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.