Monday, February 25, 2013

It’s good to be on the warm side of a winter storm!

After receiving a glancing blow of ice on February the 21st, it’s sure nice to duck another bullet as a winter storm, that may bring blizzard conditions to eastern Kansas, looks to enter our area on the 25th. While heavy snow accumulations may be the norm for far western portions of Missouri, down here in the southwest, we are looking at just a dusting if even that!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February ending on a cold note!

It looks to me that February 2013 may turn out to be pretty close to average when compared to the historical averages; this after we started the month on a warm footing, statistically speaking. Even though there is still a week yet to go, my thinking is that we will end the month pretty close to the mean average of 37°F (West Plains data) and we’ll get there by finishing the month much colder than what would normally be the case. That also seems to be the trend with computer models now suggesting that March will continue the trend with temperatures coming in at 12 to 15 degrees below normal for the first week! Ka Brrr.

Side note: Last year, March was quite a bit warmer than normal at 12 degrees higher than the historic average of 47.5°F. Wow – that would sure be nice to see again! With an average high of 71.2°F; that was a month where most any day, you could get out and about sans jacket or coat! I’m afraid that will not be the case this time around….

A Winter Wx Storm double dip?

Now after the bulk of the winter of 2012-13 has come and gone without nary a flake to be seen, comes back to back ice and snow in late February?
The National Weather Bureau is once again posturing and couching their wording when it comes to describing a frontal system that is due to nose into our area on Monday and Tuesday of the coming work week. A key phrase in their wording is the concept of ‘shifting south’, as in ‘the accumulation of snowfall will increase (a lot) should this system shift further to the south than what the computer models currently predict.’ (Wording that once again reminds me that weather forecasting is more about probability then it is about certainty).

Just prior to this potential winter storm should be a relatively decent Sunday. A day that will give all of us home bound folks a chance to get out and frolic in temperatures that could touch 50 degrees! (Be still my frigid heart). Then, it’s back into the house to stoke the fireplace and await whatever the forces of nature will bring. And, everyone please take heart - spring is just a few weeks away!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The ice storm that really wasn’t!

When I were to think about all the really bad possibilities this latest winter storm presented, I'm very thankful for all that it was not.

Promptly, at 6 AM this morning, I was wakened from a sound slumber by a crack of thunder just outside my window. Shortly afterwards the skies opened up and honest to goodness thunder ice was falling all about my house located near Forsyth Missouri. (Had this persisted more than a few minutes it would been a true disaster as very quickly every surface was covered with a sheen of ‘lumpy’ ice, or more technically, a form of sleet called graupel)! Thankfully, a dry slot appeared and gave the area a nice reprieve from about six to nine AM.

At 9 AM, I ventured outside to check on the street in front of my home and found it to still be ice covered. A radio station, KRZK, earlier informed me that most of the main roads were clear and that was a comforting thought. So, even with a strong wind coming out of the east, I felt that perhaps the worst of this storm was over and done…. and then I heard more thunder!

By 10 AM, the skies were once again becoming dark, or at least darker than they had been a short time before. The mercury which had been slowly climbing had also started to slide downwards a bit and a glance at the local radar was not very re-assuring. (Even the radar was slower than normal to refresh – a hint that a lot of people were accessing the same site).

At 9:56 AM a hard shower of sleet came through and then quickly tapered of to a light drizzle of ice. I reflected that it was actually good thing that the air outside was cold enough so that we were getting ice rather than freezing rain at that time!

This pattern of on again off again precipitation was to be repeated for the rest of the morning, depositing just enough sleet and freezing rain to keep the secondary roads in my area ice covered! Chatter from a police scanner located close by also informed me that the roads were pretty much free of civilian vehicles -  a sign that most everyone heeded the warnings that had been posted earlier.

So passes our first real winter storm of the season. Now, if it would just warm up enough on Thursday to melt all this stuff, I'd be a happy camper!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When the weather is a lot like vegetable soup!

To me a good vegetable soup (one that's homemade) is always a surprise mainly because you never know what’s going to be in it. A lot depends on the chef’s whim not to mention what might be on hand. Well, the weather for this coming Wednesday night through Thursday time frame is something like that soup. Much will depend on what ‘ingredients’ show up for the party of in this case winter storm.

I’d have to agree with one forecaster who mentioned that much of what we will get will depend on the temperature profile for today. The warmer it gets before nightfall, the longer it will take for frozen precipitation to develop. Having said that, another fly in the ‘soup’ will be what happens at the various levels of the atmosphere as a predicted cold front pushes into, and under a colder dome of air that was already in place. As the picture above indicates, it then becomes possible for any snow that’s generated to then fall into slightly warmer air where the flakes just barely melt but are still very cold. Then when these super-chilled rain drops enter another level of cold air just above the surface, the drops can flash freeze on any surface they come into contact with. Voila – an ice storm is born…or not – it’s all about the timing.

