Claiming “Neutrality”: Shane Holinde’s Winter 2016-2017 Outlook

Fall is finally behaving…well, sort of like Fall. Many folks woke up to widespread frost and a hard freeze this past weekend. This means it’s that time again: Time to deliver my outlook for the upcoming Winter season! If you’ve lived in South-Central KY for awhile, you know darn good and well no two seasons are exactly alike for us. Take the last two winters, for example. The seasonal snow totals wound up being almost the same, yet the two seasons saw stark and DRAMATIC contrasts in temperature. Two winters ago, we encountered a brutally cold February with several subzero nights. At the opposite end of the spectrum was last December, one that felt like “Christmas in the Carribean”, to quote a song title from my favorite singer, Jimmy Buffett.

30706266890_520f635a9d_m

A LOOK BACK:  Before I get into this season’s outlook, I want to glance back at what went right AND what went wrong with my Winter ’15-’16 Outlook.  I mentioned it would be a “Jekyll and Hyde” kind of season with LOTS of ups and downs. Safe to say, it certainly had both. I thought December would wind up with above average temperatures, which was correct, although I underestimated HOW warm (record warmest December, in fact). I also felt the coldest part of winter would come later in the season, which was also correct (coldest reading happened in late January with another chilly stretch in mid-February). It was also wetter as a whole vs. the previous winter season.

What caught me by surprise…alright, I’ll just say it: STUNNED me…was how much snow our area saw from the VERY FEW times the air grew cold enough for a decent snow to happen.

How weird was last winter? Consider this: It was Bowling Green’s 2nd WARMEST IN THE LAST 50 YEARS (avg temp Dec. 1st through Feb. 28th: 42.1°), yet we wound up with over TWO FEET OF SNOW for the season! If you’d have told me last December when we were picking off one record high after another, I’d have cackled loudly. My forecast going into last season? 8.5-11.5” of snow. Um…yeah, that part didn’t go so well. But to my credit, I predicted most of that would come from two or three systems, and that much was true.

We had back-to-back systems in mid-January, with 2.5” falling on the 20th followed by that WHOPPER of a storm on the 22nd that dumped 12.2” on Bowling Green! Another blockbuster event took place on Valentine’s Day, with much of our area receiving 4-7” of the white stuff (5.5” fell in Bowling Green). Those totals went a long way toward sending us over the 20” mark for a second consecutive season. That’s more than many of our neighbors to the north experienced (Louisville, Lexington, and Evansville, among other cities had far less). Not to mention, we’re going into this winter with back-to-back 20”+ snow seasons for the first time since the late 1970s! Unreal.

By the way, here’s a picture from my house taken on January 22nd, in case anyone had forgotten how impactful that winter storm was.

30706140370_467cb36b53_m

 

If I had to grade last year’s outlook on just temperature and snowfall forecasts alone, I’d barely give it a passing grade, to be honest. But I did have SOME of the IDEAS right, and as mentioned here last year, just nailing down those ideas, especially months in advance, is half the battle with these seasonal forecasts. So, I’ll give myself a “C” for last year’s outlook.

Last season is ancient history, so let’s move on and discuss this season. I know the temptation will be to scroll down and find the actual forecast, but I do want to walk you through the various players that shape up our winters and how/why I come up with the kind of forecast I have. The talk will get technical at times, but I’ll do my best to explain things as I go.

1.)  EL Niño/La Niña (EL NINO-SOUTHERN OSCILLATION)

           Let’s first review “El Niño” and “La Niña”. Basically, El Niño is an abnormal warming of the sea surface water in the Central Pacific ocean off the South American coast.  When those same waters cool, it’s a “La Niña” condition.  If the water temperature at the sea surface is right at or close to normal, neither El Niño nor La Niña is present.  That’s what we call an “ENSO Neutral” condition.

This season, we have a “weak” La Niña going in. However, it looks like that will trend more toward “Neutral” around mid to late winter.

elnino_lanina

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

As mentioned, we had a stout El Niño in place last year, one of the strongest ever, in fact. That was a big reason why the lower 48 was often flooded with unusually warm temperatures (some of us weather-types call that the “blow torch” effect). However, on the rare occasions in which the polar jet stream (the northern branch of the jet) dropped southward and interacted with the subtropical jet stream (or “Pacific” jet, as depicted above), we got blitzed with some crippling snows! In “Neutral” seasons, however, the subtropical jet is USUALLY not as active as in seasons with a more-pronounced El Niño or La Niña. That’s one of the reasons why I think this season will be drier than last.

2.)  PDO/AMO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation/Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation) 

        The PDO refers to water temperatures in the North Pacific south of Alaska and off the coasts of western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.  Much like last season, the waters in these regions have been running warmer than normal.  That’s a key component to consider, because when waters off the southern shores of Alaska are warmer than average, we often see big ridges of high pressure become established over the Gulf of Alaska. If other indices and teleconnections are in place, such a pattern often force very cold air to ride up and over and then down into the lower 48. The chart below shows a history of PDO cycles (note the cold PDO though much of the 1960s and ‘70s, many of those years featured harsh winters for South-Central KY):

Figure_PDO-01

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

The AMO refers to the overall water temperature in the Atlantic.  The AMO typically runs in 30 year cycles.  Throughout much of the late 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the AMO was in a “cold phase”.  Some of you may remember the brutal winters we endured during that stretch (1959-’60 and the last three seasons of the ‘70s). The AMO was also in a cold phase back in the 1910s, a decade that featured one of the Ohio Valley’s most severe winters (1916-’17 and 1917-’18, respectively).  Since the 1980s, however, the AMO has been in a “warm phase”.  It remains in that mode now, although not as warm as in recent years.

Amo_timeseries_1856-present

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

3.)  NAO/AO (North Atlantic Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation

These pressure systems are the “wild cards” when it comes to winter forecasting.  Unlike the indices mentioned above that deal more directly with sea surface temps, these refer to the movement (a.k.a. oscillations) of semi-permanent pressure systems in the North Atlantic and Arctic, respectively.  Those movements can be erratic, and it’s difficult — even for the most experienced meteorologists — to forecast them beyond two to three weeks out.

