunday. Both of these systems will likely bring rain to our area. And, Friday has to be watched closely.  It will be 25° for a low early in the day and rain may develop as that lead little wiggle in the flow moves this way.  A second system is heading into California tonight and this will likely bring rain to Oakland and this will likely affect the Chiefs/Raiders game tonight, which is on your 41 Action News station at 7 PM.  We have an hour long special at 6 PM.  That storm will dig south all the way into northern Mexico, pick up some moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and we have upped the chance of rain to 80% Saturday night into Sunday.

What about Thanksgiving week? The models are all over the place, but I see two possible big warm-ups. Things are changing fast. Hold on for the ride and we will keep you updated on 41 Action News.


From the Freezer to the Refrigerator

Good Tuesday bloggers,

Well, as we forecast days ago, we smashed a record low this morning as we dropped to 6°.  The old record was 14° set in 1903.


The coldest of the air is retreating, but today through Friday we will still see highs in the 30s with lows in the 20s.  This is still 10-15 degrees below average, but much better than what we just experienced.  Today’s high will reach 35° and this will be the first time we cracked freezing since last Tuesday.  So that will make 7 days below 32° which also smashed the previous November record of 4 straight days below 32°.

Highs Tuesday:



Wednesday will see a cold front push through, but the thrust of the cold air will be more to the east than south as the deep eastern North America trough pushes east and flattens out.  So, our highs will stay in the 30s as warmer air builds south.  We will have to watch for low clouds from the north.  If they come in, then it will be a bit cooler that we are forecasting.  At this time, we will go with a sunnier solution.

Wednesday weather:



We then turn our attention to a weekend change as a storm system drops into the southwest USA from the Pacific ocean.  This will do many things to our weather.

1.  It will pump warm air north and we will likely surge to the 50s this weekend as Gulf of Mexico moisture surges north.

2.  A large area of low clouds, drizzle and light rain showers will form Friday over much of the region as the warm/moist air heads north, up and over the current cold air in place.  So, Friday, before the warmer arrives we have a chance of  drizzle with temperatures in the 30s.

3.  We will then have to track the storm system closely.  The current data has the storm tracking too far south to bring us significant rain this weekend.  As is we will have highs in the 50s with a slight chance of light rain.  If the storm comes about 100 miles further north, we will have heavier rain with temperatures in the upper 40s to low 50s.  We will follow this all week.

Friday weather:



Have a great rest of your week.