Thursday, December 15, 2016

B-R-U-T-A-L Cold Comin

It's cold now and only going to get colder later this weekend.  The major temperature swing we have been talking about for several days now is still on schedule.  With so much going on, I have a ton of maps to post below detailing the whole situation.

It should be noted for all snow lovers (including me), this is NOT how we get big snow in Arkansas. By far, the biggest story will be the cold air and the wind chills.  I still expect wind chill advisories for far northwest Arkansas for Sunday morning.

As far as the severe weather threat, it's there!  However, the threat is on the low end of the scale and confined to southeast Arkansas.

Some of these maps are courtesy of Weatherbell.com and EuroWx.com

The GFS valid noon Saturday shows much of the state in the warm sector with the leading edge of the arctic air in the northwest.  While the Ozarks are well known for slowing the southward push of cold air, I do think it will be a bit further south than this model projects at this time Saturday.
By 6PM, Saturday, the front is moving through central Arkansas according to this run of the GFS.  Once again, I think there's a good chance it's a bit further south than shown here.  Nevertheless, look at that temperature contrast!  Low 20s north to near 70 south! WOW!  At this time, there will be a slight risk for some severe weather southeast Arkansas in the warm sector.
By midnight Sunday morning, the entire state will be in the dome of arctic cold.  Low to mid teens north with 40s southeast and temperatures tumbling.
A wind chill advisory may be needed for northwest Arkansas. Early Sunday morning, the NAM (North American Model), has wind chills around -10° northwest.  Other models have wind chills around 0 to -5°.  Elsewhere, wind chills will be in the single digits and teens.  Actual air temperatures will likely not go above freezing Sunday. You need to remember the 3 P's: PETS, PIPES, AND PEOPLE
What about snow?  Moisture in the cold air will be limited and drying up as the cold air pushes through the state.  This is NOT the ideal set up for big snow in Arkansas, but a few flakes may fall.  The cold air will not be deep enough initially so there may be a brief period of light sleet for some locations, then a quick transition to light snow mainly for the NW1/2 of the state.  While flakes could fly into central Arkansas, any accumulation will likely be confined to the NW.  This is the European model with a dusting to 1'' possible northwest.
The GFS looks fairly similar with that area of the state favored as well.  This does NOT mean you won't see a flake or two fall elsewhere.
Our preliminary forecast calls for a dusting to 1'' in the blue.  Across the remainder of the state, there could still be areas of light snow or sleet with little to no accumulation.
In summary, this potent front is quite typical this time of year.  While it will be a shock, it's not unheard of to have these huge temperature swings.  As always, things can still change, but I don't think by much as we are now fairly close to the event.  I'll keep you updated.

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