Shane_NAO2

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

There are two phases of both the AO and NAO.  When each is in a negative phase, the polar jet tends to dip down into the eastern U.S., sometimes sending cold, arctic air into our region.  By the same token, a positive phase of each of those indices generally means the eastern U.S. (including our region) is mild to warm. During our extended period of cold air from mid-February to early March 2015, the AO and NAO tanked. Will such fluctuations occur again this season? They could, and when they do, our chances for wintry weather often increase.

4.)  OTHER PLAYERS

            There’s still a lot of uncertainty on the role solar flares and their cycles play on winter weather.  Some speculate that more solar flares/activity leads to milder conditions.  Solar activity has not been all that impressive of late.

Another factor to consider is snow/ice cover across North America. There are some similarities in this year vs. last:

30972445886_edcac2f9cc_m

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

Above is last year around this time, below is our latest imagery. You do have to travel quite a distance north/northwest to find some snow in the ground. Also noteworthy has been the lack of snow in the Central Rockies so far this Fall.

31007451525_32d3bed16e_m

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

STORM TRACKS

The polar and subtropical jet branches are key to how our storm systems move and what type of precipitation they bring. I have posted maps of three that are very common for our region during winter: The Southern Plains to Great Lakes track (aka “Lakes Cutter”), the fast-moving systems that dive southeast out of western Canada (aka “Alberta Clippers), and the southern-tracking systems that often pump moisture northward into the Ohio Valley (aka “Deep South/Piedmont” track).

Basically, if you really LOVE snow, the “Deep South/Piedmont” track is the one you want to see. I’d say eight times out of ten, our biggest snows have come from systems that track through central MS/AL/GA before heading NE into the Piedmont of North Carolina. Such a track is what brought us substantial snow totals in the storms of February 16, 2015 and January 22, 2016. Occasionally, a “Clipper” can bring us light snow accumulations, depending on the track. If you dislike snow altogether, then the “Lakes Cutter” is your track.

22829142348_5f0561bfca_m30972783446_446ab790a8_m22829140428_f36ee7e8a7_m

ANALOG YEARS

Each season is so different. While this upcoming season will NOT be an exact copy of any of the ones listed below, my thinking is that it will bear SOME resemblance to these winters based on similar ENSO patterns and teleconnections along with oceanic temperatures.

1980-‘81

1983-’84

1995-’96

2008-’09

Some nuggets about the above winter seasons:

*Winter 1980-’81 followed a scorching summer (we’re coming off one this time, too). This season was mostly uneventful with the exception of one MAJOR storm that brought 6-10” of snow to South-Central KY at the end of January (7” fell in Bowling Green). That blockbuster snow was followed by flooding and rapid snowmelt just two days later.

*Winter 1983-’84 featured WICKED cold (though very little snow) on Christmas followed by some sub zero nights in January and early February along with above average snowfall those two months

*Winter 1995-’96 brought not one but TWO BIG snows to our area…the first in early January and the second on the first day of Spring (March 1996)

*Winter 2008-’09 featured below-average snowfall for Bowling Green, but most memorably, this was the season of that devastating ice storm in January 2009 that paralyzed many of our northern counties. I am NOT saying we will see a repeat this winter, but throwing the fact out there.

THE WINTER FORECAST

         As always, the focus is on the three months that make up “meteorological winter” December, January, and February.  Here comes the obligatory disclaimer: This is NOT an official First Alert Storm Team forecast!  It’s simply my own take on how I think the season may go.

DECEMBER:   While I do NOT think it will go down as one of our coldest ever, I do have reason to believe it will not be as warm as December 2015. For one thing, last December was anomalously balmy, and two, there are signs that some high-latitude blocking (that negative NAO I mentioned earlier) might show itself on occasion. This should allow for the polar jet to dive into the lower 48 on occasion. For those wanting a White Christmas, something we haven’t experienced since 2010, such a scenario COULD provide you with some hope. Of course, moisture has to be present when cold air is to bring us significant snowfall. With the subtropical jet looking less active this go round, that combination could be hard to come by. Never say never, though! I will go out on a bit of limb here and say we have a good chance at seeing our most snowfall in December since 2010 (we’ve seen no more than 0.1” in any December since). We’re overdue in that regard.

DECEMBER TEMPERATURES:    1-3 degrees above normal (Avg. temp for the month is 38.6)

DECEMBER PRECIP:   Slightly below normal

DECEMBER SNOWFALL:  0.5”-1.5” (just above normal)

JANUARY:   I expect some stretches of mild weather with cold shots coming from time to time. The coldest air probably shows up later in the month. While the subtropical jet does not appear too active through mid-season, I still expect several “chances” at significant snowfall, with our area likely cashing in on at least one or two of those. Watch for an ice threat this month.

JANUARY TEMPERATURES:  1-3 degrees above normal (avg. temp for the month is 35.7)

JANUARY PRECIP:  Below normal

JANUARY SNOWFALL:  2-4” (2” Below normal to near normal)

FEBRUARY:  This is the month that could feature some of our coldest temperatures and best chances for snow. This is because it appears ENSO indices will be most “neutral” this month, allowing for more cold shots to come our way. The subtropical jet also tends to be more active in February than in January. I highly doubt it will be as cold as February 2015, though.

FEBRUARY TEMPS:  1 degree below normal to 1 degree above normal (avg. temp for the month: 39.8)

FEBRUARY PRECIP:  Slightly above normal

FEBRUARY SNOWFALL:   4-6” (Above normal)

_______________________________________________________________________

Here’s a general view of what I anticipate:

TEMPERATURES:   Near to slightly above normal overall

 

PRECIPITATION:  Below normal overall

 

TOTAL SNOWFALL:  (8-12” – near to 3” above normal, factoring in possibility of slushy late-season snow in March)

 

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE STORM SYSTEM BRINGING US AT LEAST 4” OF SNOW:  60%

 

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE STORM SYSTEM BRINGING US AT LEAST 6” OF SNOW:  30%

 

CHANCES OF SEEING A WHITE CHRISTMAS:  10%

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE ICING EVENT OF A TENTH OF AN INCH OR GREATER:  60%

 

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE SIGNIFICANT SEVERE WEATHER EVENT BETWEEN DEC. 1ST AND FEB. 28TH:  30% (low chance due to weaker subtropical jet but can never rule out one or two episodes…we always have to be ready!)

 

SEASON’S COLDEST TEMPS:  Around 5 degrees (should happen in early February)

 

Other key points here:

**This should NOT rank among our coldest or snowiest seasons ever, but we WILL encounter wintry conditions on occasion

**Bowling Green has not seen three straight winters with more than 20” of snow since the late 1970s. Odds are HIGHLY against that feat being matched this season, but just so you know it has happened in the past!

