Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016-2017 Midwest Winter Forecast Details

Our official winter forecast will be released in Mid-Late October. Current and initial indications suggest/favor a cooler than average and possibly more snowy than average winter. Certainly it will be colder than last winter, in large part due to a record breaking El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. More research and forecasting will need to be done in the next several weeks, be sure to check back here and on social media (Facebook & Twitter) for more as we gear up for another winter season. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, April 25, 2016

SPC Outlooks, Survey Results and Discussion

Recent advancements in numerical weather prediction and an increasing degree of the science behind severe weather has been great for meteorologists. However, does this newly found knowledge translate into a better public outreach and public preparedness? Stakeholders with direct communication to meteorologists would say yes, but this does not necessary translate down to the average citizen. While severe weather research and increases in computing power seem to be the new space race within the weather community, the social science aspect is apparently lagging behind. Yes, the National Weather Service has been committed to understanding the general public's needs, for several years. Even in 2012 funding was allocated to the cause. However, we are not quite there for the best understanding of severe weather forecasts within the public.

Most of the confusion comes with the wording with in the Storm Prediction Center. While it is hands down the best severe weather forecasting center in the world, recent changes to their 0-3 day outlooks have been problematic.. The system is to rank severe weather risk in categories from low to high or, "marginal" to "slight" to "enhanced" to "moderate" to "high." While the system is rather new, the issue comes with consistency, sometimes even within the weather service. For example, the graphic attached is a severe weather forecast from NWS-Mobile. While the graphics is great on its own, what does "elevated" and "significant" actually mean? Does elevated mean enhanced? or?
Not only do you have conflicting forecasts within the weather service, local TV stations can sometimes be a problem as well. The image from CBS-Dallas put out an outlook with percentages, and then an area of "chance of significant severe weather" that does no coincide with the filled in areas. Is this just to include the highest population area, including the Dallas metro? Sure seems that way.. and then you have KFOR in OKC doing their own thing:

Not to mention some of the other weather blog or social media pages out their who are mapping out even more misleading information. In an ideal world every media outlet would use the same format, and things would be consistent. Maybe even a 1-5 scale? Like Europe does, even within their severe weather warnings. It is certainly a known issue within the weather enterprise, but it is what we have...for now.

Let's take a look at some survey results, on the current wording in the Storm Prediction Center's outlooks. 100 people, without a weather background were surveyed.

Asking the participants to rank SPC wording into a 5 point scale, with one being the lowest risk for severe weather and five being the highest risk brought on an average response of:

Notice how the enhanced risk is actually thought to be higher than a moderate risk in the survey. I mean, it's definition is "intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of." In fact 16% of participants put "enhanced" above "high". Slight and marginal risk came back as similar results, yet 90% of the results ranked either of these two as 1 or 2 on the 1-5 point scale. Much of the confusion comes with the term "enhanced." Could a "enhanced-slight" solve this? Maybe? In general it seems people to understand a normal low medium high distribution, as the high risk was closest to its ideal rank of a 5, coming in at an average of 4.38 and 70% ranking it as the highest risk of severe weather. Another solution could be to proceed the outlook with a numeric value of 1-5, or "2-slight risk of severe weather." 

The survey we conducted then went on to ask about what your preparedness based on a forecast. The questions were "If you heard your area has a enhanced/moderate/high risk of severe weather today, how would your day change?" The results are below.

It is good to see that a high risk will tend to lead to more preparedness through the day of the event, while enhanced still seems to cause more stir than a moderate risk. Interesting.

Meanwhile, some good news to report from the survey. People are generally well aware of the meaning between a tornado watch and a warning. Here are some results:

And for good measure, the question of where the participants weather alerts generally come from:

Finally, a couple selected comments from the survey:

- "What's enhanced risk? Never heard of this before"
- "My only concern is regarding the many levels of weather conditions. IE marginal, enhanced and slight all sound the same to me. Why not have more simplified categories such as low, moderate and high?"

