Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wild, Wacky Weather Week

9:15 PM Sunday Update... I have no changes to my prior thinking, but I wanted to give you a little more insight into what will happen Tuesday and beyond.

Rain will be heavy across much of Arkansas Tuesday with a wintry mix across the north.  By the afternoon, the surface low will move east and our winds will begin to come out of the west and northwest at speeds of 15-25 mph.  Temperatures will tumble, but the best moisture will be gone by the time the subfreezing air arrives.  There could be a change over briefly late Tuesday, but it won't be much if any.  The real deal will be west and north of Arkansas.  The northwest corner of the state will have some ice, then snow.  The higher elevations of far northern Arkansas may also have a wintry mix turn to snow before ending with some accumulation.  The southeastern part of the state could even get into a few thunderstorms.  The temperature contrast across Arkansas Tuesday afternoon will be wild... 20s north to near 70 southeast.  We're still 36-48 hours away (as of Sunday night) and things could still change, but probably not by much.  This will a huge storm affecting millions of Americans. 

Temperatures Thursday and Friday morning will be bitterly cold and I don't think the models have a full grasp on that just yet due to the fresh snowpack to the north.  Our air will move over that snow and bring an extra chill.

I'll keep you updated Monday and Tuesday!

8 AM Sunday Update... Just had a very quick look at all the data this morning and it seems all the models are showing a track of the low pressure which would only bring wintry weather to northwest Arkansas. It's mostly a cold rain in central Arkansas with thunderstorms possible across the far south and southeast corner of the state.  This will be a situation where temperatures across the state will be in the 20s northwest to near 70 southeast... a HUGE contrast. For those of you wanting winter weather, I know you must be disappointed, but on Tuesday, step back and watch this storm with appreciation.  You will not often see a system so dynamic bring extreme types of weather to such a large area of the country.  I wish I could bring the snow here, but it's just not in the cards this time.

There is a chance for a very brief change over to some light/snow or ice in central Arkansas late Tuesday, but I have big doubts about that.  We may get a dry punch of air at that time which ends the precipitation.  Some moisture will wrap around the storm and bring light snow to northern Arkansas.  The one thing we definitely can count on is the cold weather following the system.  I still think the difference between highs Saturday (77 in Little Rock) and lows by the end of next week, could be around 60 degrees.  The air traveling over the fresh snow pack to the north will keep the temperatures chilled here.

Some of the models keep a piece of energy in the southwestern United States and eject it out late in the week.  One model even tries to bring some wintry weather back into the state, but at this time, it's the only one doing this.  I'll keep watching it for you.  Again, Tuesday will be fun to watch the extreme nature to this storm across the central United States.  It's our neighbors to our north and west who will talk about this for a very long time... enjoy mother nature at work.

I'll have another post later today and if anything changes (it always could), I will let you now A.S.A.P.

_______________________________________________________________________

From a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in North Little Rock...

"IN EVERY FORECASTERS CAREER THERE ARE CERTAIN SITUATIONS WHICH ARE CLEAR-CUT. THE MODELS REMAIN CONSISTENT...THE FORECAST DOESN'T VARY MUCH FROM RUN TO RUN...YOU END UP WITH WHAT STARTS OUT AS AND REMAINS AN EASY FORECAST.

THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. FIRST...I'LL TALK ABOUT THE OVERALL PATTERN
DETAILS...THEN THE MODEL ISSUES."

It's the truth, this next storm is the king of challenges.  To hang your hat on any particular model run is setting yourself up for a big time busted forecast.  I don't think we will have a clearer picture until the arctic air really gets into the United States and the storm system in the Pacific Ocean comes ashore.  I have seen model runs giving northwest Arkansas a foot + of snow only to have the next show 1 inch.  Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, arctic air is not handled well by any model.  Some do a better job and theoretically the NAM should see it better with its higher resolution and better interpretation of topography.  However, the NAM has performed lousy this winter.  Maybe this time it will redeem itself.  The GFS keeps shifting the track of the surface low... south, north, south, north.  The Euro had a BIG snow for much of the state just 2 days ago, it's now in the warm camp.  I think for northern Arkansas there is a much higher degree of confidence in wintry weather.  It's further south into central Arkansas where the low level arctic air will give forecasters fits.  I have been forecasting for more than a decade now and have never seen a forecast bust too cold in this type of situation so you can see my worry with this.  It's not snow that I'm concerned with in central Arkansas, it's ice and it all depends on that area of low pressure and how far south the arctic air penetrates.  Right now I think a cold rain is a safe bet in Little Rock.  As that low passes to the south and east, very cold air will pour into this region of the state.  How much moisture will remain at that time?  I think a dry slot of air COULD travel into our neck of the woods and choke off the moisture at that time.  It's also possible for moisture to wrap around the area of low pressure and bring the wintry precipitation further south into Little Rock Tuesday night.  Again, this is pure speculation right now as the models are having a difficult time.