So, when I’m looking at the system that is currently over to mountains and am thinking about what kind of soup we will be having, I tend to go with the vegetable variety or a little bit of everything!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feb 20th will be a toss of the Wx Dice!

While God may not play dice with the universe, Mother Nature can gamble with the best of em!

The National Weather Service, bless them, is not about to get caught with another busted forecast as has so often been the case this winter. No sir! This time they’re throwing in everything but the proverbial kitchen sink when describing the winter storm that is due to impact the Forsyth are sometime overnight on Wednesday, February the 20th!

As of this posting, the factors coming into play on that day are both complex and problematic! While the weather prognosticators are pretty sure that some wet stuff will fall all across the area, they seem to be at loss to say exactly what form it will take. My bet is on all snow beginning late in the evening with a slow transition to sleet and then ice in the early morning hours of Thursday. (Having said that, this could be just another all rain event this far to the south with all the interesting stuff happening way up by Springfield).

Whatever may happen, I’d personally advise anyone who normally travels anytime between late Wednesday and overnight Thursday to call in sick, drink a glass of warm milk and then pull the covers back over your head and stay in bed for the duration.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tuesday, Feb 12 – Rain or snow?

It’s for sure that I will never be confused with being a meteorologist and that’s OK. That fact has never diminished my enthusiasm for watching the weather and wondering what it might bring next.

This coming Tuesday (Feb 12), for instance, will be interesting from the standpoint of potential snowfall. Conditions for that day are such that any precipitation that falls could be of the liquid, frozen or some in-between variety. What causes this uncertainty is depicted (abet rather poorly) in the graphic above. In simple terms, as the low pressure system approaches the Forsyth area sometime on Tuesday morning, it will bring along with it a goodly amount of moisture. Meanwhile, high overhead, the jet stream will be moving in such a fashion as to provide lift for that humid middle layer such that snow will likely develop high up. The tricky part will occur as those flakes fall and then approach the warmer lower levels where winds flowing in from the east. Winds that may have a drying effect on that level.

The question that arises is what effect these drier winds will have. With just the right setup, they may allow for the transport of flakes all the way to the surface (a potential wet bulbing effect). On the other hand, if the temperatures stay just a bit above freezing (33 to 35°F), then it should be a mostly all rain event. The betting is now for a wet Tuesday afternoon with a changeover to snow overnight.

In either case, Tuesday will be a day when everyone should stay alert to rapidly changing conditions!

Friday, February 1, 2013

February 2013 off to a great start!

February is a cold month, no doubt about that! However, in the past, most of that cold was concentrated in the first two weeks of the month with the later portion experiencing a gradual warm-up (spring is in March after all).

Now for the good news! Following is an estimate of the highs, lows and averages for the first nine days:


Note all those warm and relatively toasty numbers! Should we hit all these marks, then that would bode really well for an early spring down here in the Ozarks!

Just how early will spring 2013 arrive?

Let's all hope for plenty of T-Storms and rain for Feb 2013!
With all the talk about global warming a climate change, I had to wonder if perhaps I could hope for warmer weather hitting southwest Missouri perhaps a little earlier than it did last year in 2012. Back then, it was a pretty miserable month. Fifties, forties with a scattering of thirties defined the highs most days up until the 23rd when it hit 73°F. Then, the temperatures moderated somewhat and hung out in the 60's. For anyone with an interest, February 2011 was no great shakes either. That year, the 3rd saw a low that came darn close to zero degrees Fahrenheit! Then, on the tenth of that month, I awoke to a mercury reading that was in the negative numbers! So, I'd guess the moral is not to expect very much in the way of warmth for the second month of the year! The good news, however, is that even if we get clobbered with cold yet again, we only have to endure it for a few more weeks before things begin to improve. Following are the stats for the Forsyth, Missouri area for the last couple of years:

Feb 30 yr average = 36.9°F.
Feb 2011 = 37.8°F.
Feb 2012 = 41.3°F.

Note that although the weather was pretty cold both years, both were actually a tad warmer than average overall! (January 2013 came in 2.5 degrees warmer)!

Next, a topic of interest to many; rainfall. It's no secret that January was something of a disappointment coming in at just 1.4 inches here in Forsyth versus a thirty year average of 2.6 inches (West Plains). Here's the figures for both 2011 and 2012:

Feb rainfall avg = 3.0”
Feb rainfall 2011 = 3.59”
Feb rainfall 2012 = 2.74”

Thankfully, January came in about a third of an inch over the average thanks mainly to a heavy rain that occurred on the 29th, so we are OK in the YTD rainfall amounts.