A WINTRY TWIST ON A TRICKY SYSTEM...

I was sitting around today thinking about snow when it occurred to me that in the 3 years I've been in Cedar Rapids the winters have basically sucked eggs, especially this past year when our snow total reached only 16.9". Half of that accumulated in a 3 week period in early to mid December. It got me wondering when the last time the city had a foot of snow in a single day?

To my shock and amazement, its happened only twice. The last time was in 1954 when 16.7" fell. The other time was in 1931 when 12.0" accumulated. Only 2 snowfalls of 12" since 1893, this confirms what I'm figuring out real fast, Cedar Rapids is not a place to live if you want snow.

To that point, only 21 of 126 available Cedar Rapids winters have had more than 40" of snow in a given year. Only 6 have had more than 50". The all-time record is 69", in 1951....well before my time.

One other storm that that's not listed was the great April blizzard of 1973. About 16" fell in Cedar Rapids on the 8th & 9th. That one shouldn't even count since it wasn't even winter. It sure did cause some problems though. Take a look at Blair's Ferry Road. I was out of school for 3 days in mid-April!

Well, there's still nothing that looks overly promising for snow around my area and the central Midwest. But there is a system Friday night and early Saturday that would be extremely interesting if there was more cold air in place. Check this out. The EURO shows a healthy and deepening 988 surface low cutting across Illinois into Michigan Saturday.

It depicts most if not all of the event will be rain. However, thickness levels really crash Saturday as the low passes. Dynamic cooling could be just strong enough for a brief change over or mix to snow as this happens Saturday morning. At this point most models indicate the necessary cold for snow arrives about the time the precip. shuts down. Based on this trend in the EURO I'm playing the potential down for now but a degree or two colder could make the difference between no snow and 1-2".

As I write this the new 12k and 3k NAM have come in stronger on the changeover and accumulation potential. Here's what the 3k shows at the surface Saturday morning at 6:00am. Notice the snow band advancing towards eastern Iowa and Wisconsin.

Through 6:00am Saturday the 3k NAM shows this for snowfall accumulation. The model indicates some additional amounts would advance into eastern Iowa and NW Illinois later that morning. For now, this is as far as the model goes out.

The new GFS is actually keeps a similar track but is stronger on the surface low but warmer on thermal profiles. Thus, it keeps the event mainly rain. Here's what its snowfall output looks like.

Needless to say this is a very tricky and difficult forecast that is far from certain. I can't rule out some wet snow for parts of my area but I certainly can't say with confidence it will happen. I doubt this will turn out to be much as the lack of cold air is is a major problem. It's always something!

This whole thing has blown up in just the past 24 hours showing the complexity within the overall pattern. Models are struggling and that means forecasters are challenged as well. Hopefully tomorrow will get us closer to reality. Roll weather...TS

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