Overall, I am not calling for a call to action, but rather conveying the point that, the general public will not understand the caliber of a local map that says, "moderate" risk. Meteorologists need to express the extent of the severe weather threat, maybe by expressing how rare an outlook is.

Thanks for checking out these survey results and brief article. You can always follow me on Twitter or 'like' the Midwest Weather Facebook Page.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Major Spring, Winter Storm to Blanket the Midwest

Almost 5 years to the date (Link), another major late March winter storm is poised to strike the Midwest with heavy snow and severe weather to the south. Moderate snow will break out in the northern Plain on Wednesday morning and spread northeast through the day on Wednesday into the early morning hours of Thursday. Computer models continue to bounce around a tad with the exact track of the axis of heaviest snow, but the map on the left is the best bet of where the 6"+ area will set up. Areas closer to the warm front will see some mixing at times of a heavy wet snow, which will limit snow totals as it melts and compacts through the day and even through the overnight on Thursday. Models have been consistent in placing the heaviest band of snow from far SE MN through an area just north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Confidence is high in this location, but on the outskirts of the band such as Minneapolis a sharp snow to no snow gradient will set up, so more tweaks may be needed in this area, same goes for Madison and SE Wisconsin as the rain to snow line may change 20-30 miles, which would have a profound effect on the total you see on your doorstep. Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to follow on Twitter for continued updates.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Robust Winter Storm Pegged to Strike the Midwest

A wide area of heavy snow is expected to move into the Midwest by the middle half of the week. With an arctic area of high pressure setting up to the north before this event, ample cold air will be set in place, providing support for accumulating snow. Snow is expected to break out in the northern Plains Wednesday morning and trek east throughout the day on Wednesday into Thursday. Being a Spring storm we would expect a wet and heavy snow, and this will be the case with this winter storm as well. Regarding the amount of snow in your always it will come down to the exact track of the low pressure system. There is heavy model support for a track that takes it through southern Iowa to near Chicago into Lower Michigan. This is our favored track, however, one of the more reliable computer models with a good track record is favoring a track further south, dropping heavy snow into areas of southern Wisconsin, and the outlined area in yellow. The trend this winter with the models is to bring the snow further north that originally thought, so the current forecast we are going with is to drop snow, depicted in the areas on the attached snow map, southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin. Lots to work through in the next 12-24 hours, expect a more detailed and pinned down snow forecast by that point. Either way, someone will see a memorable snow event of of this. Follow on twitter for live updates

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Winter to Silence the Doubters, it's not over quite yet.

A fierce winter storm looks to bring a variety of weather to midwest on Wednesday. Usually these systems in late March are tough to pin down the potential and location of heavy snow, but with ample cold air settling in, it looks to be a classic looking mid-winter snow event. Weather computer models have been coming together through the last couple days of a track through Nebraska to near Chicago and points east. This would lay down a swath of moderate to heavy snow on the northwest side of the track, with thunderstorms further south and west. In all honesty, this system has been very consistent in the latest model runs and atmospheric data, compared to other systems. However, being that it is still 4-5 days out, amounts and exact locations are certainly in question, but the idea of heavy snow is of high confidence, somewhere across the Midwest. Most likely area in question within the blue shading. While this may change, a broad area of 6-10" of snow if possible, depending on whether or not your area sees the bulk of the snow during the day or during the night. Either way, much of it should melt quickly with a higher sun angle this time of year. There are a couple more systems that may threaten the Midwest further down the pipeline as well. Be sure to check back for updates, as the event nears. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Few Tornadoes Likely this Afternoon and Evening

 A strong upper level jet will spawn the chance for a couple tornadoes, one or two of which may be strong to violent later this afternoon and evening. The skies are clearing in central and southern Illinois at this hour, which will setting the stage for strong to severe thunderstorms in the next several hours. The more daytime heating, the more instability and stronger the thunderstorms can grow, as warm air parcels from the surfaces begin to rise as they are warmed. The threat should ramp up in the next 3-4 hours.
Attached are the winds at 500mb, which are key for supercell and tornado development. Notice a maximum in winds over Illinois, this overlayed with the clearing and instability are just some of the key ingredients coming together in this region. Below is a look at the EHI index, which is the energy helicity index, basically looking at the combination of instability and wind shear, values over 2 support tornado development. Be sure to monitor local weather warnings through the evening.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Quick Hitting Snow to be Followed by near Record Warmth