**I like ONE GOOD SHOT at a snowstorm potentially bringing us 4” or more, with most other events being minor (less than 3”)

**It’s possible we could have one last accumulating snow event in March this year

**I think a significant icing episode (one bringing us ¼” of ice or more) is a greater risk this season based partly on past history of “neutral” years

**Our ongoing drought could be tough to shake given the weak ENSO signal shaping up for this season. Don’t be surprised if drought conditions persist for awhile

As always THERE IS BUST POTENTIAL WITH ANY FORECAST, especially one that goes several months out!  The snowfall portion holds the biggest bust potential. If the subtropical jet stays suppressed to the south and/or the polar jet stays locked up into Canada, then we could wind up with less snow than forecast.  But if the two jets line up and “phase”, look out.

My thanks to Dr. Greg Goodrich, professor of meteorology at WKU, for his input while I comprised this outlook.

And now…we watch. And wait.

Thanks for reading.

Shane

Shane Holinde’s Winter Weather Outlook 2015-2016

With the start of “meteorological winter” (the period from Dec . 1st through the end of February) almost here, it’s time for me to make that annual stab at forecasting what’s to come for South-Central KY in the next three months. If you love snow, perhaps you’ve been awaiting this with baited breath. Then again, if you’re one of those that strongly dislikes snow and cold, perhaps you are NOT looking forward to this season after the way last winter concluded! But it’s important for all of us to remember that each season truly is its own animal. Some of the players on the field going into this Winter are obvious. Others…well, not so much. And it’s those variables – aka the “wild cards” – that can throw things for a loop. Think “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, as I believe that’s how changeable this upcoming season will be.

jeckyll

A LOOK BACK: Before I jump into what I expect for this season, I do want to take a look back at Winter 2014-’15 and grade how I performed.  Last season did not present as many forecast challenges for us as the season before it (where we were seemingly “on the fence” between precip types in practically every event), but boy, did it ever end on a BRUTAL note! It’s easy to forget that going into mid-February, Bowling Green had less than 4” of snow for the season. In fact, very little school was missed through the first two-thirds of last winter. Then came that infamous week of Feb. 15th! Not one but TWO crippling snowstorms clobbered South-Central KY late season…one on Presidents’ Day (which was followed by more snow, record sub-zero cold, then ice and heavy rain) with the other coming on the eve of March 4th into the morning of March 5th. Both systems had parts of our area measuring the snow in FEET and not just inches.

Remember scenes like this? This pic from last season is NOT from Minnesota. It was taken right here in South-Central KY:

snow_2015_2

***MAKING THE GRADE: LAST YEAR:

 

2014-2015 Forecast snowfall for the season – 12-16” (about 3-7” above our seasonal average)

 

Actual seasonal total:  24.0”

 

GRADE: Obviously, my snowfall projection wound up well shy of the actual total for the season! BUT, I did have the IDEA right in that I believed we would wind up above normal in the snow department. So that much did verify. Getting the idea right is half the battle with these long-range outlooks. Heck, it’s tough enough just to nail snowfall accumulations within 8 hours of an event, much less over a three-month span.

***With that in mind, I’ll give this part of my forecast from last year a B-.***

 

 

2014-2015 Forecast temperatures :

 

–Dec. 2014: (1-2 degrees below normal) Actual monthly average: 41.7 (3 above normal)

 

–Jan. 2015: (1-2 degrees above normal) Actual monthly average: 34.6 (1 below normal)

 

–Feb. 2015: (0-2 degrees below normal) Actual monthly average: 29.3 (10 below normal and one of our coldest Februarys EVER!)

 

GRADE:  December didn’t pan out so well for me, although January was called on the nose. As for February, again, the idea was right in that I believed it would be chillier than normal, but it turned out BITTERLY cold, especially in its second half. I also mentioned in last year’s post that I believed the season would be colder than normal overall, and that did come to pass.

 

***All things considered, I would score the temperature portion of last year’s outlook with a B- with the same average for the forecast overall***

abc

 

To quote “The Monkees”, that was then, this is now. Let’s discuss this season and the factors taken into most consideration with this year’s forecast.  The talk gets a little technical, or “weatherese” as I like to say, so hang in there with me.

 

1.)  EL Niño/La Niña (EL NINO-SOUTHERN OSCILLATION)

 

          You probably have heard the terms “El Niño” and “La Niña” at some point.  Basically, El Niño is an abnormal warming of the sea surface water in the Central Pacific ocean off the South American coast.  When those same waters cool, it’s a “La Niña” condition.  If the water temperature at the sea surface is right at or close to normal, neither El Niño nor La Niña is present.  That’s what we call an “ENSO Neutral” condition. Without a doubt, El Niño is what we have going into this season, and it’s a stout one at that!

el_nino

 

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

Last year, we had only a weak to low-end moderate El Niño in place. That was important for us, as often times in such winters, while the subtropical jet stream may not be as active as it is in a Strong El Niño season, some of our coldest, snowiest winters tend to be those with weaker El Niño conditions. As mentioned, however, that’s not the case heading into this season. A strong El Niño means a very active Pacific jet…one that will send a lot of systems into the southern United States. Sometimes those weathermakers stay to our south and miss Kentucky altogether. But if the jet rides farther north, it can send a lot of moisture our way. Then it becomes a matter of how the Polar jet to the north interacts with that subtropical moisture. That can be the difference between rain and snow.

 

2.)  PDO/AMO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation/Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation) 

 

The PDO refers to water temperatures in the North Pacific south of Alaska and off the coasts of western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.  Heading into this season, the waters in these regions have been running a bit warmer than normal.  That’s a key component to consider, because when waters off the southern shores of Alaska are warmer than average, we often see big ridges of high pressure become established over the Gulf of Alaska. If other indices and teleconnections are in place, such a pattern often force very cold air to ride up and over and then down into the lower 48. The chart below shows a history of PDO cycles (note the cold PDO though much of the 1960s and ‘70s, many of those years featured harsh winters for South-Central KY):

Figure_PDO-01

 

 

The AMO refers to the overall water temperature in the Atlantic.  The AMO typically runs in 30 year cycles.  Throughout much of the late 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the AMO was in a “cold phase”.  Some of you may remember the brutal winters we endured during that stretch (1959-’60 and the last three seasons of the ‘70s). The AMO was also in a cold phase back in the 1910s, a decade that featured one of the Ohio Valley’s most severe winters (1917-’18).  Since the 1980s, however, the AMO has been in a “warm phase”.  It remains in that mode now, although not as warm as in recent years.

