Suchan Says: Busy Forecast Plus Winter Outlook

We have now entered a stretch of weather where Kansas City does its best impression of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle weather.  A daily diet of cloudiness with plenty of drizzle, soaking rain and even a little ice possible in the days ahead.

First thing is first, travel day Wednesday.  While not a wonderfully mild, sunny day like our recent few days, it could be much worse.  Yes cloudy skies dominate and there will be occasional bouts of drizzle or a few light rain showers but I do not expect a widespread heavy rain to really snarl traffic on our roads for those looking to get around.  Temperatures are unseasonably mild in the upper 50s late in the day.

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Cloudy with drizzle or a few light showers Wednesday

Thanksgiving is prime for a major soaking rain for all areas.  Very impressive dynamics aligned with a slowly advancing cold front and a fetch of deep moisture from the south will produce a very efficient rainfall through the day.  There are stretches in the afternoon to early evening where a steady moderate to heavy rain is likely.  When all is said and done, a daily rainfall record will likely be set.

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Thursday Morning: Drizzle or areas of rain

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Thanksgiving Afternoon – Evening… widespread moderate to at times heavy rain

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KC’s daily rainfall record for Nov. 26th (Thursday)

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Forecast rainfall amounts from latest run of our in-house computer model. In general, all areas see a 1 to 2 inch rainfall

Temperatures on Thanksgiving will feature a wild swing.  The morning is mild and breezy with 53 for an official low.  The high will reach the upper 50s to lower 60s across much of the area through noon then fall quickly by late afternoon into the evening with a stiff north wind.  Evening plans should include rain gear and a heavier coat especially if heading out.

We will then find ourselves in an interesting pattern Thursday night into Friday morning where morning temperatures will range from 30 – 34 across the area.  This will support some very light ice or chilly light rain.  Temperatures then warm into the mid 30s most areas keeping us as just drizzle or light rain.  Into Friday night, temperatures again dip to 30 – 34 allowing for a little patchy light icing to occur followed by Saturday’s temperature again climbing into the mid to even upper 30s.

We will want to pay attention to those overnight hours and decks, sidewalks, bridges for a light icing which may occur in spots.  During the daylight hours, everything is just wet albeit chilly.

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Light rain or light freezing rain early Friday Morning

Winter Outlook

Most are well aware we are looking at a likely top 3 El Nino episode in the Pacific.  Much of the nation’s winter outlook is under the influence of this dominant El Nino.  It is worth noting in the middle of the country, the impact from El Nino tends to run 50/50 or equal chances.  In fact, you can literally pull the last 10 El Nino years and find half produced below average snow while the other half produced above average snow.  Confidence in El Nino weather impacts are always higher along both coasts, the southern tier of the country and up north near the Canadian border.

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Upcoming winter with strong El Nino reflection… active southern tier of the country with subtropical jet, warmer near the Canadian border.

There are also a multitude of other factors to analyze whether it’s the most recent weather pattern leading into December, northern hemisphere snowpack including Siberia, short to long term teleconnections (PDO, PNA, AO, NAO) and simple analog forecasts to years past under similar conditions.

I believe recent weeks have shown the first part of winter’s hand with active weather across the country.  There is more of this ahead.

We will see a very active storm track from the west coast into the southern half of the country the next two to three months.  Much of this is rain, severe weather potential in the deep south and occasional bouts of marginally cold air for some wintry mix forecasts especially on the northern side of the light green highlighted region.  Overall I do not expect to see a setup that produced an extended period of the dreaded “Polar Vortex” the next couple of months with continuous brutally cold arctic air intrusions into the lower latitudes of the country.  Yes, a few bouts of some mighty cold air but big stretches of normal to above normal temperatures should flow across the continental U.S. as well.

So, December and January in my estimation should average out above normal with temperatures and certainly just above average on precipitation.  I do expect some challenging wintry mix forecasts with rain and even a bout of wet snow but am not expecting a blockbuster start to winter for big snow.  Naturally, it only takes one big storm timed properly with a source of cold air to obliterate that forecast opinion 🙂

As El Nino is gradually weakening in the back part of winter, I expect to see a bit more of a push of colder temperatures into the country and a number of large storms developing in the southern tier of the country February into some of March.  While we may not be in the direct path of these systems, my expectation is we’ll be close enough to a couple of them to produce a bit more snow in the back half of winter to push us just barely over a “average winter snowfall of 19 inches”.