Please consider taking this 1-2min survey: Link

A weak clipper system will slide in from southern Canada this afternoon into Saturday. Enough cold air will be in place to drop a general 2-4" of snow from northern Minnesota through the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Winter weather advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service. The weather service snow forecast is attached on the right for you. This system is expected to exit the Midwest by Saturday and only bring cool weather for a day or so. Winds will then kick over to a more southerly direction and pump in warm and even moist air from the south heading into next week. The expensive warmth is noted across a variety of models and confidence is high that the Midwest will be well above normal weather will stick around through the next 2 WEEKS! It could rival the warm weather seen in the 2012 Records. This massive ridge developing next week will also kick off some severe weather heading into early next week. We will have more on this active and Spring-like pattern in the next several days.

Monday, February 29, 2016

March to come in like a Lion for some

A quick hitting stripe of accumulating snow is expected across parts of the midwest on Tuesday. A northern stream of energy will dive south and join up with a larger system to the south. As this northern piece moves southeast, a narrow area of lift will produce over a half foot of snow in some spots. It's that time of year where the atmosphere is loaded with more an more moisture from the south. It does not necessary take a massive area of low pressure to pile up some higher totals. However, these snow events are more isolated and can even overachieve. It's not out of the question to see some very isolated locations come in with 9" or even 10" by Wednesday morning. With that said, most places along the axis of accumulating snow will see 3-6" of snow on Tuesday, with less expected on roadways as the pavement temperatures will be borderline to not melt away the falling snow. Winter storm warnings are also in effect for Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois for the combination of 6" of snow possible and gusty winds as the band of snow works through on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Public Service Announcement, Be Aware of "Fantasy Maps" and Click-Bait

With the ever growing access of numerical weather models to the general public, miss-use is becoming an increasing problem. Many of these publications are from non-reputable weather facebook pages or other social media platforms. However, within the past couple years local TV stations have been posting such "forecasts" as well. Their weather graphics service is now granted the ability to publish raw model data such as a snow forecast, and this is a problem. 

See, even with a brief precursor embedded in the post suggesting "it's only one model," facebook users don't always care. They either do not read the size 12 font in the upper right hand corner, or more simply are not familiar with what a weather model is used for. We seem to be shifting into a culture of weather forecasting where each model is a different “forecast” instead of each meteorologist sifting through the data/weather models and creating their own forecast. It takes experience and an understanding of the atmosphere to properly vet each model, and the public is unaware of this.

Regarding recent “viral” snow forecasts, some of which I have embedded in this article, these maps are just unfair to the innocent public. They play to the strong feelings people have about snow. The divide between “snow lovers” and “snow haters” is strong and is an outspoken attitude on social media. It’s is so easy for someone to share a similar map with excitement or with anguish. These maps play to the human nature of a simple numerical value being useful. Seeing a 24” number over your city is cause for alarm, and it should be, but this is not how meteorology works. Telling the future is difficult and impossible; there isn’t one map that can capture how much snow will pile up on your doorstep, contrary to popular belief. We need to be conscience on what we share and how we publish posts about weather. While there is not a true way to fix this issue, I hope people become more responsible and knowledgeable on what/when they share and learn these forecasts will never come to fruition. The hope for the meteorology community it to leap over this hurdle/dent these model forecasts have had on the social sciences aspect of forecasting and the public becomes more appreciable to the success of numerical weather prediction.

Now, since there is a threat of an early week winter storm somewhere across the Midwest let’s talk about it. A relativity deep trough is expected to dig into the eastern half of the country by Monday and Tuesday, aiding in the development of a surface area of low pressure. The exact track and location of accumulating snow is still in question as the system is well out in the data sparse Pacific Ocean. We will have details when the storm gets closer and provide more plausible forecasts on accumulation snow and severe weather further south.