Amo_timeseries_1856-present

 

3.)  NAO/AO (North Atlantic Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation

 

These pressure systems are the “wild cards” when it comes to winter forecasting.  Unlike the indices mentioned above that deal more directly with sea surface temps, these refer to the movement (a.k.a. oscillations) of semi-permanent pressure systems in the North Atlantic and Arctic, respectively.  Those movements can be erratic, and it’s difficult — even for the most experienced meteorologists — to forecast them beyond two to three weeks out.

Shane_NAO2

 

There are two phases of both the AO and NAO.  When each is in a negative phase, the polar jet tends to dip down into the eastern U.S., sometimes sending cold, arctic air into our region.  By the same token, a positive phase of each of those indices generally means the eastern U.S. (including our region) is mild to warm. During our extended period of cold air from mid-February to early March last season, the AO and NAO tanked. Will such fluctuations occur again this season? One can only speculate at this point.

Arctic_Oscillation-01

 

4.)  OTHER PLAYERS

 

           There’s still a lot of uncertainty on the role solar flares and their cycles play on winter weather.  Some speculate that more solar flares/activity leads to milder conditions.  Another factor to consider is snow/ice cover across North America. There’s a notable difference in how it looks this year vs last year at the same time. Here’s last year (at least 1” of snow on the ground where you see white – note the snow cover upstate along the Ohio River):

snow_cover2015

 

And here’s how it looks this year. You have to head quite a ways north to find some snow this go round. This is one reason why I think our seasonal snow tally will be lower this time:

snow_cover2014

*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

No two winters are exactly the same. What makes this season particularly challenging with my forecast is that I could not find a really good analog match in terms of past seasons with similar patterns and teleconnections. Previous Strong El Niño seasons have not been big snow producers for our area. In fact, the last three seasons that fit in the “strong” category (1972-’73, 1982-’83, and 1997-’98) all featured below-average snowfall for South-Central KY. Great if you like it mild, though not what you wanna hear if you want to break out the sleds again. But oceanic temperatures going into this season don’t exactly match those other strong El Niño years. So with that in mind, these are the seasons that were given some weight, aside from the three I just mentioned:

1965-‘66

1987-’88

2002-’03

2009-’10

And yes, even 2014-’15, although El Niño is more pronounced this go round

 

THE WINTER FORECAST

 

With all that said, let’s get to the reason why you came here:  The Winter Outlook. My focus is on the three months that make up “meteorological winter” December, January, and February.  I’ll add, too, that this is NOT an official First Alert Storm Team forecast!  It’s simply my own take on how things may play out.

 

DECEMBER:   It’s a month that should set the tone for how the rest of the season goes…that being up and down. I think we could have a chilly start and finish to December with some mild periods in between. In many years, we don’t see much more than a trace of snow in December, with much of it holding off until January. It’s worth noting, however, that in December 1997 – right in the midst of a Strong El Niño – we had a decent snowfall to the tune of 2-4” regionwide just a few days after Christmas.

 

 

DECEMBER TEMPERATURES:    1-3 degrees above normal (Avg. temp for the month is 38.6)

DECEMBER PRECIP:   Near normal

DECEMBER SNOWFALL:  Less than 1” (Near to below normal)

 

JANUARY:   Again, I expect some stretches of mild counterbalanced with some cold shots here, with the coldest air likely showing up later in the month as El Niño starts to collapse. A weakening El Niño usually allows for the Polar/Northern branch jet to make a move southward more frequently. Such interactions are key when it comes to snow/ice threats. We’ll have at least two or three of those threats this month.

 

JANUARY TEMPERATURES:  1 degree above to one degree below normal (avg. temp for the month is 35.7)

JANUARY PRECIP:  Near normal

JANUARY SNOWFALL:  3-5” (Above normal)

 

FEBRUARY:  While a carbon copy of last February’s brutal cold is NOT likely, this could be the month that brings us the most cold shots along with chances for wintry precipitation. El Niño’s predicted collapse should be in full swing during this period, although the subtropical jet should stay active late season. Don’t be surprised if we have to deal with severe weather during this time frame, too.

 

FEBRUARY TEMPS:  1-3 degrees below normal (avg. temp for the month: 39.8)

FEBRUARY PRECIP:  Above normal

FEBRUARY SNOWFALL:   3-5” (Above normal)

 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

 

Here’s a general view of what I anticipate:

 

TEMPERATURES:   Near normal

 

PRECIPITATION:  Slightly above normal

 

TOTAL SNOWFALL:  (8.5-11.5” – near to slightly above normal)

 

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE STORM SYSTEM BRINGING US AT LEAST 4” OF SNOW:  70%

 

CHANCES OF SEEING A WHITE CHRISTMAS:  5%

 

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE ICING EVENT OF A TENTH OF AN INCH OR GREATER:  40%

 

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE SIGNIFICANT SEVERE WEATHER EVENT BETWEEN DEC. 1ST AND FEB. 28TH:  40% (lower chance than in La Nina winters but one or two severe episodes are possible)

 

SEASON’S COLDEST TEMPS:  Between 5-10 degrees (should happen in late January) 

 

Other key points here:

 

**The odds of a repeat of our brutal stretch of weather last February into early March are VERY slim. Having said that, there will be some snow, and we will encounter some cold air from time to time

 

**I think most of this season’s snow probably comes from two or three storm systems

 

**The odds of a repeat of last season’s lack of thunderstorm activity (no thunderstorms at all from late October through March) is also VERY slim. I would not be surprised to see a couple of severe weather threats for us over the next three months

 

**It’s possible we could have one last accumulating snow event in March again this year. I believe that since El Nino will be collapsing late in the season, which may allow for more cold shots then

 

As always THERE IS BUST POTENTIALWITH ANY FORECAST, especially one that goes several months out!  The snowfall forecast, as always, holds the biggest bust potential. If the subtropical jet stays suppressed to the south and/or the polar jet stays locked up into Canada even more often than I expect, than we could wind up with less snow than forecast.  But as we saw last season, if the stars line up correctly, we can see a blockbuster.