Now the cold behind this system also varies with each model you look at.  Right now, I have to side with the colder modeling for the period Wednesday through Friday for a couple of reasons.  First, most of the data shows a 1044 mb + high coming out of Canada.  There isn't much that will stop that cold air from flowing southward.  It's like water falling down a mountain... good luck stopping it.  Second, that air will be transported from the north over a fresh snow pack.  This will keep the air chilled.  It's those reasons I have highs not getting above freezing Thursday with lows in the teens.

I urge you not to think for a second that this forecast is etched in stone.  Anyone who tells you they know exactly what will happen isn't telling you the full truth.  The picture will become clearer soon and you can bet I'll be here to tell you all about it.

You can expect a BIG post Sunday... as if this isn't one.

23 comments:

Eric said...

Good post todd we have seen this setup before the arctic air will spill down over the ozarks and come in down through searcy to little rock. This forecast is going to be a haed one to forecast im glad its not me that has to do it.

Anonymous said...

Is northern arkansas getting ice? I keep hearing about it and just wondering whats going to happen or atleast an idea.

Jason H said...

Remember last years storm when models called for a big snow in Northern Arkansa and Southern Mo for 3-4 days just to shift it toward Little Rock 24 hours before the storm hit? We got hardly anything here while Little Rock to Newport got a nice snow....Just saying...

Jeff Pate said...

do u think that southern arkansas has a higher chance of severe weather or wintery weather...

J.Betnar said...

Southern Arkansas has a shot for just a cold rain... Maybe a change-over to the icy stuff late Tuesday Nite/Wed morning

Anonymous said...

Todd, your blogs are awesome!! I find myself checking them several times daily, especially with the possible return of another winter storm to the state this week. I have told many members of the "Weather Forecast Gang" to check the blog for the best weather predictions ANYWHERE!!
From the blog numbers, they have been following my advice. My "audience" totals 626, but not anywhere near your numbers. Just hoping we don't another vicious ice storm as we did in 2000. That was a nightmare!!

cb6000 said...

The only things that appear certain are the fact that things will get much colder, and this will be a major storm. Will the cold air get here quicker than the models are pointing out? Will the storm move faster than expected, or will it slow down? We'll have to wait and see. When Sunday gets here, we may have a much different picture than what the Saturday models are showing. We may see wintry precipitation in more areas, or we may end up with less or no one getting decent wintry precip. Here's hoping it's not a big freezing rain event, but that's not entirely out of the question. I'm wish for more snow. I will keep checking back for more updates.

raishaw said...

Looks like Southern Arkansas has a better chance for severe weather to me. :-( I'd rather have snow.

Anonymous said...

Yes its very disappointing no winter weather for central arkansas. Im not going to watch the storm or any weather tuesday if i watch it i will be very jealous seeing the other states getting snow and us just plain cold rain. My kids are upset also oh well life goes on.

Anonymous said...

Honestly is mountain home getting in on the ice storm? Ive asked this two other times and know one has even replied. People should take into consideration that an ice storm is much worse than snow so i hope someone could give me a hint here lol. I dont like ice!!!

Anonymous said...

I just typed in the Clinton zip code on the NWS site to check the forecast. It said 100% freezing rain for Tues. (I'm assuming evening). What are your thoughts? Is this going to be an ice event as far south/central as Clinton or Van Buren Co. or is it staying in the NW corner?