The first couple “snow forecasts” off the model (GFS) are attached above, but just 6 hours later this model tells a different story (see below). This significant change is simple proof on how these model can and do change with events beyond 3-5 days. Please be aware with these forecasts/clickbait, as only you can prevent model-hype. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to follow me on twitter for more weather updates, Twitter

By: Tanner Verstegen

Images courtesy of Pivotal Weather and WXXM

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Heavy Snow and Blizzard Conditions Tuesday

A major winter storm is expected to pass through parts of the Midwest on Tuesday, bringing a range of high impact weather to the region. The track of the system is becoming more apparent as we close in on 48 hours out from the onset. There is high confidence that 6"+ of snow will fall in a large region from northern Kansas to the U.P. of Michigan. Some areas in question include far southeast Wisconsin and the Minneapolis metro area. It will depend on just how much warm air works in and how strong the dry arctic high pressure to the north will be, respectively. 

Theis area of low pressure will ride along a tight temperature gradient and the 250mb jet stream at higher levels. Notice the forecasted temperatures off the GFS model (via weatherbell) in the attached image. This clashing of a cold airmass vs a warm moist airmass will add fuel to the system. Even severe weather and tornadoes are expected to develop south and east of the track on Tuesday. Furthermore, blizzard conditions are expected across Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa on Tuesday and gusty winds with a fluffy snow will create reduced visibilities at times. 

The system is currently crashing on shore this afternoon, and is finally reaching a part of the world where weather observations and data will be ample. This "landfall" will aid in an even more accurate forecast, giving more tools for meteorologists to look at and allow weather models to do what they do best. The track of the system does seem to be in good agreement. However, the potential of poor data achieved over the Pacific Ocean will now be sampled on the west coast and some minor tweaks to the forecast are still possible in the next 24 hours. Be sure to keep it here to midwest weather or follow the meteorologist on Twitter. Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Groundhog Day Blizzard Unfolding Next Week

Computer models and data/observations are continuing to increase confidence in a high impact winter storm to start off next week. The question is who and where sees the bulk of the extreme weather. Right now the system that is forecasted to work into the Midwest is still out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where data is relativity sparse. A lot can change as this disturbance evolves, but the idea of a low pressure ejecting from the Rockies on Monday looks concrete. Blizzard condition are expected to develop in parts of Kansas as we head into Monday and Tuesday. The highest confidence is located in this location, as we have a good evidence that this piece of energy will cross through the four corner regions and dump heavy snow and high winds northwest of the track. Meanwhile, the question of exactly where it goes next us still somewhat up in the air. A stronger system would phase more to the west, while a weak system looks to pass through the Chicago area. Current model guidance is leaning towards a low pressure tracking over Chicago, which would dump the heaviest snow from central Iowa to Northern Wisconsin, similar to this Winter Storm. On the left is a variety of model solutions for this winter storm through a process called ensembling. This process gathers observations and runs the model numerous time. After it is ran with the most current data and observation it is than ran again with 22 different tweaks in the data to make up for error and lack of data across the Pacific Ocean. A few degrees or miles of certain features can certainly affect what happens downstream. It like a pebble in lake, the further away you get the less uniform the waves look. As we get closer in time, the exact track will continue to be easier to pin down and increase confidence. Be sure to keep it here to Midwest Weather as we will have a snow map out over the weekend. You can follow the blog meteorologist on Twitter or 'like' us on facebook. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Strongest Winter Storm in 2016, thus far

A major winter storm is poised to pass through the Midwest to start off the month of February. History and climatology suggests it will take the ideal track as is ejects from the Rocky Mountains early next week. A band of 6-12" of snow will likely set up north and west of the track as it heads into Canada. At this moment, model guidance suggests that this axis of heavy snow will line up from north central Kansas to Lake Superior. Areas further east will see a wintry mix and all rain, while areas further west will see less snow. The shaded blue area on the map is the most likely location of accumulating snow. This track will likely fluctuate east and west through the next several days, but will need to be watched very closely through the rest of the week. Be sure to follow us on facebook and twitter for even more updates.