 

Sometimes we’ll see Dr. Jekyll, sometimes we’ll get a look at Mr. Hyde. We now sit back and see how this all plays out. Thanks for reading.

 

Shane

Winter Weather Outlook 2014-2015

Hi folks! We’re into the final weeks of “meteorological Fall”, which runs from September 1st through November 30th. But Mother Nature has already delivered reminders that Winter will soon be upon us. Many of us saw our first snowflakes of the season on Halloween night. Remember last November? Bowling Green picked up an inch of snow three nights before Thanksgiving. We are indeed entering the time of year where ANYTHING goes with our weather. With that in mind, it’s time for me to make my annual predictions on the upcoming season.

Winter forecasting is mighty challenging! Each year brings us a different set of atmospheric setups resulting in variable patterns. Fluctuations in the two jet streams (the subtropical and polar) that steer our storms and control our weather during the cold season have EVERYTHING to do with what we see and what we don’t. Trying to predict exactly how the jet streams will behave and interact is not simple, especially two to three months down the pike. Heck, last season was proof that it’s tough enough just nailing down possible snow/ice accumulations only a few short hours prior to a winter storm’s arrival! But there are clues that provide us forecasters with some ideas on what kind of patterns will try to establish themselves and which pattern may be the most dominant over the course of a winter season.

Before I get into the discussion of this season’s “atmospheric players”, let’s check for a moment to see how I did overall with last Winter’s forecast. Let me first say this about last year: It was the TOUGHEST WINTER I have ever faced in my 14 years of forecasting at WBKO! It seemed Bowling Green was almost always on the rain/snow fence or was on the edge of a main snow band with practically each system that came through.

***LAST YEAR: 2012-2013 Forecast snowfall for the season – 7-10”. Actual seasonal total: 10.4”, although nearly half that amount came with the big snow/sleet storm (more sleet than snow) that hit on March 2nd/3rd.

2012-2013 Forecast temperatures (here’s where I really wound up with egg on my face!):

–Dec. 2013: (1-3 degrees above normal) Actual monthly average: 38.8 (close to normal)

–Jan. 2014: (0-2 degrees above normal) Actual monthly average: 29.4 (6 below normal)

–Feb. 2014: (1-3 degrees below normal) Actual monthly average: 35.2 (4 below normal)

That was last year. Now, let’s talk about this season and the factors that were given considerable weight when I comprised this outlook. Bear with me, as the talk gets technical at times, but I shall do my best to explain as I go.

1.) EL NINO/LA NINA (EL NINO-SOUTHERN OSCILLATION)

Chances are you’ve probably heard about “El Nino” and “La Nina” since these two often steal the headlines. Basically, El Nino refers to an abnormal warming of the sea surface water in the Central Pacific ocean off the South American coast. When those same waters show cooling, it’s “La Nina” that is present. If the water temperature at the sea surface is right at or close to normal, neither El Nino nor La Nina is present. That’s what we call an “ENSO Neutral” condition. Such was the case last season.

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*Imagery courtesy of NOAA

Early in the Summer, NOAA issued an El Nino Watch for the good possibility of significant warming in the central Pacific waters. Up to this point, however, that warming has been modest at best. So it’s clear we are NOT looking at a strong El Nino this season. The forecast indices continue to hint at what will likely be a weak El Nino this upcoming season. This DOES have a great deal of bearing on my forecast. Normally, strong El Ninos result in very mild winters with not a lot of snow for us. However, weak El Ninos tend to be much colder and snowier overall for Kentucky.

2.) PDO/AMO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation/Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation)

The PDO refers to water temperatures in the North Pacific south of Alaska and off the coasts of western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Heading into this season, the waters in these regions have displayed some warming. That’s important to this forecast because often when that warming occurs, we’ll see large ridges of high pressure become established over the Gulf of Alaska, which can often force very cold air to ride up and over and then down into the lower 48. The chart below shows a history of PDO cycles (note the cold PDO though much of the 1960s and ‘70s, many of those years featured harsh winters for South-Central KY):

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The AMO refers to the overall water temperature in the Atlantic. The AMO typically runs in 30 year cycles. Throughout much of the late 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the AMO was in a “cold phase”. Some of you may remember the brutal winters we endured during that stretch (1959-’60 and the last three seasons of the ‘70s). The AMO was also in a cold phase back in the 1910s, a decade that featured one of the Ohio Valley’s most severe winters (1917-’18). Since the 1980s, however, the AMO has been in a “warm phase”. It remains in that mode now. Many speculate this could be a major reason why many (though NOT all) recent winters have been relatively mild for our region.

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3.) NAO/AO (North Atlantic Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation

These pressure systems are the “wild cards” when it comes to winter forecasting. Unlike the indices mentioned above that deal more directly with sea surface temps, these refer to the movement (a.k.a. oscillations) of semi-permanent pressure systems in the North Atlantic and Arctic, respectively. Those movements can be erratic, and it’s difficult — even for the most experienced meteorologists — to forecast them beyond two to three weeks out.

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There are two phases of both the AO and NAO. When each is in a negative phase, the polar jet tends to dip down into the eastern U.S., sometimes sending cold, arctic air into our region. By the same token, a positive phase of each of those indices generally means the eastern U.S. (including our region) is mild to warm. The AO/NAO fluctuated wildly at times last winter, often resulting in repeated shots of bitterly cold air. Long-range climate outlooks hint that high-latitude blocking may set up at times again this season, which could lead to extended stretches of very cold air. Again, one can only speculate.

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4.) OTHER MINOR FACTORS

There’s still lots of uncertainty on the role solar flares and their cycles play on winter weather. Some speculate that more solar flares/activity leads to milder conditions. Another factor to consider is snow cover across polar regions and Canada leading into November.

