Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Storm Details


Latest computer models are pushing the storm track slightly more northwest, bringing that chance of sleet & freezing rain into much of the area Tuesday into early Wednesday.  This would cut down on the accumulations a bit, and would cause ice accumulations during that period.  The Winter Storm Watch has been expanded to cover the entire area, beginning in many locations Monday evening and lasting through Wednesday.

Snowfall of 1 to 4 inches is likely thru Tuesday morning.  Additionally....Late Tuesday into Wednesday will produce  10-12"+ near the state line and across SE Michigan.  Areas from the state line down to around Findlay will see the potential for 6" or more Tuesday night into Wednesday, along with some ice accumulation.  Should the sleet/freezing rain stay far enough south, additional totals could reach an  10".  Areas south of Findlay will see some snow accumulation, but many hours of sleet/freezing rain...creating icy conditions and not as much snowfall.

Please note the bulk of this storm is still many thousand miles away, and the difference in track of 50-100 miles will shift the mixed precip line and alter the totals quite a lot.  We will mention more precise zones and amounts as the storm system gets closer. 


Things are coming together a bit more to suggest the track for a major snowfall.  The storm should be in a few stages:  the first Monday night into Tuesday morning...where a moderate snowfall is possible.  The second stage would be during the day Tuesday, where we may see a lull in the snow.  The third stage would be a period of heavy snow from Tuesday evening into Wednesday.  Strong winds will develop on Wednesday, causing blowing and drifting snow.

Of course, the exact track is pivotal, and is something that we will continue to monitor.  A wild card in this whole storm is the potential for a mix of sleet and freezing rain in the middle of the storm -- which would cut down snowfall totals.

The National Weather Service has already issued a Winter Storm Watch for Tuesday into Wednesday.  This could be modified to start earlier, depending on how the first stage comes together in the Monday night/Tuesday AM time frame...and will likely become a Winter Storm Warning once the storm gets closer.

Of note is an unusual occurrence happening today...You may know our computer models are fed by many sources of data, especially weather balloons.  But, a lot of the energy with this developing storm has been off the west coast where data collection is sparse.  The National Weather Service will be flying in airplanes today to get a lot more data.  This data will be fed into the latest computer model runs, and should help narrow some variables down.  The NWS developed the flights for situations like this, and it is similar to how they investigate tropical systems.


A big storm will develop Monday into Tuesday in the southern Plains.  Its track is still uncertain, but it will move through our area Tuesday into Wednesday.

We have been looking at a lot of computer model runs, most of which give us new output every 12 hours.  From studying them the past few days, there is a huge range in potential tracks.

One suggested track is to take the low up near Chicago or western Michigan -- that would mean the storm starts as snow for us, but then transitions to a mix and rain.  Snowfall accumulations would be light before the changeover.

Another suggested track takes the low through the southeastern states, and barely grazes us with little to no snow.

But, a lot of the computer model runs have been leaning towards a track in-between those already mentioned.  This track would bring the low through Tennessee and southern Ohio.  If this materializes, it would put us in the sector for heavy snowfall.  Having said that, even those model runs vary a bit on the exact track.  A difference of 50 or 100 miles means a big change in the snowfall amounts.

Keep in mind this forecast is based on a storm that has not even completely formed yet....and many of the computer models tend to be biased towards a more southerly track.  We have had many situations that looked like this 4-5 days out, and the actual track was the more northern option.

We will continue to update this the next few days!