LJWorld.com weblogs Lawrence Weather Watch
Much complexity to snow storm system expected on Tuesday
When you forecast for a large area of Northeast Kansas, winter forecasting is both fun and frustrating. Part of the frustration comes from the fact that storms like what we have on tap for Tuesday have more facets to it than can be conveyed in a brief web story or a short broadcast.
So, here's some insight into what is making this storm so complex. Warmer air will be surging north throughout the lowest 3,000 feet of the atmosphere. Recall that rain begins as snow. Since the snowflakes will be falling from a very cold part of the clouds several thousand feet up, it will then have to fall through the lowest 3,000 feet of the air. So if that warmer air can surge all the way up to the I-70 corridor (which is about where it should make it by Tuesday afternoon and early evening), then the snow becomes a rain/snow mix.
So let's say we see a few inches of snow fall and accumulate BEFORE the changeover. How do you easily get the message to people that 3-5" of snow may accumulate, then some of that will melt away. Not to mention that predicting the amount of snow melt in the evening hours with a rain/snow mix is probably a more difficult task than predicting accumulations!
After that quandary, there is the fact that significantly colder air will surge in and the changeover to snow will take place across the region. But that very cold air is also very dry. So how much of the snow will sublimate on the way down? (Note:sublimation is when you go straight from solid -- snow -- to a vapor)
Add to that the fact that we're only talking about the I-70 corridor. We have readers/viewers/radio listeners from the Nebraska border to areas south of I-35. Up north, it's easier this time ... all snow and a lot of it! But to the south, we're in the same boat with how long the mix will last, etc.
I know not everyone agrees, but I love the snow. It's just too bad that some of our bigger storms have to be the ones that are also complex. I'm actually looking more forward to a good snow that is just that ... only snow. Then I can enjoy the snowfall AND the forecasting part of it won't be so draining!