I don’t fly blindly when it comes to comprising seasonal forecasts. There really is a lot to consider. The variability of the AO and the NAO does not make forecasting any easier. But it helps to look back at previous winters to find those that saw atmospheric conditions and ocean temperatures similar to what is expected this go round. Those seasons are referred to as “analog” seasons. Here are the ones I found that seem to most closely resemble the kind of pattern I think shapes up this winter:

1965-‘66

1976-’77

1987-’88

2002-’03

2009-’10

Notice most of those seasons I have listed show up here in this composite of temperature departures from normal (courtesy: NOAA)

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If you like snow, you’ll be happy to know that many of the winters mentioned above were pretty generous in bringing the white stuff. The season that may raise a few eyebrows might be 1976-’77. That El Nino season featured some brutally cold weather (esp. in January ‘77) with many days of sub-zero cold and over 20” of snow! More recently, 2002-’03 gave Bowling Green around a foot of snow with 16” falling in ‘09-’10. I will say ‘76-’77 is the extreme/worse-case scenario in terms of cold – one that is HIGHLY unlikely to be duplicated this season. But remember…none of this is a guarantee!

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THE WINTER FORECAST

With all that said, it’s time for me to cut to the chase to get into what I know you came here to read: The Winter Outlook. My focus will be on the three months that make up “meteorological winter” December, January, and February. I’ll add, too, that this is NOT an official First Alert Storm Team forecast! It’s simply my own take on how things may play out.

DECEMBER: This could be a tale of two halves. I think the November chill could carry over into the first half of this month, with a milder spell to finish it. Probably not what you want to hear if you’re hoping for a White Christmas, although we can never say never to that. In a way, this month could be shades of last December…one that started mighty cold before warmer temperatures won out for awhile late. I do think we’ll have at least a couple of shots for accumulating snow during this month.

DECEMBER TEMPERATURES: 1-2 degrees below normal (Avg. temp for the month is 38.6)

DECEMBER PRECIP: Near normal

DECEMBER SNOWFALL: 1-2” (Above normal)

JANUARY: This is normally the coldest of the winter months, and overall, this one should be quite chilly! We should see the polar jet take more plunges southward this month with at least a couple of extended periods of cold. I don’t look for the entire month to be bitterly cold, though. Past history of years with patterns similar to this one indicate we will see some mild periods (January thaws) from time to time. January 2003 and January 2010 both had their fair share of very cold temps but we did see the cold relax for roughly a 10 day stretch in those months. Snow amounts will greatly depend on how the polar jet interacts with the subtropical jet. In previous weak El Nino winters, South-Central KY usually came close to, or was right in the middle of a major winter storm. A storm in late January 2010 brought 5.5” of snow to Bowling Green…the most from one system since March 1996. However, in January 2003, a similar system took a jog further south and nailed Nashville with 8” of the white stuff while Bowling Green wound up with only three inches. Another winter storm took a track almost like that one in January 1988 (another El Nino season) with parts of Tennessee getting more snow than South-Central KY. History could repeat itself if we see the southern-branch jet stick closer to the Gulf coast this season, but I think our area gets in on at least a couple of decent snows in January 2015.

JANUARY TEMPERATURES: 1-2 degrees below normal (avg. temp for the month is 35.7)

JANUARY PRECIP: Near normal

JANUARY SNOWFALL: 5-7” (Above normal)

FEBRUARY: This is often the toughest month to make a prediction as there is more uncertainty about how the patterns will behave this far out. So again, we must look at past history with our analog seasons. In most of those seasons, we had at least one significant snow event during February with one or two other minor events. Something else we may have to watch for this season is an enhanced risk for an icing episode. February 2003 brought a major ice storm to northern portions of the WBKO viewing area as well as Northern/North-Central KY. I believe February starts cold before some late-month warming takes place as Spring draws closer.

FEBRUARY TEMPS: 0-2 degrees below normal (avg. temp for the month: 39.8)

FEBRUARY PRECIP: Above normal

FEBRUARY SNOWFALL: 5-7” (Above normal)

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When it all shakes out, here is the way I envision the season unfolding:

TEMPERATURES: Slightly below normal

PRECIPITATION: Slightly above normal

TOTAL SNOWFALL: (12-16” – 3-7” above normal)

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE ICING EVENT OF A TENTH OF AN INCH OR GREATER: 40% (lower than in “ENSO Neutral” seasons)

CHANCES OF SEEING AT LEAST ONE SIGNIFICANT SEVERE WEATHER EVENT BETWEEN DEC. 1ST AND FEB. 28TH: 30% (lower chance than in La Nina winters but one or two severe episodes are possible)

SEASON’S COLDEST TEMPS: Between 0-5 degrees (should happen in January)

There you have it. Basically, when it’s all said and done, I think this season is snowier overall although probably not as “stretched out” with the snow events as last season, when the first occurred in November and the last in mid-April. In each of the weak El Nino seasons that served as analogs for this one, we did not see significant snowfall after February. That is not to say we won’t see accumulating snow in March (recall our biggest winter storm of last season happened Mar. 2nd/3rd), but I think it’s less likely this time. Once the cold breaks in these weak El Nino seasons, it’s usually “hello Spring” afterward. We shall see if this one follows suit!

I’ll be the first to admit THERE IS BUST POTENTIAL with any forecast, especially one that goes several months out! For example, if the subtropical jet stays suppressed to the south and/or the polar jet stays locked up into Canada more often than expected, than we could wind up with less snow than forecast. But I am leaning quite a bit on past history with weak El Nino seasons that featured similar sea surface temperatures and indices.

I’d like to know what YOU think. Do you agree or disagree with my outlook? Let me know either via my professional Facebook page, my twitter feed (@Main_Event_Wx) or via e-mail at shane.holinde@wbko.com. Just keep the comments clean, please.

As always, be ready for no matter what the weather throws our way this winter season. Have a plan of safety should you ever need to use it. Whether an ice storm or a tornado, you should always be prepared. As we like to say around here “Know the weather before it knows you!”

Let the games begin.

Shane

Summer 2014 Forecast

“Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do but there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” – Eddie Cochran

That’s right.  Summer is now upon us, which means it’s time for another seasonal outlook.  Now I promise this will NOT be as lengthy a read as my Winter Outlook.  We don’t have near the number of factors or complexities that must be examined when making a winter forecast for our area. That being said, no two summers are exactly alike.  Take the past two, for instance.  2012 and 2013 were as different as night and day. 

First, I should clarify the months I am focusing on here.  Memorial Day weekend marks the “unofficial” start of the season, while June 21st is the first official day of Summer, according to the calendar.  My forecast will focus on the period that makes up “Meteorological Summer”, which is June 1 through August 31st. 

