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PUTTING THE PUZZLE TOGETHER

Despite little in the way of storminess through the coming weekend, the atmosphere is entering into a very energetic phase. It will take a few days for models to fully ingest and absorb the potential, especially with critical keys to storm intensity and tracks still over regions where data is not as rich as it will be by late week. As a result, models are fidgety and still free and loose on details (a common occurrence at this distance). That said, the evidence is there for storms, rumors of storms, and a colder long range look starting early next week. Here's where things stand.


PRECIPITATION

Just by looking at the 6-10 day precipitation outlook January 8-12, one can see that NOAA thinks virtually all the nation is above (to much above) normal on rain and snow with multiple storms impacting the country from coast to coast.

The GFS certainly is in that camp, its ensembles showing 15-day precipitation anomalies that are well above the norms over the central Midwest.

The EURO is similar, focusing its above normal precipitation on the same general area over that 15-day period.

Emphasizing it is still early in the game to get caught up in numbers, as of late Tuesday night some healthy snow totals are creeping into the guidance the next two weeks. Here's what the EURO and GFS are showing. Keep in mind, in no way are these forecasts. What you are seeing is simply raw model guidance that at some point closer to the event will be used to make a forecast. For now, its value is to show potential and the general location of where snow is most likely to fall the next two weeks. Take a look.


The EURO

The GFS

One of the biggest forecast challenges will be phasing. The interaction between the northern and southern branch of the jet will determine how much moisture and cold air is drawn into any energy that comes out of the west. That dictates the intensity and location of the associated surface low and its associated snow band. Here's what the 500mb energy looks like with the first storm Monday. Actually, there is pretty good agreement for now. We'll see how long that lasts!


The EURO

The GFS

Considering we are in an El Niño driven winter, split flow is a mainstay of the phenomenon. Models like to jump on the phasing early, but many times back-off or weaken the interaction. What looks like a bomb one day can lose a lot of steam the next. Lack of phasing in the next 24–48 hours is the one big issue that could disrupt what otherwise looks to be a healthy Midwest winter storm next Monday.


At least for now, I can't stress enough, we are entering a very dynamic set-up that has the earmarks of a pattern capable of a major Midwest storm within the next two weeks, if not sooner. One thing is certain, and that's the fact that short term, the sensible weather remains quiet and dry through Saturday. Temperatures look fairly seasonal.


WHAT ABOUT COLD?

Again, due to some differences in guidance, models are having a tough time deciding when to pull the trigger on any Arctic air. While there is doubt about the timing, I feel quite confident it's coming in the week 2 period. The first taste comes around January 9th or 10th, but a more substantial blast is more likely during the period January 14-17th. The EURO has temperature departures as much as 40 below normal January 15th.

Actual lows are shown pushing 20 below Monday, January 15th.

Meantime, Wednesday will have a similar look to Tuesday, meaning low clouds, dreary, and chilly conditions. There may be a few spits of snow or a few flurries, but nothing that adds up. All things considered, it could be a lot worse, and will be in coming weeks. Roll weather...TS


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