Look forward to your reply,
Allie

Cumulus Maximus said...

if mountain home gets an ice storm, it wont be like the 2009 storm in north arkansas. probably start as ice, but when the surface low moves east the arctic air should quickly turn the precip to sleet and snow. its the ice storms where the freezing rain is long duration and last throughout the entire event that cause the most trouble.

has the snowbird bob jumped off of that limb he went out on a couple days ago cause it is clearly about to break...or its at least cracking.

and todd, there is nothing enjoyable about watching 2 inches of rain fall when a record breaking snow is occuring at silver dollar city 150 miles away. its too depressing to watch.

Jason H said...

Some folks in Southern Missouri is going to see tons of sleet with this storm,and a little futher north of that....well 18-24 Rolla Mo?

Anonymous said...

To answe the two questions above mountain home ur on the border look for ice about quater of an inch hazordous driving 3 pm on. As far as clinton you will be fine your to far south for anything but cold rain.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now is the national weather service gonna put mountain home in a winter storm watch? Or are they gonna wait thew last minute like usual.

Winter Eve said...

Well here in Batesville we are only looking at rain app. & a chance for some thunderstorms. I just wished it would either stay warm and nice or cold and snowy. But who knows, maybe there will be a complete turn around and we see some snow. I know one thing is for sure, mother nature is going to keep all of us on our toes!

Eric said...

guys if anyone thinks this forecast is set in stone you are mistaken. not to beat a dead horse but the models dont handel cold air that great. the winter storm watch is 0nly 60 miles north of little rock we still are 36 to 48 hours from the start of the event. if that low tracks 50 miles off course to the south us in central ark may have a nightmare on our hands tues evening/night. i have seen this lots of times before where the cold air is more south then forecast. i can see pulaski, faulkner, saline getting more ice/snow then what the noaa or anyone else is saying.

cb6000 said...

I have less optimism about the Tuesday storm, but that doesn't areas south of the winter storm watch will escape the wintry precipitation. Could still change. If we don't get any more snow, I'm ready for things to warm up. To me, heavy rainfall with temperatures just above freezing would be a missed opportunity for big snowfall. We'll see!

Amy said...

Ok...I just need to vent a little here! To a Weather Geek Queen like me, there are no two words more depressing in the English language when sitting side by side than "cold" and "rain"!!! C'mon you guys....REAALLLLY???? We've been watching this for over 10 days!!! The original fear was that it might go too far south....now it's barely slipping to our north. We might as well be using a Magic 8 Ball to forecast this La Nina weather!! In the midst of this record breaking season across the U.S., I'm beginning to feel like Winter's step-child. Last week it was Tennessee and Mississippi...this week its Oklahoma, Missouri and even Texas!! Couldn't we just squeeze out a snowflake or two here!!! I certainly don't want the ice that seems to be looming dangerously for someone, but I agree with "Cumulus"...there is just no way to enjoy a nice rain, when somebody is getting a beautiful snow just a short drive away!! Having vented all of that frustration, the "Geek" in me is not ready to let go yet!! I'm going to hang onto that limb a little longer. They never get these tracks exactly right....NEVER!!! If this low tracks just a little south, we could be back in the game!! For now...I will continue to THINK SNOW!!! Snowbird...you be safe traveling up north in this monster storm, and Todd, thanks, as always..for keeping us informed!!

Snowfreak said...

The 18z nam from yesterday is going to verify. If it does. Then thank God for a miracle

J.Betnar said...

I wouldn't count Clinton out by a long shot! I've been monitoring the best place for a big ice-then-snow event. Clinton seems like a sweet spot for a little of everything, Allie. It could get bad quickly if the arctic air blows in prior to the models' predictions. Even just a couple of hours could change a lot. I think stay on edge from Clarksville to Bee Branch to Batesville. This could pan out to get ugly.
Just a hunch, I'm only 17 :p

Anonymous said...

Guys remember last feb's big storm- even 24 hrs out really even 12 hrs out everyone thought we would get cold rain and maybe a flurry... everyone keeps saying is dense and heavy and the models underestimate it. We seem to get our best storms when we least expect it which makes it Magical! This weather geek isn't giving up what little hope I have left for snow Tuesday! Let it Snow!!!

Eric said...

This forecast for cen ark tues STINKS. A cold nasty rain when seems like everyone else snow. We just need a mirracle to happen lets hope these models are way off on the track of the big red L up in the sky. Todd we need ur help talk to mother nature for us if this storm wont bring us snow try to get us some real soon thanks.

NOAA Winter Guidance