For sake of perspective, here are the AVERAGE temps/rainfall amounts for the next three months:

June: Temp: 75, Rainfall: 4.2″

July: Temp: 78.7, Rainfall: 4.1″

August: Temp: 77.5, Rainfall: 3.3″

Now, let’s examine some factors at play:

1. El Nino:  Although it’s impact on our summers is typically not as great as it is on our winters, El Nino will play a role in how this one pans out.  “El Nino” refers to warmer than normal sea surface temperatures over the Central Pacific Ocean waters close to the equator. 

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When this pattern shows itself during the summer, more times than not we will see a large ridge of high pressure build over the Western/Central U.S. with a bit of a trough over the East.  Pictured below is the way I see the predominant jet stream pattern shaping up over the course of the summer.  Keep in mind there will be fluctuations in the pattern from time to time.
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2. Southwest/Southern Plains Drought:  Perhaps you’ve heard about the recent California wildfires in the news.  Many parts of the SW United States and Southern Plains are bone dry…much drier than normal.  Drought begets drought, and as we saw here in South-Central KY two years ago, massive heat waves tend to build right over drought-stricken areas.  The lack of evaporation (a cooling process) from dry ground/vegetation often allows daytime readings to soar and become incredibly hot.  The Southwest U.S. is already getting a taste of that, and while I do NOT expect a repeat of 2012 here, we may feel that heat on occasion when the flow turns more southwesterly this season.

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3. Great Lakes Chilled:  Let’s not forget, we just emerged from one of the coldest winters much of the country experienced in the past couple of decades!  A bi-product of that was the freezing of the Great Lakes, something that is NOT an ordinary occurrence. Lake Superior still more than half-blanketed in ice when this month began!  The slow melting of that ice cover will keep the Lakes cool well into at least the early part of Summer.  You may wonder, “what does that mean for us since we’re hundreds of miles south of the Lakes?”  Well, the wind blowing off those cooler Lakes will translate to cooler surrounding land, and at times, that air may be transported southward when troughs develop in the jet over the eastern U.S.  This may lessen our chances for seeing extended heat waves this season.

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So, with those factors stated, here’s my outlook.  As always, this is just my own take on how I see Summer 2014 playing out and NOT an official First Alert Forecast.

Temperatures:   I do NOT look for a repeat of the kind of excessive heat we saw in 2012, when an all-time record high for June was established at sizzling 110 degrees!  I think with an upper wind flow often coming from the WNW, we’ll likely see temps wind up just a hair below average when it all shakes out.  That’s not to say we won’t experience a few very hot and humid days, and for us, that is NOTHING atypical.  Humidity may run high on occasion, since I think we could experience a bit more rain than usual.  Of course, the humidity combined with the heat makes readings “feel” hotter, but wetter soils tend to keep actual temperatures in check. But I think days that trip the National Weather Service’s “heat advisory” criteria (heat indices of at least 105) will be few and far between.

AVERAGE NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE DAYS FOR BOWLING GREEN IN A YEAR: 42* (*based on 1981-2010 average)

Number of 90 degree days last Summer: 22

*FORECAST NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE DAYS THIS SUMMER: Between 30-40 (below average)

*HOTTEST TEMPERATURE: 98 (in July)

*FORECAST NUMBER OF 100 DEGREE DAYS THIS SUMMER: I’m going to say none, although there may be a couple of close calls.  I believe several days could feature heat index values between 105-110.

Rainfall: A WNW flow aloft often keeps the pattern pretty active for Kentucky during the summer season.  It often results in disturbances that move along the flow, sometimes bringing us large storm clusters known as “MCS’S” (mesoscale convective systems).  These often dump a good amount of rain, although they can sometimes result in damaging winds, something that may keep us forecasters on our toes.  Things tend to become more dry as summer wears on, and I believe this one probably follows suit climatologically speaking.  I don’t think this season is as soggy as last Summer, one in which July 4th was washed out for many, but I don’t foresee our area returning to drought in the near future.

AVERAGE RAINFALL FROM JUNE THROUGH AUGUST:  11.33″

Total Rainfall from June 1-August 31, 2013: 18.17″

*FORECAST RAINFALL FOR THIS SUMMER: Between 11-13″ (Near to just above normal)

One more footnote to the precip amounts:  Remnants of a tropical system can skew the forecast totals quite a bit.  That possibility cannot be ruled out.

So there you have it.  I look for a fairly active pattern this summer, one that will be stormy at times though not as soggy as 2013.  And while there will be a few scorchers, this season will not rub shoulders with those from the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s or the record-shattering Summer of 2012.

Have a great Summer!

Shane

Remembering January/February 1994: Winter’s TKO

If you’ve watched our weathercasts over the past several days, you’ve probably heard 1994 mentioned a time or two.  Monday featured some of the coldest daytime readings South-Central KY has experienced since then.  It’s been frigid, no doubt, but readings from the past two days don’t even hold a candle to the kind of temperatures and wind chills this state dealt with 20 years ago!  Not to mention, the kind of snow and ice that preceded that cold.  And that event was followed by another crippling ice storm just a few weeks later in February.  Some of you may have better recollections of the second one, and for good reason.  Back to that in a moment.

The night of January 16, 1994 was one of those times when all the right ingredients for a major winter storm came together for the lower Ohio Valley.  Arctic cold was already in place.  Bowling Green woke up to a reading of -1, which is the last time we had subzero with no snow on the ground.  The temperature climbed into the upper 20s late that afternoon and evening as clouds rapidly increased.  Winter Storm Warnings had been hoisted for the entire region. By nightfall, a messy mix of freezing rain and sleet had developed across Western KY, spreading eastward as the evening wore on. With the ground already very cold, roads quickly became icy and treacherous.  To the north along the Ohio River, the mix changed to a very heavy snow in Paducah, Owensboro, and Louisville. “Thunder” snow was reported in some spots, with snowfall rates near 3″ per hour at the height of the event! 

The change from a mix to snow worked southeastward through the night, reaching Bowling Green before daybreak on January 17th.  While the city didn’t get in on the really huge snow totals seen over the northern half of the state, about a half a foot of snow fell on top of a 1/2-1″ of ice in the city before the snow moved out early that afternoon.  The heavy snow/ice accumulations weighed down trees and power lines, causing electricity to go out for thousands.  As temperatures tumbled from an early morning high in the lower 30s down into the teens by evening, all travel came to a halt!  In fact, then Governor Bererton Jones declared a State of Emergency for the entire Commonwealth.  All interstates and parkways were shut down so they could be cleared.  But clearing the ice and snow was easier said then done.