Below are different ensemble runs of the US weather model, the red numbers indicate the strength and location of each possible storm location. Still a large range of possibilities. As we get closer to the event, this range of solutions will consolidate and confidence will grow. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Powerball Odds of Winning Compared to Extreme Weather Events

With the craze and possibilities of a one billion dollar plus lottery, its easy to get caught up in the chance of winning. The odds of winning (on one ticket) are close to 1 and 300,000,000. The following will examine and attempt to put this number in perspective, as it relates to extreme weather events. Some of the data/odds are calculated from dividing through the total population, while some will be more regional in terms of probability.

The Struck by Lightning Odds:

Certainly, struck by lightning is one of the more common methods in comparing lottery odds to a single event, but lets go deeper. The odds of being struck in one year are 1:1,190,000, so you would need to but 245 Powerball tickets of different numbers to have the same odds as being struck by lightning in a year. Or you could buy 10 tickets to have the same odds at winning a million dollars. The odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime is: 1:12,000. You are around 2 times more likely to get struck by lightning twice in a lifetime than win the Powerball. So let's say you buy a Powerball ticket for every drawing in your life for 80 years, odds suggest you are only 3 times more likely to be hit by lightning. Not bad right? It would just cost you $16,640 to buy a ticket every drawing for 80 years, assuming you buy just one ticket. On a side note, the general population, along with improved technology has decreased lightning deaths from over 400 in 1940, to just over 20/year recently, so these odds continue to become more rare!

The Hit by a Tornado Odds:

Most tornado deaths occur from Strong to "Violent" tornadoes, which is defined by the national weather service as EF-3 or larger. This number makes up less than 10 percent of all tornadoes in a year. According to the National Cimatic Data Center most states in the Midwest average about one EF-3 to EF-5 tornado per 50,000 square miles (lowest values in Michigan, highest in Missouri and Kansas). With this data we can estimate the odds of a particular tornado striking your house. Let's say the average path length of a Strong to violent tornado is 5 miles long and a quarter mile wide. This brings the chance of one of these tornadoes hitting a certain point in the Midwest to: 1: 62,500. Now within this path, only a few houses will see the strongest of winds, about 5% of the affected area. This gives your house a 1:1,250,000 chance of getting hit by the violent and damaging tornado winds. This means you are 233 times more likely to get hit by a tornado, living in the Midwest, than win the Powerball.

The Odds of Dying in a Hail Storm:

While hailstones can reach the deadly size of softballs, or even larger, deaths by a hail storm are very uncommon. Large hail is formed when thunderstorm or supercell updrafts become very strong and have the ability to lift hail stones further into the atmosphere. They can then grow larger and larger with time before they are heavy enough to break through the updraft. Some of these smaller stones will get "flung" outside of the updraft and ahead of the larger hail. Luckily, this provides some lead time for the largest of hail, allowing people to seek shelter in time. The odds of getting killed by hail in United State is: 1:734,400,000. Meaning you are 2.5 times more likely to win the Powerball then die from lightning in a year. There have been some events where 9 People have Died in a powerful hail storm, but most have been outside the United States. Deaths have also decreased in the past few decades with advanced warning by the National Weather Service and more effective communication.

The Odds of your House Hit by a Meteor:

Here's an example where the Powerball is on your side. The odds of a meteor hitting you house are 1:182,138,880,000,000! Meaning you are 623,333 times more likely to win the Powerball with a single ticket than to see a meteor on your house. This means, you are MORE LIKELY to win the Powerball twice (if you buy 20 tickets) then to get hit by a meteor. Nice odds right?

