CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR...
As we inch closer to next week, mid-range model guidance continues to show a highly charged pattern evolving with the ability to produce some boot scooting winter weather. It's been some time since I have seen the ducks lined up like this. There's some very impressive "potential". The question is, can we turn it into reality (in this case, white gold)? That said, I've been around long enough to know that the "devil is in the details". At least with the first round of snow, it appears the worst of it sneaks off just to the southeast of my area. Close, but not cigar.
WHY THE POTENTIAL?
The EURO 500mb mean flow on January 12th is a sight to behold. Get a load of that full latitude trough over the center of the nation. What a beautiful sight! Over the east, a ridge has gone up, sticking the baroclinic boundary (storm track) over the Midwest. There's blocking over the top from Alaska to Greenland. Moisture is flowing freely north out of the Gulf. That's a dream set-up, just the way I would draw it up if I was looking for a cold, snowy pattern. The first volley may not deliver the goods Tuesday, but other opportunities after that. If at some point by the end of next week we don't get in on the action, I will be despondent. The black hole of snow in eastern Iowa is a force to reckon with. We are fighting it again.
It's important to note that what I've shown above at 500mb is the big picture, what's known as the long wave pattern. The nuts and bolts of where storms track, how strong they are, and where they dump their snow is tied to the short wave pattern. Mesoscale details are going to become important as short waves begin to eject out of the mean long wave trough. A weak disturbance could produce some light snow as early as Saturday. However, a much stronger more organized short wave arrives Tuesday. That's the first with the ability to produce any significant snow and potentially blowing snow over parts of the Midwest.
Regarding Tuesday's storm, models are trending towards a more supressed track that will produce the heavier snows over central Illinois. The highest totals would fall near a line from St. Louis to SE of Chicago, where some double-digit amounts are showing up. It's still premature to say for certain this ends up as the golden slot but there is a clear trend in that direction.
Whatever happens, the system looks healthy with a closed low tracking trough SE Missouri into EC Illinois. For my area to take a direct hit, the center of the circulation would need to be closer to St. Louis instead of Cape Girardeau. That is very unlikely to happen.
As it appears now, with the set-up indicated, the deformation band snows would just clip my southeast counties. That leaves the area NW of the Quad Cities in Iowa will only a minor glancing blow. The SE remains in play, but even there amounts may end up quite manageable compared to what happens further east. Here's what the latest run of the EURO is indicating for snow Tuesday. That's hard for me to look at.
The GFS has inched even further SE. I think less phasing and the strong blocking over Greenland is too much to allow a track further northwest as was indicated 24 hours ago.
I won't go into it anymore at this distance, other to say adjustments are still likely. This is going to be a high impact storm with major travel implications where that big band of pick sets up off to the east. More on that in my next post.
At least 2 additional snowmakers are possible beyond Tuesday in the period January 12-17th as energy drains out of the massive trough reloading to the west. It's impossible to know the specific details but through the 17th, (including what falls Tuesday), the EURO shows this for total snowfall. Most of the Midwest gets a healthy coating of snow. Some areas just to the east of us may get literally buried.
The GFS produces amounts like this over the same period.
After the final snowmaker, the door is open to Arctic air by January 17th if the GFS is correct. It shows the entire nation with below normal temperatures.
Here is a tighter view with the specific departures.
Sub-zero lows are a given if we get the snowpack down that models are indicating. Wind chills (as shown below) could reach 30 below.
With all that in play down the road, Thursday will be a decent winter day with partly sunny skies and highs in the low to mid 30s. Enjoy it, we are on borrowed time. Roll weather...TS
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