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Things went from just plain cold on the 17th to INCREDIBLY cold on the 18th and 19th!  The core of a frigid arctic air mass settled into the region on the 18th.  Daytime temperatures hovered near 0 in Bowling Green, with wind chills near -20.  As skies cleared and winds relaxed on the morning of the 19th, record low after record low went by the wayside.  Most reporting stations across South-Central KY dropped into the teens below 0, some even into the -20s! 

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With readings so cold, salt was rendered useless on Kentucky roads for several days after the early week winter storm.  This kept a lot of roads impassible, especially rural routes.  Some places were only reachable by helicopter.  And that wasn’t the only problem the cold caused.  Natural gas explosions took out several homes near downtown Bowling Green during the height of this arctic outbreak.  The extreme cold made putting out the large fires that ensued very difficult for firefighters.

By Thursday the 20th, a slow warmup and gradual improvements were underway.  At least one lane of I-65 and the Natcher Parkway were opened, with both thoroughfares reopen by Friday as the State of Emergency was finally lifted.

Old Man Winter’s one-two punch had come and gone. The next few weeks saw generally milder weather for Kentucky.  Then came the “TKO”: February 1994.

Few could have believed a paralyzing ice storm was just hours away from developing on Tuesday, Feb. 8th. The high that day reached a near record warm 72 degrees!  A sharp cold front came through that night, bringing thunderstorms along with falling temperatures.  By 6:00 the next morning, the mercury had fallen to 32, with rain changing to freezing rain then to snow as readings continued to fall into the 20s.  Travel became hazardous on the afternoon and evening of the 9th. 

Snow and ice stopped falling for awhile on the night of the 9th into the morning of the 10th…perhaps leading some to believe the worst was over.  That was far from the case.  A renewed round of moisture moved in from out of Arkansas and West Tennessee that afternoon.  The air aloft had warmed while surface temperatures were still in the mid 20s.  This was a recipe for trouble.  Rain began falling in Bowling Green around mid-afternoon, freezing on contact.  That rain continued all the way into the afternoon of the 11th before it finally tapered off to drizzle and ended that night.  But the damage had been done.

Bowling Green’s total for precipitation at the airport for the 10th & 11th: 1.61″, ALL of that coming as freezing rain!!  Up to 2″ of ice was reported in nearby Barren and Allen Cos, with up to 3″ of ice to the east in London.  Just as we’d seen a few weeks prior, most South-Central KY counties were back under States of Emergency.  Power substations froze, and at one point nearly 200,000 people in the state had lost electricity. Utility lines and trees were draped across roadways with travel virtually impossible during and immediately after the event.  For some homes and businesses, power was out as much as two weeks after the event.  Below is a shot from Cave City taken 2/11/94:

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That, my friends, was the TKO. January and February 1994 truly were a couple of ROUGH months for winter weather in South-Central KY…the kind we have not seen the likes of since!

Update on Sunday Snow and Bitter Cold That Follows

First of all, for anyone hoping for a BIG snow in South-Central KY, it looks like any shot for that is out the window.  Morning computer model runs have been trending warmer tomorrow. This is due to a more northwesterly track depicted by the low pressure system responsible for the rain and snow chances.  If you’re a lover of snow, a track right over Bowling Green – much less one to the west – is not what you want to see.  To get a really good snow here, you would want to see a track to the south over the Tennessee Valley. Such a track does not appear likely now.

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With most guidance trending this way, it now appears our precipitation will fall mainly as rain before a changeover to *some* snow late tomorrow afternoon.  With the snow’s duration looking shorter now, it’s looking like 1-2″ totals will be more common than the 2-4″ we were thinking yesterday, and 2″ may be a stretch. Models often fluctuate with the ultimate track of storm systems, and that’s a BIG reason why we always stress things can and often DO change with regard to projected snowfall amounts from winter storms.  

This is NOT to say we will not have any issues with hazardous travel tomorrow evening.  I fully expect we will.  Much of those issues could come from “flash freezing” of water/slush on the roadways as temperatures quickly dive into the 20s and teens tomorrow night. Gusty winds could blow around any snow that accumulates.  Icing in roads won’t go away easily since temperatures are forecast to dive into the single numbers late Sunday night.  When it gets that cold, salt is of little use.  Glazed roads are likely to persist through Monday, as well.  And speaking of the cold…

Sunday night and Monday continue to look AWFULLY frigid for us!  We’ll likely wake up to readings around 0 Monday morning with daytime readings only in the single digits.  Combine that with gusty NW winds 20-30 mph and you get wind chills that will bottom out in the -15 to -25 range!  We could see Wind Chill Advisories issued at some point late tomorrow into Monday. Be prepared!

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That deep trough has BITTER cold written all over it!

The National Weather Service will hold a conference call soon.  We’ll keep you updated as to their thoughts, and Stephanie Midgett will have the very latest on snow amounts and how cold temps and wind chills will get tonight on WBKO @ 10!

 

 

Still Dreaming of a White Christmas??

Well, if you are…as they say in New York City:  “Fahgettaboudit”!  (translation: forget about it).  Allow me to explain why.

On my last post here, I mentioned that models were honing in on a major storm system affecting the Ohio Valley the weekend leading up to Christmas.  That much is still on the table, though it will be a rain and thunderstorm producer for us Friday through Sunday.  There’s even potential for minor flooding and strong storms to go with it.

Once that system sweeps out of here Sunday night, a cooler but quiet weather pattern takes shape through Christmas Day.  It’s worth noting the models have really backed off what once looked like brutally cold air plunging into Kentucky next week.  The newest runs keep the coldest of arctic air confined to Canada, the Northern Plains, and the Upper Midwest.  It still appears chilly, but it now appears likely our temperatures will moderate on Christmas after a quick cold shot Monday into Tuesday (Christmas Eve).

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Even with colder air present Monday and Tuesday, it takes moisture to create snow, and that won’t be present in our area, either.  High pressure is expected to move over our region during that time.  Here’s one model’s take on forecast snow depth through Christmas Eve.  While this could change a bit, notice how far northwest of the Blue Grass state one has to travel before finding at least 1″ of snow on the ground.

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So as far as our chances for seeing a White Christmas in South-Central KY, it’s 4th and long, and the punting unit is coming out on the field.  Maybe next year.

Shane