Thanks for stopping in at Midwest Weather! We have a Facebook Page and Twitter

Works Cited
"How Dangerous Is Lightning?" NWS Lightning and Heat. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

"What Are the Odds Of Being Struck By Lightning?" DiscoverTheOddscom. 2012. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

"Scott Sabol's World of Weather." : Odds of Getting Struck by Lightning and Other Weather. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

"Some Probability Estimates." Violent Tornado Probability. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

"Historic Winters Have Delighted, Frustrated and Imperiled - The Boston Globe." Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quick Hitting Winter Storm Across Chicago to Lower Michigan

An area of low pressure will pass through the Midwest and Great Lake Saturday through Sunday. This rapidly developing cyclone will filter in just enough cold air on the back side of the track to drop a general 3-6" with higher amounts in Michigan, where the storm will be stronger and lake enhancement will be in play. Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings will also be in effect across these regions. The official NWS forecast is attached.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Some Snow, Excessive Cold Brought down by a Polar Vortex Piece.

The coldest air mass of the season is on the way for the beginning of next week. Temperatures will run 15-25 degrees below average across much of the Midwest by Sunday, this trend will work east through the middle half of the month. There is little doubt that with the combination of winds and cold temperatures, wind chill advisories will be issued sometime next week. This weather will affect the Minnesota Vikings vs Seattle Seahawks NFL game on Sunday, set to be played in Minneapolis at noontime. The temperature will likely stay below zero for the duration of the game, with windchills well below zero. The cold will begin to be a major storyline in the next few days. 

The overall pattern of cold is brought to us from the weakening strength of the Polar Vortex. Measured, in part, by the Arctic Oscillation, the AO (for short) is forecasted to tank by the weekend. With this circulation weakening, lobes of cold air are allowed to be displaced from the north and reach down to lower latitudes. Think of it as a spinning top, when its strong all of the top is focused in the center of rotation, but when it starts to wobble, it begins to poke further away from the center of rotation. The same thought process is effective when thinking about the polar vortex. The cold is further tapped into thanks to a couple open wave system, or weak areas of low pressure that are expected to pass through the Midwest over the next couple days. The GFS (global forecast system) model for snowfall is attached above, courtesy of weatherbell. A general 3-5" of snow is possible over the next several days. Contrary to some posts on twitter and facebook you may have seen, this will not be a large system! Partially due to the fact that to energy in the four corners region will be ejected in pieces, instead of one large cluster. Either way, behind the system(s) winds will shift out the northwest and usher in much colder air into the region. Another surge of cold is forecasted on the European model, as seen in the animation above, next week. Below is a look the forecasted wind chills for Sunday morning! They do not moderate much through the next 48 hours, as temperatures and winds continue to be cold and strong, respectively. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

HEAVY SNOW and near Blizzard Conditions Monday

A strong cyclone will move into the Midwest Monday into Tuesday from the south. Ample moisture and enough cold air will be in place to drop excessive amounts of snow across the area. This system is already responsible for 3 FEET of snow in West Texas and is poised for the Midwest. We will not see quite that much, but many areas have the potential to reach a foot of snow with this system. Exactly where the heaviest bands set up will play a major role in who sees these high totals. Western Iowa to far southeast Minnesota looks to be in the hot zone for the heaviest snow, with the U.P. of Michigan also seeing some lake enhancement, where totals over a foot will be common by Tuesday. Another complication to the forecast and travel conditions will be some sleet and freezing rain mixing in for a period of time in eastern Iowa and southeast Wisconsin. Warm aloft, will poke in from the southeast and create a narrow layer of melting. Just how far that can get north will effect snow ratios and snow totals. While this may cut into totals a tad,  snow and sleet accumulations will still be substantial across these areas, a winter storm warning is in effect across these parts and points north and west.

On the right is the expect start time for either snow (in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin) or sleet/rain (in Michigan). Once the band reaches you area, expect it to stick around for 18-24 hours. The snow will be heavy at times, with snowfall rates of around an inch an hour expected during the height of the event, before wrapping up late Monday night into Tuesday morning. Some flurries and snow showers could linger into Tuesday across Minnesota and Wisconsin, as cold air aloft works into the area, snow totals less than an inch expected Tuesday.