For reference last winter, the snowfall forecast came up short with only 14″ of snow in Kansas City while much more fell in northern Missouri.  We had 18″ – 22″ of snow in last season’s forecast.  Goes without saying seasonal forecasts are a challenge and it doesn’t take much to throw a wrench in one’s seasonal forecast argument.  But it is fun to assemble and many folks ask what our thoughts are.  So we’ll see what shakes out 🙂

Here are my two breakdown graphics of this winter

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Monthly highlight breakdown… slow start for those hoping for a blockbuster December & January… more active finish to the winter season

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Near normal to slightly above normal snowfall this season… much of this in 2nd half of the season

Chris Suchan
Chief Meteorologist
KCTV5/KSMO

Twitter:  @ChrisSuchanKCTV
Twitter:  @KCTV5Weather
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Chief-Meteorologist-Chris-Suchan-361521570703480/?ref=hl

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2 Responses

  1. I agree with that snowfall forecast. My initial thoughts a couple weeks ago was for 17 -20 inches of snow, and I was leaning toward just slightly below average. My main reasoning is the lack of cold air. If the Arctic air doesn’t surge south with some of these storms the rain may really cut into the snow totals, and add in the AO, and NAO have stayed well into positive territory nearly all season, it doesn’t quite bode well for those airmasses to progress south.

    A good sign for snow lovers, and weather enthusiasts such as myself is that several of these storm systems have really blown up as they moved into the southern Plains. One can assume that as we head into Winter, a more dynamic jet stream will put us in a more favorable position for snow. The lack of cold air thus far still concerns me moving into Winter. I think we will see 5 to 10 snow events, many of which we will likely transition from rain to snow, which will cut into totals, but by how much? If we don’t get the cold air, some of these storms are going to have to track far enough south for us to be in a better position, and the AO and NAO being well positive for the most part may hinder that somewhat. I believe we will see a few good shots of cold air, and hopefully they are timely with the storm systems.

    I also think with us likely in a transition zone this Winter, there will be some favorable setups for freezing rain, possibly even a major Ice Storm, which we are well overdue. 2002 was really the last major icing event.

    Your forecast seems pretty in line to me. Though I think the above average Temps will stick around all winter, along with the above average rainfall. Hopefully we can find the cold air as these storm systems move through. Should be a pretty fun Winter to watch unfold and forecast!!

  2. Great write up! I agree with that snowfall forecast. My initial thoughts a couple weeks ago was for 17 -20 inches of snow, and I was leaning toward just slightly below average. My main reasoning is the lack of cold air. If the Arctic air doesn’t surge south with some of these storms the rain may really cut into the snow totals, and add in the AO, and NAO have stayed well into positive territory nearly all season, it doesn’t quite bode well for those airmasses to progress south.

    A good sign for snow lovers, and weather enthusiasts such as myself is that several of these storm systems have really blown up as they moved into the southern Plains. One can assume that as we head into Winter, a more dynamic jet stream will put us in a more favorable position for snow. The lack of cold air thus far still concerns me moving into Winter. I think we will see 5 to 10 snow events, many of which we will likely transition from rain to snow, which will cut into totals, but by how much? If we don’t get the cold air, some of these storms are going to have to track far enough south for us to be in a better position, and the AO and NAO being well positive for the most part may hinder that somewhat. I believe we will see a few good shots of cold air, and hopefully they are timely with the storm systems.

    I also think with us likely in a transition zone this Winter, there will be some favorable setups for freezing rain, possibly even a major Ice Storm, which we are well overdue. 2002 was really the last major icing event.

    Your forecast seems pretty in line to me. Though I think the above average Temps will stick around all winter, along with the above average rainfall. Hopefully we can find the cold air as these storm systems move through. Should be a pretty fun Winter to watch unfold and forecast!!

    Alex Pickman

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