Furthermore, gusty winds in Eastern Iowa and Southern Wisconsin will also bring major issued to the areas. Combined with the freezing rain potential, wind gusts over 40mph could cause major issues, including power outages. Blizzard criteria may be reached in southern Wisconsin and parts of Iowa tomorrow afternoon. This will need to be watched closely heading into Monday. The map on the left shows the GFS modeled peak wind gusts Monday evening, courtesy of weatherbell. Thanks for stopping by Midwest Weather and be sure to like us on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Possibly Travel Crippling Snow and Ice Storm on the way

A major dynamic storm system is currently dropping heavy snow as far south as northern Mexico, and is poised to charge north into the Upper Midwest. All types of weather will be likely, from rain to freezing rain to sleet and snow. While the snow will be heavy, the real story could be a major icing event. Over a quarter inch of ice is possible, combine this with high winds, and a serious situation could unfold on Tuesday. Model consistency is not to the point where we would like it at this point, but the map above draws out the "most likely" scenario. Most models do take the heaviest snow from central Kansas north through Lake Superior. This has also been the trend to bring the storm more northwest than originally forecasted. However, there has been some model runs that shift the storm southeast and lay down 6-12" of snow in eastern Iowa to southern Wisconsin and Lower Michigan. This will need to be a trend to watch. Either way, a widespread swath of 6"+ is very likely across the Midwest Monday into Tuesday. The thought is that this model (the GFS) will shift northwest again to follow its other fellow models, in the next few runs. Be sure to monitor the latest forecasts and keep it here to Midwest Weather for updates, You can also follow me on Twitter for more discussion.

Below is a look at two major weather models. **NOT A FORECAST** But it does show the spread in challenges given to a meteorologist. Using a general 10 to 1 liquid to snow ratio:

Monday, December 14, 2015

El Nino to Stand its Ground through the New Year

At this point in the winter it is no secret that El Nino is strong, and has already toppled records, depending on what index you look at. With that said, it certainly continues to play a critical role on the weather across the Lower 48. Over the weekend, record high temperatures were recorded in 23 states, mainly east of the Mississippi River. This unprecedented warm stretch of weather is thanks to a large ridge that has persisted over the eastern half of the country. This blocking, pushes the jet stream north and allows warmer weather from lower latitudes to move north as well. While some people may be ready for winter, mother nature has different ideas. Besides a brief cool down later this week, the rest of December looks to stay on the warm side, east of the Mississippi River.

However, this battling of air masses could set up a major storm system around Christmas. Current indications are that it will be cold enough for snow north and west of the track. We are still 10 days out from the event, so the track is in question, but the best guess would take it up from the southern Plains to the Upper Mississippi River Valley. It looks to the be the best shot for a white Christmas across the most populated areas in the Midwest, besides Tuesday-Wednesday for areas further west...see snow map below. Be sure to check back for updates on this possible Christmas Winter Storm in the coming days!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Winter Storm Monday into Tuesday

Heavy snow is expected to break out ahead of a developing area of low pressure and area of warm air advection. The snow will begin Monday morning for most places. I wide swath of 6-10" from Sioux City to Minneapolis is expected. Areas near the Mississippi River will battle warm air surging north from the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, hense the heavier snow west. Higher terrain will amplify snow total in southwest Minnesota, where over a foot of snow is possible. Many of the short term models do indicate numerous areas on banding, so a large gradient in final snow totals is expected. One city could maybe have 8" but 30 miles to the east or west might end up with 3". It will depend exactly where each band sets up. Unfortunately it can be tough to forecast such events, but the most likely amounts are plotted above. Thanks for stopping by at Midwest Weather. Check out the tabs above for more weather information, especially the computer snow output page! 

Heavy Snow Monday into Tuesday across the Midwest

Heavy snow is expected to break out ahead of a developing area of low pressure and area of warm air advection. The snow will begin Monday morning for most places. I wide swath of 6-10" from Sioux City to Minneapolis is expected. Areas near the Mississippi River will battle warm air surging north from the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, hense the heavier snow west. Higher terrain will amplify snow total in southwest Minnesota, where over a foot of snow is possible. A FULL UPDATE will be posted later this evening, including an official Midwest Weather snow map.

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